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Degree required for US employment?

Degree required for US employment?

Old Dec 31st 2007, 11:44 pm
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Default Degree required for US employment?

This is a question for people with experience of the US job market, specifically IT....I'm 25 and I work for a hedge fund with offices in London and NYC, I've been with them for 4 years, and have 7 years of solid experience overall. I'm moving to NYC on an L1B visa in March. I'm mainly tech support, with telecomms, market data, and networking as my specialties. My long term girlfiriend is a USC, and we both talk about getting married someday and moving to Chicago (she's from WI so doesnt want to stay in NYC forever)....my question is...when the day comes for me to look for a job away from my current employer (once we are married and I have work authorisation) ...how likely am I to find a job without a college degree? I dont have any qualifications aside from A-Levels..I'm going to get some tech accreditations like the CCNA and the MCSE done as they are fairly easy, but I dont see any realistic way that I'm going to get a degree in the next few years...I know that seemingly everyone in the US has a degree, is this seriously going to hinder me in the future? As in, am I going to be totally screwed and have to work in McDonalds??
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Old Jan 1st 2008, 12:11 am
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Default Re: Degree required for US employment?

I don't think you'll be at McD's.

A tech certification will help considerably, especially a CCNA or MCSE, though it does sort of pigeonhole you into a specific field within the field of IT.

However, if you don't get married, your chances of finding another job without a degree will be seriously hindered because of your inability to get a work visa. They require a degree, or 12 years of experience + if you don't have a degree.
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Old Jan 1st 2008, 12:39 am
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Default Re: Degree required for US employment?

I'm not in the IT field, but from my experience, there is no denying that not being able to tick that degree box (in general) is a royal pain in the arse, even if you have loads of experience. This can be circumvented, at least in part as has been said above, by the right certifications - however, what you are then up against is people who have all the certs AND a degree....

Best thing to do is get a degree if you can. I am doing that right now - luckily for me I managed to get myself directly onto a distance learning Masters with a UK university on the basis of experience (I don't have a bachelors), so with that I'll not only be able to tick the degree box, but the Masters one.

You can get work without - but it takes much more of an effort.
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Old Jan 1st 2008, 1:15 am
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Default Re: Degree required for US employment?

I don't work in the IT field but I know a lot of people in the US who are. Based on what you've written, I would say you'll have a tough time getting a job in IT unless your skills/experience is in a product/area that is specialized or highly desirable.

Pretty much all the people I know who work in IT whatever the area or level have (at least) bachelor degrees (and some without IT related degrees if that's any consolation).

Bear in mind that many IT departments/IT companies hire contractors/employees on H-1Bs and those who are US educated so you probably want to consider getting professional certifications or qualifications.

I would suggest networking as soon as you get here. It's the American way and by having contacts, you can also glean info on any opportunities for you to get another IT job without a degree.

I wish you luck.
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Old Jan 1st 2008, 2:39 am
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Default Re: Degree required for US employment?

Originally Posted by pejpm1 View Post
This is a question for people with experience of the US job market, specifically IT....I'm 25 and I work for a hedge fund with offices in London and NYC, I've been with them for 4 years, and have 7 years of solid experience overall. I'm moving to NYC on an L1B visa in March. I'm mainly tech support, with telecomms, market data, and networking as my specialties. My long term girlfiriend is a USC, and we both talk about getting married someday and moving to Chicago (she's from WI so doesnt want to stay in NYC forever)....my question is...when the day comes for me to look for a job away from my current employer (once we are married and I have work authorisation) ...how likely am I to find a job without a college degree? I dont have any qualifications aside from A-Levels..I'm going to get some tech accreditations like the CCNA and the MCSE done as they are fairly easy, but I dont see any realistic way that I'm going to get a degree in the next few years...I know that seemingly everyone in the US has a degree, is this seriously going to hinder me in the future? As in, am I going to be totally screwed and have to work in McDonalds??

Opportunities for study abound in the US and aren't that expensive if you choose carefully. Head for your local community college as soon as you arrive and start planning your night school and on-line courses.
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Old Jan 1st 2008, 11:01 am
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Default Re: Degree required for US employment?

Originally Posted by pejpm1 View Post
This is a question for people with experience of the US job market, specifically IT....I'm 25 and I work for a hedge fund with ..............seriously going to hinder me in the future? As in, am I going to be totally screwed and have to work in McDonalds??
To the above response, I'd add that some junior colleges/community colleges (2yr schools) offer different ways to study as a working adult.
Internet classes.
Distance (satellite campus) classes.
Some do TV broadcasts on local access channels.

Watch the out of state fees tho.
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Old Jan 1st 2008, 1:48 pm
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Default Re: Degree required for US employment?

FWIW and I'm speaking only anecdotally here...

