Author Topic: Husband wants to go back to school, computer sci stuff. crazy? legit?  (Read 21235 times)

sheepstache

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Oh lord, how did this post get so long? Sorry, I'm a bit of a worrywart.  First paragraph sums it up so feel free to respond just to that.  Thanks much!

My husband is 33 and graduated with two advanced degrees in music 4 years ago.  Since then, he has been working as a systems admin, general IT guy, for a distance learning program at the same school.  He always liked computers and sort of fell in love with them when it turned out he didn't have the talent to make it into the new york phil :)  Now he is seriously considering applying to Renssalaer for Computer Engineering or Computer science and I'm looking for perspectives on evaluating that.

He's a very self-motivated learner and likes his current job because no one really knows what he does so he can spend time teaching himself whatever he wants.  He does get extremely frustrated with his boss and co-workers and often stays late or goes in on the weekend because he says they keep him from getting real work done during the day.

The job only pays 43K and he's never applied for any others.  Given the low pay and his frustration with his boss, this bothers me.  I feel like he hasn't really explored his options in the field.  Maybe I'm wrong and you can get a perfectly good idea just from researching on the web.

He graduated with 100k student loan debt and enrolled in the income-based repayment plan so he's paying about $300, $200 towards interest.  Now it's down to 40K mostly because his mom generously contributed a couple big chunks.

We got married last year after three years together.  We keep separate finances.  So I haven't helped with any payments to his student loan.  He's by no means an aggressive saver, which is why I'm "pulling a Jacob."  After maxing out my 401k and Roth, I contribute to a taxable account (even though my salary is the same as his) and I've considered putting that money into a Roth for him instead, or at least matching his loan payments.  I like this idea over contributing to the loan payments myself because he's better at paying bills than saving. For example he has a special checking account that pays high interest but he regularly transfers money out of it into much lower interest savings for the psychological trick of not seeing a high balance whenever he goes to the ATM.  So, a responsible guy, just not mustachian or sooper disciplined. Anyway, this is probably fodder for another post.  Let's move on.

Rensselaer.  He's interested in it because a friend went.  He's only interested if he can get a decent stipend and he would try to get an RA position, so he does have an eye towards keeping costs low.  It's two hours away so I would stay in the city at my job.  He says he would apply to other schools as well but hasn't researched any others yet.  He's thinking two years for a masters.

As for me, I wouldn't mind quitting my job and moving.  I'm pretty adaptable job-wise.  I work on the technical side of events and performing arts and there would be a significantly smaller pool of that kind of work outside the city, but I'm good at finding ways to transfer my skills plus I could still pick up some money by coming back into the city for freelance until something else worked out.  The spouse said he hadn't imagined that I would quit my job and move and seemed to be thinking his coming back once or even twice a week would be the plan.  We are both pretty independent so I don't think the separation would be as big a deal as for other couples.  I thought of getting a roommate for our bigger bedroom so I might even pay less in rent. 

The other issue is I was thinking we would have kids in the next couple years.  My current job would be a good place to be when having kids because the hours are flexible.  But he would apply to go fall of 2014 meaning I'd be 33.  So I would just be turning 35 when he graduated, and I was hoping to have 2 kids before 35 (not because I'm, like, a control freak about my life plan, just, you know, the reality of female fertility).  But even with the most flexible hours in the world, 2 kids on my own would be pretty damn difficult.  So I could relocate to where he is.  Or if I wait til 35, he then has to deal with a newborn right as he's starting his first job.  When I brought this up he just responded that at that point he would have the type of job he could do a lot of from home, so he didn't think it would be too much of a problem.

My concerns are:
1. Like I said, that he hasn't gotten enough actual work experience to know his prospects.  He might find a situation with a less moronic boss.  He's a good communicator and I think his chances of getting a better paying position right now are very good.  He might find a place with room to grow, but he's worried he'll just get pigeon-holed at his current skill level.  Even then, I wonder if he might not find a place with tuition reimbursement.
2. That he's betting too much on the positive effects of education, ignoring the influence of personality and approach.  He mentions jobs that pay 200k but I suspect, particularly since these are jobs which are easily out-sourced, that there is a lot of competition for them, and he is not a competitive guy.  He's a beta male whose strength is more patience and methodical thought than ambition or revolutionary insights.  God, I hope I don't sound like a bitch.
3. The whole plan would seem really good to me if he weren't 33 and with very few years in the workforce so far.  He doesn't have any debt besides the student loan, but he doesn't have any retirement savings or investments either.  Part of this is is personal bias in that I had the realization that I would rather plug away at a lower income and save a ton of money rather than take risks in the hopes of pursuing a high-paying, high-stress career.  Part of this is selfishness too in that I worry I'll get to the point where I could be FI on my own but he won't even have adequate regular retirement funds in which case I won't feel comfortable retiring early.  (Oddly, part of this is feminism too.  I have no problem formulating a plan for what happens if his income doesn't live up to expectations.  But formulating a plan assuming he'll make a ton of money makes me feel uncomfortable because it seems sexist.)
4. I'm worried he's too in love with the potential of school.  So long as he's planning on school, he can imagine himself in an ideal job.  But I question how strong his motivation is when he won't even apply to other jobs now.  It seems like he only wants to move if the perfect thing comes up.  There is yet more personal bias here because he doesn't listen to my suggestions.  I try to get him to just go for an interview or ask for a session with an HR person to see if he can get some information about what companies are really looking for.  But he doesn't.  He says he really wants to develop something, solve a programming problem or something, so he can show a potential employer something he's created.  Which sounds great to me and he certainly spends plenty of time doing...computer-type stuff. But like 6 months ago he took a website development freelance job against my advice just for the extra money and has spent hundreds of hours on it, even though website development is not at all what he wants to do.  I just keep saying that he should have a very concrete plan but I get the nagging sensation he thinks of job stuff just taking care of itself if he goes to school.  Or that other people will find a purpose for him if he just gains enough knowledge.  This could absolutely be because I don't know enough about the industry or to understand his plans if he does have them.
5. I'm worried that even though he says his goal is to do it without going into more debt that once he goes through all the work of taking the GRE and applying that he will be so excited about the possibilities that he won't be able to give up on the idea (this is a guy who spent ten years studying a musical instrument, remember) (I should mention that in the big picture the fact that he has tunnel vision and is persistent and doesn't listen to other people can be quite endearing.)
6. In case you're not sick of hearing my opinions yet, I keep wondering why he doesn't tailor his goals towards experience he already has.  A lot of times when I hear him talk to other computer folks, they want to pick his brain for his knowledge of A/V stuff, since he knows a lot about video encoding and sound engineering.  Plus, there's that whole three degrees in music thing which you'd think might be useful for something beyond just lending the suggestion to his resume that he has a creative side.

