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      12-23-2012, 05:47 PM   #1
Newff
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Anyone work in IT/Network Specialist type of job?

I went straight to work out of school and didn't go to College and now it's biting me in the ass. I have no room to grow and am basically stuck at 50k/year if I don't bust my ass doing overtime.

I'm thinking of going to a college in Mississauga, Ontario to do a IT/Network Specialist program which would give me a diploma, CompTIA A+, Cisco - CCNA and MCITP (I heard this one is being retired).

I guess right out of school I'd be doing help desk jobs mostly but looking around I'm not even sure where to find those. All of the job boards for anything IT it seems want 2-7 years experience and also a Computer Science degree + a bunch of certifications.

For anyone in Canada especially in Ontario or Calgary, how do you think I would find it right out of school? Hard tofind work? Salaries?

Thanks.
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      12-23-2012, 05:52 PM   #2
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i went to technical school and was making 25/k starting as help desk got promoted and was making 40k/yr then i found out my position was worth alot more but i was gaining experience

i was thinking about going back to school but i need another job still i am actually looking for full time right now and prob looking betweening 40k/yr - 50k/yr doing helpdesk unless if i became a server administrator again then it will be more around 60k-80k/yr

btw i have network + a+ and mcp certificates and two yrs experience and im only 21 so i know there is alot more school time i need a.k.a college degree bachelors/masters
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      12-23-2012, 07:36 PM   #3
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I'm not in Ontario but I can tell you from my experience that I started off on the helpdesk @ $11\hr with NO computer degrees or certifications. A year later I made it up to Helpdesk Tier II and then after 2 total yrs on the helpdesk, I changed jobs and got a systems administrator position.
That new job I got as a sys admin, had a lot of systems engineers\DBA's who had no degrees\certifications and they were making over $100K/yr...

Some jobs require a degree\certification in IT and others just need a motivated\determined individual who will bust his\her ss and work hard to climb his\her way to the top. Keep after it or change jobs but I'm sure you'll get a break some day.
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      12-24-2012, 07:02 AM   #4
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It's amazing. The certs you mentioned used to be such a big deal back in my early days of IT, now if you don't have a degree in computer science combined with a MBA the 'good jobs' take years of experience to achieve.

What I would do is look at the market trends and try and specialize as much as possible. Anything 'cloud' based is hot now. App development and integration for Office 365 / Google Apps will continue to grow for example.

Augment your technical training with some sort of project management training as well. Over time you will find yourself getting tired of 'getting your hands dirty.' Management of IT projects offers a good growth path for IT folks and can be very lucrative.
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      12-26-2012, 12:08 PM   #5
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Education is never a waste IMO, but you need to leverage it. My 1st job out of college started me at $65k as a Systems Engineer.
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      12-26-2012, 01:55 PM   #6
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My route was similar to Diavel. Worked on the help desk for a couple years to get my foot in the door, picked up the A+ and Net+ and moved onto a more network-heavy help desk. I got bored after a few months and moved on to pseudo-network admin, Ive gotten a few certs along the way. I cant complain, I make 80k a year. I dont know any engineers who have degrees but I do see alot of places are wanting a B.S. in Computer Science, although it doesnt have anything to do with networking so Im not sure why they are wanting it? The best thing you can do is get your CCNA done, thats the biggest entry-level networking cert.
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      12-26-2012, 02:26 PM   #7
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I'm in software so not the same field, although there are similarities. In my experience, companies that state in job requirements that you must have a degree are looking to get the best candidates, as they may have gotten burned hiring people without degrees who weren't up to the task.

However it's also been my experience that if you know your stuff and don't have a degree, and blow them out of the water with your knowledge in a technical interview, and can actually back that up with solid work once you're in (hence, you know your stuff), companies will make an exception to this rule for the top "self-taught" candidates.

The bottom line is if you don't have a degree in Computer Science (or any degree) and work in IT, you must really know your stuff and be damn good at your particular skillset, adapt quickly, learn new or unfamiliar technologies quickly and master them, and you'll do just fine with all but the most anal-retentive must-have-degree-at-all-costs type of employers. One that comes to mind would be a University

Of course it helps to have experience as well. But the catch 22 is, well how to I gain experience if no one will hire me with no experience? Get a foot in the door at a lower grade position and increase responsibilities there, and as long as your skillset increases and expands constantly, you will always have opportunities in this industry, whether its software or systems admin or DBA, doesn't matter.

That's been my experience anyway.
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      12-26-2012, 03:42 PM   #8
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I've had a computer since I was 11; I graduated from high school in 2002, and did not attend college.

I started off doing support for my high school, then on to a small local computer store, followed by some dial-up support, I worked at a school district as a user support technician, from there went to a law firm as an application specialist (which was really like system & network admin since I managed our remote access and firewall at remote sites). I made a lateral move from the app specialist position into a larger firm (different title but literally the same work). I've been here for 8 months and in two weeks I will be moving to SoCal to take care of the smartphone servers for one of the worlds largest firms..

I have 90% convinced myself to get a degree, but not technical related - I have 12 years of professional work/technology experience, I don't need a degree in technology. The key is to get a degree in business administration & management, to round out your offerings. If you've got all of the tech skills, certs, etc., then you need to focus a bit on being a people person and showing that you would not only be able to be part of a team and support them from the technology side, but also manage and lead them effectively.

