Author Topic: Seeking advice on Masters  (Read 5265 times)

Shane_M

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Seeking advice on Masters
« on: July 31, 2017, 11:36:07 PM »
Hi guys, been doing some reading here and am realizing how far behind I am. I am looking for some advice on a few things.

1 - I am looking at going for my masters in Information Technology. I do not have a background in coding at all, my BA was Psychology (I originally wanted to go into counseling, but being in the behavioral health department at an insurance company has sapped me of that). I have worked with my computers, pieced them together, and a smattering of other little things, but still no formal education. Looking through the forums the last few days I have seen some people have made very good salaries with Computer Science and IT degrees, but I have only basic mathematics under my belt as well (likely removing me from Computer Science without several math classes?). Is there any advice on what specialties I should really look into with this field? Or concerns of going into it? I was also looking at Industrial Organizational Psychology but cannot seem to find anyone with actual experience in it, and while the job rate seems to be going up exponentially per the BLS, but there seems to be a VERY small market to begin with. Maybe it would translate to HR or something, but even when I have contacted a few schools there seems to be a lot of pauses and general answers when I inquire about the job prospects after graduating.
*** I also just purchased Modern Operating Systems 4th Edition after seeing it recommended here.

2 - I have been scouring all over and looking for online schools for IT, and have seen some places talked about here like the Harvard Extension School, etc. Are there any schools that you guys would recommend? While I am finding a lot that are accredited, that of course doesn't give any measurable ROI for my education or guarantee marketability. Are there any schools I should avoid? I have contacted Southern New Hampshire University and they are wanting me to apply before speaking with an advisor for them like I requested, so I have not sent them anything.

I appreciate any feedback, and if you have any questions for me that would better help you give advice, please ask. I'm trying to get myself ahead and start getting saved. I am starting from scratch at 29 years old, making only $35K, and never even having had a savings account (now with my 3rd and final child as well to start saving for). The only reason I am bringing those points up is because I have wasted so much time running in circles, with my degree to employment, I need to get some direction and work towards some productive goals.

Thanks again.

secondcor521

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Re: Seeking advice on Masters
« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2017, 12:10:31 AM »
Begin with the end in mind.  Pick some careers that are interesting to you, then find out what kind of degrees or certifications that field requires, then find a school that offers those degrees or certifications.

There are several different things you can do to pick a career.  The organizational outlook handbook is a good resource to look at options (https://www.bls.gov/ooh/).  Informational interviews with people in the field.  Personality tests.  Career counselors can be good.

** It is unwise to spend several years of your life and tens of thousands of dollars without first spending several hours and perhaps dozens of dollars to make at least reasonably sure that you're going to like the career, that you can get a job at it, and that you're going to like and succeed at the schooling or training to get you there.  The fact that you're listing some wildly different ideas tells me you haven't done this part yet to the extent you need to. **

I think the OOH or informational interviews will be able to give you an idea of what degrees or certifications lead to that career.

As far as a CS degree goes - I have one of those - I took math in high school through calculus, then took multi-variable calculus, topology, statistics, and discrete math and combinatorics in college.  But I was almost a math major, so some of that wouldn't be necessary.  There was certainly very little need in my career for calculus.  But if it's the degree you decide you want to get, just find out what math courses you need and then start taking them.

A CS degree was extremely marketable for me in my career and is generally still that way today.  From what I saw, they paid well for a BSCS but a Masters in CS rarely paid any more.  Given that, you may want to just get a second bachelor's degree in CS.  Either way it will probably take you 2 years plus whatever math catchup you need to do before you start the main part of the degree.

IT degrees are also marketable but I think the pay is somewhat less on average.  I don't know anything about the IOP degree you mentioned; based on what you said I would be concerned about marketability.

As far as schools go, you can get a good feel by looking at salary surveys, rankings of colleges and universities by "best value", or again, informational interviews with people in the field.  Also, companies you want to work for may tell you where they recruit from.  Certainly you want any school to be nationally or regionally accredited.  I always thought it was a good idea to go to a school that has a good regional reputation in the region of the country where you want to work after graduation.  In my case I graduated from a school in the PacNW and then worked my entire career in Boise.  Or you can go to a nationally known school if you want.

I have heard people say about IT that a degree in IT is not that valuable and that certifications are more appropriate in that field.  I know there are people who make a good living with just Microsoft certifications or Oracle or SAP experience.  You might need the IT degree though to break into the field since your first degree isn't very relevant.  Again, you could look into a second bachelor's degree vs. a master's degree - may be better for you.

I would stay away from the IT schools that advertise on TV, but that is just me; I tend to be more traditionalist.  But the people who are IT managers are probably older than you and likewise more traditional and conservative, so an IT degree or certification from an online school or one that advertises on TV (that Phoenix school is the only one that comes to mind) probably won't impress them much if at all.

In terms of subspecialties of CS, I would just pick an area based on the classes you like the best and see if you can get a coop or internship in that area - networking, large data, AI, embedded, etc.

