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System Administrators - College or Career?

Cliff posted more than 12 years ago | from the where-to-go-after-you-get-that-diploma dept.

Education 1092

Chicks_Hate_Me asks: "I'm a Senior in High School right now and I'm graduating soon (hopefully!) and I was wondering what the hell I should do? My teachers are all telling me I should go to college, but they don't know much about computers so they automatically assume that I wan't to be a programmer or an engineer. I want to be neither, in fact, I want to become a System Administrator. Is college really the best option? Or should I concentrate on getting certification, experience, and taking a few junior college classes on the side? I've already gotten a few job consultancy offers in the area. What has the experience been for any of you out in the tech industry? For you that went to college, did it truly help? And for you that didn't go to college, has it been harder for you to find a job? Also, if you believe that I should go to college, what should I major in? But if you think I shouldn't, what certifications would hold valuable in the future, and what kind of job positions should I take now?" The never ending question. College is a valuable experience for most, but it's also expensive and time consuming. Might that time be better spent in the job market now rather than later (current conditions notwithstanding)?

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My mom, (-1)

returnofthe_spork (552824) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530779)

my mom, please stop fucking my mom.

Re:My mom, (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3530884)

NOFX sux [bumperdumper.com]

Where are all the trolls? (-1)

returnofthe_spork (552824) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530788)

Don't forget about oral hygiene! HOW TO FLOSS

  • First, take a piece of floss about 20-24+ inches in length
  • Wind the floss around your 2 middle fingers and grasp 1/2 inch of floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers.
  • Insert the floss between your teeth carefully
  • Hold the floss taught and curve it around one of the teeth.
  • Scrape the floss up and down against one tooth and then the other (not in a sawing motion) The main purpose is to remove the film of plaque on your teeth, not just food particles!
  • Using a new part of the floss, continue flossing, even tooth surfaces which have no tooth next to them.
  • Rinse thoroughly to remove any loosened particles.

Learn your trade (5, Insightful)

Geekboy(Wizard) (87906) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530790)

College, and certs will get you in the door. So will a resume. Learn your skills. Since you are so young, you could probably undercut those who are more qualified. Know your stuff, and try for Junior-admin positions. Get a cert or two, so they will actually call you back, but concentrate on knowing your craft. If you are willing to move, do nation-wide searches for a job. Some areas have too many techs, but other areas are starving for them.

Timing is everything. (1)

einer (459199) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530796)

Right now, I'd give anything to be a college student again. The recession will pass, the loan payments won't. As an aside, your degree will mean less than you think when it comes to getting hired for a particular job. It might get you an interview, but there are other ways of doing that (think people skills). Anyone with a BA can apply for a job as a Systems Administrator where I work, you just have to be able to prove that your Kung Foo is the real deal.

Re:Timing is everything. (1)

billstr78 (535271) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530890)

It's true that an Bachelor's degree is best at getting your foot in the door, but sometimes it can mean the difference between getting called back and being jobless for 6 months (or more!)

My father graduated high school in the early seventies when thier wasn't much in the way of higher education in computer science. He learned on his own and made his way in the industry. Soon he was working for himself owning a sole-propriorship software business, but when the orders stopped comming in and he was forced to find a job working for someone else, his lack of education really bit him in the @ss.

He has only been able to employment in the support sector and other "grunt" areas of CS. As of now with jobs so limited, he is not employeed at all and struggling to stay housed!

Don't take the easy way to quick money, spend the time (and money) to invest in your future with a college education. As the saying goes- "If you thing education is expensive, try ignorance".

System Administrator (4, Interesting)

CaffeineAddict2001 (518485) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530798)

What are you going to do when "System Administrator" is the title of a program rather than a job?

Re:System Administrator (2, Funny)

FilthPig (88644) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530831)

What are you going to do when "System Administrator" is the title of a program rather than a job?

Install it, configure it, upgrade it, and fix the hardware that it runs on. Fool.

Re:System Administrator (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3530843)

Work for the companies that aren't running NT. ;)

At that point.... (2, Insightful)

cnelzie (451984) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530889)

Most of us will not be alive. At our current level of technology we are unable to create a truly "thinking" machine. Perhaps we will do so within our lifetime, but do you believe that this machine will have the ingenuity and imagination that a human mind will have?

How many problems do you have that require little to no thought at all? How many problems have you run into that require no imagination to overcome?

I would imagine very few.

The day that we have a program called System Administrator, (That actually performs all of those tasks...) is the day that the human race will begin its true downfall. Until then we have our minds, imagination and ingenuity to accomplish anything we put ourselves to.

Go to college (5, Insightful)

today (27810) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530800)

If you have the opportunity to go to college, take it. At this point in your life, you do not *really* know what you want to do. College will expose you to many possible careers. Not only that, but you might acquire additional skills that will provide you with a backup plan when you burn out on sysadmin'ing...

Re:Go to college (1)

essdodson (466448) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530835)

Completely agree. College is a great time to figure out just what you REALLY want to do.

Re:Go to college (3, Funny)

ScuzzMonkey (208981) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530922)

Yeah... you don't want to be a sysadmin, anyway, if you're well-adjusted and normal.

If you're not, well, it's not something they can teach you in school, but you'll get a chance to read up on Machiavelli and other cool medieval sysadmins, so it's worth it for that if nothing else.

Re:Go to college (5, Insightful)

4444444 (444444) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530932)

Thats exactly what I see as colleges biggest problem. To many people who don't have a clue whatthey want to do. So they spend 4 years screwing around and get a degree then they go lookin for a job. I think it's much better to go out in the real world for a few years find out what it's really like and adn see what jobs you really want then after you have some expeirence gotot college and focus on subjects related to the field you want to be in. You will end up with a better education because you know what you want.


RecipeTroll (572375) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530933)

Eight-Treasure Sea Cucumbers

400g sea cucumbers soaked in water
25g ham
50g pork tendons
25g cooked chicken meat
25g bamboo shoots
15g dried shrimps
cooked lotus seedpods
50g Chinese water chestnuts
5g mushrooms

Rinse and slice into strips the sea cucumbers and tendons.
Slice into pieces the bamboo shoots, ham and chicken.
Dice the water chestnuts.
Remove the bitter hearts of the lotus seedpods.
Season oil with scallion and ginger, drop in the sea cucumber slices and slightly stir-fry, pour in chicken soup, transfer to a bowl.
Stew the mushrooms and ham in chicken soup till done, pour over the sea cucumbers and steam for an hour, keep the soup, transfer the sea cucumbers to a plate.
Add seasonings to the soup, bring to the boil, thicken, pour over the sea cucumbers.