The big upside is he would be happy.  He really likes learning.  Even if he didn't earn significantly more money, it would be nice for him if it got him the job opportunities he wants.  (He is not sure right now if he is more interested in code programming or hardware stuff but he seems to be leaning towards hardware, like hardware programming or design or radio frequency engineer.)  So in addition to general perspectives on the yes/no proposition, I'm wondering if anyone can give advice about what other steps he should take to maximize the experience if he does do it.  Or, for all my worrying, he might be doing exactly the right thing, and that would be nice to find out too.
Sorry for the super long post that ended up with more focus on the personal that I originally planned.
« Last Edit: May 12, 2013, 09:58:19 PM by sheepstache »

Joet

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I didnt really read the whole thing, but getting a comp sci degree after a (mostly useless) general ed/etc type degree is something I did myself.

Keep the day job tho, and do it part time/night/distance learning/weekends/etc. win/win

Never stop learning, and in the field you are referencing you have to be a shark. Not the biting part, but the always moving part. Any step not forward is a step backward.

jamccain

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http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/02/07/interview-with-a-ceo-ridiculous-student-loans-vs-the-future-of-education/

My default mode is to always avoid school if you already have a four year degree and it's iffy if you don't.  This is a link with an alternative from MMM himself.

savingtofreedom

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Hi Sheepstache,

I am also 33 and having my husband go back to school now would worry me - as it seems to be worrying you.  From my perspective your assessment of the situation seems pretty accurate.  Your husband may be able to get a job elsewhere with a better boss. 

Going to school could get him a better job but so could switching jobs or learning via the internet.  Not sure what he wants to do but there are a wealth of free resources online for learning how to code.

Also the fertility issues you raised are totally valid and his plans could either make you more likely to wait or make it harder.

If he likes to learn he needs to find a job that involves learning something new as part of the job requirements. I would imagine there are alot of computer friendly jobs out there like that. 

I like learning too but I also have to work.  I had a friend that kept on going to school - law school then business school.  I think in the end he should have just saved up some money working an ok job and then he could have retired early.


Tammy

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I vote for keeping the current job while taking classes part time. It's too easy to be an idealistic student forever. Especially with the student debt still unpaid from before, he needs to keep working.

sheepstache

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Arg, y'all are just agreeing with me!  I was sort of hoping someone would tell me I was being an unsupportive scrooge.  I've already made these arguments to the spouse and he doesn't listen.

He is thinking of how he can learn some stuff ahead of time to save on pre-req's so maybe once that starts I can wage a campaign to convince him that's the best way to do the whole thing.

expatartist

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Similar issues with my Better Half as well. But he's older. Actually, we're BOTH older. By 5+ years. My guy is an idealist - he's interested in getting a PhD or Masters in his field - and we both enjoy learning new things all the time. But the reality is we need to keep bringing in the income as well. He may get a Master's sometime if he gets a job that'll pay for it. I may get a Master's/PhD if I can combine it with a fellowship (and possibly a small child).

But, bottom line, for our decisions these days, it's about the $. And for most jobs, once you have a Bachelor's/initial qualification, that's the only full-time study required. Afterwards, it's getting Certified and re-certified in whatever your field may be. Once you're a grown-up, you've got to study while working full-time. It's tough, but that's why adult ed is such a money-spinner these days.

In your guy's field, much of the technology would be outdated within a few years, and he'll need to stay up-to-date with it via further, continual training. A full-time degree course isn't practical at his stage of life, however prestigious it may be. And he can get the networking opportunities in plenty of other ways.

seanquixote

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I work in "IT", but I am not in one of the highest paying roles.  The first thing I would ask is what is the purpose of a masters.  Your post says Computer Science or Computer Engineering.  If he is working in a general IT position (I'm assuming general Helpdesk type work and possibly some networking)  these roles are VASTLY different.  If he wants to program etc. then pick up a good book on programming.  I don't think that a masters is going to help him "break" into the field as it were.  It sounds as if he is already in the field, he just needs to find a different job or specialize in something he is interested.

I too have struggled in the past with the thought that "Education will save me..." but it will not "educating YOURSELF" will.  A masters in computer Science is not going to fix his issue.  In fact I'm not so certain that it would really help.  In the IT world EXPERIENCE is everything. 

My situation mirrors his fairly well actually. My BA is in English (not entirely as useless as one would first think).  After college I taught English and computers at a small private school.  During the summers I finished up a Computer Networking certificate program at the local tech. college (no extra  degree).  I have been working a Network/Helpdesk/Server Admin/itsgotlightsandbeepsfixit position for almost 6 years now.  It sucks at times but it pays the bills.  In that time I earned a couple of certifications (not exactly in my field but in the one that I thought I wanted to move toward.  These have helped but I would really have to push myself if I wanted to really advance.  A few years ago I thought "Hmm, maybe if i get a masters the big bucks will flow???"  well that is bullshit. Keep in mind if his previous degree is not in computer science that he will in effect have to do a BA in one just to have the background for a masters.  You can't just walk in with a music degree and start in on master's level computer science work...no matter how bright you are or think you are.  There are prereq's that will have to be filled.

My advice (and remember I'm just a random internet dude to you at this point...) is ask him what the hell kind of job he thinks the masters is going to "get" him.  Personally if he is interested in computers, and has a specific sub-field  ie. Networking or Programming or Web Development or Virtualization or Databases or whatever. (there's a shit-ton of sub-fields)...have him look into a certification (and there are a SHIT-TON of certifications as well, some good and some worthless) in that field and then GET A FUCKING JOB DOING THAT.  Absolutely nothing can substitute for experience in computers. 

In your discussions with him I would really focus on JOB...JOB JOB JOB.  What is the fucking JOB you are trying to get and then ask if there is a way to get the JOB without adding more student loan debt and wasting time obtaining a golden ticket. It sounds as if he is not sure what JOB he wants to get to just from the fact that he isn't looking despite having an idiot boss.  Idiot bosses are everywhere master's or no.  School is not always the answer.  He may be super-focused but his focus should include you and the family to be as well.   High-paying jobs are out there...but it doesn't sound as if he is even interested in that.  If he can cash-flow the thing part-time I would say fine.  Get your toes wet and try to learn something.  My suspicion is that once IN the program he may just say...."umm, ya know I was wrong about the whole master's thing"..again, I don't know your situation (or him) any better than what I can see in your post. 


GOOD LUCK!

BTW...you don't sound like a bitch, you sound VERY self-aware and that is awesome.  Hopefully he can gain a bit of that self-awareness.
« Last Edit: May 13, 2013, 03:19:30 AM by seanquixote »

SwordGuy

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I'm in the IT field.

Outside of academia, no one gives a damn what your degree is in or if you have one.  They only care about whether you can do the job.