There are a lot of folks with CS degrees coming out of India and China these days and American companies sometimes decide it is better/cheaper to hire them vs. an American wanting that high salary you mentioned.  However, IMHO that is a false economy and the American companies understand that.  There will likely be good demand for good CS people for a long time to come.

Good luck!

Bicycle_B

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Re: Seeking advice on Masters
« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2017, 12:55:55 AM »
As other posters said, get your feet wet cheaply before committing to master's. 

Examples:

Try learning some coding via websites.
https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/250323

When confused, search online for questions.  Sometimes you find good support out there.  Make some friends online or IRL with coding skills to help you over the humps.

Take some classes at your community college, such as:
Microsoft Computer Solutions Associate (MCSA) Windows 10

Once you start learning some skills, get a side job for practice, such as help desk or Geek Squad.

If you like these cheap experiences, go farther.

Shane_M

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Re: Seeking advice on Masters
« Reply #3 on: August 01, 2017, 01:42:53 AM »
secondcor521
That is an interesting concept, I had not thought about going back for a second bachelors, I have only thought of that when I contemplated doing a double major. My concern would be the lack of financial aid, I am very close to having maxed out available benefits, if I havenít already for undergraduate financial aid. My idea was to go for a MS in IT, and then look for certifications that may make me more marketable and lower the gap between the Computer Science and IT degrees.

I had not thought about seeking out the employersí preferences, that opens up a lot of research I need to get on. Iím not sure how to reverse that yet as there are so many places IT can be utilized, but will look around. That is also a great point at looking where I want to be employed, I had not even thought of that. The BLS will likely show the highest paying locations/states, so that could show me job prospects and help with regional schools, awesome!





Bicycle_B
Thank you for the link, being frustrated with a total lack of progress the last 4-5 years probably has me putting the cart before the horse, so to say. I will look around on there and see if I can find some other free/cheap sites to take advantage of. If I enjoy it like I think I will, it will also be experience to better prepare me for the degree. If I dislike it, then I saved considerable money, or at least may learn specialties/languages I do not care for.

I might be able to find some night classes at the community college here, likely do some of the work over the next few months on one of the links here and work with them to see if there are many classes needed to fulfill an Associates. Another option I had not thought of.

Broadway2019

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Re: Seeking advice on Masters
« Reply #4 on: August 01, 2017, 06:55:50 AM »
Just something to look into is an MBA and Masters of Engineering degree. This will make you very valuable. I did it at the University of Florida and had people fly in from all over since it is only 1 weekend a month. Also, Florida Universities are cheap. I got both master degrees for $50k. I did not have a prior engineering degree, however, had to do an interview to get in.

Lady SA

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Re: Seeking advice on Masters
« Reply #5 on: August 01, 2017, 08:09:43 AM »
Also consider peripheral positions to coding/engineering. Many big engineering firms operate with an Agile methodology: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agile_software_development
Agile is basically an iterative approach to project management and is driven by the team instead of top-down. Many of these organizations employ team coaches who help provide structure and discipline to the teams. It's kind of in the same vein as organizational psychology, as you have one foot in process and improvement and another in team dynamics and ways to help the team work better together.

A good place to start is here: https://www.scrumalliance.org/certifications/practitioners/certified-scrummaster-csm

mozar

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Re: Seeking advice on Masters
« Reply #6 on: August 01, 2017, 10:04:11 AM »
I'll speak to computer science because that's what I have researched. There are a lot of different ways you can go with it. Start with TreeHouse coding tutorials in either front end or "web development" tracks. Do you like coding with HTML, CSS, and Javascript? If you like it you can look more into back end, algorithms, machine learning etc.
If you are looking to work at a place like Google, where you went to school and how much math you took will be important. If you are just looking for a front end developer job at a boutique firm then you can focus on learning how to code for a year or two and start applying. Having your own projects on github are more important for small companies. Also FreeCodeCamp is a good way to start learning coding. And lots of other self studying options as you know. PM me if you want a list.

Shane_M

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Re: Seeking advice on Masters
« Reply #7 on: August 01, 2017, 09:08:05 PM »
Kwarden13,

I have not thought much about an engineering degree as I have done only the basic, prerequisite math courses. Being a Gator fanatic, I would love to see that on my degree lol, but I just am not confident that would be a degree I would have much success in. I know the degree is in demand but I just donít want to waste financial aid and flounder in my MS. The math demands are what are pulling me away from a Computer Science degree. Did you happen to do it online or at the institution? I've never had a problem learning math, but am worried that I will struggle with the limited contact with the professor.




Lady SA,

That is awesome. I will definitely look through that. Looking at the second link I see the certification seems to be able to achieved in a short time, though likely a pretty intensive approach. I will start looking around to see where that would enable me to work and try to find the expected pay that would enable. Is this a certification you yourself have attained that has bettered your career? Or someone else that you know is doing well with it?