Makes 4 Servings

Re:Go to college (3, Interesting)

56ker (566853) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530934)

I agree - especially with the current problem of lots of people going for the same tech jobs a degree is almost essential. That is unless you can use nepitism or some other underhand way to get a foothold in a company. As to tech support it's generally low-paid and only used as a springboard to better IT jobs. After a while you get tired of being asked by people to help change their passwords!

Re:Go to college (3, Insightful)

MrResistor (120588) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530939)


I thought I wanted to be an Electronic Engineer until I took some programming classes. Being introduced to *nix was the final nail in the coffin of that career track.

Don't get me wrong, I still enjoy playing with hardware, but it just doesn't get me as excited as software does. I could definately see myself working with embedded systems, though...

Re:Go to college (1)

SPiKe (19306) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530942)

No crap. I was a teenage sysadmin, and while I learned a lot and got to get my hands dirty with large systems, programming, network design and best practices (which five years later is actually becoming a cohesive whole), I really wish I had just gone to college and gotten it under my belt.

A good plan (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3530802)

* Move to a cheap college state like Arizona (in-state is $1000/semester, you can qualify for in-state tuition after living there a year)

* Work and play for a year while you get instate.

* Enjoy college. Those are good years and you'll work the rest of your natural born life (save the low-probability cash-out option; see "unemployed", "options", "mortgage")

* College degrees are often important. Not always, and it doesn't always matter what they are. Sysadmining in college is a pretty good gig.

Re:A good plan (2)

Moonshadow (84117) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530896)

I'm a CS student at ASU. The higher-level courses are supposed to be good, but the required ones SUCK. Taught for the lowest common denominator.

That said, ASU is a great school - I love it! I just wish that my life didn't hang on a little piece of paper that certifies I've wasted X amount of my life learning things I already knew.

The degree is important, bubt it doesn't always matter what degree it is. My dad's successful in the tech field, and he has a music degree.

No matter the route you choose, though, always keep learning new things related to your field. Learn sysadmining here, programming there, networking here, etc. The more skills you have, the more valuable and sought-after you'll be. Which is a Good Thing (TM) :)

Re:A good plan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3530947)

I totally agree. Whatever you do, though. Stay away from SUNY Institute of Technology at Utica/Rome [sunyit.edu] in upstate New York. That place fucking sucks. I'm here and it's a complete waste of time and money. They don't teach you shit and the whole school is selling out to Microsoft. The last remaining UNIX lab on campus, they want us to dual boot with windows. So if I can't convince you to stay away, get a hold of me. I'll just have to pay you to stay away.

Goddamn, I hate that fucking school!!!

to prepare for sysadminhood.. (5, Funny)

mpweasel (539631) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530804)

I suggest you start early by ripping the wings off flies while telling them, "sorry, new security policy"

Martin, sys admin bastard

College degree opens alot of doors (2, Insightful)

beet0l (567009) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530805)

Theres no doubt that just having a four year degree on your resume increases your chances to get a good job. Experience will only get you so far in the job market. The Higher the salary range, the more and more they are going to expect a degree. Plus it Shows u have enuff dedication to get threw college to get one.

Re:College degree opens alot of doors (4, Funny)

The Wing Lover (106357) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530911)

Plus it Shows u have enuff dedication to get threw college to get one.

Which college did you go to? I want to make sure I don't hire any grads from there.

Some places want a degree (1)

Lemuel (2370) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530809)

Like it or not some places require a degree before they will even look at you. Even if you can get a job now, you should at least go to school on the side and get a degree to increase your options in the future.

College... (1, Insightful)

shakamojo (518620) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530810)

Don't make the same mistake I did... I skipped college and went right to work... now to move forward I'm having to complete my degree while working a sixty hour week. You'll always need the degree for advancement, and you'll regret it if you don't do it now. Trust me.

College good right now (1)

Visoblast (15851) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530811)

With the computer job market in a sorry state right now, you may as well consider college. It'll keep you feed, let you meet new people, learn new things, and maybe even get some leads on job positions you might want. Chances are you'll have a tough time making enough money to feed yourself right now.

Do Both (3, Insightful)

danheskett (178529) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530812)

You should do both, for example:

Go to a State Unversity and get a job doing Sys-Admin work. Pay for school with the proceeds.

Alternatively, if you go to a much more expensive university, for example a private school, take advantage of financial aid, loans, etc up and pay the rest off with proceeds from working Sys-Admin.

There is no reason to not go to school full-time and work-full time. Unless you count sloth as one of them.

Re:Do Both (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3530903)

There is no reason to not go to school full-time and work-full time. Unless you count sloth as one of them.

Yes, God forbid one should ever want to do something with one's life other than

  • Go to class
  • Go to work
  • Study
  • Sleep
  • Repeat

Definately go to college (5, Insightful)

essdodson (466448) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530813)

When things get tight like they are now its nearly impossible to find work without a degree. You may have skills but that doesn't mean a whole lot when the market is down. Everyone I know who didn't bother to go to college, has CCNA, RHCE, etc... is now scrounging around to find a decent job because their employer went out of business and noone is interested in them due to a lack of a degree.

Its only four years, go ahead and get it. It will give you a foot in the door most anywhere. And while you're at college work for their IT Services, you'll come out with both a degree and 4 years of experience.

Re:Definately go to college (2, Funny)

rbeattie (43187) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530916)

And if you go to college, you might actually be able to spell "definitely."


college unnecessary these days (2, Interesting)

joe094287523459087 (564414) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530814)

I dropped out of high school and i'm making $120K (in the overpriced SF bay area). During the interview they asked 1 question about education and spent 45 minutes asking me technical and personality questions.

High tech companies, especially smaller ones, don't pay much attention to non-job-related stuff. If you can do the job and get along with people, you don't need a diploma or degree to prove it any more.

On the other hand, if you were going into a more conservative field like finance or law, obviously you have to have school to get an interview anywhere. But when I was interviewing people for a system administrator job here, I asked (for example) how they would set up sendmail so it wouldn't relay messages, and questions like that.

I'm biased, but... (5, Insightful)

Boulder Geek (137307) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530815)

Most system administrators do not know enough to be truly useful. Not coincidentally, many have not had formal training in Computer "Science" or Engineering. Go to college. Learn about how things really work, not the regurgitated pablum that is spread by corporate sponsored certifications.

Since it looks like you aren't planning on going to a university this fall, it wouldn't hurt to get a certification or two in the upcoming year. But definitely go to university. To go immediately into the work world out of high school seems like a complete waste of youth to me. There are many more entertaining ways to waste those precious years between 18 and 24 than slaving long hours as a sysadmin.

College degree always helps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3530819)

I am a senior manager in a midsize company. I have hired both with and without degrees. The college degree adds quite a bit to ability of the employee to solve problems and think outside the box.

I would recomend college.

My advice.... (2)

GeneralEmergency (240687) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530820)

College level CS degrees are not a good investment if you have aptitude.

