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Bachelor's Degree: An Unnecessary Path To a Tech Job

samzenpus posted about 7 months ago | from the just-a-piece-of-paper dept.

Education 287

dcblogs (1096431) writes "A study of New York City's tech workforce found that 44% of jobs in the city's 'tech ecosystem,' or 128,000 jobs, 'are accessible' to people without a Bachelor's degree. This eco-system includes both tech specific jobs and those jobs supported by tech. For instance, a technology specific job that doesn't require a Bachelor's degree might be a computer user support specialist, earning $28.80 an hour, according to this study. Tech industry jobs that do not require a four-year degree and may only need on-the-job training include customer services representatives, at $18.50 an hour, telecom line installer, $37.60 an hour, and sales representatives, $33.60 an hour. The study did not look at 'who is actually sitting in those jobs and whether people are under-employed,' said Kate Wittels, a director at HR&A Advisors, a real-estate and economic-development consulting firm, and report author.. Many people in the 'accessible' non-degree jobs may indeed have degrees. For instance. About 75% of the 25 employees who work at New York Computer Help in Manhattan have a Bachelor's degree. Of those with Bachelor's degrees, about half have IT-related degrees."

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Unnecessary path to FIRST POST! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46747047)

Please flag this frisky pornstar, Dice!

H1B - a path to a Tech Job (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46747059)

Just bring in H1B candidates and don't worry about hiring the people with Bachelor's. Lobby your local congresscritter to increase the number of H1B Visa's allowed - it's great for business and helps to keep tech salaries from inflating beyond what they're worth. It's a great example of the free market system at work.

Re:H1B - a path to a Tech Job (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46747155)

helps to keep tech salaries from inflating beyond what they're worth

Let's bring in H1B candidates to replace bankers, managers, CEOs, etc. When those assholes stop getting thousands if not millions in bonuses every godamn year, maybe they'll understand the true value of money.

Re:H1B - a path to a Tech Job (1)

kthreadd (1558445) | about 7 months ago | (#46747205)

I don't know the ins and outs of H1B, but don't they usually require a master degree?

Re:H1B - a path to a Tech Job (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46747499)

No, but it's easier to get if you have a master's degree. It's a separate pool with less competition than those with a bachelors.

Re:H1B - a path to a Tech Job (1)

David_Hart (1184661) | about 7 months ago | (#46747915)

I don't know the ins and outs of H1B, but don't they usually require a master degree?

No.

If I remember right, a 1 year TN visa for a Canadian required either a 4-year degree, a 2 year degree + 3 years experience, or 5 years of experience. I could be wrong, but I believe that the requirements for a H1B are similar.

Modded down? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46747215)

Shows where the bias is here! Obviously, we don't have ANY qualified persons in the US for this GIANT SURPLUS of jobs that we have with the employment numbers DECREASING?!?! So, let's bring some cheap foreigners that we don't have to even pay minimum wage. Let's bring LOTS of them to use Suckerberg's fwd.us propaganda.

Re:Modded down? (4, Insightful)

roc97007 (608802) | about 7 months ago | (#46747289)

Shows where the bias is here! Obviously, we don't have ANY qualified persons in the US for this GIANT SURPLUS of jobs that we have with the employment numbers DECREASING?!?! So, let's bring some cheap foreigners that we don't have to even pay minimum wage. Let's bring LOTS of them to use Suckerberg's fwd.us propaganda.

Oh there are lots of candidates, but they want to be paid first world wages. That's the real issue.

Re:Modded down? (0)

Stéphane V (3594053) | about 7 months ago | (#46747459)

or you can turn it the other way around, ask the person why he wants to get paid 33$ or 37$ an hour in the first place as I think this is a very high amount to get paid. I could assume that over 50% of a paycheck goes to the house, appartment or mortgage then the problem ain't the paycheck alone but rather what he pays with it. Don't pay for waht you can't afford is what I can tell from lots of people. They got 3 floor house when they can alone afford a garden house anyways.

Re:Modded down? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46747635)

Or we could turn it around again and point and laugh at losers like you who think everyone should be psychic and not buy homes with a 30 year mortgage because they should see that 15 years in the future some cretin will say "why should this person get paid $33 or $37 an hour" and work to cut their pay.

What does your crystal ball see in your future?

Re:Modded down? (4, Interesting)

roc97007 (608802) | about 7 months ago | (#46747943)

Or we could turn it around again and point and laugh at losers like you who think everyone should be psychic and not buy homes with a 30 year mortgage because they should see that 15 years in the future some cretin will say "why should this person get paid $33 or $37 an hour" and work to cut their pay.

What does your crystal ball see in your future?

Mine sees wages continuing to deflate. Of all my friends during dot com boom, only two of us kept our houses after the bust. He, because he fully committed his salary at the time and now owns it outright, and me because I bought a smaller house in a child friendly neighborhood, and managed to find enough work post boom to keep up payments. Those who bought huge show pieces in gated hives are all gone now. Living in apartments or had moved out of state looking for work, or in very rare cases moved into sales or management. And don't let the rhetoric fool you -- sales and upper management are worked like dogs, constantly aware that they need to justify their inflated salaries or be replaced at a moment's notice.

My crystal ball sees a continuing flood of third world workers willing to accept convenience store salaries, and a lot more locals out of work. My boss actually brags in status meetings how much money he's saved with H1B workers, and how he intends to hire them whenever possible. (I'm a "legacy employee" grimly determined to hang onto my job.) In the meantime, morale has never been lower, communication suffers, and project continuity is almost nonexistent. But as long as the practice looks profitable on the short term, it will continue.

Part of me thinks that business is running mostly on inertia at the moment. Eventually we'll reach the point where consumers can't afford the non-essential trinkets that make so much money, because there aren't jobs anymore that pay enough to afford them. Currently it's a downward spiral, with companies paying less, causing consumers to have less to spend, reducing sales, which cause companies to find more cost cutting measures. (Currently, the biggest fad of which is hiring third world workers.) In the meantime, it's just a different kind of race to the bottom.