Mozar,

I will need to do my Masters all online, so I havenít really thought about applying for a major player like Google. Being an online degree I would get a bit of bias that would be used against me in the hiring process wouldnít it? What I thought would work best would be to just get through a reputable school, then branch out more via courses/certifications after getting my Masters for whatever skills would aid me in moving up. Iím unsure of what the expected salary would be as an entry level employee in the field, but Iím sure all would be far better than what I am doing at the moment. While I admit I am far from educated in the field, I imagine I might do better getting my foot in the door of a company and learning more about the options within it, and see what fields I want to further pursue. Do you think there is a better way to go through and see possible preferences?

For example on the BLS website all the fields are far better paid than what I am, most doubling my salary. But would I be at a major disadvantage with an MS in IT and certifying later in things like programming or other specialties, or will it need to be a CS degree to ? And is there a way to find realistic entry level wages for these fields? I donít mean to sound overly selfish, I just want to make sure I am not accruing more debt without getting a really good return on the investment.


All the advice and information is awesome guys.
« Last Edit: August 01, 2017, 09:15:06 PM by Shane_M »

Broadway2019

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Re: Seeking advice on Masters
« Reply #8 on: August 02, 2017, 06:54:25 AM »
Kwarden13,

I have not thought much about an engineering degree as I have done only the basic, prerequisite math courses. Being a Gator fanatic, I would love to see that on my degree lol, but I just am not confident that would be a degree I would have much success in. I know the degree is in demand but I just donít want to waste financial aid and flounder in my MS. The math demands are what are pulling me away from a Computer Science degree. Did you happen to do it online or at the institution? I've never had a problem learning math, but am worried that I will struggle with the limited contact with the professor.

It is a little math intensive but also very focused on process improvement and critical thinking skills. I did not have an engineering degree prior, however, had a finance degree and love math. Also, my core job at the time was building algorithms to maximize revenue. So I did not find it very difficult. I went once a month to the actual campus and everything else was done virtually. Even if not very good at math, most projects in the master's program are team based. So some people are good at the math part and others good at the putting together the PowerPoint or presenting type. Maybe look at an MBA w/ concentration in IT or something similar. In my experience, an MBA is far valuable than most other degrees. Companies just love to see them on the resume. I know people who had a master's in accounting or finance but their company specifically wanted an MBA. Funny thing is I found the MBA degree very easy to get as long as you have the time. The ROI for it can be great if you can get into a good company.

Also, I would first pick a company you want to work for you then see what jobs are available. In my own career, I specifically looked up (on Google) best companies to work for you w/ great benefits. Then from there looked for a position within those. Benefits are just as important as compensation and if they have good benefits most of the time compensation is also good.

Lady SA

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Re: Seeking advice on Masters
« Reply #9 on: August 02, 2017, 08:11:53 AM »
Lady SA,

That is awesome. I will definitely look through that. Looking at the second link I see the certification seems to be able to achieved in a short time, though likely a pretty intensive approach. I will start looking around to see where that would enable me to work and try to find the expected pay that would enable. Is this a certification you yourself have attained that has bettered your career? Or someone else that you know is doing well with it?


I myself do have this certification and use it in my role and love it. I already had a different position at my company and they wanted to move me to this role and sent me to do this 3 day course before I started. I already had been embedded into an agile engineering team previously and knew what I was getting into and was quite familiar with the concepts. I don't have any experience/knowledge of people who got this certification before finding a job in the field. Also, check in your area to make sure companies are organized around Agile. Some smaller ones are not and are still in "waterfall" structure, where there is no place for a team coach. You may have to be open to relocation.
Another good resource for agile is here: https://www.mountaingoatsoftware.com/ His blog is really great.

Orr

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Re: Seeking advice on Masters
« Reply #10 on: August 02, 2017, 08:29:52 AM »
I also have a liberal arts undergrad and have been trying to transition to a higher paying tech job from non-tech jobs.  I've looked at the MS in IT at SNHU and also at University of Maryland University College but have the same reservations concerning ROI.

I'm curious to hear outcomes from people who have a liberal arts or non-technical undergrad and did an online MS in IT or CS and successfully transitioned to a technical role.  I haven't met any people IRL who've done it.

I've heard a lot of people in the industry say that as long as you have the skills you can get the jobs but it seems for most companies education credentials are the proof they're looking for that you have the skills.  It's hard to get your application through the filters without those credentials. 

secondcor521

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Re: Seeking advice on Masters
« Reply #11 on: August 02, 2017, 08:49:41 AM »
I'm curious to hear outcomes from people who have a liberal arts or non-technical undergrad and did an online MS in IT or CS and successfully transitioned to a technical role.  I haven't met any people IRL who've done it.

I've heard a lot of people in the industry say that as long as you have the skills you can get the jobs but it seems for most companies education credentials are the proof they're looking for that you have the skills.  It's hard to get your application through the filters without those credentials.