I say take a more targeted approach for now and go to college when, and only when, you become bored, burnt out, disenchanted, frustrated and really sick and tired of all those god damned "college boys" who make more than you but REALLY just don't know DICK!

SysAdmin (1)

acrolein (113485) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530821)

For what it's worth, I'm a Systems Administrator while I'm in college.

I was just talking about this on the way to work (3, Informative)

kwerle (39371) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530822)

Step 1. Travel. Go to europe (or the US, depending on where you're not). See what life in the rest of the world is like. You can actually travel for pretty cheap, and when I was last on the road ('95), it was pretty easy to work under the table in much of europe. It won't be the high-life, but it's worth getting out there.

Step 2. Go to college. College is about learning what you don't know you don't know. Not about learning what you know you don't know.

I recommend working after the first year or 2 in college - even if you[r parents] can afford not to.

Step 3. Get a job - a real job. Not the one you worked in college. Even if that was a real job. Get away and get more experience elsewhere.

The important thing is to see a lot of different stuff.


Higher Education is good, but (1)

coryboehne (244614) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530823)

With hard work and diligence I feel that a person in the systems administration field is just as capable of doing the job as a person with a degree, however I have found it to be much harder to get in the door for a job interview without that degree, however if you can get in the door you will most likely be hired anyways if you can impress the employer. However have you considered going into the military particularly the AirForce? They offer killer benefits, and they'll give you a great reference, not to mention extra knowledge in the field that you wish to seek employment and a career in.

so you want to be an SA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3530824)

If you want to be completely underappreciated and backstabbed beyond belief, by all means, become a system administrator. The job itself is ok - it's the users who mess everything up.

Both... (1)

Dave21212 (256924) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530826)

You need to go to college for the training in the underlying concepts. This is invaluable over the years as things (technologies) change and you'll need to change with them.

On the flip side, many things you learn in college are crap ;) but that problem should be sufficiently offset by the opportunity to develop personal relationships (with professional colleagues, bartenders, cheerleaders, and if you are lucky - a few good advisors who can mentor you).

In short, go to college and get the sheepskin, at least a 4-year. You never know what you'll do from there as college can change your perspective on things.

Hope that helps, and good luck !


p.s. You may find that being a sysadmin is not as glamorous as you think :) hehehe.

p.p.s. Check out Lotus Notes and don't be fooled into thinking everything runs on Java !

Been there done that. (5, Insightful)

dj28 (212815) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530828)

I'm in college now. You are confused a little as I was. In Computer Science (at most universities), you have what's called a 'Software track' or 'Systems track'. In the Software track, programming and software development is more emphasized. In the Systems track, system administration is more emphasized. You should definately go to college, becuase as a sysadmin you will have opportunities to advance. Without a college education, you won't have as good of a chance to advance. College will also develope you socially and in other subjects such as political science, etc. College in today's competitive society is a must, especially with foreign competition becoming more feirce.

I am a System Administrator ... (2, Insightful)

stepson (33039) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530829)

... Without a degree. Lots of times on interviews, people ask "Do you have a degree?" To some people it matters, to others it doesn't. Generally schools like to see that you have a degree, for various reasons. Once I asked "If I did, would it even make a difference?" The person who was interviewing me said 'Probably not'.

My parents also always push to get a degree ... Sometimes i wonder if it would help, as right now I'm out of a job, and starting to get desperate .. ;). But I have one thing a person who spent 4 years in college won't have over me, and thats 5 years experience as a System Administrator. Who would you rather have in charge of your systems, someone who has been doing this for a while now, or someone who's only read about it?

Anyway, congrats on wanting to be an SA, its a good career choice I think, as you get exposed to a lot, and it can lead to other things, programming, DBA, network guy etc etc ....

Over all though, college looks like its a lot of fun, if a lot of work. If your parents will pay for it, I say go for it! Maybe you'll get to go to a few good parties ...

Choose no life. Choose System Administration.

more money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3530830)

If you want more pay, college will make a difference. And if you want to run the IT organization in 10 yrs, you will have to have college whether you use the stuff or not is a different question.

College, for three reasons. (5, Insightful)

Christopher Thomas (11717) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530832)

I'd strongly suggest college, for two reasons.

Firstly, whether it's fair or not, a lot of places simply won't look at your resume for any technical position unless you have a post-secondary degree of some kind. If you have many years of experience (3 minimum), you may be able to get by on past work alone, but even then you'll be less favoured for raises and promotions because of the impression that you're less "skilled".

Secondly, going through the computer stream, the business stream, or both, in college, will give you extra perspective on where the demands of management and the coders are coming from, and how to balance their requests. You'll be able to do a better job (not all of the job is technical).

Thirdly, it gives you flexibility and mobility in your job. You're qualified for being more than just a sysadmin, so you can take other positions if there are no sysadmin jobs available or if your interests change over time. Choice is usually a good idea.

In summary, I think that college would be very valuable for you at your current career stage.

Just My Opinion (1)

solarce (450240) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530833)

Now, I am just offering you my opinion and experience in this, but I am also a Senior and will be graduating in just three days. I have been working in a small office for the last 10 months as the Systems Administrator and I also plan to be attending college in the fall. ( http://www.sdsmt.edu ) My advice to you would be to do the same, considering the only reason that I have my current position is that I had, at the time of my hiring, plans to pursue a Computer Science Degree, well that and fairly good experience, for the position. On another note, my friend's father is the Head of Network Operations for a local isp and though he uses mainly Linux and Unices for his infrastructure, he has no say over hiring and has mainly those with a BS in CS or MIS and a MSCE or CNAA along with the degree and that is the primary reason they were hired. So I would say, to sum it up, that you should persue your degree and also try to work part time in a position that will give you Systems Administration experience.

College is always the better choice (2, Insightful)

jocknerd (29758) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530836)

Try and see the big picture. How do you know you want to be a Systems Administrator? And will you want to be one in five years?

Go and get your computer science degree. Plus you will never forget those four or five years. You'll make new friends.

Finally, if you can prolong your arrival into the real world, by all means do it!

Re:College is always the better choice (2)

Peyna (14792) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530874)

I don't think Computer Science is the path for someone looking to be a SysAdmin. Maybe more along the lines Computer Technology (Here at Purdue we have such a program, I'm sure there are similar things elsewhere.)

Don't do CS unless you really like math =]

Degrees (5, Insightful)

Caradoc (15903) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530837)

These days, I can pretty much guarantee you that a degree of any kind will get your resume looked at much faster than those without degrees listed.

In the whole dot-bomb craze, a lot of people dropped out of high school and college, and went to work for obscene amounts of money. Now, many companies have realized that it take more than a working knowledge of whatever field is popular - it doesn't matter if you're the world's greatest genius in a particular field if you can't do the *other* parts of the job, like interacting with customers, making clear notes about what you've done for the runbook, and generally communicating with your co-workers.