He can learn on his own with a few local classes to get him over some humps.  Certification exams are functionally worthless (i.e., they don't really prove you know anything), but are useful for getting a job.  They cost a few hundred dollars plus a few hundred in books to study with.  One or two of those will do the trick.   That, and the ability to intelligently discuss what he knows will do the trick.   Some federal Goverment agencies are  now requiring some certificates in order to get hired, so check that out if that's the employment route he chooses.

It's a well known fact that folks good at music are often very good at programming so the music degree is not a real disadvantage.

A web page with good programming examples and a few well-written blogs on useful topics will also go over well.   Local software user groups are a great way to make contacts.




nktokyo

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Comp Sci Grad here. Also I only ready your first paragraph.

The knowledge from an IT degree is great. The degree itself doesn't matter. If you "can do the stuff" then when you meet people and network it is readily apparent.

I would encourage him to do courses at night or in his spare time to upskill in an area that interests him and start freelancing as soon as possible - initially for cheap but you will build up real-world experience and value a lot faster that way.

NumberCruncher

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Keep in mind if his previous degree is not in computer science that he will in effect have to do a BA in one just to have the background for a masters.  You can't just walk in with a music degree and start in on master's level computer science work...no matter how bright you are or think you are.  There are prereq's that will have to be filled.

Not necessarily... Schools are also getting more flexible working with "non traditional students." In many cases you can leapfrog over a lot of the basics as long as you can demonstrate proficiency (depends on the school). CS has so much information out there on the web that it would be easy to do.

That said, I do agree about certification programs being a good thing to look into. A generic master's in comp sci might actually make you less employable (fewer companies looking for one, even though the pay is higher).

adam

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I was just going to repeat this:
Quote
You can't just walk in with a music degree and start in on master's level computer science work...no matter how bright you are or think you are.  There are prereq's that will have to be filled.

and also repeat that he might be better off looking at getting a few certs and looking for another job first.

<- CS graduate. Instead of going back to school for an MS I've been focusing on getting a few technical certificates if that tells you anything about the industry.  Both options would be no cost to me because it would come out of training dollars.

foobar

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Your hubby needs to decide what he wants to do. IT has very little to do with computer science and engineering and CS actually has very little to do with programming. If you husband already likes programming and is somewhat good at it, then getting the masters might make sense (if you can actually do it in 2 years given the lack of prereq) because while it might not help on the job, it does help getting the interview.  If he isn't already programming a lot, then he needs to think about why he thinks this is a good career choice. Certs are a much bigger deal in IT (or DB admin) than in the programming field. I have interviewed a couple hundred people for programming jobs. I can't think of a single hire that had a cert of any kind. Some of that is field related (and about 1/3 of the interviews were college grads) but most was if you can't impress me by talking about what you have done in career up to know, why should I care that you are good at taking tests?  All that being said, if you expect a 200k job from programming, your delusional. Yes people make that much but not many even in high cost of living area.  Don't be fooled by the winners with their multimillion dollar stock options. Those are the lucky 1%.


In your husbands favor, he might have 20+ years of working left. Thats a long time and if you can find something you like doing and pays much better you should do it.

As far as the fertility, yeah the clock is ticking. You still have 5+ years where it is likely (not assured) that you will not have issues but that window is closing.  I don't know if 2 by 35 is reasonable (that is only ~3.5 years away if I did my math right) but if you want 2, you should be having that first one sometime around then at the latest.  You might want to think if retirement savings are the right place for your money. You might be better off getting 2+ years of living expenses saved up. And I don't RPI master program is like, but most of the ones I am familiar with are 60+ hours a week jobs. You go to class ~8-10, do coursework for another 20, do a TA for 15-20 more and then spend the rest of your life working on some type of research for your advisor. Which means if you have a kid (or are even pregnant) when he is in school you are going to be on your own a lot. That is pretty tough (but doable). It also sucks for the hubby that he gets to spend zero time with the infant.

sheepstache

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Thanks guys very much!  You are backing up what I've told him is my impression which is that demonstrable knowledge is the key thing.   And that a focus on a specific position is key. But it is sort of scary because now I will just be saying the same thing but being like, 'Also, some people on the internet agree with me!"

A question, for anyone aware, is how/if this differs for jobs involving hardware?  He gets that programming jobs would be available to him through independent work.  But he is also keenly interested in, like, hardware design and circuit design stuff, radio frequency engineer stuff, and he seems to feel like he can't just "break into" a field like that, that he needs the hard science background.


It's a well known fact that folks good at music are often very good at programming so the music degree is not a real disadvantage.
Oh, didn't mean to insult a music education!  I agree with you.

A web page with good programming examples and a few well-written blogs on useful topics will also go over well.   Local software user groups are a great way to make contacts.

See, I think he even knows that.  The issue might be time management.  He spends extra time at work because he finds some problem with drivers that interests him.  Then he comes home and works on a surveillance device for our apartment co-op.  Then he messes around a bit with his rasberry pi.  He does a ton of reading on various stuff.  He teaches himself php stuff for the website freelance job.  He takes apart a junk circuit board to try out a hot air gun he just got delivered.  Then he's exhausted.  So he convinces himself that what he needs is to be able to learn full time. 

Is there anything I can do on my end?  Like, help with blog stuff?  Document all his little projects?  Badger him to go to meet-ups? I have to invest in my knowledge outside of work hours too, so I can't get too invested in this, but maybe there's some high-impact low-effort stuff I could do.

At the end of the day, I guess it comes down to our relationship.  It's not like he's violating any rules or expectations.  He's not asking for help financially.  And there's no expectation about how much he's supposed to be contributing to family wealth. 

rugorak

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A few little things -

1. RPI is expensive. It is a good school (I almost went there and have some friends who did) but at this point in his/your life I would say the cost is more than the return. Especially since you don't live in the greater Albany area.
2. Most people fresh out of college wouldn't make that much more than he is making now. Not enough to justify the cost of school anyway. Headhunters have tried to get me to move to the city (I assume you are in NYC) for what he is making even though I am making almost 20k more in the middle of nowhere and I have a BS in computer science and almost 10 years experience.
3. IT is a very fast paced field. Pretty much what he is doing now with learning on his own he will NEED to do even after getting a degree. Just the nature of the beast.

At this point I think the best bet is to sit down and talk over what you both want out of life, what he wants out of life and then look into options on the job/school front. I would bet the better bet would be to keep working, and take a class here and there, maybe get a cert or two. Looking for another job is also a good idea. You said you are open to moving. If he is too maybe do that. Maybe he just needs to cut back a little on the outside of work stuff as well. If he is feeling exhausted and it is affecting your relationship maybe that is a bigger issue than the job itself. It may be as simple as dropping one of the things you mentioned outside of work.

hybrid

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I'm an IT guy, age 46, and I broke into the field cold at age 31 (during the boom 90s) so I can relate.  Here is my bottom line on such things....

Most guys that I know that are worth a $%^& in IT didn't go to school to get their knowledge.  They were mostly self-starters who had a knack for their field.  I think education from a university setting is highly overrrated here.  If your partner needs more education he can do it on his own via certification training.