As I mentioned in my earlier post, online degrees are generally frowned upon by people who hire CS and IT types.  Also, a master's degree in CS is, on average, viewed slightly *more* negatively than a bachelor's degree.  The thinking is that if you have a master's, you either (a) just like going to school and don't like actually doing the job, (b) you're a "liberal arts retread", or (c) you lost your previous CS-related job and couldn't find another one and had to go back to school for a bit.  None of those may be true, but they are mostly people's perceptions, and in this case perceptions really matter.

As far as the second paragraph, it is true that for the vast majority of the jobs they will say, "BSCS, BSEE, or similar" and if you don't have that you are not going any further in the hiring process.  May or may not be reasonable, but it is a convenient way for companies to sift and filter 200 or 400 resumes down to 50 that the HR person can look through in a shorter period of time.

I say all the above as someone who has a BSCS, an MBA, in industry for 22 years, and was a hiring manager for 5 years.

Shane_M, a lot of your questions in your most recent post above (from last night) can be answered by talking with people in the companies and industries and with the degrees that you are interested in.  I highly highly recommend that you do so.  There are many people who are happy to help, especially if they are connected to you in some way.  Put out feelers with your family and friends and, if possible, your colleagues, saying you're interested in X, Y, or Z, and if anyone knows anyone that would talk with you or let you job shadow them for a day, or talk about education requirements, to put you in touch.  Assuming you have a reasonably average degree of sociability, you will very likely get some hits (they also frequently come from places you don't expect, so cast your net far and wide).

Broadway2019

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Re: Seeking advice on Masters
« Reply #12 on: August 02, 2017, 09:24:18 AM »
Also, to add to this, you should consider a more entry type job maybe as an analyst to gain experience. Not sure where you are in your career, however, to make a change sometimes you need to go down a level or so to learn. For example, it would be hard to go from HR Manager to Analytics Manager w/ no prior analytics experience. You would need to go from HR Manager to analyst/ sr analyst to learn the new area.

mozar

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Re: Seeking advice on Masters
« Reply #13 on: August 02, 2017, 09:56:57 AM »
Quote
I will need to do my Masters all online, so I havenít really thought about applying for a major player like Google. Being an online degree I would get a bit of bias that would be used against me in the hiring process wouldnít it? What I thought would work best would be to just get through a reputable school, then branch out more via courses/certifications after getting my Masters for whatever skills would aid me in moving up. Iím unsure of what the expected salary would be as an entry level employee in the field, but Iím sure all would be far better than what I am doing at the moment. While I admit I am far from educated in the field, I imagine I might do better getting my foot in the door of a company and learning more about the options within it, and see what fields I want to further pursue. Do you think there is a better way to go through and see possible preferences?

For example on the BLS website all the fields are far better paid than what I am, most doubling my salary. But would I be at a major disadvantage with an MS in IT and certifying later in things like programming or other specialties, or will it need to be a CS degree to ? And is there a way to find realistic entry level wages for these fields? I donít mean to sound overly selfish, I just want to make sure I am not accruing more debt without getting a really good return on the investment.

Are you familiar with meetup.com? In my area there are meetup groups for coders. One of them is Woman who Code. They have lots of meetups where they teach you the basics of coding, career coaching, and a slack channel where they post jobs.
Like I said before unless you are trying to work for a really big company, the employer will care more about your work experience. Instead of getting a masters degree online consider teaching yourself everything you need to know to get started.

A way to find out salaries is to go to a website like careerbuilder.com and search for jobs that are related to what you are interested in. Many job posts will also post salaries.

I doubt a company will hire you just so you can get your foot in the door and see what the options are. But who knows! Like I said before I would start doing coding tutorials to see if I liked them.

myrax

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Re: Seeking advice on Masters
« Reply #14 on: August 02, 2017, 01:07:31 PM »
The Society for Industrial Organizational Psychology (SIOP) might have a local chapter in your area where you can meet professional Industrial Organizational Psychologists. A good deal of them work in corporate HR, and while the field is growing it is still quite small.

One of my close friends is an I/O psychologist and she finds that the field tends to be pretty traditional when it comes to hiring and judging people on their career paths. In general you need a PhD in order to be competitive, and definitely NOT from an online program. I think CS might be a better way to get return on your education investment. 

Shane_M

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Re: Seeking advice on Masters
« Reply #15 on: August 02, 2017, 10:46:53 PM »
Kwarden13

Team based activities would be a great benefit for me, as I am one who does well with the PowerPoints and presenting in front of groups. I will look into MBAs as well, and see what I can make of them. I had not thought much about finding the employers and trying to work back to their needs, but that makes a lot of sense. When looking through Facebook, Ikea, Google, etc they are so massive how do you find what they need though? As far as moving down, I doubt that would really be an issue. Iím working in an insurance call canter for behavioral health. Any analyst job would probably still be a significant step up.



LadySA

Ok, now I have done a quick read on Agile methods being used to change a company, but how would one find out if a company utilized those methods? I am completely open to relocation after getting my degree, I just donít have any credentials that would warrant me to be hired to a place making enough to pay for the relocation yet.