I got my degree on the ten-year plan. It's not in a computer-related field, but having it means that more doors are open to me.

Go to College (2, Interesting)

SurfTheWorld (162247) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530840)

Even given the arguments against going to college, I would still go for the experience. I've seen countless folks who've not gone to college (that I now work with!) who are paid well, but do not possess the "got to get this working no matter what" attitude that one gets while attending a formal college. Those co-workers are the 9-5'ers who call it quits at 5pm no matter what. My other college-educated co-workers are:
- more intelligent
- more hard working
- climbing the career ladder much faster

Now's the opportunity - jump in and learn all you can while you still can.

College is an OPTION not a necessity. (1)

neuroticia (557805) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530841)

I didn't go to college. [why do I get the feeling that saying that is going to get me a rash of critique on my spelling and grammar? *sigh]

Systems administration and most other computer-dependent fields are interesting in that they do not usually require a formal education, and if you're good enough the employers are usually willing to ignore a lack of certification as well. I have not had any issues with finding employment.

College is definitely an option, but many find it to be much more productive to spend the time assimilating as much knowledge as possible and getting their feet wet on their own. Certification is often a good way to get a "quick injection of stuff-that-people-think-you-should-know". What type of certification you pursue depends on the type of system you want to administrate, and the environment you plan on trying to find work in. There's MCSE certification which seems to be fairly popular.. CCNA, RHCE, A+, and a variety of others.

Figure out what OS you're interested in working with, what tools.. Research the average salaries, environments, requirements and make your decision based on that.

Personally- I think the best resource you can find for "A list of stuff to know" is monster.com--find a job you like the sound of, look at the requirements, and then LEARN!


Gotta get a degree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3530848)

You must have a degree (any degree!) for some companies to even consider you.

Most people also end up changing careers - having a degree (any degree!) will be a big help there too. Besides, where else are going going to learn to party right?

Its like this (1)

jsb2 (75391) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530850)

If you are a good sysadmin, college isn't for you. If you are newbie looking to go into sysadmin. Goto college. Expand your mind.

Otherwise join us. We are the overpaid, underage sysadmins who cause chaos to our users for fun.....

Air Conditioner Repair (2, Informative)

spring (116537) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530851)

Decide early if you want a trade, or a career in the tech industry.

College will give you an opportunity to think, learn, and develop research skills. Certification won't teach you anything.

I don't want anyone working for me who just knows how to be a sys admin. I want thinkers, people who understand that systems exist to benefit the business. Just about anyone can learn what it takes to be a good admin; not everyone can learn to think.

Technology is not the end; certifications and trade school won't teach you that.

Chicks_Hate_Me.. (1)

ThatComputerGuy (123712) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530854)

What an appropriate username for someone on /. ...

How About Certifications? (0)

rootmon (203439) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530855)

RHCE, Linux+, MCSE, etc? That way you can prove you have some degree of knowledge before you apply for a job. It can take months rather than years and some employers looks at certs over degrees (many comp sci majors know a lot about theory and concepts, but in practice can't write much more than basic "hello world" apps in Java and C++.) They may joke about "paper" MCSE's, but certs + experience is better than college and no experience. You'll be making just as much with 4 years experience as someone who studied for 4 years, but you'll have the practical knowledge.

It's a tough call in today's market... (2)

turbine216 (458014) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530857)

The job market right now is EXTREMELY thin, so you're probably going to be better off if you can really separate yourself from other candidates. At the very least, make sure you have SEVERAL certifications (an MCSE alone isn't gonna land you a job these days). Go for combinations of varying certs that compliment each other. For example, try pairing a CCNA (Cisco) with a CNA (Novell) or RHCE (Red Hat). That should get you off to a good start.

You might also want to look into a two-year technical degree to further compliment the certifications. It doesn't really mean much, but it does give you an advantage over the guys who don't have it. And besides that, it will allow you to "sit out" of the job market until it picks up again (analysts are guessing that the next two years should be pretty good for IT guys).

Good luck, in any event.

What sort of sysadmin do you want to be? (2, Informative)

happynut (123278) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530858)

I guess it matters what sort of system administratory you want to be. If you want to change tapes then you don't need much additional training.

But there is much more to sysadmin than that. The best sysadmins need just as much technical background as "programmers" -- they need to understand their system end-to-end, and know how to tune it, change it, and deploy it.

I know many programmers look down on sysadmins. But IMHO administration can be just as much a technical track as programming, and can benefit from as much background as you can get.

In addition, when I'm hiring sysadmins, what separates "junior" from "senior" folks is their ability to program. It might be in perl instead of java/c++/whatever, but I want admins to be able to automate their day-to-day tasks so they don't have to do things by hand all the time.

If you want to be a SA forever, don't get one (2)

MattRog (527508) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530859)

I've found that the largest barrier to entering management is the lack of a degree. The chance that you will be the *insert 3 letter business acronym here; C*O etc.* of a successful company (a la Gates, Ellison) without a degree are very, very slim.

If you don't mind being a SA forever, don't worry about a degree. If you want to be a CTO, VP Technology, etc. (making the big bucks, *really* being able to make a difference, etc.) then you'll need a BS/BA in the least (MBA doesn't hurt ;)).

I want a programmer as a system administrator (1)

isj (453011) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530860)

... that I wan't to be a programmer or an engineer. I want to be neither, in fact, I want to become a System Administrator.

The best system administators know how to program. At least they know their way around shell scripts, perl, and simple programming in C/Pascal/Delphi/whatever.

As a system administrator it is important to know more than "just" system administration. You should know a bit about network management. You should know a bit about system programming. You should know a bit about databases. You should know a bit about hardware. et cetera.

And remember, even if you do not currently want to be a programmer you may later decide to switch careers which may need more education. It is much, much easier getting education know than when you have bought a house, have kids, and so on.

College! (1)

agent0range_ (472103) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530861)

I'm in the same boat, well not really. I'm actually graduating from college in a few weeks. I really want to be a Systems Administrator, though. The program I am completing was mainly geared towards churning out programmers, but there were a few courses in which I learned a lot about system administration.

I think that getting your college degree/diploma/whatever would be your best option. It looks good on a resume, it shows you can stick to something hard, and it's fun. A lot of places won't even look at you if you don't have some sort of post-secondary education. You can also get co-op work in the sys-admin field. Nothing beats having a team of people hunt down jobs for you. Then when you graduate you have an eduaction AND experience.

Same boat. (1)

unicron (20286) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530862)

I also wanted a computer related college degree, but was met with the usual "c++ programmer or IT director?" major question. I wanted neither, instead I wanted to do networking, but their was nothing for me. MIS was serious overkill. I instead found a local community college that an associates degree in "Cisco Applied Internetworking", which I'm currently going for. I think with this, and my ccnp, I should be platinum in the job market.