Oh, and I'm not just sitting around waiting for the axe to fall. I'm working on starting a new business in a completely different kind of work, one that involves directly interfacing with people, a skill that H1B employees generally lack. As a local, communication skills are your biggest advantage. Don't forget that, it might become useful some day.

Re:Modded down? (4, Insightful)

mooingyak (720677) | about 7 months ago | (#46747683)

or you can turn it the other way around, ask the person why he wants to get paid 33$ or 37$ an hour in the first place as I think this is a very high amount to get paid. I could assume that over 50% of a paycheck goes to the house, appartment or mortgage then the problem ain't the paycheck alone but rather what he pays with it. Don't pay for waht you can't afford is what I can tell from lots of people. They got 3 floor house when they can alone afford a garden house anyways.

It's NYC. $37/hour doesn't go that far, especially if you have a family.

Re:Modded down? (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about 7 months ago | (#46747691)

or you can turn it the other way around, ask the person why he wants to get paid 33$ or 37$ an hour in the first place as I think this is a very high amount to get paid. I could assume that over 50% of a paycheck goes to the house, appartment or mortgage then the problem ain't the paycheck alone but rather what he pays with it. Don't pay for waht you can't afford is what I can tell from lots of people. They got 3 floor house when they can alone afford a garden house anyways.

Or you have, say, a family, and your children have a desire and aptitude for fields that really do need a college degree. Or should only the children of the ruling class get to aspire to something other than a phone tech gig?

Re:H1B - a path to a Tech Job (2)

jcr (53032) | about 7 months ago | (#46747615)

FWIW, those H1B workers typically have degrees.

-jcr

So basically... (5, Insightful)

beelsebob (529313) | about 7 months ago | (#46747063)

If you want to earn 1/3 as much as an engineer, and barely enough to survive in NYC, then don't get a degree. Otherwise, go and fucking learn something.

Re:So basically... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46747291)

If you want to earn 1/3 as much as an engineer, and barely enough to survive in NYC, then don't get a degree.

*sigh*

If someone is looking at college as something that will help them get a job or make more money, then they shouldn't fucking be in college to begin with. Education is meant to better your understanding of the world and everything around you. We need *fewer* people going to college and university, because a lot of them have a "I just want to get a job/make money!" mentality, and that makes colleges and universities lower standards in an effort to get money from the people who want degrees.

Otherwise, go and fucking learn something.

You can learn plenty without spending tons of money, especially in the information age. As someone who has a degree, it's absolutely appalling that hordes of people who shouldn't be in college or university are causing standards to drop. This 'Everybody's gotta go to college!' mentality needs to die, and fast.

Re:So basically... (5, Interesting)

Stéphane V (3594053) | about 7 months ago | (#46747575)

Absolutely true. It makes sense if you want to go in college or university is should be for academic reasons only and not for getting a higher pay. But lets be honest here, people who go to university have a higher chance of getting a higher pay because of their efforts and work they've done to get their diploma at the end. Would you accept working with someone who has the same pay as you do but he don't have a university diploma but has the same knowledge that you do... To be honest and truthful, I don't think a lot of people would accept that.

My dad worked tech with only an Associate's. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46747647)

And despite that, he often knew more than the 'fresh in' Bachelors who were making as much or more than him.

By the end of his time working he was at the pay cap, but for a lot of the intervening years, despite proof to the contrary, he was being undervalued financially compared to his coworkers.

A better question might be: Should somebody be allowed to be paid more just because they have a degree, regardless of whether their skills prove lacking in merit?

Re:So basically... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46747705)

I would accept it. How you choose to get your education is up to you, and anything else is arrogant. It's like saying, "Would you accept working with someone who has the same pay but didn't dig giant holes in the ground with only a spoon but has the same knowledge as you do?" Arbitrary nonsense.

Re:So basically... (0)

Stéphane V (3594053) | about 7 months ago | (#46747923)

I'll play the devils advocate here. let say you've done 3 or 4 years worth of computer skills in university. I find it hard to believe that you would work WITH or FOR someone that spent 1-2 year or probably less for the same pay. Just remember, you worked very hard each day of your life for 3-4 years, spent entire days studying at the university and did a lot of effort. While the other guy probably did the same for 1-2 years... in other words, you put more effort in your education than him. You still would accept that ?

Re:So basically... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46747847)

Would you accept working with someone who has the same pay as you do but he don't have a university diploma but has the same knowledge that you do... To be honest and truthful, I don't think a lot of people would accept that.

Sure, except I've never seen that. Non collegiates generally have gaps in knowledge, and you never know where those gaps are. Even college grads might have critical flaws in their understanding of material. Show me a sysadmin who knows how malloc works, and this will probably be someone who took CS classes, and knows why certain security practices are important, like the SSL revocations last week. The ones who waited until "Sunday maintenance window" were the ones who heard the news, read the suggestion to make new keys, but didn't see the potential for danger.

Re:So basically... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46747965)

I'm your huckleberry. It's VERY easy to see where your gaps are. Your knowledge is ALWAYS going to be current and relevant, because it has to be. The reality is that if you need the fundamentals (programming, etc) a 4 year degree is an excellent place to start. But I have yet to find a fellow architect who covered modern skillsets in faster time than I did without.

Now that I've been hiring a few years, I'm actually finding it far easier to hire those with pure experience than those with paper, because in some cases, I have to unfuck their overconfidence in pisspoor real world knowledge.

Re:So basically... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46747913)

Would you accept working with someone who has the same pay as you do but he don't have a university diploma but has the same knowledge that you do... To be honest and truthful, I don't think a lot of people would accept that.