Mozar

I had never heard of meetup.com before, but I was really excited when I found there were groups about 35 miles from me for web design and a lean-agile meetup. My hours wonít let me get there as I work until 7pm, but I might be able to burn some PTO once a month to get to go to a few and learn. There is a SAS group meetup that seems to have some webinars at noon monthly. I am working at the time but might be able to have my wife record it somehow. But when I meant get my foot in the door, I simply meant getting an entry-level position in demand and while working there, then I may be able to job shadow, learn more within the company etc. The first priority would simply be gaining better employment and becoming very good at that position though.



Myrax

Looking through the SIOP site I did not see anything near me in central Illinois, but from what I had read it seemed that a PhD was the primary desire for most places. This was one reason I was looking more towards computer science/informational technology. I genuinely believe I would enjoy the field, but it just didnít seem to fit with what I am wanting to do. So I think youíre absolutely correct that computer science is a much better fit right now.

koshtra

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Re: Seeking advice on Masters
« Reply #16 on: August 02, 2017, 11:14:10 PM »
I got a second BA in computer science, back in the late 80s, and made a fair amount of money programming after that. Took me of summer of seriously cramming math, and then two years of coursework. It was a lot of fun.

I doubt the master's would be worth it, unless you can really get the education nearly free. But the first thing to look into is whether you can't just find a niche where they need people so bad that they don't care about degrees. Big traditional companies with HR departments & all will always care about degrees, if you're trying to come in the front door, but if you poke around and talk to lots of people -- and if you really have a skill they need -- somebody will figure out a way to hire you.

dreams_and_discoveries

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Re: Seeking advice on Masters
« Reply #17 on: August 03, 2017, 01:37:59 AM »
Before diving in, I think it's important to understand why you feel behind, who you are comparing yourself too, and truthfully working out how they got where they are. Is income your main driver?

What sort of company are you working in now, and are there any sideways or promotion prospects? Comp Sci or IT is a massive field, you really need to try a few things and narrow down your focus.

Lady SA

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Re: Seeking advice on Masters
« Reply #18 on: August 03, 2017, 08:26:07 AM »
LadySA

Ok, now I have done a quick read on Agile methods being used to change a company, but how would one find out if a company utilized those methods? I am completely open to relocation after getting my degree, I just donít have any credentials that would warrant me to be hired to a place making enough to pay for the relocation yet.


I check Glassdoor most often, I just search for "Scrummaster" and then companies with that role come up. You can filter however you want.
Or if you have a specific company in mind, I check job postings for agile terms. I'll check the engineer postings and look for a reference to something along the lines of "must have experience in an agile environment/be familiar with agile principles (though this doesn't always mean they use Scrum specifically/have a use for Scrummasters)" or look specifically to see if the company has job postings for a Scrummaster (the most common job title for the "team coach" role).
I'll also check the company's Glassdoor and look at job titles/salaries and if they have any job reviews for scrummaster; that indicates that they do have a role within the company even if there aren't currently any openings.
I also hear that ScrumAlliance will help/assist CSMs find a job, but I have no first-hand experience with it and can't vouch for it.
Another resource that has been very valuable as a coach: https://www.amazon.com/Coaching-Agile-Teams-ScrumMasters-Addison-Wesley/dp/0321637704

Broadway2019

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Re: Seeking advice on Masters
« Reply #19 on: August 03, 2017, 11:33:24 AM »
Also, when looking at companies you can search by skills. Also, some companies like Disney will pay for your degree if you are full time. It could be any job in the office, corporate, or at a park. There are companies that will pay for it but usually, have to take a pay cut. Just google companies with tuition reimbursement.

I would not do a specific certificate or program but do something more general like MBA. I got a significant increase after mine and most companies do not care about a specific software certificate like SAS. They just want to know you can do it. So I would learn myself.

One thing to caution, while it is great to aspire to be a programmer, I would think outside of that. Most programming jobs are overseas or will be soon. I taught myself VBA, SQL, SAS, Tableau, etc. and manage a team in India. Now obviously to manage you need to know how to do it yourself, however, you just need to know enough. You don't need to be the expert, the programmer is. Now I do have an MBA and Engineering degree, but I would not aspire to just code as those jobs are easily outsourced.