As you for, they don't offer 4 year programs on resetting passwords, but it sure sounds nice!

My experience.. (4, Informative)

Sc00ter (99550) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530863)

I got the same crap from school.. Go to collage. I ended up going to a two year technical collage because I figured it would be more hands on and it would get me out of the door faster. Only after I started did I realize that this isn't what I wanted to do, they were teaching stuff that I didn't care about, and a degree from them, if anybody knew what they really taught, would be crap.

I dropped out after a year and started doing tech support at a local ISP making shit, had a friend that helped me get a foot in the door doing NOC work at MediaOne, did really good, they sent me to some solaris training, and I ended up getting a admin job at a little start up. So basically in the time that collage would have taken (4 years) I managed to be making 60k/year doing what I wanted.

Of course, I ended up getting laid off. So I guess the best advice would be if you stay with a nice big company (like a cable company). STAY! They had better benifits (might not seem like a big deal now, but they will), better 401k matching, WAY more stability, and they actually sent me to real training classes where I could get real certs. And don't listen to start ups, they say what they want to get you in the door, then they screw you out of what they said.. This hasn't just happened to me, I'm sure there is plenty of examples.

Timing's good for college (1)

Guido69 (513067) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530864)

With the tech job market the way it is, now is a really good time to get in some college courses.

While a degree doesn't get you all the skills you need, having one will demonstrate to potential employers your trainability and willingness to learn.

Mississippi (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3530866)

A professor at the University of Mississippi is giving a
lecture on the supernatural. To get a feel for his
audience, he asks: "How many people here believe in
ghosts?" About 90 students raise their hands.

"Well, that's a good start. Out of those of you who
believe in ghosts, do any of you think you've ever seen
a ghost?" About 40 students raise their hands.

"That's really good. Has anyone here ever talked to a
ghost?" 15 students raise their hands.

"That's great. Has anyone here ever touched a ghost?" 3
students raise their hands.

"That's fantastic. But let me ask you one question
further... Have any of you ever made love to a ghost?"
One student way in the back raises his hand.

The professor is astonished and says, "Son, all the
years I've been giving this lecture, no one has ever
claimed to have slept with a ghost. You've got to come
up here and tell us about your experience."

The redneck student replies with a nod and a grin, and
begins to make his way up to the podium. The professor
says, "Well, tell us what it's like to have sex with

The student replies, "Ghost?!? From way back there ah
thought ya said "goats."

C'mon, 4(+?) years of Boozing? DO IT! (1)

op00to (219949) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530869)

You could go to Chubbs or whatever technical institute would give you a Cert, but if you go to a good large University, you will have endless opportunities to work. At my Uni, I got a job as a network administrator for their large (20,000+) dorm network. I learned A LOT during that, and it looks pretty cool on a resume. From there, I plan to move on to the university's backbone operations group, which really would kick ass on a resume. Also, once you have your foot in the door at a university, it's trivial to get a job there untill you find a real-world one, the pay is usually decent, and job security at state universties is second to none...Why not put off the real world for four years, and spend that time learning to do fun stuff like paint or watch movies, and then drink beer and smoke reefer in the evenings.

School (2)

Mondrames (242558) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530870)

Go to school as much as you can. You will have the rest of your life to work. Not necessarilly college (which I think you should attend), but any formalized learning past high school.

I strongly believe that continuing education provides you with a better framework to deal with real-world problems.

In general you may find it harder to find open positions, or advance your career. Sad state of the world is that people are judgemental, and college is becoming a standard.

College also affords you the chance to live on your own but still have a strong support network if you get into trouble socially or financially - a safe place to screw up.

College (1)

raydobbs (99133) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530871)

I went the 'career first' route myself - and in the end, I now have to take the college I didn't when I first started in the IT/IS market. Personally, I regret it, as all the time I spent taking certification classes actually added up to more expense and more time than if I would have just pursued a degree from the local university.

It's easier when your younger - not only in the academic part, but the actual GETTING INTO COLLEGE part - as for some reason, jobs don't seem to understand older individuals WANTING to get their degrees later.

College IS expensive, but that's why the Federal and State government provide Financial Aid - to allow you to make yourself a more productive member of society (translation, paying more in taxes in the long run) in exchange for giving you a subsidized loan at good rates. Most of the time, they will even let you make no payments on it UNTIL 6 months after you graduate, then they keep your payments low so that you don't drown right away getting settled into your career ($50 dollars is a common monthly payment).

Go to college first - the job you get afterward will make the time and money spent worth it.

College?? Nahhhh (1)

Mad-Mage1 (235582) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530881)

I went for a year, got recruited out of High School and given a full ride to a University (which will remain nameless) for CS. I got there and wound up taking classes involving COBOL and FORTRAN and working on a new thing codenamed NT in my spare time with some other classmates (This was '93-'94). I wound up dropping out of college and going to work for my old HS District. Got put in charge of a telecom project to link the 3 schools and the district offices together on a network w/ Internet connectivity. Somehow pulled that off and then got hired by the NSP we used for the circuits. In the last 8 years I have very rarely ever encountered a situation where I could not explain my lack of a degree in a positive way. I now work for a Fortune 100 Firm as a Senior Systems Analyst embroiled in a national Win2K upgrade w/ ADS. So has a lack of college hurt me, no, in my case it helped. I am one of the few people my age (currently 27) that can say and prove over 8 years experience in the field. Knowledge is better and more useful than a piece of paper, and you will find most employers will agree.

Go to school (1)

natersoz (239301) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530882)

Learn fundamentals: physics, chemistry, math. From there you can adapt to any situation. Industry wants people that can think, not skill sets. You'll match up with the worst of all businesses by matching skill sets rather than mutual vision.

College is a great experience. I'll have my 20th year reunion next year. I've kept in touch with more friends from my college days than from anywhere else. Its a once in a lifetime experience. You'll have plenty of working years afterward.

How to fund it? In engineering, most schools offer excellent intern opportunities. You can come out debt free after your 5 years. I know lots of students who have maintained their finaincial sanity through good coop programs. Make it a priority in your search.

Do you really want to Sysadmin? (2, Funny)

SPiKe (19306) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530883)

Choose no life. Choose sysadminning. Choose no career. Choose no family. Choose a fucking big computer, choose hard disks the size of washing machines, old cars, CD ROM writers and electrical coffee makers. Choose no sleep, high caffeine and mental insurance. Choose fixed interest car loans. Choose a rented shoebox. Choose no friends. Choose black jeans and matching combat boots. Choose a swivel chair for your office in a range of fucking fabrics. Choose NNTP and wondering why the fuck you're logged on on a Sunday morning. Choose sitting in that chair looking at mind-numbing, spirit-crushing web sites, stuffing fucking junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pishing your last on some miserable newsgroup, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked up lusers Gates spawned to replace the computer-literate.