Why? Would the idea that your non-degree earning colleague managed to learn just as much as you without wasting 4 years of their life and tens of thousands of dollars? Do you feel the need to tell yourself you're smart and special because you attended college, and working with someone who didn't would shatter your world view?

Honestly your statement is one of the saddest things I've seen in a discussion about degrees v's no-degree.

Re:So basically... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46747999)

Clue HR in then would you? For good or ill corporate America has decided that the "Has Degree" checkbox is a great first filter.

Re:So basically... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46747325)

On the other hand, if you want heavy student loan debt that can't be discharged that will plague you for the rest of your life, sure, go get a degree.

Re:So basically... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46747907)

I got a degree without debt and without scholarship money. Paid my way through school. And getting that CS degree helped me increase my income by 500%. It's already paid me back several times over.

Right: No degree == Bad pay (2)

crow (16139) | about 7 months ago | (#46747333)

Exactly!

All the examples are relatively low-paying jobs, not the high-paying jobs that everyone says tech is great for.

Re:Right: No degree == Bad pay (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46747407)

28.80 for support specialist is low paying???

Re:Right: No degree == Bad pay (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 7 months ago | (#46747745)

28.80 for support specialist is low paying???

When you live in a place where rent on a 300 square foot shoebox is over $1,200/month, yea, that's kinda low.

Double Equal Sign Fallacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46747453)

The double equal sign is a Boolean logical evaluation operator. You are essentially asking me to evaluate whether no degree is equal to bad pay which I might say true, or depending on the mood, I might instead say false. If you want to signify mathematical equivalence, simply use the equivalence operator, the single equal sign.
 
  =

Re:Double Equal Sign Fallacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46747599)

Mod parent up! I am tired of seeing the retarded "==" used everywhere.

Re:So basically... (1)

jcr (53032) | about 7 months ago | (#46747627)

If you want to earn 1/3 as much as an engineer, and barely enough to survive in NYC, then don't get a degree.

Speak for yourself. I never got a degree, and I did fine in NYC back in my Wall Street days.

-jcr

That isn't what a CSci degree is for (4, Insightful)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 7 months ago | (#46747065)

CSci degrees, at nearly every university in the US, are programming degrees. If you aspire to do tech support (or really much of anything other than programming) you are wasting your time with a CSci degree. Don't get me wrong, it is a very useful degree to have, but it is not generally a path towards doing computer support (nor should it be).

Now, that said, a lot of support techs clearly would benefit from more formal schooling - but it could be done in a less cost and time consuming manner than a 4 year degree.

Re:That isn't what a CSci degree is for (2)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | about 7 months ago | (#46747139)

Having said that, one specialty in programming and Software Engineering would benefit greatly from CSci students having some experience with help desk work: User Interface Design.

Everything I know about User Interface Design, I learned in my first two professional jobs where I had direct contact with end users.

Re:That isn't what a CSci degree is for (2)

PhrostyMcByte (589271) | about 7 months ago | (#46747623)

Unless a programmer is working for a very large company, there's a good chance they're in pretty direct contact with their users.

Throwing someone into contact with users doesn't help someone become good at UX. Just look at the multitude of Open Source projects -- most of them interact directly with users and still end up with pretty atrocious UX that is designed based on the programmer's workflow and how easy it is to implement.

You did something wrong. You need to do step A, B, C, and you skipped over B!

Every time I hear this from a developer, I cringe. Good UX is a choice. You can train in it, but until you really alter your mindset towards user interaction and embrace it, your projects will suffer. It's so easy, too:

A user is having difficulty performing X. Is there something I can change to ensure they land on an optimal path next time?

Re:That isn't what a CSci degree is for (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46747213)

It is a sad day when people think the comp.sci degree is for learning programming.

Re:That isn't what a CSci degree is for (1)

kthreadd (1558445) | about 7 months ago | (#46747235)

Most of them maybe, but the really good ones are not that. Computing science has very little to do with programming.

Re:That isn't what a CSci degree is for (5, Interesting)

Bacon Bits (926911) | about 7 months ago | (#46747741)

I agree. Using the term "Computer Science" for what most degree programs teach is purely the result of the growth of the industry. 70 years ago you couldn't get a Computer Science degree. 50 years ago, you could get a Computer Science degree without ever having used an actual computer. 30 years ago, the only degree in computing you could get was Computer Science, and it encompassed the whole of the field. 20 years ago, Computer Science began to mean "software" instead of Electrical Engineering's "hardware". 10 years ago, the field was so broad, so diverse, and encompassed so many disparate technologies that required significant specialization that you could get a specialization certificate on your CS degree. Today, you can get a 4 year Bachelor's in any number of fields including Information Technology (sysadmin, netadmin), Information Systems (DBA, Systems Analysis), Information Management (management for IT), Software Engineering (web design, application programming). Computer Science is again a theoretical area of research and development on the theory of computers. All these other fields born from this CS research once again free it to be what it once was: mathematicians and logicians playing with number machines.

Re:That isn't what a CSci degree is for (2)

timeOday (582209) | about 7 months ago | (#46747247)

That's exactly the point of the article.

Of course, the minimum necessary requirements are actually irrelevant in a competitive environment where there are a surplus of over-qualified people.

Re:That isn't what a CSci degree is for (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46747721)

I follow you, and generally a CompSci degree is best applied to programming.

What is bewildering to me is that you state that support techs would benefit from formal schooling, but then state it could be done in a cheaper manner than a 4 year degree. Formal Schooling is a 4 year degree. The rest of schooling is important, and it takes time and effort; but, it is not what one considers formal schooling. It is typically one of the many paths that include Job Training, Vocational Schooling, Certification, etc.

Who makes that? Also FP (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46747083)

I've been trying to find people in the tech industry who actually make these "industry average" salaries pushed out by roberthalf/etc ... so far, no luck. Lord knows I've never made "industry average" ...

also, FP

Re:Who makes that? Also FP (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | about 7 months ago | (#46747147)

I do. Actually, slightly higher at the moment.