OK, before I get the groans and eye rolls about how worthless certifications can be, let me clarify.  In the old days (2001) I got both an MCSE and a CCNA by buying the certification guides, actually studying them thoroughly, and then taking and passing the exams.  That laid the foundation for my career as a systems administrator, a job I have been doing for the past 13 years.  I run the network at a mid sized law firm and I have to wear many hats, so having that foundation to work with really helped.

The two other things your partner can do to set himself apart have little to do with IT but have everything to do with the legitimate steretypes about IT.  As a very general rule, IT guys too often don't have great social skills and very often hate to write anything.  These ancillary skills will open doors that are otherwise closed to some in the IT field.  If you want a job that pays well over 100K that will often involve management skills and interfacing with various non-IT entities within the company.  If your partner just wants to be a good propeller head he can certainly do that without the above skills, but understand that a guru with a lot of experience will eventually top out somewhere just above the 100K level.  Average pay for a decent sys admin is anywhere between 50K and 100K depending on where one lives and how much experience they have in the field.

In short, I think IT is a great field to be in, there is always demand for qualified people, and it pays well.  I am less than sold on the idea that one needs to go back to school to get the prerequisite skill set.

Spork

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I'm in the IT field.

Outside of academia, no one gives a damn what your degree is in or if you have one.  They only care about whether you can do the job.


Also in IT/computer field.  Others have re-iterated what SwordGuy said and I want to say it to: in the real world of computer stuff, degrees don't really matter.  Experience and "able to do it" matter.

In every place I've worked there's been "the guy".  Every place has one.  He may or may not be the boss, but in reality, he's the one that knows how everything works and he's the one that everyone goes to.  Every place I've ever worked "the guy" has not had a degree.  He's just been a motivated smart guy.

If he's not making as much as he wants, he might look outside of academia.  Around here, schools are the lowest pay for computer work.  I guess they have an endless supply of students and recent grads they can shop from.

I've actually only come across a few CS masters degree folks in the IT world.  (I've seen MS in business folks in IT management, but that's a different ball game.)  To be honest, they were always a little looked down upon -- sort of "ivory tower folks that know but don't do."  None of them lasted more than a year before moving on to another place.  All of them hand grand ideas -- none of which ever came to fruition.

... just my 2c.

Norman Johnson

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I am also in IT and I agree with what was said above. I will add that some companies do want a paper of some kind... where I works it's a diploma or degree in comsci. I also don't understand why he wants a masters unless he want to be designing systems or something, and if that's the case, you can't beat actually being in the trenches learning and fixing before you try to build something.

ETA: If he's a good communicator and also in IT, he's a niche product. He should market that instead of going to school IMHO.
« Last Edit: May 13, 2013, 08:58:45 AM by lilacorchid »

olivia

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I think you're definitely 100% right here.  I think it sounds like he loves learning, and maybe he also wants to delay real life further with more school since he doesn't love his current job.  It doesn't make sense to decide to go back to school to get a new job when you haven't even applied elsewhere.  And of course at this stage in your lives, more school and more debt makes zero sense. 

Can he take classes at his current employer?  If it's academia does he get free classes or tuition reimbursement?  I'm not in IT but I do work at an academic institution.  A friend of mine applied here but the pay was just not competitive.  Universities pay much, much less than private companies.   

foobar

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Engineering grad school is effectively free. If they don't offer you a TA or an RA, you don't go.

CS grads start at 60k (SF is more like 75k from what I have seen) which is quite a bit more than 43k. And you should also expect bigger raises over the first couple of years of employment.  From a money point of view, I think the degree would work out. But the lifestyle part is a lot harder.


A few little things -

1. RPI is expensive. It is a good school (I almost went there and have some friends who did) but at this point in his/your life I would say the cost is more than the return. Especially since you don't live in the greater Albany area.
2. Most people fresh out of college wouldn't make that much more than he is making now. Not enough to justify the cost of school anyway. Headhunters have tried to get me to move to the city (I assume you are in NYC) for what he is making even though I am making almost 20k more in the middle of nowhere and I have a BS in computer science and almost 10 years experience.
3. IT is a very fast paced field. Pretty much what he is doing now with learning on his own he will NEED to do even after getting a degree. Just the nature of the beast.

At this point I think the best bet is to sit down and talk over what you both want out of life, what he wants out of life and then look into options on the job/school front. I would bet the better bet would be to keep working, and take a class here and there, maybe get a cert or two. Looking for another job is also a good idea. You said you are open to moving. If he is too maybe do that. Maybe he just needs to cut back a little on the outside of work stuff as well. If he is feeling exhausted and it is affecting your relationship maybe that is a bigger issue than the job itself. It may be as simple as dropping one of the things you mentioned outside of work.

sheepstache

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Your hubby needs to decide what he wants to do. IT has very little to do with computer science and engineering and CS actually has very little to do with programming. If you husband already likes programming and is somewhat good at it, then getting the masters might make sense (if you can actually do it in 2 years given the lack of prereq) because while it might not help on the job, it does help getting the interview.  If he isn't already programming a lot, then he needs to think about why he thinks this is a good career choice. Certs are a much bigger deal in IT (or DB admin) than in the programming field. I have interviewed a couple hundred people for programming jobs. I can't think of a single hire that had a cert of any kind. Some of that is field related (and about 1/3 of the interviews were college grads) but most was if you can't impress me by talking about what you have done in career up to know, why should I care that you are good at taking tests?  All that being said, if you expect a 200k job from programming, your delusional. Yes people make that much but not many even in high cost of living area.  Don't be fooled by the winners with their multimillion dollar stock options. Those are the lucky 1%.


In your husbands favor, he might have 20+ years of working left. Thats a long time and if you can find something you like doing and pays much better you should do it.

As far as the fertility, yeah the clock is ticking. You still have 5+ years where it is likely (not assured) that you will not have issues but that window is closing.  I don't know if 2 by 35 is reasonable (that is only ~3.5 years away if I did my math right) but if you want 2, you should be having that first one sometime around then at the latest.  You might want to think if retirement savings are the right place for your money. You might be better off getting 2+ years of living expenses saved up. And I don't RPI master program is like, but most of the ones I am familiar with are 60+ hours a week jobs. You go to class ~8-10, do coursework for another 20, do a TA for 15-20 more and then spend the rest of your life working on some type of research for your advisor. Which means if you have a kid (or are even pregnant) when he is in school you are going to be on your own a lot. That is pretty tough (but doable). It also sucks for the hubby that he gets to spend zero time with the infant.

Wow.  I am not a persona who has a hard time believing they are right about everything, but it still surprises me how much people's thinking corresponds with my own.  It makes me think maybe my presentation of the situation is super biased that I'm hearing exactly what I expected to hear.