Choose your future.
Choose sysadmining.

depends on the company (2)

Apostata (390629) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530885)

There are two ways (generally) that you can become a Sys Admin for a company. The first takes for granted that you're looking for a company that knows what a Sys Admin does and actually has a separate IT department. The second way involves a company that has only just incorporated IT into their day-to-day business and is looking for Someone To Help With Computers (aka a Sys Admin).

The first scenario largely involves bigger companies and would most likely require an extensive (and diploma'd) knowledge of IT administration. The second scenario involves (usually) smaller outfits that are simply looking for an Alpha Geek with good credentials and a letter of reference from somewhere, not necessarily a seasoned vet or a college-trained guru.

It really depends on what kind of environment you're looking to start in.

Get your degree (2)

uberdood (154108) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530886)

I've been working for Raytheon for a bit over three years as a systems geek. They just hired a new systems geek to do the same thing I do in the same place on the same contract. They started him at $10k more because he has a degree, even though he has less experience.

Get your degree if you're going to enter the commercial sector in big business.

College (2)

Capt_Troy (60831) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530892)

Amazing how people don't learn from history, or in this case, now.

A few years ago, everyone was skipping college, picking up a "programming for dummies" book and making 50K a year riding scooters around the office.

Some of us went to college, worked hard, got degrees, and then went out and got the same jobs.

Then the economy went belly up and everyone without a degree is now trying to get the job they once had back. A lot of people with degrees are trying to get those jobs now too.

You might know your stuff, you might be super great, but most people will hire someone who cared enough about their career and what they do to go to college in the first place over those who did not.

There are a lot of people in these forums who would disagree I'm sure. But there is no denying that a college degree goes a long way in todays workplace. And since companies can't afford to make the same mistakes they made in the 90's, things will stay that way...

Definately college (1)

Ummon (15714) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530895)

I've been doing systems administration for the last six years after dropping out of college. I've been seriously regretting it for the last two. Don't get me wrong I love my job, most days it's a lot of fun and I get to play with all kinds of stuff. However, I am quite certain this is NOT what I want to do for the rest of my life (ever seen a 30+ burned out tech, it ain't pretty). The hardest part is trying to make time to go back to school. Really, really difficult to do if you're on-call or required to on-site during business hours.

If you really want to system admin, find out about working in the computer labs (they always need people). That way you'll get a taste while working on your degree. Just don't let it interfere with your studying. Draw a line and stay focused, otherwise they'll suck the life out of you (there's always a problem that needs attention now!!)

Good luck and don't get tied to proprietary or legacy systems, there might be good money in it for the short term, but long term it's a waste of time.

Existentialism (1)

KlfJoat (303651) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530897)

This is the true problem confounding all high school computer nerds. I wrestled with it, and hopefully you can learn from my mistakes.

I made the realization in my freshman year of college that there was NOTHING they could teach me relative to computers that I either didn't already know, or that would help me with my intended field of work: being a sysadmin. This caused me to fail out of college.

The problem is, later on I realized that I NEED that college degree in something, anything. You need it for a couple of reasons.
First, you might not want to be a sysadmin for the rest of your life. They have no certifications that I know of for being a biotech engineer. Having a degree in ANYTHING means you can buckle down and do the work required of a college degree.
Second, you might want to move up the corporate ladder. Sure, sysadmin is powerful, but you need to report to someone, your manager. Dilbert principle not withstanding, upper management is more apt to promote people with degrees over the person with just certifications. You have to think about what THEY value.
Third, the experience of college is something I believe everyone should go through. Some of the friends I made in my first attempt at college are still my friends.

In the end, it's your decision. But try to realize that it will impact the rest of your life. My older sister (40ish) has a husband, three children, and a million-dollar-per-year income from herself alone, and she is going back to college. She has her SEC license to sell securities, stocks, bonds, and insurance in three states, but because she doesn't have a degree, she can't be hired by the stock firm she wants to work for.

Oh, no you don't. (5, Insightful)

Apuleius (6901) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530898)

You think you want to be a sysadmin. That's because you're young and stupid. (Sorry, dude, but every high school senior is young and stupid.) You don't yet know how demoralizing it is to work as a sysadmin. The pay gets a lot less attractive as soon as you have a family. You get very little respect, very little appreciation, in order to do a good job as a sysadmin you have to give solemn orders to people above you in the org chart of your work place, which makes you a prime target at every round of layoffs. The hardware and software both such and drive you to exasperation.

The hours suck rocks through a garden hose. Trust me on this, there is nothing more demoralizing than rushing to work to fix an outage at 3 AM because your ISPs clients are getting mad at having to wait for their pron. The hours suck more when you're on call and you realize your wife is better looking and your kids far cuter than any of your cow orkers or clients, and that your wage rate cannot justify a single additional hour away from them.

So, forget about sysadminning, at least for now. Go to college. Shop around for areas of inquiry that might interest you, or might not interest you yet. Join the army. I'm not kidding. The army beats sysadminning hands down. Or try jobs that involve your hands or the open air. But for mercy's sake, don't sysadmin just yet.

Go to college. (1)

JazFresh (146585) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530899)

and learn how to program.

'Cos all the physics, biology, chemistry and engineering majors will become sysadmins once they find they can't get jobs. :)

Of the 7 electrical/mechanical engineers I knew in college, ALL of them have ended up as programmers and sysadmins.

College good... (1)

invispace (159213) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530901)

If you can, go to college... you might want to change careers in 5, 10, or 20 years... if you don't go to college you'll limit your options heavily.

Consider college.... (1)

Agarwaen The Tired (471456) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530902)

Look consider college if just for the social aspect. Let me put it this way I went straight out of High school to a low-end tech job and worked my way up. Sure, I'm farther now then if I went to college, but I'm 22 and haven't had a date in 5 years. I know no one my own age and rarely relate to those I do know. So basically I have to reinvent myself or stay alone the rest of my life. Not Fun. There are unforeseen consequences to breaking the mold.

College good for many things.... and YMMV (1)

bastion_xx (233612) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530904)

Any college experience is helpful, no matter what the job. In the long term it helps with interacting with your peers, especially if they are professionals. A common background and all that. And it historically gets you more money for the same job (go HR.... you bastards!).

But in the area of system administration, having a *fundamental* understanding of computer science will take you a long way--especially if in the future you decide system administration no longer does it for you. Personally, boolean algerbra, compiler design, structured programming, etc. Plus, the interaction with others in the same field is all good.

In my experience, college ehanced my skills, understanding for what those damned programmer types do, and has allowed me to quickly come up to speed on the skillz-du-jour to keep myself marketable.