Re:Who makes that? Also FP (1)

afidel (530433) | about 7 months ago | (#46747277)

My total benefits put me in the top 25% of industry average for my position and region (systems engineering manager in the midwest). If you're consistently making below industry average then you are either a very poor negotiator, your skills are below average in value, or you value something else about the jobs you take more than monetary compensation.

Re:Who makes that? Also FP (1)

Stéphane V (3594053) | about 7 months ago | (#46747593)

It could be that the regional average employment % is below average and theres an overpopulation in the position he's applying in his region which turns down the $/hour average down.

Re:Who makes that? Also FP (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 7 months ago | (#46747883)

I've been trying to find people in the tech industry who actually make these "industry average" salaries pushed out by roberthalf/etc ... so far, no luck.

The salary numbers come from surveys, and the employees surveyed have an obvious incentive to inflate the numbers.

Experience (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46747117)

Needless to say, real world experience (and getting your foot in the door, to get such experience) plus passion & people skills tends to get you further than academic credentials.

I never finished my bachelor, got bored and got a job before even finishing my second year - though I've been programming pretty heavily since I was 13/14 in 'real world' languages (Java, C++, and later C#/Haskell) - I worked quite successfully in high paying full time jobs from 18-22, and I've been doing contracting work since (by choice, since I can land 140/hr+ contracts and get the flexibility to work on my own hobbies between contracts).

I can safely say that I'm quite glad I never finished my Bachelor, the thought of spending tens of thousands (more) dollars and 2-3 more years of my life for nothing is depressing, and having been in hiring situations I can also see it never would have helped me (fresh undergrads tend to be less than useless, with the exception of those who do it for a passion - much like I did).

Misleading title (5, Informative)

cultiv8 (1660093) | about 7 months ago | (#46747123)

From page 43 of the actual report [hraadvisors.com] (and not a report of a report of the report):

While across the ecosystem, 44% of jobs do not require a Bachelor’s degree, the majority of tech jobs in tech industries require some degree of education. With a Bachelor’s degree, and in some cases, an Associate’s degree, many opportunities exist within the New York City tech ecosystem.

Re:Misleading title (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46747801)

From page 43 of the actual report [hraadvisors.com] (and not a report of a report of the report):

While across the ecosystem, 44% of jobs do not require a Bachelor’s degree, the majority of tech jobs in tech industries require some degree of education. With a Bachelor’s degree, and in some cases, an Associate’s degree, many opportunities exist within the New York City tech ecosystem.

I'm pretty sure that selling clothing in the mall doesn't require a Bachelor’s degree either, but those people have one.

We have a glut of educated. Certainly there are shortages in specific fields of people with specific skills; however, we have more degreed individuals than we have jobs to challenge them. If it were otherwise, then we would seldom see a degree holder doing anything less than a job that absolutely required a degree.

Either way, Universities have a role that everyone forgets. They are supposed to make you effective at thinking within a field. We don't care about thinking most of the time, we want workers most of the time. Workers are meant do to the job quickly and correctly. Often this requires a degree of skill, but a very limited degree of introspection and out-of-band knowledge.

Change our Universities to match a job training program, and the USA will lose it's competitive advantage as a educational power. There's a reason we don't send our children to India to learn. There's a reason that other countries often send their children to the USA to learn. It's not about job training, as India has us beat in that regard.

True and False (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46747151)

The truth is that the vast majority of jobs in any field don't really need a degree, just some critical thinking skills. You learn most everything on the job.

The reality is that the system is built on overpriced degrees, so hiring managers are going to hire people that went through the same 4+ years of work and loans. They aren't going to devalue their degrees by proving degrees are mostly worthless.

Sorry, but in most cases you need the degree.

Re:True and False (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 7 months ago | (#46747767)

Companies are not interested in wasting time teaching you skills on the job if they can avoid it.

Unncessary? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46747173)

So 66% of tech jobs are not available to you without a bachelors degree? And the study does nothing to determine the quality of the job you can get?

Sound like while a Bachelor's may not be strictly required if all you want is "a job" that it is still a good idea.

Personally, I've been gainfully employed for the last 15 years as a software developer. I do not have a bachelor's degree, although I do have an associates in Computer Information Systems. I've never had too much problem getting a job.

That said, I am currently working on BS in Comp Sci at a four year state school. Why? For one I've grown more interested in the theory as I've gotten more experienced, and I find learning computer science to very interesting and also pretty useful in my job. Secondly, I may want to get a MS in Computer Science in the future and a BS is a requirement. And finally, some jobs simply will not even interview you, let alone hire you, without a bachelors.

Some people might argue that you wouldn't want to to work for such a company anyway, but I like having every available opportunity open to me when looking for a position. So I'll keep working on my bachelors even if I COULD get as CSR job for a whopping $18.50/hr in NYC without one....

Re:Unncessary? (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about 7 months ago | (#46747257)

So 66% of tech jobs are not available to you without a bachelors degree?

The remainder is 56%, not 66%... and of those 56%, we don't know how many of them are accessible with an B.Sc but require, for example, an M.Sc.

But of course, your point remains...education gives you much more job opportunities.

"accessible" (1)

grumpyman (849537) | about 7 months ago | (#46747195)

Yeah right. Anyone who has a laptop, can read the web for code samples and post on forums?

Degree (5, Interesting)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 7 months ago | (#46747229)

I got a Bachelors in Network Administration from a state school. It wasn't required for my current job, but it certainly helped get me noticed and hired. Beyond that, the main advantage of the degree was having hands-on experience with Cisco gear and server OSes in a simulated production environment. Of course, you could find a training course that does that for much cheaper and without the bullshit lib arts requirements. In the end, I'd say it was worth it because I was able to get it at a reputable state school and my ending loans were about 2/3rds of my first year's salary, which wasn't bad at all. I certainly wouldn't have paid private school tuition for it.