Yeah, I did consider that I ought to be prepared to live off savings for a couple years when it comes to babies.  My thought was that since the principle of roths are accessible at any time with no penalties that there wasn't any downside to stashing the max in there in the meantime with the hope of not needing it.  I have something under a year of expenses in cash-type stuff and then maybe half a year in stock index funds in a taxable account, so I do have a cushion.  Of course, it's impossible to say with precision what constitutes a year's living expenses with so many variables.  It does make sense to revisit the 401k maxing thing.  Certainly it would make less sense taxes-wise once the spouse was in school.
Sorry for thinking out loud here, but, yeah, you bring up a really good point. When I decided to super stash my "old-woman" money for a few years, it was based on the assumption that my husband was going to be working when we had kids.  Since I was going to keep working too, that didn't strike me as a big consideration, but I guess I did base some assumptions on it, like that my reserve of non-retirement savings would be adequate.  Also that if something medically prevented me from working as planned that there would be someone else in the family with decent medical insurance.
When I bring this up with him, he doesn't really have a response to the idea of my having a kid while we're still living apart.  Probably because he hadn't thought about the whole thing until I brought it up.  When I point out the difficulties/dangers of doing it after 35, he makes some joke about how his sperm are super strong and will make up for any weaknesses in my own reproductive system.  His mom didn't have a kind until 39 so even though he rationally knows the medical issues, I think it's not really in his cognitive schema as a pressing issue.
I'm personally of the opinion that there's no point waiting until everything's "perfect" to have a kid so I'd rather do it sooner and I certainly don't want to take the risk that when I'm 35 he's going to want to put it off even more for a new reason.  I need to find out his full feelings on it right now but it's not always easy.

foobar

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You are talking into an echo chamber.  It doesn't mean your position is right (or wrong). Go to a law school board (I am guessing) and you will find tons of people pushing more education and higher debts. That is the choice they made and they need to justify it.

I would try and resolve the kid issue.  And I would wait until you have 1 for a year before thinking about the second.  I know several people that have rediscovered the joys of working after the first kid. Then I would talk to some schools and see if grad school is even an option.


Wow.  I am not a persona who has a hard time believing they are right about everything, but it still surprises me how much people's thinking corresponds with my own.  It makes me think maybe my presentation of the situation is super biased that I'm hearing exactly what I expected to hear.


mustachecat

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If he's already working in IT for an academic institution, he should look into similar jobs at CUNY, or NYU Poly, or any NYC school with a computer engineering/science concentration. I think for most places, tuition remission kicks in after you work there a year.

Jamesqf

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All I can say is that going to school for a CS degree (and later advanced degrees) at a similar age worked for me.  Of course I was coming from a background of basically farm/construction labor, not a degree in a different field.

I do think RPI, or other non-state school, is likely to be a mistake, both financially and from the point of your personal life.  You don't say where you live (or I missed it), but mention a 2 hour travel time.  That's going to put a real strain on any relationship - been there, done that myself, and seen it happen to friends.

As for the sugestion that he can get a programming/development job without a degree, and be able to handle that job competently, that's pretty much BS.  It's possible to get a job, if you are the sort of person who is good at networking and bullshitting people, but those are qualities that are almost always incompatible with those needed to do good programming.  (You can talk BS to humans, and some of them will believe it, but you can't BS silicon...)

(There's a lot more to programming that just knowing how to write code.  Indeed, I've made a good bit of money over the years, fixing the things that this sort of "programmer" writes.)

There is also the fact that getting into the academic world gets you into a professional network with access to good jobs.  Indeed, I think every actual job I've had, and a good share of the clients I've had since I started working independently, came directly or indirectly from that academic network.

Rebecca Stapler

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My spouse also has a degree in a completely different field but taught himself software programming while working at a job that gave him a lot of free time. He moved into a new position that was promising on the tech side (but still in his degree field) and it turned out to be a technological dead-end. He kept plugging away at picking up the knowledge he needed -- by taking community college classes that would be prereq's but also give him new knowledge, and starting his own projects that he could use in a portfolio of sorts for any opportunities that came up. Wouldn't you know it, but he kept his ear to the ground and he was prepared for a perfect opportunity and has been happily working in the software development field at a non-profit for a year and a half. We are incredibly glad that he didn't take on more SLs, as we're already over $200k in SL debt.

I highly recommend that your spouse continue pursuing his interests, connect with people at Meet ups and other networking events, even go to a few conferences if it's up his alley, and keep his eyes peeled for the next opportunity. With computer science, potential employers can tell whether you'll be able to cut it by looking at your work. You can also easily freelance if you truly have a niche. He could supplement his salary with freelance work. My spouse used Elance to find gigs.

I lived in the Capital District, and IDK where you live now, but we spent many years trying to move out of it! 

Rebecca Stapler

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You are talking into an echo chamber.  It doesn't mean your position is right (or wrong). Go to a law school board (I am guessing) and you will find tons of people pushing more education and higher debts. That is the choice they made and they need to justify it.

I would try and resolve the kid issue.  And I would wait until you have 1 for a year before thinking about the second.  I know several people that have rediscovered the joys of working after the first kid. Then I would talk to some schools and see if grad school is even an option.


Wow.  I am not a persona who has a hard time believing they are right about everything, but it still surprises me how much people's thinking corresponds with my own.  It makes me think maybe my presentation of the situation is super biased that I'm hearing exactly what I expected to hear.


No, I don't think you'll find that at all. You will find a lot of people who have a shitload of debt and are familiar enough with the terrible legal market to discourage everyone from going to law school.

Christiana

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I went into a CS master's program after getting degrees in physics, but I was a part-time student and I found a flexible nearly-full-time job to live on and pay for school with.  I ended up dropping out of the master's program halfway through, because I was learning more of the computer science and programming that I wanted to learn at my job, and also I was starting a family.  I certainly wouldn't recommend your husband taking on more student loan debt.  And does he have the math background to keep up in the more theoretical graduate-level CS courses?

Also, about him getting more into the hardware and design side of things:  my husband is getting into that a lot too, but he is teaching himself.  He has started a small side business selling kits for one of the circuits that he designed--his Stella Amp guitar amplifier.  It's not bringing in a lot of money, but I wanted to point out that partial self-employment is another way of breaking into that field, particularly for someone with a weaker background in math and electrical theory.  For my husband, some of the math and theory he figures out on his own, some I help him with, and some he determines empirically by just building the circuit and playing with different component values.

In any case, your husband should be looking for a better full-time job, now that he has some real work experience behind him.

foobar

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I have made good money cleaning up after guys with CS degrees from top 10 programs and even better money on my own. I have met very few good programers without college degrees. I have met a ton that have degrees in other fields (math, EE, mechanical, bio, and one music guy) that are top rate. The tough part is getting that first job. After that it is all about your reference. Of course that assumes your really good. If your just average (and most people are in that category), your need for that piece of paper increases.  On the other hand if you can point to 2k lines of code that you contributed to the linux kerna (or apache, rails,....l, no one will give a crap about your degree. 