Shane_M

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Re: Seeking advice on Masters
« Reply #20 on: August 04, 2017, 12:32:18 AM »
dreams_and_discoveries
Valid questions, and Iíll answer them.
- I feel behind because I have a 5 and 6 year old that will be 6 and 7 in less than two months, and I have nothing saved for their college. I now have a 3 month old sleeping next to me that I need to make sure has that same assistance. I financially can barely make my student loan payment and am stuck working half of my Saturdays working construction to make ends meet. Normally that wouldnít be so bad, but working until 7 M-F and then a 20 minute drive leave very little time to spend with the kids as they go to bed at 9-9:30. We donít go out to eat, and Iíve made sure to save where we can, but I simply have never been able to get any money saved. $35,000 before taxes is pretty low for someone who is about to turn 30 and earned a degree. But like I said, I know I am to blame for that as well. 
- As far as who I am comparing myself to, Iím not sure if it is a group of people or who exactly. I have a number of friends who have children and have time to spend with them, simply put because they have jobs with better schedules and pay. I know it is my fault for wasting my undergraduate degree, I took a very position driven class structure and found that after working in Behavioral Health how much I have grown to dread the idea of counseling. Had I earned a degree with more possibilities, and especially more demand, then salary and hours likely could be substantially better.
- They got to where they were by not flubbing their degrees, finding a field they enjoyed and compromising for some slightly lower pay when they wanted to have very set hours or short drives to work. One couple had a ton of support from their parents so they did not have to pay for a babysitter while they finished school (and when some nights are needed), so there is some luck to it I guess. But they simply went to a desired field and worked for it.
- Money isnít the determining factor, but it is absolutely a major prerequisite for me to invest that much time and funds into it. Iíve always loved computers, my first was a repair job at 17. One of the families I was mowing for was tossing their Dell out since it was running poorly and offered it to me when they saw me eyeballing it. It was nothing special but after $60-70 bucks and some help I had my first desktop, it was awesome. But the rate of growth for the field is great, it is a broad field where you can move around if you find something you enjoy more than what youíre currently doing (or if you simply get stale on a repetitive kind of job), and the few people I personally know with a CS or IT degree are extremely happy with their degree/field. Now I know only 4 people I know well who have one of these degrees so the sample size is minuscule, but still.

Iím in a call center for Behavioral Health for an insurance company. Looking at any of the jobs involving IT they have all required a bachelors degree from what I recall. Some might have allowed an associates in combination with a few years experience (though I think that was a business analyst or accounting position IIRC), but I believe it was at minimum a BA. With how restrictive our days are, being stuck on calls for all but our 15 minute breaks and lunch, it is ridiculously hard to get approval to job shadow for 30 minutes. I personally believe they have such a high turnover rate that they actively try to keep those who have established success there on the phones.




Lady SA

Awesome. My job searches have been pretty local since the pay and demands werenít the best, so I havenít looked much with higher paying jobs or fields where these would be utilized. This will be something I will absolutely look at once I get my feet wet, and might be able to have an employer even cover the expenses for.


Kwarden13
I didnít realize that there would potentially be that much information on their corporate benefits listed online. The insurance company I work for has a $5000 tuition reimbursement per year if it is related to the field youíre in. I have read a lot of concerning articles about how MBAs are oversaturating the market right now. Do you see any of those issues with those who are just entering the job market after an MBA? Iím sure with the amount of experience you have backing you that you would not have to worry about that, but for new hire for those roles (like I would be) is that a real concern?

Finances_With_Purpose

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Re: Seeking advice on Masters
« Reply #21 on: August 04, 2017, 01:02:44 AM »
Highly recommend aptitude testing if you're able: it's info that can help you over a lifetime and might point you towards careers that will be the best fit for you.  Johnson O'Connor Foundation has testing centers nationwide.  Consider it a lifetime career investment: worth a lot more than whatever you'll spend going all-in on something then realizing it's not what you want, or even *not quite* what you want.  That little test can save years of frustration. 

FIreDrill

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Re: Seeking advice on Masters
« Reply #22 on: August 04, 2017, 01:37:14 AM »
I wanted to chime in real quick and point you in the direction of Western Governors University.  I know several Sr Network Engineers who have gotten their Graduate degrees there.  I'm actually enrolled in their Master of Science in Cybersecurity and Information Assurance program now and I absolutely love it.  They are regionaly accredited and charge a flat tuition rate of about 3k per 6 month term.  I have a friend that finished his masters in 2 terms. Right now I'm on track to finish in 3 terms but I may finish in 2, so it's pretty dang cheap.  They have a nice variety of Bachelor and Masters degrees in IT and business.  It may not be the most prestigious school but it will get you the certifications and degree needed to get past a lot of HR filters.

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Broadway2019

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Re: Seeking advice on Masters
« Reply #23 on: August 04, 2017, 08:24:58 AM »
Kwarden13
I didnít realize that there would potentially be that much information on their corporate benefits listed online. The insurance company I work for has a $5000 tuition reimbursement per year if it is related to the field youíre in. I have read a lot of concerning articles about how MBAs are oversaturating the market right now. Do you see any of those issues with those who are just entering the job market after an MBA? Iím sure with the amount of experience you have backing you that you would not have to worry about that, but for new hire for those roles (like I would be) is that a real concern?

Depends I guess on background and skills. I started my career as an analyst at Disney making $13 an hour with a finance degree. Took advantage and got my MBA and after that my MS in Engineering. Since I have been able to really advance my career. and compensation. However, I am a good networker and am always looking for new opportunities. Basically, not pigeon holed into an area or sector. I find people who do not like to switch jobs or move around will make significantly less money. Also, if you are not good at interviewing it would be hard.