The purpose of universities (1)

kruach aum (1934852) | about 7 months ago | (#46747237)

In our contemporary world, you can do two things at university: gain knowledge by studying and acquire prestige by graduating. Some people are there for the first, others for the second. For the people who are there for the second reason the degree is nothing more than a leg-up in the hiring process afterwards. This have created a large number of college educated people who, for the purposes of their jobs, don't need to be. The fact that there exist a large number of jobs that don't require a college degree for knowledge-related reasons doesn't entail that there exist a large number of jobs that don't require a college degree for prestige-related reasons. In other words, the conclusions drawn in TFA communicate precisely no information at all.

Re:The purpose of universities (1)

rwhamann (598229) | about 7 months ago | (#46747807)

Why can't it be both? I needed the Bachelor's to get my commission in the Air Force, but I chose my classes to maximize utility. Organizational communications met a humanities/SS credit requirement, but also made me a better officer and manager than Early American Hobo Lit would have.

If only (2)

TRRosen (720617) | about 7 months ago | (#46747241)

If only HR managers understood this or knew that computer science has nothing to do with computers. The entire computer industry was built by college dropouts and is ruled by technology that changes faster then a 4 year degree. Hire people that understand technology and can learn new tech on the run. Degrees are meaningless in tech and are becoming more so in all areas.

Re:If only (1)

Hodr (219920) | about 7 months ago | (#46747625)

Hire people that understand technology and can learn new tech on the run. Degrees are meaningless in tech and are becoming more so in all areas.

So, how do you propose to do this if those people do not have a considerable body of experience?

Will everyone have to work on some open source project while flipping burgers for years to prove their worth?

Re:If only (4, Insightful)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about 7 months ago | (#46747759)

That's like a driver saying auto mechanics has nothing to do with his job. You might not understand how computer science influences everything you're doing on your job which is probably why your search algorithm results always suck. Just because there are some glaring stellar examples of guys dropping out and making boatloads doesn't make that best path to success. The average IT guy is...average! He's not some 160 IQ natural born leader with a business sense. This Slashdot meme of crapping on formal education needs to stop. Yes, lots of people can drop out or never go to college and make a good living churning out web pages or iPhone apps, but that's not the best path to take.

The best thing for anyone entering the field to do is get a 4 year degree and get the formal education you'll never get on your own. I say that as a guy in the industry for about 12 years who went *back* and finished my degree. I sat through that last 2 years in class almost every day thinking of coding/design errors I'd made in the past based on what I was taught.

Re:If only (1)

rwhamann (598229) | about 7 months ago | (#46747835)

Today's tech is still built upon the foundations of the same theories. Even though I've been programming since 8th grade and fiddling with stuff on my own, so much made more sense after I took AA, Data Structures, OS, CA, etc. Computer Science is still applicable.

It's possible to get a job without a degree... (4, Insightful)

mark-t (151149) | about 7 months ago | (#46747249)

But honestly, the degree at least helps you get your foot in the door long enough that they may at least be willing to talk to you.

When you are competing with dozens of people for the same job, and if many of them have a degree and you do not, regardless of your actual skill or talent, in my experience it's unfortunately true that the employer probably won't look at your resume any longer than it takes to throw it in the round file.

That said... I've also known people who have lied about their degree in order to get a job... and it hasn't ever worked out for them very well.

It's time consuming, it's expensive, and it'll put you in debt for years to come as you work like an ass to pay it off... but as one who's travelled both roads, I can only say that it's worth it.

Re:It's possible to get a job without a degree... (3, Insightful)

mlts (1038732) | about 7 months ago | (#46747385)

In my experience, you won't get an HR person's attention unless you have the alphabet soup after your name. A bachelor's gets the resume out of the round file. A MCSE/CCIE/RHCE gets it scheduled. A CISSP or TS-SCI clearance gets it to the tech guys to be interviewed. In fact, when I got out of college, most interviews went like this:

Interviewer: "Do you have a CISSP or TS-SCI? No? Next in line, please."

It really didn't matter about experience... one could be clueless in IT but have a MCSE, and be further along than someone who had many years in the field, but didn't have the cert.

Re:It's possible to get a job without a degree... (1)

Collective 0-0009 (1294662) | about 7 months ago | (#46747743)

Quit looking for the government hand out job. I had a TS-SIOP. Know how many times I used it in the military? Zero. Know how many interviews I went on where they required it? Zero. How much money have I lost in process? Tens of thousands. How much happier am I not to be working with the drudges of society that is the technical people with a security clearance and supporting the military-industrial complex? Immeasurable.

If you want a job at a place that values passing tests and towing the line, the why don't you pass the test and tow the line? If you don't want to do that, do what I did and look for a privately owned company that actually produces a product not used for the military and be happy that you contribute to society!

Re:It's possible to get a job without a degree... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46747669)

I have 13 years of IT experience, from Wireless Telecomm Engineer, to Desktop Support, with no degree. I found it quite funny, and a little odd that, when I recently went for an interview at a consulting firm as a their System Admin, they required that everyone working their have a degree. Their reasoning was that it looked better to potential and existing clients, on their website. Yes, THAT was the line! Being mid-30's, if I was hired, they expected me to set out a degree plan, which would be 2-3 years of schooling. It's pretty quick to weed out the potential employers who want a little wet behind the ears grad with a little tech support, rather than someone who can jump in and start running.

All My Jobs Required a BS at Minimum (2)

James-NSC (1414763) | about 7 months ago | (#46747263)

That's not my experience in the "tech industry". Every job I've had - Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, Florida, Tennessee - have required a BS at minimum. I work with people who don't have a degree, and they are in "tech" positions that pay less and have fewer advancement options.

I guess "Tier One Help Desk" would meet the articles criteria, but who would want to do that job for the rest of your life?