And yes being a good developer is more than just reading learning python in 30 days. But there is enough published stuff (i.e the number of MIT and Stanford lectures, books, web articles) out there about the rest is more than enough to get someone past the MS level. A good chunk though comes from getting 5k+ hours of experience in. YMMV of course


As for the sugestion that he can get a programming/development job without a degree, and be able to handle that job competently, that's pretty much BS.  It's possible to get a job, if you are the sort of person who is good at networking and bullshitting people, but those are qualities that are almost always incompatible with those needed to do good programming.  (You can talk BS to humans, and some of them will believe it, but you can't BS silicon...)

(There's a lot more to programming that just knowing how to write code.  Indeed, I've made a good bit of money over the years, fixing the things that this sort of "programmer" writes.)

spider1204

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I work in the software field as well, graduated with Electrical Engineering which while related is still different.  Just spent several months after graduation learning how to write better software, wrote an Android application and then used that to get a development job and get all kinds of requests every week just from having the resume online.  So, I have to agree with everyone saying that if he wants to get a software development job, he needs to learn it (sounds like he's already well on the way), then produce an easily demonstrable project, then start applying for jobs.

However, I'd also like to add something else, I would try to find out from him whether or not this desire for education is really coming from the desire to get a better job.  From your posts it sounds like he may actually just desire the free time to learn, potentially on his own, but he knows that more socially acceptable option is to go back to school.  If that's true that probably two things can come out of it.  First, it's a great opportunity to talk about the benefits of becoming FI.  Second, maybe it could be a better option to try and reduce his hours at work or even quit completely in order to focus on building up his software skills and portfolio enough to get a job.

If he really wants a hardware job it's probably more likely that he'd need to go to an engineering school.  However, if he actually just wants to learn about it more and play around, then he's probably better off getting a better paying IT or software job, then becoming FI.

Jamesqf

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I have made good money cleaning up after guys with CS degrees from top 10 programs and even better money on my own. I have met very few good programers without college degrees. I have met a ton that have degrees in other fields (math, EE, mechanical, bio, and one music guy) that are top rate.

I don't say it's impossible, but in my experience it's pretty darned rare.  (Though technically my BS is in math & physics, 'cause the school didn't offer a CS degree back then.)  Oh, they may think they're good, and they may even have convinced other people that they're good, but when you finally untangle their 10K lines of spagetti code, you discover (actual example) that they're doing C++ string compares in a 5-level deep nested loop, which works fine on small test input, but turns into a hours-long run on real data.  Turned it into a few hundred lines of yacc/lex code, which took a few minutes to run.

Quote
And yes being a good developer is more than just reading learning python in 30 days. But there is enough published stuff (i.e the number of MIT and Stanford lectures, books, web articles) out there about the rest is more than enough to get someone past the MS level. A good chunk though comes from getting 5k+ hours of experience in. YMMV of course

Sure, a person could learn it all themselves.  There are no mystic secrets that need to be passed by word of mouth to new initiates.  (Or if there are, I wasn't given them.)  The point is that the great majority of people don't bother to learn the hard stuff.  A quick read through "Dummies Guide to Fad-language-du-jour", a slick-looking UI, and they're done.

spider1204

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Quote
Sure, a person could learn it all themselves.  There are no mystic secrets that need to be passed by word of mouth to new initiates.  (Or if there are, I wasn't given them.)  The point is that the great majority of people don't bother to learn the hard stuff.  A quick read through "Dummies Guide to Fad-language-du-jour", a slick-looking UI, and they're done.

While I agree with you there, just learning on your own with one of those dummy guides and a slick UI will get you a pretty bad developer, does this sound like that kind of guy?

Quote
See, I think he even knows that.  The issue might be time management.  He spends extra time at work because he finds some problem with drivers that interests him.  Then he comes home and works on a surveillance device for our apartment co-op.  Then he messes around a bit with his rasberry pi.  He does a ton of reading on various stuff.  He teaches himself php stuff for the website freelance job.  He takes apart a junk circuit board to try out a hot air gun he just got delivered.  Then he's exhausted.  So he convinces himself that what he needs is to be able to learn full time. 

He sounds like someone that is really interested in learning for it's own sake and so would really be into figuring out the hard stuff.

foobar

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You need to hang out with more top 10 school lawyers. They have never made a mistake in their lifes:O. If you feel better ask about buying a m5 versus a used civic in a BMW forum, if fox news is biased on a liberal on, if we should limit assualt weapons on a NRA one, ... .  Look how many people here focused on the cost of school. Grad school with an RA is free. They actually pay you (not much but more than enough to live on). There will be an opportunity cost of about 50k but if you can get a job paying 60k, you will make that up  in 5 years. The lifestyle (2 hours from wife, having kids) is a much bigger issue.



No, I don't think you'll find that at all. You will find a lot of people who have a shitload of debt and are familiar enough with the terrible legal market to discourage everyone from going to law school.

foobar

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Good programming is rare period.  And yes there are a lot of programmers with inflated egos.  But there was little correlation between schooling and any of that.

Ideally I would say go to school. In reality, that is going to be tough option for him right now. In which case the bootstrap approach might be the way to go. You are going to struggle to get an interview at google without a degree but if you are persistant and build a portfolio (programming is way to vague. Are you building websites, back ends for those websites, iPhone apps,....) you can get yourself into a job. After it is up to you. But if you think programming is going to be less hours than IT, have less meetings and irritating meetings, and so on, you are being optimistic. And you should expect to do future learning on your own time. Stuff has a life time of 10-20 years. When it is dying you want to be moving to something else. In my 15 years I have accumulated expertise in at least 3 dead end technologies (no one is going to pay for a Mac OS 7 expert or a window mobile pre 7 guy) any more. And if they were you wouldn't want those jobs unless you are retiring soon.

I have made good money cleaning up after guys with CS degrees from top 10 programs and even better money on my own. I have met very few good programers without college degrees. I have met a ton that have degrees in other fields (math, EE, mechanical, bio, and one music guy) that are top rate.

I don't say it's impossible, but in my experience it's pretty darned rare.  (Though technically my BS is in math & physics, 'cause the school didn't offer a CS degree back then.)  Oh, they may think they're good, and they may even have convinced other people that they're good, but when you finally untangle their 10K lines of spagetti code, you discover (actual example) that they're doing C++ string compares in a 5-level deep nested loop, which works fine on small test input, but turns into a hours-long run on real data.  Turned it into a few hundred lines of yacc/lex code, which took a few minutes to run.