If you are motivated then you will succeed. I have never waited for the right opportunity. I have made it happen myself. People who wait are generally disappointed and wonder why they are not making more or promoted.

dreams_and_discoveries

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Re: Seeking advice on Masters
« Reply #24 on: August 04, 2017, 01:01:24 PM »
dreams_and_discoveries
Valid questions, and Iíll answer them.
- I feel behind because I have a 5 and 6 year old that will be 6 and 7 in less than two months, and I have nothing saved for their college. I now have a 3 month old sleeping next to me that I need to make sure has that same assistance. I financially can barely make my student loan payment and am stuck working half of my Saturdays working construction to make ends meet. Normally that wouldnít be so bad, but working until 7 M-F and then a 20 minute drive leave very little time to spend with the kids as they go to bed at 9-9:30. We donít go out to eat, and Iíve made sure to save where we can, but I simply have never been able to get any money saved. $35,000 before taxes is pretty low for someone who is about to turn 30 and earned a degree. But like I said, I know I am to blame for that as well. 
- As far as who I am comparing myself to, Iím not sure if it is a group of people or who exactly. I have a number of friends who have children and have time to spend with them, simply put because they have jobs with better schedules and pay. I know it is my fault for wasting my undergraduate degree, I took a very position driven class structure and found that after working in Behavioral Health how much I have grown to dread the idea of counseling. Had I earned a degree with more possibilities, and especially more demand, then salary and hours likely could be substantially better.
- They got to where they were by not flubbing their degrees, finding a field they enjoyed and compromising for some slightly lower pay when they wanted to have very set hours or short drives to work. One couple had a ton of support from their parents so they did not have to pay for a babysitter while they finished school (and when some nights are needed), so there is some luck to it I guess. But they simply went to a desired field and worked for it.
- Money isnít the determining factor, but it is absolutely a major prerequisite for me to invest that much time and funds into it. Iíve always loved computers, my first was a repair job at 17. One of the families I was mowing for was tossing their Dell out since it was running poorly and offered it to me when they saw me eyeballing it. It was nothing special but after $60-70 bucks and some help I had my first desktop, it was awesome. But the rate of growth for the field is great, it is a broad field where you can move around if you find something you enjoy more than what youíre currently doing (or if you simply get stale on a repetitive kind of job), and the few people I personally know with a CS or IT degree are extremely happy with their degree/field. Now I know only 4 people I know well who have one of these degrees so the sample size is minuscule, but still.

Iím in a call center for Behavioral Health for an insurance company. Looking at any of the jobs involving IT they have all required a bachelors degree from what I recall. Some might have allowed an associates in combination with a few years experience (though I think that was a business analyst or accounting position IIRC), but I believe it was at minimum a BA. With how restrictive our days are, being stuck on calls for all but our 15 minute breaks and lunch, it is ridiculously hard to get approval to job shadow for 30 minutes. I personally believe they have such a high turnover rate that they actively try to keep those who have established success there on the phones.


Some good insight there, firstly I have to say don't beat yourself up. You have done amazingly well in life, have a great other half and 3 lovely children you want to spend time with -  you are winning at life. You need to always remember this. Even those who look like they have a perfect life, everyone always has their own problems, secrets or demons... some just hide them better than others!

So you want a change to feel more satisfied with work and increase your families income, these are good things to aim for, but to get there it will be a hard slog, and will likely cause you to see less of your family in the interim few years. So you need to be committed to making the sacrifice now, and once you have started making it to the end, and overcoming any obstacles life throws at you along the way.

When I am recruiting, honestly a degree is not that important, it's deep experience in the subject matter area, coding language used and a positive attitude that sway me. For yourself, I would recommend spending time on free online courses, and working out what is your thing. Fixing PCs  (this is generally a support role and doesn't pay amazing), hardware engineering or software engineering/programming.

Once you have a better idea, it's time to make plans:

You need to speak to your team leader candidly, and ask what training opportunities there are. How big is the company? Do they tend to recruit internally? Most large companies I've worked in, especially call centres tend to promote internally, especially for secondments etc.

Then the external market where you are, can you find entry level jobs with promotion opportunities around? Look for junior analyst, IT helpdesk, support type positions. Can you find a sideways move that offers more potential.

If you have no luck with the above, a degree may be a way in for you, but you'd need to be 100% sure it was worth the money and the inconvenience to your family. Also, if you say you were not too strong on maths, you may find aspects of a computing degree really hard - what would your plan be to deal with this? Do you understand how you learn best, and are prepared to maximise the learning?

As I said, I work in IT and don't have an IT degree, most people don't, they fell into it, enjoy it and now have many years of experience.

Overall, keep your head up, you are doing great at life, and if you are ready to put the effort in you'll be able to level up on the career side.


Shane_M

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Re: Seeking advice on Masters
« Reply #25 on: August 05, 2017, 12:03:53 AM »

Finances_with_a_purpose
Iíll try some online ones or see if the library has an aptitude book available to borrow. I looked at the price and that is more than I make in a week after taxes/insurance. I simply canít afford that. I do like the idea of trying to get a completely objective test to help give me some points to look at though.