The reason my company prefers to hire someone with a Computer Science or Electrical Engineering degree vs. say a certification is because we never really know what type of technology is going to be best suited to our needs. For example, we'll build a database solution for a customer but we're not wedded to a MYSQL or Oracle level database, or we'll roll out a network for an office and will go with the best router / switch solution, not necessarily a CISCO or some other solution.

When we hire someone with a very specific skill set (MCSE) they have a natural bias to roll out the technology they are familiar with, not necessarily what might be best one for the project. It's like a guy saying 'we must, must use 'Phillips' screwdrivers for this project, not Flat screwdrivers.'

So...without a degree, you are limiting yourself in the jobs you will find to those that require XYZ skill set and the companies that need to hire that specific person. Of course, there are 1000s of large corporations that are looking for just that sort of person, though that might not be the place you want to work.
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Old Jan 1st 2008, 7:25 pm
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Default Re: Degree required for US employment?

Originally Posted by pejpm1 View Post
This is a question for people with experience of the US job market, specifically IT....I'm 25 and I work for a hedge fund with offices in London and NYC, I've been with them for 4 years, and have 7 years of solid experience overall. I'm moving to NYC on an L1B visa in March. I'm mainly tech support, with telecomms, market data, and networking as my specialties. My long term girlfiriend is a USC, and we both talk about getting married someday and moving to Chicago (she's from WI so doesnt want to stay in NYC forever)....my question is...when the day comes for me to look for a job away from my current employer (once we are married and I have work authorisation) ...how likely am I to find a job without a college degree? I dont have any qualifications aside from A-Levels..I'm going to get some tech accreditations like the CCNA and the MCSE done as they are fairly easy, but I dont see any realistic way that I'm going to get a degree in the next few years...I know that seemingly everyone in the US has a degree, is this seriously going to hinder me in the future? As in, am I going to be totally screwed and have to work in McDonalds??
IT seems to be one of the only fields where one may be able to get along without a degree, though certifications are smart, and getting a degree certainly wouldn't hurt. Many of the IT professionals at my company do not have degrees (or have associate's degrees rather than bachelor's degrees) and are doing fine.

That being said, getting one certainly isn't going to hurt you.
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Old Jan 2nd 2008, 2:27 pm
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Default Re: Degree required for US employment?

My hubby is in IT and doesn't have an IT related degree. He has several certifications: MCSE, A+, N+. He's getting ready to update his MCSE. We are in the Midwest/South and he has not had any issues finding employment, and he has about 6 or so years of experience. The main issue you may need to try to overcome is that MCSE certs are not being looked on as favorably as they once were because the exams are either a)easier, or b) people cheat by studying the brain dumps only. Experience along with the certs will be a lot more favorable and should open doors for you. My OH is also seriously considering going for Linux certifications and MCSD in order to open other opportunities. The more certs you consider, the less you may pigeon-hole yourself into one specific area.

OH did have one company tell himi that they prefer certs to degrees because the technology and training is more up to date than the 4 yr degee (since technology is changing so fast). But every company will be different in their preference. From what we've researched, a degree is pretty much a must if you plan on trying to work your way up to higher managerial positions. But if you're content doing the actual hands-on applications, instead of paper pushing, you should be able to get around w/out a degree.

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Old Jan 2nd 2008, 2:37 pm
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Default Re: Degree required for US employment?

Originally Posted by pejpm1 View Post
This is a question for people with experience of the US job market, specifically IT....I'm 25 and I work for a hedge fund with offices in London and NYC, I've been with them for 4 years, and have 7 years of solid experience overall. I'm moving to NYC on an L1B visa in March. I'm mainly tech support, with telecomms, market data, and networking as my specialties. My long term girlfiriend is a USC, and we both talk about getting married someday and moving to Chicago (she's from WI so doesnt want to stay in NYC forever)....my question is...when the day comes for me to look for a job away from my current employer (once we are married and I have work authorisation) ...how likely am I to find a job without a college degree? I dont have any qualifications aside from A-Levels..I'm going to get some tech accreditations like the CCNA and the MCSE done as they are fairly easy, but I dont see any realistic way that I'm going to get a degree in the next few years...I know that seemingly everyone in the US has a degree, is this seriously going to hinder me in the future? As in, am I going to be totally screwed and have to work in McDonalds??
For the purposes of a job search I would strongly recommend getting a degree as some companies won't bother looking at your resume if you don't have one, I think even some recruitment companies filter off resumes of applicants with no degree.

I'd say certifications are useful if you're aiming for a specific position, or if you have limited experience.

Last edited by anotherlimey; Jan 2nd 2008 at 2:40 pm.
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Old Jan 2nd 2008, 2:46 pm
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Default Re: Degree required for US employment?

I hire people all the time. Experience rains over education EVERY time for me. I left school at 15 Often, people I hire, without a degree (inthe same field) are more street-wise and work harder.