In fact, now that I think about it, TFA is 180 from my experience, not only is higher education critically important, but almost equally important is *where* you went to school. Ivy > state > trade > Pheonix > none

Re:All My Jobs Required a BS at Minimum (1)

TheCarp (96830) | about 7 months ago | (#46747373)

I know a number of people, including myself, who started at jobs like that with no degree and did not get stuck as tier one support all their life. Lots of tech jobs claim to require a degree but don't really.

The thing is you have to just realize that "bachelors degree" really is shorthand for "Degree, or reasonable experience". If you don't have experience, they want to see a degree. If you have experience, the degree is often optional.

Just off the top of my head I can think of about 4 people without degrees who started in support and moved up to senior level positions as administrators, system architects, even one IT Director.

Re:All My Jobs Required a BS at Minimum (1)

fakeid (242403) | about 7 months ago | (#46747597)

Exactly.

I don't have a degree ("some college" only), and I've done well as a Linux admin. I've worked for large tech companies, automotive suppliers, market research firms, a state university, and I'm now back to a private firm that focuses on I.T. security. The only times no degree has ever been an "issue" has been when applying for a job at an Ivy League school (who wanted a degree for the senior position but would still hire a non-degreed person for a non-senior position - I passed), and for a large trading company that I think I'm glad I don't work for. I recently changed jobs and I was given a solid salary for the metro area I moved to, and they gave me relocation money (and this isn't even some crazy vally tech firm).

At a previous job, the I.T. Director had no degree and did a good job. There are plenty of people without degrees in higher-level positions than helpdesk or tier one support.

Re:All My Jobs Required a BS at Minimum (1)

Bigbutt (65939) | about 7 months ago | (#46747877)

Yea, no degree and I'm a Sr Unix Admin. I am investigating pursuing a degree, more for personal education than career advancement though. At this point, I can't see how a degree would improve my chances of keeping my job or getting a different one should this one fail :)

[John]

Re:All My Jobs Required a BS at Minimum (0)

jcr (53032) | about 7 months ago | (#46747649)

Every job I've had - Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, Florida, Tennessee - have required a BS at minimum.

Yeah, that tends to be a problem when you're looking in locations so far removed from where the action is. Try the Silicon Valley.

-jcr

the real issue.... (2)

metalmaster (1005171) | about 7 months ago | (#46747267)

Many employers require a bachelors' degree or unattainable amounts of experience for even entry-level jobs doing menial tasks. I understand they dont want folks with the attention span of a gnat, but they should keep requirement realistic. I see job listings every day requiring 5 to 10 years of experience but only offer entry-leve or even minimuml wages.

Certifications and experience are more important (2)

MikeRT (947531) | about 7 months ago | (#46747273)

Would you rather hire a support technician with an arm's length list of industry certifications or a 4 year degree? I know which one I'd choose (the former). It's not a position where universities lay out a comprehensive education program that can compete with industry. Same for DBAs, sysadmins and network engineers. Those are professional positions that require maybe at most an AA's worth of credits in the case of the network engineer to help them understand why they do what they do, but most of it is product knowledge-heavy work. Now if only more companies would realize that they need to ratchet up the difficulty on their certifications, certifications would get a better reputation.

Re:Certifications and experience are more importan (3, Interesting)

jedidiah (1196) | about 7 months ago | (#46747455)

Having managed myself to generate counter-factual results with such industry certifications, I have zero faith in them. A University may not be your idea of a suitably custom crafted trade school but it does imply a bit more depth than cramming for some multiple guess exam.

Re:Certifications and experience are more importan (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46747569)

Most of the people I know who have those certs crammed for them by buying the tests online and memorizing the answers.

It would kill me when they would show up for a question. They usually had the cert and *should* know how to do it. If they had actually did and understood the class material. I could usually noodle thru it and figure it out having never seen it before.

Re:Certifications and experience are more importan (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46747559)

Would you rather hire a support technician with an arm's length list of industry certifications or a 4 year degree?

The one with the 4 year degree. Any other questions?

Re:Certifications and experience are more importan (5, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | about 7 months ago | (#46747661)

Would you rather hire a support technician with an arm's length list of industry certifications or a 4 year degree?

Neither, actually. When I interview people, I really don't care about what tickets they've gotten punched. I want them to demonstrate proficiency.

-jcr

It's just a badge... (3, Interesting)

Kenja (541830) | about 7 months ago | (#46747283)

Look at it this way. The HR person will have two stacks of resumes. One for people with a degree and one for people without. Odds are the only time they'll delve into the non-degree pile is if they find no one in main stack to fill the position. This isn't to say you MUST have a degree to get a job. I lack one and have been employed for a long time. But I'm realizing that as my age gets up there, it will be desirable to get one for my next job.

You need it to get past HR (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46747297)

I have three diplomas (two in engineering, one in IT) and very little of the schooling applies in real life, but I couldn't get past HR without a piece of paper that says I'm smart. I don't have to be smart, but I have to have the paper that says I am.

/. Your killing me (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46747305)

Aside from the fact that I saw this load of crap on reddit awhile ago, this summary is painful to read again. The "is accessible" just made me want to cringe. Any job is accessible without a degree when there is no legal requirement for the practitioner to have a degree. You might as well post that 44% of the 128,000 jobs are prime candidates for H1B. I can spin these figures too.

You don't need a college degree .. (2)

johnlcallaway (165670) | about 7 months ago | (#46747345)

... to be a computer programmer or sys admin or DBA. Many short-sighted companies may not hire you, but why do you want to work for a company that cares more about a piece of paper than the abilities of it's staff. Be willing to start at the bottom so you can spend 4 years having someone else train you. It's a hell of a lot cheaper than paying for it yourself.

After several years as in those fields, you won't need a degree to become an engineer or architect. Anything you might have learned 10 years earlier is out of date anyway. And you will know how things really work, instead of just how they are supposed to work.