FrozenBits
That sounded great but wonít work for me. Tthe prerequisites to be admitted to the College of Information Technology would mean Iíd have to go and at least get an associates degree to qualify as my BA wasnít IT, IS or CS related. .Have you heard much about the MBA Information Technology Management Program at all? I do fit the requirements for that.


Kwarden13
That is great advice. I will be moving forward and regardless of work, school, or sports I have never had an issue with motivation. I mainly lacked direction after finding out I was going toward the wrong field, now I am sifting through everything to see if I wasnít to do Computer Science or an MBA. With the prices of Western Governors above I might be able to do both, who knows?

dreams_and_discoveries
Thank you for the kind words. I am very blessed, and do have a very bad habit of beating myself up over things.  I have talked with the wife and we understand the hours are going to wane in the evenings. I found with my bachelors I split it up and did some in the morning after taking the kids to preschool and after they went to bed. On weekends they nap and I was able to do some there, but now I might just do some reading while they kids are in practice/dance as well. Either way, there will be time they are preoccupied and I just will do as much then as possible. Adds up to 5 hours or so per week, which definitely adds up.

dreams_and_discoveries

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Re: Seeking advice on Masters
« Reply #26 on: August 05, 2017, 01:07:35 AM »
Keep us updated with your progress :)

Liz

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Re: Seeking advice on Masters
« Reply #27 on: August 06, 2017, 10:22:45 AM »
Following this thread and I also wanted to say good luck and please keep us updated on your decision if you can.:)

I had the same dilemma as you; got a BA in Mass Comm ~10 years ago and wanted to back to school for something computer-related. I looked into getting a Masters in CS (would have had to take some pre-req CS and Math courses before I could apply) and a BS in CS. I ended up pursuing a BS in MIS (Management Information Systems) and recently graduated. I think finding another job in the general field could have possibly been done without the second degree, with a LOT of networking and self-learning. But overall, I am really happy with my decision to get another degree.

Shane_M

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Re: Seeking advice on Masters
« Reply #28 on: August 08, 2017, 10:50:42 PM »
Sorry about the delay in response. Went camping with the older two kids to give the wife a break so she only had the baby and fell asleep last night in the front room after lifting (much to the annoyance of my wife   lol)

I will absolutely update you here after I decide and get accepted into a program, plus I'm still going to try to get 20 mins/day reading here. Still a lot of research to do, but I have a much better direction now.

Thanks for all the advice everyone, it was exactly what I needed!














Finances_With_Purpose

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Re: Seeking advice on Masters
« Reply #29 on: August 09, 2017, 05:56:45 AM »

Finances_with_a_purpose
Iíll try some online ones or see if the library has an aptitude book available to borrow. I looked at the price and that is more than I make in a week after taxes/insurance. I simply canít afford that. I do like the idea of trying to get a completely objective test to help give me some points to look at though.


Totally fair.  We just purchased it for someone we know as a gift because she can't afford it.  It's invaluable, though.  And it can't really be done by a book - and I say that as someone who LOVES reading/doing exercises/learning through reading the book.  In this case, they run actual tests and things which can't be easily replicated.  But, at any rate, keep it in mind if you ever have a chance, and I'm sure you CAN learn some of it about yourself simply by some exercises and things. 

caracarn

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Re: Seeking advice on Masters
« Reply #30 on: August 09, 2017, 06:14:51 AM »
I have not read all the other posts, just responding to OP.

I have worked in IT for nearly three decades and have been hiring people to work for me in that field for nearly two.

You do not need a degree in IT to work in IT.  Some of my best programmer have Psychology degrees.  That said, you will run into hiring managers that might not be as open minded as I am but in conversations with peers at conferences we all look at experience more that formal education.  Honestly most degree programs are teaching skills that are so outdated as to be virtually useless.  They'll teach old programming languages had old equipment.  It's just too difficult for a university to keep up with a field that changes every 3-5 years.

I would look for entry level positions at organizations and just make the career shift.  You already have a bachelors.  A Masters in IT is only going to help you, IMHO, if you work directly for a tech firm where they might give a crap about you having that.  For most other businesses, as I've said, the focus is on can you do the job, not what piece of paper you had and I've not looked recently but a Masters in IT will focus you on minutiae that you do not have the basic skills for or for leadership roles, but again you get more cred with your team if you at least understand what they do, versus you just went to school for it.  I've never worked with a single person with a Masters in IT in any of my companies.  If we have a Master's it's an MBA and you only need that if you want high level management so I'd say get into the workforce and get that later.  I got my MBA after working for ten years, and then only to open interview doors.  It honestly taught me nothing.  I had learned everything being in business already. 

I can provide a lot more advice if needed, but I do not think you need to waste your money on more formal schooling.  Look for online resources to learn (they are usually more relevant and accurate that the courses anyway) for free or much cheaper than a college.