I do not hold any major certifications, though there was a groupon deal I bought, I purchased an online learning track for the CCNP; $99.. can't beat it. (I completed the CCNA courses in high school but we didn't do the final cert test).
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      12-26-2012, 04:00 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrRoboto View Post
It's amazing. The certs you mentioned used to be such a big deal back in my early days of IT, now if you don't have a degree in computer science combined with a MBA the 'good jobs' take years of experience to achieve.

What I would do is look at the market trends and try and specialize as much as possible. Anything 'cloud' based is hot now. App development and integration for Office 365 / Google Apps will continue to grow for example.

Augment your technical training with some sort of project management training as well. Over time you will find yourself getting tired of 'getting your hands dirty.' Management of IT projects offers a good growth path for IT folks and can be very lucrative.
Lots of good advice here. You probably don't need to worry about a management degree right now, but you will need it eventually to move up. My undergrad is in geology and I'm self-taught in everything IT, but my MS is in Technology Management. When you get beyond the hands-on stuff, a management degree of some sort is essential, like MrRoboto stated. Keep that in the back of your mind as you move into your career. Don't wait too long to get the management training.

Make sure you look at universities when applying for jobs. I've been in academia for 15 years now and while the pay isn't what you get in the public sector, the benefits are awesome. They're also much less picky when it comes to certs, although most schools will require a degree, as David said above. Universities have a very diverse IT environment, so it's easy to move around from say sys admin to networking or database stuff. At my current employer, I started out at the Ops Center just doing network monitoring. There were 6 of us with the same job, then four more came in. We've all moved on to higher jobs as sys admins, network engineers, security engineers, DBA's, and software development. I still stay in touch with all the guys I started with and it's really an asset to have so much expert help at my fingertips.
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      12-26-2012, 08:37 PM   #10
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Awesome stuff guys. I like the advice about getting a Business Management degree, that's actually what my girlfriend is starting in September if she moves to where I am (long distance now). I may look into also

My work schedule now is 7 days on then 7 off so I have lots of time to study on the 7 off plus the downtime at work. I think I will try to get my CompTIA A+, Network+, Security + and then work towards CCNA because where I am in Alberta I notice most of the companies use Cisco and the salries are huge here.. I seen a helpdesk job posted with not so crazy requirement a few days ago for $35/hr. My office also uses Cisco and it's a big company. I'm going to have a chat with the IT guy there who I am really friendly with, only thing is I wasn't so interested in IT before so we didn't talk about it.

If I get the certs it can't hurt, maybe try to get my foot in the door somewhere.
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      12-26-2012, 08:49 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TruStinger
My route was similar to Diavel. Worked on the help desk for a couple years to get my foot in the door, picked up the A+ and Net+ and moved onto a more network-heavy help desk. I got bored after a few months and moved on to pseudo-network admin, Ive gotten a few certs along the way. I cant complain, I make 80k a year. I dont know any engineers who have degrees but I do see alot of places are wanting a B.S. in Computer Science, although it doesnt have anything to do with networking so Im not sure why they are wanting it? The best thing you can do is get your CCNA done, thats the biggest entry-level networking cert.
Networking is a subset of computer science it has everything to do with it. Especially network security that is hot stuff right now! I just graduated with a BS in computer science and all of my big job offers have been in computer /network security.
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      12-27-2012, 12:15 AM   #12
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My VP was a math major with no certs. My Director was a poli sci major with no certs. One of our chief architects also had no certs. We worked for 2 of the most traffic sites in the last 10 years. If you have no experience, then degrees and certs help alot. Otherwise, it's all about experience.

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Augment your technical training with some sort of project management training as well. Over time you will find yourself getting tired of 'getting your hands dirty.' Management of IT projects offers a good growth path for IT folks and can be very lucrative.
I agree with you about getting old. PM work can be very lucrative, but you're also one of the first few put on the chopping block when cuts come into play. Nothing really beats staying technical. If you "add" PM skills to being technical, then you are very valuable and not hated by the engineers you deal with.
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      12-27-2012, 10:10 AM   #13
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I agree with you about getting old. PM work can be very lucrative, but you're also one of the first few put on the chopping block when cuts come into play. Nothing really beats staying technical. If you "add" PM skills to being technical, then you are very valuable and not hated by the engineers you deal with.
Technical will only get you so far salary-wise; you'll top out. Gotta go into the business side to make money.

I do both technical and business enterprise architecture for the gov't. The business side is almost like academia when it comes to guiding principles and directives and that boring shit.
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      12-27-2012, 03:52 PM   #14
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Technical will only get you so far salary-wise; you'll top out. Gotta go into the business side to make money.

I do both technical and business enterprise architecture for the gov't. The business side is almost like academia when it comes to guiding principles and directives and that boring shit.
I'm not sure if you're agreeing with me, but I did say technical on top of whatever else. Depending on the company you work for, being just technical doesn't necessarily mean you get capped. Some of the chief architects at our company are pulling over 300k/year. That's more than some CEOs for small companies.
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      12-28-2012, 11:04 PM   #15
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