You're young, so investigate them options! :>

Definitely go to college (3, Insightful)

DragonWyatt (62035) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530905)

They won't directly teach you how to be a good admin, but they have a lot to offer:
  1. All good admins had good mentors. A good college or university is the place to find them.
  2. While at college, you can choose a less challenging curriculum and still do some admin work on the side.
  3. At the end of your college career, you'll already have 2 or 3 years of experience under your belt.
  4. Stick with Unix- don't waste time with NT or Win2K. Then windows admin market has two dubious issues: A. The market is saturated, making them a $28k/year commodity; and B. It's much harder to distinguish yourself in the industry in a saturated market.
  5. Beer, women, and community. Those reasons are enough to make me want to go back almost every day :) .
I can seriously vouch for #'s 1, 2, and 5. By the time I left school, I had 2 years of sysadmin under my belt, and excellent skills because of a good mentor. I was even able to take my time and choose between a couple gigs > $70k.

Good luck!


parad0x01 (549533) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530906)

First of all System Administrator!? Its good you're not going to college, I don't believe you can major in Masochism. That job will give you more headaches than you can imagine, trust me I've done it. College is not just for learning about a subject
Its about learning who you are
. But its true. Secondly, I know it sounds great to hop into a job market right now, but when it comes time to make cutbacks the slackers who didn't go to college are the ones they look at first. Plus college is freakin Fun...have some damn Fun!

Go to school first (-1)

WORLOK (7690) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530907)

Like my dear daddy told me, "they can never take your education from you".... and ..."you have the rest of your miserable life to work."

Old man was right.

...but seriously (1)

mpweasel (539631) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530908)

I'm a sys admin with a BS in CS degree, and I work with a few sys admins who haven't gone to college or have dropped out. They're trying to go back to college now and pick up their degrees which, while may not be critical now, will eventually be necessary to any kind of advancement.

I'm glad I continued with my schooling. From my history and philosophy classes, believe it or not, I picked up more critical thinking skills than from the programming classes. School is good for you if you make good use of it.

College will be what you make it (2, Insightful)

FearUncertaintyDoubt (578295) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530909)

College can be a time where you immerse yourself in something and can participate in experimental projects and activities. Trust me, in most jobs, you don't get to do that. But in college, you won't have to justify your projects -- the payoff is the education, not the usefulness or profitability of the project. In college, you will find yourself with many people around you who are excited about learning and experimenting as you are (if you look).

Or you could spend it trying to live a beer commercial fantasy and wonder why you wasted 4 years and tens of thousands of dollars. Your choice.

go for the degree (3, Informative)

Coward Anonymous (110649) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530912)

If for only one reason - it opens doors.

Potential employers will give you more serious consideration if you have a degree. It doesn't really make a difference what you want to do, a degree in anything is better than no degree at all.
Also, keep in mind that you might go sour on being a Sys Admin and then all your certifications are worthless. A degree will not be.

If you want more reasons:
- your salary will be automagically higher with a degree.
- a good college will give you a well rounded background in the field you study. This will allow you to acquire new skills easily in that field. Most people fail to understand this point and don't understand why they are learning calculus or discrete math when all they want to do is program.

Go to college, study something that interests you and then go be a Sys Admin.

Going to school != not working (5, Informative)

nedron (5294) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530914)

I work for a large, multinational telecommunications company. The amount of money and the position you can ultimately achieve within many companies is limited by your educational background, while getting a good job to start with is generally more dependant on your work history. Here are my suggestions:
  • Go to school and don't sweat the grades (so long as you at least come out of it wth a C). The important part is the piece of paper that said you stuck with something for four years.
  • Work fulltime or parttime, ideally in the field you're targetting. If that's not possible, take almost any job and hold on to it. Nothing looks worse on a resume than someone who shops around. Holding even the worst of jobs for a long period of time shows that you are more interested in actually working than finding the next bigger/better paycheck.

    Almost as bad as not going to school is not working while you're going to school. Holding a job and getting a degree at the same time shows that you can manage your time and handle pressure.

  • Don't depend on certifications to get a job. Except for the meanest of positions (eg. Microsoft Exchange admins), a plethora of certifications on a resume is an automatic bit-bucket sentence at many companies, including ours. It usually indicates that you have little practical experience with a product and are basically milking the companies you've already worked for out of free training. Certs are good for getting entry level jobs in some type of customer service. Only consider them as a last resort. A degree looks better as it shows that you had the fortitude to stick with something for four years.

Go to school (5, Informative)

Mannerism (188292) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530918)

At the time that I graduated from high school, I was planning on a career in medicine or medical research. It made perfect sense because I loved science in general and biology in particular, and I was pretty good at it. So, I spent the next several years getting an honours B.Sc. in molecular biology. In my third year, I started my own software company to help with school expenses. By the time I graduated, I'd decided that, fascinating as it was, biology just wasn't a career thing for me, and I've been in IT ever since.

From that story, you might conclude that the time and money I spent in school was a waste, but that's far from the truth. First, I picked up plenty of soft skills, like research and writing, that I use every day. Second, and more importantly, I discovered what I really wanted to do. And of course, the whole university experience is not something to miss.

So, my suggestion would be to go to school. Don't tie yourself to a career path at the age of 17 or 18. Get exposed to a few different things, have some fun, and give yourself some time to decide.

Management Information Systems (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3530919)

Go to college! I can't stress this enough!!!!
Take something that will get a mix of programming and business courses. You may not be interested in the business aspect, but what you learn will definately help you in communications with management and other business-type people.

Definately College (3, Informative)

ruebarb (114845) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530925)

For starters, it's a ton of fun, period. If I could redo my tech career and have a Computer degree (I had a broadcasting degree instead) - I'd have loved it.

Second, a Degree stays, certs have to be renewed

Third, Many HR depts. still are hung up on the whole "4 year degree" thing - not all, and it's not as important as work experience, but I've missed a couple opportunities because of no 4 year degree in the tech field.

Fourth, Completing college shows employers that you have stick to it principles and can focus on long term goals. I know I've gotten some jobs as a college graduate even though I wasn't in the field.

Go - all joking about the ultimate party and co-ed showers aside, it'll be good for your career. You can always do certs in college too if you feel so inclined.

College, all the way. (1)

Big Ben August (4201) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530926)

Where do you think most of us learned to do this in the first place? : )

Seriously now, I was an engineering major at Cal Poly and did the sysadmin thing on the side... I graduated in '99, and they were looking for more sysadmins than metallurgists, so there I went. Not to say that all of that time went to waste by any means.