I know many people who are some of the top 'go-to' people in their companies in these fields that have never gotten a degree, or taken any significant number of college courses. They know how to read, and they learn by doing, either on their own or by taking on tasks that other people are unwilling to because they don't know how to do it.

Your guidance councilor is lying to you. The only thing that stands between you and a job is your own willingness to learn, and how smart you are.

By all means, if you are not that smart, go into debt and get that piece of paper that suggests you know something so you can get a job and have your co-workers hate working with you.

If you have the cash and the time, by all means attend college. College is a great place to learn if you want to take too much time and spend a lot of money.

But don't accept the lie that you have to do that to earn a decent living. And don't accept the lie that those that go to college make more money.

Smart, self-motivated, hard working people make more money than almost everyone else.

Re:You don't need a college degree .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46747413)

why do you want to work for a company that cares more about a piece of paper than the abilities of it's staff.

That piece of paper is a proof that you do have the abilities.

Re:You don't need a college degree .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46747975)

Then why are so many fresh graduates with a piece of paper completely incapable of doing the job?

Re:You don't need a college degree .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46747483)

Anything you might have learned 10 years earlier is out of date anyway. And you will know how things really work, instead of just how they are supposed to work.

True, but there is still huge amount of base concepts in mathematics and computer science that do not change rapidly. Solid foundation of these theoretical concepts can be very important if you really get into the professional stuff: writing proper algorithms, solving hard math problems, working with mission critical systems, game programming, physics simulations, digital design...

Re:You don't need a college degree .. (2)

dont_jack_the_mac (2882103) | about 7 months ago | (#46747549)

Nowadays this would be hard for the millennial generation where some folks work pro bono for some hope of getting a position later on. There is more competition for the real tech industry now. Why take a chance on the person with no degree when you have so many with degrees to pick from? Most companies don't recuperate their losses on hiring someone until after he or she has worked for them for at least two years.

The Consequence (3, Insightful)

pokerdad (1124121) | about 7 months ago | (#46747375)

When I worked in IT I used to laugh at anyone who had spent more time or money schooling than I did but still ended up in the same lousy positions. That was until, after some years in the industry, I came to realize that their education gave them a much better chance at advancement. A lot of the people I used to laugh at are doing well in IT 10 or more years later, while I left for greener pastures back in 2009.

Eh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46747377)

It's getting to a point where companies should sponsor their own degrees. Want to work at "Company X"? Then go to school and major in "Company X's Program / Degree"...

Otherwise, everyone and their brother clamoring about what this and that degree is for is moot because every company I've ever applied to / worked at all had their own biased view about what a C.S. / I.T. / M.I.S. / etc. degree was for.

So it's the "tech industry", so what? (5, Insightful)

HeckRuler (1369601) | about 7 months ago | (#46747387)

What jobs are they looking at here?

computer user support specialist
customer services representatives
telecom line installer
sales representatives
(With new york city wages)

So what you're saying is that people working in the shit-end of the industry don't need the same credentials as the people working the high-paying end of the industry?

Golly gosh-darn!
It's like manager at the local McDonalds doesn't need to have the same pedigree as the CEO of McDonalds corporate.

And maybe... just maybe... that night-shift manager has just about the same chances of rising to CEO of McDonalds as the help-desk wage-slave has of becoming the lead software architect.

People with degrees value them, people without (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46747421)

People with degrees value them, people without them don't. News at 8.

I have one, I'll give a few tips:

1. Go to a state school, don't go private unless Mitt Romney is your dad. State school is just as good.
2. When the second dot bomb hits, people without degrees become second class citizens as far as hiring goes. It's all relative, we're in a tech boom right now, of course degrees aren't as important.
3. Employers hire people without degrees because they are usually cheaper.
4. You don't have to go CS. MIS/CIS are very valuable and actually teach you how to normalize a relational database, a skill which is sorely lacking in today's crop of coders.

Culture and tech (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46747447)

"a technology specific job that doesn't require a Bachelor's degree"

a. This is not Europe. Cause I do know that folks must have trade certs due to the proper class system they have in culture. Technology if done correctly sort of breaks down those barriers. The current tech is new (last 10yrs), and last I heard Newton didn't need a Math (but he did have one to an extent) nor Physics degree.

"a technology specific job that doesn't require a Bachelor's degree"
b.AKA, a job at Apple's Genius Bar.

15 years experience only! (1)

InfiniteLoopCounter (1355173) | about 7 months ago | (#46747609)

Reading through the comments did no one else see that in the article the company that was focused on only recruited people with 15 years industry experience?! I suppose the owner wants people to work for 15 years without pay as an intern before getting a position at his company? Looks like there are just too many people for every decent job.

Like many of us, I am in tech. (2)

gurps_npc (621217) | about 7 months ago | (#46747621)

And I can honestly say that for most tech jobs, we are more akin to a plumber or an electrician, than anything else.

Yes, if your company makes it's money making and selling software or hardware, SOME of the high end jobs are different. Similarly, the guys that make toilets have some high end jobs that are not blue collar workers.

But most of us don't write the big code. Instead we install, maintain and fix stuff that some idiot took a big dump in.

We are plumbers, not Management. Hell, we even hate the 'suits'.

For the majority of jobs, we don't need a BA. Honestly, my BA was in political science, not computer science. Yes, I took post-graduate classes, yes I taught myself. But NOTHING I learned from teachers at my university is essential to my job.

problem of academia not tech (4, Interesting)

globaljustin (574257) | about 7 months ago | (#46747663)

this is a problem ****across academic disciplines**** and not in any way related to tech specifically.

dropping out of college is a reductive concept...and using people like Jobs or Gates as examples is patently foolish

if you realize your college **program** sucks, transfer to one that doesnt

if you realize your career goals cannot be reached through a degree, then drop out

if you want to have a **career** in tech, get a degree in tech

these stupid studies are so reductive & leave out so many salient factors...disregard!