Success is all about experience and relationships. I'd hire someone recommended by someone I respect in a heartbeat, regardelss of education.

The problem in the USA and mostly for large companies or companies where they outsource their HR is HR is often anal about degrees.

In your field, if your smart, build relationships (customers who love you, other departments who respect you etc., etc.,) - you will be VERY successful in the USA even without a degree. If you think you'll end up going through "applications" rather than relationships in your career, you'd probably be better served to be in a position to "tick" some HR boxes if you want a chance to get in for interviews.

Sad but true.



Sad but true.
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Old Jan 2nd 2008, 2:57 pm
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Default Re: Degree required for US employment?

I'm in the IT industry in the US and have found that regardless of cert's and experience, most companies use the degree as their first tool in filtering out the gazillion resumes they receive. Having said that we are in an industry where experience is also heavily valued and a lack of degree is not necessarily a negative. Ultimately I think it's a matter networking or who you know that will get you in the door. Considering how competitive the industry is now it would be beneficial to have a degree to get your foot in the door. It can't hurt you.

Regarding your proposed certification track. The MCSE might be 'easy' but the CCNA is certainly not. I've taken it and will retake it again before spring sets in. Of all the cert exams that I've taken, that one was the most difficult. This after having hands on experience with routers, switches, and the IOS in a classroom setting. I also self studied and ran through several self-study exams. It's pretty difficult but I'm not going to let it beat me. The other certs that I have are my A+ and Network +. I also am Dell Warranty Parts Direct Certified. Now you may have more success than I and I hope that you do well with your certs but know that the CCNA has a high retake rate. As for the MCSE, I'm sure you'll do well considering your experience. I hear that as long as you study for it using the right materials anyone can snag an MCSE if they have the money for each of the exams (7 in total I believe). Good luck with your certs!
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Old Jan 2nd 2008, 4:33 pm
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Default Re: Degree required for US employment?

Originally Posted by ugacrew View Post
I'm in the IT industry in the US and have found that regardless of cert's and experience, most companies use the degree as their first tool in filtering out the gazillion resumes they receive. Having said that we are in an industry where experience is also heavily valued and a lack of degree is not necessarily a negative. Ultimately I think it's a matter networking or who you know that will get you in the door. Considering how competitive the industry is now it would be beneficial to have a degree to get your foot in the door. It can't hurt you.

Regarding your proposed certification track. The MCSE might be 'easy' but the CCNA is certainly not. I've taken it and will retake it again before spring sets in. Of all the cert exams that I've taken, that one was the most difficult. This after having hands on experience with routers, switches, and the IOS in a classroom setting. I also self studied and ran through several self-study exams. It's pretty difficult but I'm not going to let it beat me. The other certs that I have are my A+ and Network +. I also am Dell Warranty Parts Direct Certified. Now you may have more success than I and I hope that you do well with your certs but know that the CCNA has a high retake rate. As for the MCSE, I'm sure you'll do well considering your experience. I hear that as long as you study for it using the right materials anyone can snag an MCSE if they have the money for each of the exams (7 in total I believe). Good luck with your certs!
sorry, didnt mean to say that the ccna was easy...just meant that with my experience of cisco,I dont anticipate that it will be a big problem...thanks for the advice guys...i dont think it's likely that I'll be able to study for a degree whilst working 10-12 hours a day, so I'll stick with certs but I'll diversify and maybe go for some linux or lesser taken certs...
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Old Jan 2nd 2008, 4:53 pm
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Default Re: Degree required for US employment?

Originally Posted by pejpm1 View Post
sorry, didnt mean to say that the ccna was easy...just meant that with my experience of cisco,I dont anticipate that it will be a big problem...thanks for the advice guys...i dont think it's likely that I'll be able to study for a degree whilst working 10-12 hours a day, so I'll stick with certs but I'll diversify and maybe go for some linux or lesser taken certs...
Good luck with the process. Linux/Unix is a good way to go. Especially in the department of creating shell scripts. That should grab someone's attention.
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Old Jan 2nd 2008, 5:03 pm
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Default Re: Degree required for US employment?

Based on my experience, it depends on the area in which you are applying for the job...

If you're applying for jobs in NYC or areas where loads of people will be looking for jobs, you can expect that the employer can (and will) be more selective with regards to who they interview.

As has been said previously, many places have an initial review done by HR monkeys who are looking for basics including minimum education level to thin out the number of people interviewed.


When I was looking for a job over here, I applied for the exact same job that I had left in England... I didn't even get an interview, because it had a batchelors degree requirement, while I only have an associates degree equivalancy.

Where I work, for one job they had a minimum level of a bachelors degree and a year later, when the job market slumped, the same position was advertised as associates degree minimum (that's when I got in ).
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