Quote
And yes being a good developer is more than just reading learning python in 30 days. But there is enough published stuff (i.e the number of MIT and Stanford lectures, books, web articles) out there about the rest is more than enough to get someone past the MS level. A good chunk though comes from getting 5k+ hours of experience in. YMMV of course

Sure, a person could learn it all themselves.  There are no mystic secrets that need to be passed by word of mouth to new initiates.  (Or if there are, I wasn't given them.)  The point is that the great majority of people don't bother to learn the hard stuff.  A quick read through "Dummies Guide to Fad-language-du-jour", a slick-looking UI, and they're done.

Dee18

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It sounds like you each have a dream here...you want to have kids soon and he wants to go to school.  Can you agree that neither of you will incur debt and you will each try to attain your dream?  Yes, it will not be the most conventional way if you have a child while your husband is out of town.  But (as a single parent by adoption) having a child on your own is something lots of women do...and you would not be completely on your own.  I don't think this has to be an either or situation.  It does not sound like he is eager to have kids at all.  I have no idea if that's because he doesn't care that much about having kids, he doesn't get the biological clock issue, or he just has another dream he wants more right now.  But I think his dream is as legitimate as yours (as long as he doesn't have to take out student loans) so why not try to figure out how to achieve both?
« Last Edit: May 13, 2013, 05:16:35 PM by Dee18 »

secondcor521

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Obviously we haven't heard your husband's side of things, but it does sound like he might be trying to escape his current bad situation by going back to school.

Before your husband goes back to school, he really should figure out what kind of job or career he is interested in and if possible what kind of organization he would like to work for before he starts getting more education.

There are a huge number of fields and subfields that have been mentioned here, and the education and prepwork for each is different.  Just as an example, I have a BSCS and work with EE's, but neither of us could or would want to do each other's jobs.

Spending 2 years towards a CS master's degree when he really wants to be a audio engineer is going to be mostly a huge waste of resources it sounds like you don't have to spend.  Can't speak to the school, but I'm personally a believer in good state universities with good engineering programs.  That will get his foot in the door pretty much anywhere, and then it's up to his ability to demonstrate what he knows.

If he goes for a CS degree, I'd recommend a BS, not an MS.  MS's are usually not paid any better than BS + experience, and they sometimes can have a harder time of it because they'll be viewed as some combination of overqualified / wanting to be paid more / being too theoretical to be practical.

If he wants to work in R&D for a large company, he won't even get a look without a bachelor's degree in CS, EE, or similar related field.  If he wants to go out on his own or work for a smaller company (say, <100 people), certifications and/or real world projects would probably be workable, especially since it seems like the availability of candidates is such that it is turning toward a job-seeker's market.

All that aside, the two of you need to talk and get on the same page about kids.  That's a much bigger issue, and it sounds like there hasn't been enough talking on that subject yet.  My 2 cents.

Good luck.

Aigeus

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You need to hang out with more top 10 school lawyers. They have never made a mistake in their lifes:O. If you feel better ask about buying a m5 versus a used civic in a BMW forum, if fox news is biased on a liberal on, if we should limit assualt weapons on a NRA one, ... .  Look how many people here focused on the cost of school. Grad school with an RA is free. They actually pay you (not much but more than enough to live on). There will be an opportunity cost of about 50k but if you can get a job paying 60k, you will make that up  in 5 years. The lifestyle (2 hours from wife, having kids) is a much bigger issue.



No, I don't think you'll find that at all. You will find a lot of people who have a shitload of debt and are familiar enough with the terrible legal market to discourage everyone from going to law school.

Uh ... I went to better than a top 10 law school and I would not tell people to follow in my footsteps.  Although I might be a little bit overly negative right now.  The legal market is just not what people imagine it to be.

foobar

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A MS is much cheaper than a BS. A MS has 0 tuition and you get a stipend of like 1k/month with most  RA or TA positions. a BS is pretty much going to be 5-10k/yr (at a public school) for the same 2 years. Personally I think it is a bit of pipe dream of getting into RPI or any other masters unless there is something we are not being told. There is a reason why people don't skip BS degrees. You generally can't get into a MS without a BS or industry experience in a related field. The university doesn't want to admit people that are going to fail out. Asking someone at RPI if admissions is remotely possible might end this dream early.




If he goes for a CS degree, I'd recommend a BS, not an MS.  MS's are usually not paid any better than BS + experience, and they sometimes can have a harder time of it because they'll be viewed as some combination of overqualified / wanting to be paid more / being too theoretical to be practical.


Jamesqf

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If he goes for a CS degree, I'd recommend a BS, not an MS.  MS's are usually not paid any better than BS + experience, and they sometimes can have a harder time of it because they'll be viewed as some combination of overqualified / wanting to be paid more / being too theoretical to be practical.

If he wants to work in R&D for a large company, he won't even get a look without a bachelor's degree in CS, EE, or similar related field.

A good point, which maybe moderates some of what I said above.  I do tend to think of CS as being on the R&D side of things.  It may well be different if you're developing consumer/business apps and so on.  Which points up what others have said, that your husband probably should have a better idea of exactly what he hopes to accomplish with the degree.

rugorak

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CS grads start at 60k (SF is more like 75k from what I have seen) which is quite a bit more than 43k. And you should also expect bigger raises over the first couple of years of employment.  From a money point of view, I think the degree would work out. But the lifestyle part is a lot harder.

I must be looking in all the wrong places. I have a CS degree and almost 10 years experience and a certification. I just break 60k with some extra pay I get ($57k without). Most places seem to scoff that I want what I make plus cost of living. But then again 60k where I live is $118,452 in SF based on Best places cost of living calculator.

Jamesqf

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But then again 60k where I live is $118,452 in SF based on Best places cost of living calculator.

Yeah.  I could likely make close to $200K in the Bay Area, but I'd need about $2 million to enjoy the quality of life I do now.

1tolivesimply

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My default mode is to always avoid school if you already have a four year degree and it's iffy if you don't.

Agree 100%.
Plus, as someone with a Bachelor's in Computer Engineering & a Master's in Telecommunications (working on a different field BTW), I can tell you that in that field, it doesn't really matter if you have a degree or not, it's all about your experience and certifications.

I didn't read the whole post, but if he works on IT, he'd be better off getting some industry certifications, A+, Network+, Cisco, etc, etc, they cost less than a degree, he will learn more, and will definitely find a better job making a decent salary.

If he is a programmer, I do not know of any certifications, but he'd be better off trying to find a better job (based on his experience) and go from there, if he's a fast learner and can program on different languages and platforms, he should be able to switch jobs & get salary increases way faster than it would take to go through the process of applying for schools, and study for at least 4 years (which would definitely be more if he's only going to do it part time), just to find out that he doesn't know enough to "qualify" for whatever position is available at that point.

foobar

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Must be because your below average:). Average CS guy starting out makes 60k. Obviously that is biased by COL.  OP is in NYC so I expect him to be above the average starting salary.  FWIW 118k in the SV or SF for someone with 10 years of experience seems perfectly reasonable.  If he moves to some cheap place the differential will remain the same.  I was making more than that 8 years ago before bonuses and the other compensation (stock options, espps, sabbaticals,....).  Salaries have only gone up since then. The downside is that if your making 120k, you still can't afford to buy a house without being really aggressive loan wise. It is a good place to go, save money (30% of 120k is a lot more than 50% of 60k), have fun, and then move somewhere else to retire.