Started my career in High School 28 Years ago... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46747729)

Went to work for a software company as a Senior in High School almost 30 years ago. By the time I had been there 3 months, I knew more about their systems than anyone in the company, and became their DBA, their UNIX Admin and programming consultant for other employees switching from Cobol / RPGII to a modern 4GL database language.

When I left the company 14 years later, I was still their top programmer and basically ran the I.T. department managing everything technical.

All of this without any college whatsoever.

Today, I'm highly placed in a Fortune 500 corporation doing what I love to do.

Lack of a college degree hasn't hurt me at all.

What exactly is a "tech industry job"? (1)

JDG1980 (2438906) | about 7 months ago | (#46747737)

Tech industry jobs that do not require a four-year degree and may only need on-the-job training include customer services representatives, at $18.50 an hour, telecom line installer, $37.60 an hour, and sales representatives, $33.60 an hour.

There seems to be some confusion here. What exactly constitutes a "tech industry job"? I wouldn't consider any of the above three positions to be that. Customer service (as opposed to technical support) is a low-paid non-technical job that usually involves reading off a script. In most parts of the country it will pay a lot worse than $18.50 an hour (maybe as little as half as much). Telecom line installer sounds like a blue-collar trades job – not necessarily a bad thing if it pays well, but not the kind of thing that someone gets into the "IT industry" to do. And sales is, well, sales – the average techie isn't going to be at all suited for this.

The question really should be how important a college degree is for real IT jobs like programmer, network admiinistrator, or DBA.

Other than NY? (1)

Collective 0-0009 (1294662) | about 7 months ago | (#46747775)

I know 20 million people live there, but the other 280 million in the US look at this:

telecom line installer, $37.60

and think WTF have spent the past 10 years doing??? It took me 10 years, a degree, tons of hours of work, to get my salary up to that level and I am sure I could have been running some RG-58 pretty efficiently for the past 10 years.

One problem with that (1)

rijrunner (263757) | about 7 months ago | (#46747779)

Except some companies, like HP, flat out will not hire unless you have a degree.

It is standard HR practice to use whether you have completed college as a criteria for hiring.

A lesson in value (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46747799)

Education usually matters to the person looking at the resumes and only if they themselves have dumped a ton of money on education (thus assuming it has value and). I have yet to work for an organization that demanded a college education of any prospect that could actually do the job and add value. It may irritate the people who dumped a lot of cash on a 4 year degree, but I don't their high school guidance counselors were motivated to tell them that they didn't need a degree (or the debt).

Money - This is an interesting topic unto itself. Unfortunately, the people who languish in "shit salary land" believe that they will eventually get to the good money when they get older, get more education, etc etc. It all comes down to negotiation skills, value to the company, etc etc. I chuckle at the $35 an hour comment... what year is it? I have guys working here that are in their 20s (with no degrees) making $10K a month.

Applies to more jobs than that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46747855)

MANY jobs do not, technically, do not require a Bachelor's Degree. What's learned in College does not always apply in the workplace and much of it is on-the-job training anyway. Even fundamental development and database skills can be learned through books or on-line information sources.

To en employer, a Bachelor's degree shows a willingness to work at achieving your goals, and tends to shorten the learning curve needed to do the job. It also indicates that you're willing to learn and work hard to get where you want to go.

My career is indicative of this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46747887)

I earn more than $200k / year in NYC, and am a college drop-out.

Before moving to NYC, the highest paying job I had was on the night shift at a convenience store. In NYC, I found that people valued you based on your skills, portfolio and work ethic, and not a piece of paper that proved that you can study. This has taken me as high as being a c-level exec at a fortune 1000, and there's no signs of this stopping any time soon.

It's true - most programmers don't need college (3, Insightful)

garyebickford (222422) | about 7 months ago | (#46747959)

In my long experience as a coder, systems architect, and manager of teams, I have found that for most programming jobs a college degree in CS just isn't necessary. In my early days, few programmers or 'software engineers' even had CS degrees - we had history majors, music majors, a few math majors, etc. Music majors tend to do quite well as they are attracted to patterns and elegance.

Especially today, web programming is rarely concerned with developing deep algorithms, rather with assembling a set of tools. So a mechanical mind may do quite nicely, and a strong desire to make sure things are correct given all possible inputs - like an accountant, a good programmer won't be satisfied unless every 'penny' is accounted for.

When hiring, I often found the CS majors as having an inflated sense of their own abilities, and a general lack of knowledge of how programming is generally done in the real world - hacking on some other schmuck's broken legacy code that nobody can figure out. And a kid who started programming in high school and just kept working at it may have five years of real experience before they get their first job, and does it because he/she can't _stop_ doing it.

The company I work for now has a chief programmer who started writing games in high school, never went to college. He's pretty good, though he needs more real world experience to see how to prevent problems - that's the hardest thing, knowing enough and gettin the habits to avoid the bugs in the first place, which is only possible AFAIK in just experience.

Once they are in the job, then I would definitely encourage, even require, continuing education - go ahead and take some classes, read the books, try things out. Then they will be learning the algorithms, the techniques, in the context of what they already know.

As someone with a good CS education... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46748001)

Who has had to work with lots of people that DO NOT grasp the fundamentals of algorithmic complexity, data structures, and so on, I really want this article to die a terrible death.

Yes, it may be great to have a programmer who can also talk the talk to business types, and in some cases that may have much more apparent value than a solid CS education, but if they aren't a well educated programmer, they DO NOT BELONG in a position where they are making software design decisions.

When you hire people with an inadequate education in the field, whether or not you can tell a difference from a layman/non-techie/management perspective, IT IS NOT WITHOUT CONSEQUENCE. Projects end up costing a lot more in the long wrong when you don't have needed expertise from the start.

Hopefully I used enough caps to get my point across.

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