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Masters Degree... Worth it for IT?
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Masters Degree... Worth it for IT? - May 20, 2008, 04:42 PM

Alright seeking opinions from you tech geeks out there..

My employer is pushing hard for folks to take advantage of the company paying for folks to get their Masters degrees..

2 Options.

Option 1:
4 years dedicated to 2 days a week ever other week. Summers off.. For a masters in Systems Engineering with GW.

Degree is not that technical, but more general in nature for Sys Engineering.
All completely paid for by the company. I get stock options half way through, as well as more stock upon completion.

Have to drive to tysons from fort belvoir for the classes. I live in woodbridge.

No way to modify the schedule. Cant take more classes to get it done sooner etc..

Option 2:
Any one of the Masters degrees at any local school, but most likely I will go with George Mason since I got my undergraduate there. Total flexibility with when I take classes, how many..how often. I can even do an online only program if I wanted.
I have to attend classes in person b/c I slack off waaaay too much if I dont.

The degree I most likely will want to get is ISA. Information Security and Assurance.
My current job is specific towards IA and Security for systems. Systems being individual machines, as well as a DOD program as a whole.

I like this line of work, there is a high demand for it, and I already get paid REAL well for it.

Company will pay for this w/in reason. Most likely no more than 3 classes a semester.



That is the short version of the options. Yes I know there are many variables to the decision, but I want to keep it simple for the folks that already have a Masters and currently work in the IT field.

Also keep in mind that I already volunteer for fairfax about 30 - 40 hours a month. So that is a consideration as well. Also the wife and I will want to start on having a family w/in the next few years too..

The above is more easily done by taking one class a semester and dragging it out over 4 years..


I digress: My question is. Do those of you that have Masters degrees think it is worth all that time in today's job market. Would you do it over again if you had the choice?

I have been more focused on certifications that have helped me make $$ at higher salaries. I have 6 certs for MCSE, I plan on taking the CISSP certification around August and will probably focus on the 2008 certifications if I donít do the Masters thing.

Should I just keep going after the certifications, or maybe long term certs wont be as valuable as a masters would long term...

I also am not sure if I want to stay hands on technical and maybe want to eventually focus on being more management in 10 years or so. I always hate dealing with a manager who doesnít know shit for technical. I think 10 years down the road, with my background and knowledge; I could put to good use as a manager.


I asked a couple coworkers and it is about 50/50. One said (my boss) that he would never do it again. Too much time and commitment for little value. Another guy said it is totally worth it.


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May 20, 2008, 04:47 PM

masters = management IMO

if you get a masters and stay technical.. you are wasting it


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May 20, 2008, 04:49 PM

You are qualified for the same IT job, with your masters, as someone from India who spent 4 hours training.

^^ masters == management, so get that shit and become overlord.
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May 20, 2008, 05:03 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by pauliodotnet
masters = management IMO

if you get a masters and stay technical.. you are wasting it
I'm of the opinion that the masters can be worth it if you're interested in learning how management approaches problems. If you'd rather wrangle systems, however, it's going to have limited utility for you.

That being said, if you're working with the Feds they tend to weight stuff like that more heavily than the private sector does.


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May 20, 2008, 05:13 PM

Obtain this and you'll get great returns on little investment. It also positions you for larger scale projects and such.

http://www.pmi.org/CareerDevelopment...ob-Market.aspx
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May 20, 2008, 05:27 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by nunyadambusiness
Obtain this and you'll get great returns on little investment. It also positions you for larger scale projects and such.

http://www.pmi.org/CareerDevelopment...ob-Market.aspx
My PM actually just suggested last week that I get PMP certified.
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May 20, 2008, 05:28 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by nunyadambusiness
Obtain this and you'll get great returns on little investment. It also positions you for larger scale projects and such.

http://www.pmi.org/CareerDevelopment...ob-Market.aspx
+1 (sorry nunya, had to)

Alex, if you need any info on PMP, let me know and I'll put you in touch with Elizabeth. She's PMP certified, was treasurer of her local PMI chapter, and has lots of knowledge on the subject.
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May 20, 2008, 05:29 PM

waht fed is technical LOL


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May 20, 2008, 05:30 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by JTG40cal
My PM actually just suggested last week that I get PMP certified.
Same goes for you Justin. If you have any questions, let me know.
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May 20, 2008, 05:40 PM

Again +1 on the PMP cert.... most government orgs are req. the CISSP and PMP certs for PM's in the IA realm.