CS grads start at 60k (SF is more like 75k from what I have seen) which is quite a bit more than 43k. And you should also expect bigger raises over the first couple of years of employment.  From a money point of view, I think the degree would work out. But the lifestyle part is a lot harder.

I must be looking in all the wrong places. I have a CS degree and almost 10 years experience and a certification. I just break 60k with some extra pay I get ($57k without). Most places seem to scoff that I want what I make plus cost of living. But then again 60k where I live is $118,452 in SF based on Best places cost of living calculator.

sheepstache

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I don't like to seem to be ignoring a thread that has been so responsive.  But I am trying to get as good an understanding of the situation as I can to be able to be more specific and it takes time.

He says he wants to make stuff and solve problems.  One of the reasons he's resisted leaving his current position is because he's started some projects that he thinks would be worth putting into a portfolio to apply for jobs more like what he wants.  I believe the projects are programming related*.  He's solid on the fact that he doesn't want to to go into debt for this so he will only go to school if he gets offered a TA/RA position.  He's going to pick a couple other programs to apply to in addition to RPI.  Something I really don't get is that he only wants to go if he can get into a really good school.  None of the "good" schools are in New York City.  (RPI is the only one where I could reasonably stay put in nyc during; others we would have to move.)  If he doesn't get into any of the schools, he'll at least have the portfolio projects to apply to different jobs with.

*I think one of them is building a program that would automatically handle all the stuff he does with editing, compressing, and storing videos that normally takes him 15 hours a week.  I think there was something else where there was a problem getting certain video devices to talk to each other but after he'd solved it he found out someone else had a solution already and that it was simpler than his.  So like obviously that second one doesn't count but I mention those as the types of things.  He does also do some hardware stuff as a hobby but I guess not at the level yet where ingenuity would mean solving novel problems or unique tasks.
« Last Edit: May 15, 2013, 12:50:52 AM by sheepstache »

atrian

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Hello,

I'm a CS grad and work in the tech industry. If your husband is serious about getting a masters in CS, he should check out what Udacity and Georgia Tech are offering soon: an online masters in CS under $7000.. much more flexible and reasonable than pulling a school loan!

You can read more about it here:
http://allthingsd.com/20130514/udacity-will-offer-masters-degrees-in-cs-from-georgia-tech/
http://www.omscs.gatech.edu/faq/

I'm considering this option myself :)
« Last Edit: May 15, 2013, 01:41:46 AM by atrian »

rugorak

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Must be because your below average:). Average CS guy starting out makes 60k. Obviously that is biased by COL.  OP is in NYC so I expect him to be above the average starting salary.  FWIW 118k in the SV or SF for someone with 10 years of experience seems perfectly reasonable.  If he moves to some cheap place the differential will remain the same.  I was making more than that 8 years ago before bonuses and the other compensation (stock options, espps, sabbaticals,....).  Salaries have only gone up since then. The downside is that if your making 120k, you still can't afford to buy a house without being really aggressive loan wise. It is a good place to go, save money (30% of 120k is a lot more than 50% of 60k), have fun, and then move somewhere else to retire.

Or maybe I am looking in all the wrong places. Any suggestions on where to look? I am more on the sys admin/engineering side these days. I script all the time but haven't written code for software in ages. The listings I have seen that list pay range max out around 70k even in NYC and Boston. And with you mentioning stock options, etc. I am guessing there is a big difference between SV and the rest of the world as far as value on IT talent.

foobar

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I am talking software development.  I know nothing about IT salaries.  If you think I am joking go to glassdoor and look at what senior software developers (you should be one with 10 years experience) get at places like google, apple, oracle, facebook, linked in and so on.


Must be because your below average:). Average CS guy starting out makes 60k. Obviously that is biased by COL.  OP is in NYC so I expect him to be above the average starting salary.  FWIW 118k in the SV or SF for someone with 10 years of experience seems perfectly reasonable.  If he moves to some cheap place the differential will remain the same.  I was making more than that 8 years ago before bonuses and the other compensation (stock options, espps, sabbaticals,....).  Salaries have only gone up since then. The downside is that if your making 120k, you still can't afford to buy a house without being really aggressive loan wise. It is a good place to go, save money (30% of 120k is a lot more than 50% of 60k), have fun, and then move somewhere else to retire.

Or maybe I am looking in all the wrong places. Any suggestions on where to look? I am more on the sys admin/engineering side these days. I script all the time but haven't written code for software in ages. The listings I have seen that list pay range max out around 70k even in NYC and Boston. And with you mentioning stock options, etc. I am guessing there is a big difference between SV and the rest of the world as far as value on IT talent.

Tyler

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Lots of good advice here, so ill try to avoid overlap. My two first impressions:

1) Two graduate degrees and going for a third (without seriously considering alternative approaches) sounds to me like a person addicted to school and avoiding the real world.

2) A spouse looking at a school 2 hours away with the explicit expectation that you would NOT necessarily move with him is a huge relationship red flag to me.

So basically, be sure to look at relationship & emotional angles to this even moreso than practical ones. I'd bet good money there's more to his thought process than job prospects.

spider1204

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Quote
1) Two graduate degrees and going for a third (without seriously considering alternative approaches) sounds to me like a person addicted to school and avoiding the real world.

I have a feeling this is part of it, but just remember to remind him how much learning he can do when you both become FI.

expatartist

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Re. moving apart to afford school - if done for the right reasons, may not reflect loyalty issues.

We're going through a similar dilemma for our next location. There's a grad program I'm looking at in a place the Man and I both enjoy and have lived before (Malaysia). It would pay me a small stipend, but not enough to support two people. Jobs there are scarce. He's thinking to move a few hours away for a better job (Singapore) which would be great for our savings, but tough on us personally. We've done it before, know we can do it again, but there may be a small child in the mix, which would really make it difficult.

rugorak

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I am talking software development.  I know nothing about IT salaries.  If you think I am joking go to glassdoor and look at what senior software developers (you should be one with 10 years experience) get at places like google, apple, oracle, facebook, linked in and so on.

That explains it. And I don't think you are joking. Just hard to nail down pay rates. For example an Oracle DBA is worth more than a MS SQL DBA, even though they are very similar. But on the flip side there are more MS SQL jobs out there.

Software development was never my thing. In college I had a knack for finding compiler bugs that perplexed my professors. They would tell me my code was 100% correct yet it would either not compile or have some other issue after compile. Made for interesting office hours as we would have to dive into alternate ways to code things. But became really annoying because I wanted my efficient algorithm and had to resort to less efficient ones after the fact.