The university environment is a great one to learn in, and get paid doing it if you're lucky. Such a wide array of environments that you'd never dream of on your linux box at home. Sun, IBM, HP, NeXT (well, not any more, obviously), Linux, all in one place. Great learning, and shameless resume padding.


you can choose both (1)

Lurking Grue (3963) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530927)

If you're interested in college, and if you can work AND go to school, then you'll have the opportunity to have the best of both worlds. Many employers have some sort of college degree requirement for promotions beyond a certain level. While the propriety of such requirements can be argued forever, it doesn't change the fact that they exist. And it's not like college is a waste of time, either. You'll come out with additional experiences and knowledge that you wouldn't have been exposed to otherwise.

I did "grunt" work for 40-60 hrs/week while taking full class loads (including summers) in college. But I also kept up with computers as my longtime hobby. Because of this, I was able to get into the tech field and move forward with my career.

There are worse things than having a college degree behind you. But if you don't like the idea of going to school, then don't. You certainly don't need a degree to do sysadmin work. But be aware of the limitations that will likely be present if you choose not to obtain the degree. It's all about choice.

Other options besides CS? (1)

spunkypimp (17324) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530928)

Have you considered other options besideds a CS degree? Some universities are now offering majors in IT. RIT (where I go currently) was the first but I know that Penn State does too. Penn State's program is modeled almost completely off of ours and it's a lot cheaper. I know that IT isn't completely System Admin but it's pretty close. You take a lot of classes like "Shell Scripting". I'm a CS major so I can't tell you everything about it, but there's a lot of people here who really like the program.

Shoes (1)

jeremiahstanley (473105) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530929)

I was in your shoes about five years ago. I chose to take on (at the time) digital prepress as a career. That got morphed into being a sys admin after a while. But, the most frustrating thing I have ever been told when interviewing for jobs is that it appears that I'm not as professional or qualified due to my lack of a degree. I know it doesn't matter, the person interviewing knows that it doesn't matter, but the person at the top thinks that it's a Good Thing(tm).

The next headache that I dealt with was watching all of the people I went to high school with graduating college. I graduated from high school two years early, I could have been done with collge by the time I was 19. But, I chose not to go then and now I'm in my second semester.

College is a good choice, do it when you are young. Having not gotten 'addicted' to the money that comes from working full time, full time school is much easier to take. Trust me, you won't learn a damn thing about being a system administrator in your first two years but you will gain habits and interpersonal skills that you'd have to hard-fight to get out of school.

There are two paths for the sys admin right now that are worth looking at: Computer Science and Computer Information Systems. I personally think that the CIS programs are a joke at most schools and teach you nothing more than a simple business degree would if you took comp sci classes as your electives. I watched my roommate go through some of the classes and the closest he got to 'real' sys admin type work was in a Java class. A business degree and some computer knowledge would open many doors for you. But if you are like me, you'd like the comp sci program more (don't forget the math, it's important!).

My suggestion is to give school a try, cutting your teeth too soon means taking crappy jobs, enjoy your youth and don't work it away in a darkened NOC!


From my Experience... (2)

rblancarte (213492) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530931)

I think you need to follow your heart. Do what you want to do. However, let me talk about my experience.

I decided to drop out of college after getting a decent job as a system support tech. It eventually lead to a good network administration job. However, I the down turn of the market resulted in me being out of a job. The problem I ran into was that although I had a great deal of experience there were people that had experience AND degrees that ultimately became more desirable because of the degree. Thus I never found a job. I am now a bartender.

I am not trying to say you should go to college, but even though most people will tell you that college takes a long time and what you learn can be self taught MUCH faster - realize that the paper you get from them carries a lot of weight.

Oh yea, as a small end to my story - I am now back in school and headed into my 3rd semester trying to make up for lost time.

(Age 28)

Go to college... (1)

npietraniec (519210) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530937)

And take some english courses. Good Lord! I don't know where to start. Don't you know you can't start a sentence with the word but?

Anywho... I'm studying electrical and computer engineering and I'm doing sys admin stuff while going throught college. Anyone can do this stuff... If you're computer literate, get a helpdesk job somewhere and work your way up.

College is more than VoTech training... (1)

sracer (534850) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530940)

The thing to keep in mind is that a college education is more than simply "vocational training". You'll get to broaden your education, have a life experience that will help you throughout your life. The great thing about going to college and obtaining a degree is that you have quite a bit of control over the classes you take. The power to choose what you wish to study (to a certain degree) can spark other interests. Those interests may not directly relate to the job you want, but they will enrich your life. You may wish to be a Sys Admin now, but what about 5 years from now? 10 years? For most people, once you start along the path of full-time employment, it is very difficult to take classes. The pull of your job and the typical need to work overtime will consume additional time. Not to mention that you'll want leisure time. Oh, and should you get married in the meantime, it will be even that more difficult to start taking classes. Going to college for 2-4 years now seems like a lot now... but I guarantee that 20 years from now, it won't. Another benefit to pursuing a college education is that it gets you and keeps you in "learning mode". The key to longevity in this business is to continue to learn... never stop learning...never stop seeking knowledge. By the time you graduate with a 4 year degree, you will have matured to the point where this seeking of knowledge will remain with you. Just my opinion.

There's more to it (1)

gibbensr (247629) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530943)

There is more to college than simply learning a trade. College is a place to learn how to interact with a diverse collection of people, budget both time and money, meet deadlines, and take more responsibility than before. It's also a place to have fun and hang out with other people your age, experiment with things that you might not have a chance to experience otherwise, get in trouble, and meet girls. Although, considering your name is Chicks_Hate_Me, maybe you should scratch that last part. You may go to college and discover that you really are meant to do something other than system administration for the rest of your life. I learned more outside of classes in college than I did in them. Just my opinion.

You need to decide for youself (1)

rxchurch (238188) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530945)

As an IT manager/Senior Network-Unix SA who never completed college (or any certifcations for that matter), the best advice I can offer you is take the path you feel is best for you.
Whatever you choose, make sure you are going to LEARN something. Stay excited.
When I was in school (mind you, I was an English major), I didn't feel like I was learning at a quick enough pace. I dropped out.
I have earned a majority my my experience on the job (and the many, many years spent tweaking on my own) and find working to have been the best path for me.
Good luck.

Go to College (-1)

Whistler's Mother (539004) | more than 12 years ago | (#3530946)

Go to college. Why do you want to miss the glorious years of beer, women and out of control parties....to attend "Certification Boot Camps" with old farts trying to switch careers? Hahaha...I cannot beleive anyone would pass up college to be a sysadmin....plus, getting your "certs" now and just trying push yourself thru the door won't be as easy, since there are indviduals with much more experience and more education looking for jobs...although they might hire you if you work for cheap...
Put off coming into the "Real world", it sucks...go to college, get drunk, fornicate, get high and when you're done, get the paper they hand you and look for a job, the economy should be better in 4 years....
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