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May 20, 2008, 05:51 PM

I'm not a techie, just a guy working in an IT company (NorthropGrumman IT sector) but here's my $.02. I think it depends on where you want to go with your career in the future. If you see yourself staying in the tech/hands-on side of the business, then I think you're better off doing the multiple cert route. On the other hand, if you'd like to move into the PM and company management side in the future, then the Masters is probably the way to go (while keeping up to speed with an occaisional cert course as required). Are there any guarantees? No But, think about 10 years down the road and you're looking to move up or move to a new company. Fifteen or twenty years in the business with lots of certs and a MS in an IT field is going to put you in line for a lot more opportunities than the same time as a techie, and while the raw salery for the management job may not seem too much higher to start with, frequently the management guys get stock options and such that can add up to big bucks farther down the road. Of course its a struggle sometimes in terms of time management and the whole family has to chip in with a little moral support now and then, but if you do well it can really pay off. Also, if your goal is to move into management, consider the type of degree. Perhaps a graduate degree in management would be a better ultimate fit than a straight IT Masters degree. I saw an advertisement from somebody around here just the other day for a "Masters in IT Management". Even an MBA might be very attractive on your resume!

Also, consider your ultimate goal and take the best option to get there, don't default to GMU just because you have you undergratuate degree there.
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May 20, 2008, 05:54 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by PitPig
I'm not a techie, just a guy working in an IT company (NorthropGrumman IT sector) but here's my $.02. I think it depends on where you want to go with your career in the future. If you see yourself staying in the tech/hands-on side of the business, then I think you're better off doing the multiple cert route. On the other hand, if you'd like to move into the PM and company management side in the future, then the Masters is probably the way to go (while keeping up to speed with an occaisional cert course as required). Are there any guarantees? No But, think about 10 years down the road and you're looking to move up or move to a new company. Fifteen or twenty years in the business with lots of certs and a MS in an IT field is going to put you in line for a lot more opportunities than the same time as a techie, and while the raw salery for the management job may not seem too much higher to start with, frequently the management guys get stock options and such that can add up to big bucks farther down the road. Of course its a struggle sometimes in terms of time management and the whole family has to chip in with a little moral support now and then, but if you do well it can really pay off. Also, if your goal is to move into management, consider the type of degree. Perhaps a graduate degree in management would be a better ultimate fit than a straight IT Masters degree. I saw an advertisement from somebody around here just the other day for a "Masters in IT Management". Even an MBA might be very attractive on your resume!

Also, consider your ultimate goal and take the best option to get there, don't default to GMU just because you have you undergratuate degree there.
On that note, GW has a masters in project management program as well.
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May 20, 2008, 05:56 PM

CISSP will take you 2 weeks of hard studying.

my friend and I did it in 2 weeks, loosely reading.. and then ahrd core reading on the weekends.

the concept is easy, its just how they ask the damn questions. at my last company it was a 5k bonus.

while you are at it.. get a ccna and ccnp.. easy as pie.

but management - get the masters.. shoot get it online if it is easier


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May 20, 2008, 07:00 PM

I'm gonna have to side against the masters, especially in the security field, even if you do want to go into management. I'm also in the tech security field, although I'm more physical/ force rather than Infosec, but what I have seen of these fields is that degrees are not held in as high a regard as those freakin certifications... Nevermind that they are (normally) harder to get, require more dedication and usually result in actual learned information vs. regurgitated... The guy in the next level above me will soon retire, but they are thinking requiring a certification for his slot, even though the current guy does not, no mention is made of degree requirements... Some of the management don't even have degrees, and none of those who do have anything technical (think BA), they all get by on certifications.

I don't agree with the logic, but I do definitely see much more bang for the buck with certifications rather than grad degrees. BTW, this is for direct hire federal government, contractors I think value grad work a bit more, but still, the certifications are cheaper and easier. Unless you can get a new title from the grad work (Dr., PE, Esq., etc.), it doesnt seem worth it.


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May 20, 2008, 07:16 PM

Imo:
Positives
1) the company is paying for it. Get it while the gettings good.
2) Certs are perishable items. Upkeep is a bitch!
3) they can't take a MAsters away from you.
4) employability anywhere.
5) Sacrifice now because once you have kids. That stuff is over! I have hell taking courses now and I have a 2 year old! I'd stay at work extra hours just to get some reading or papers done.

Negatives
1) if you plan on being a techie, find out what particular field of techiness has a future and concentrate on that one particular field.
2) Family planning. If you and the family (i.e.) the wife are planning a family, you have to take into consideration of budget. Does she work? if so, how will her absence and time that she needs you to take care of the baby play into it?
3) It takes away from your free time.


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