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#1 SFT   User is offline

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Making a career change, CS vs. IT

Posted 22 July 2013 - 06:28 AM

I'll make this as brief as possible. At 25 years old, I am considering a career change because I do not find my current profession to be fulfilling. I have a degree in Exercise Science and decided not to return to school to become a Physical Therapist. I know there are great job prospects and I would be very much in demand, but I don't see it being something that I would like.

I started working with computers when I was 8-9 years old, when I started teaching myself how to use Windows 95. Ever since then, I have always been somewhat tech savvy. In high school, I took a computer electronics course which was pretty much a preparation for the CompTIA A+. In addition, I taught myself some basic PHP coding, as well as the HTML/CSS that I had been using since junior high school.

I ultimately decided to major in Exercise Science instead of Computer Science, which I am now regretting. After researching a variety of the career options that I have, I have taken an interest in systems administration and security-related positions. I know that a help desk position will likely get me going in the right direction, so I am trying to find someone that will hire me with little experience.

In addition to Systems Administration, I'm also interested in programming. Right now, I am just unsure of whether or not 40+ hours a week of it would drive me crazy. I'm teaching myself Python, which I know is relatively easy to learn.

I found an BS in Information Technology program at UMass Lowell that only requires 30 credits (10 courses). This program is designed for those that already have a Bachelor's degree. From what I've seen, this would be the least expensive options, likely costing me slightly more than $10,000 for the degree. The only thing that has me worried is that many of the job opportunities out there specifically require, or make mention of a BS in Computer Science. I realize there is a considerable difference in the curriculum of the two degrees. I am not afraid of the math component of the degree. Although it is likely considerably harder in college, I did take Calculus in high school, so I have some background.

What do you think would be my best bet? To reiterate, I'm not 100% certain that I want to be a programmer. I will learn it either way because it will help me if I become a systems administrator. Frankly, I will learn it anyways because I enjoy it and like to do projects on the side for fun. Below is just an outline of my options:

BS in IT
- Only requires 10 courses and ~$10-11k
- Courses are a mix of online and on campus. I can take courses including Linux/Unix Administration, Shell Scripting, C, C++, Data Structures, Java, Network Security, Network Architecture, etc.
- No real structure to the program, only requires 2 courses, the other 8 you can pick
- Offered at a local state school, so I might be able to make some connections here.
- Total time to complete is ~2 years (part-time while working)

BS in CS
- Likely won't gain admission to any local schools. I live in the Boston-area and schools are very competitive and expensive. I didn't do terrible in college, but I had a ~3.1 GPA.
- Will likely have to complete a program online. I know that some people frown upon strictly online degrees.
- Most programs are 18-23 courses, and the cost would be $16-20k for the program after I transfer in my general education credits.
- Total time to complete is ~4 years (part-time while working)

Alternatively, I could get the BSIT and do a calculus, algorithms, and discrete math self-study. That being said, I know that doesn't hold as much weight as actually doing it in college.

In my position, what would you guys do? I don't have a family or anything at this point, but at 25 years old, I need to find a decent paying job sooner or later. I know that I can get a SA job with a BSIT because I see people in the career with no degree. However, if I really find that I love programming, I would hate to have wasted 2 years on the BSIT if relatively few courses will transfer (maybe C and data structures?).

Thank you!

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Replies To: Making a career change, CS vs. IT

#2 torind_2000   User is offline

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Re: Making a career change, CS vs. IT

Posted 24 July 2013 - 05:56 AM

View PostSFT, on 22 July 2013 - 09:28 AM, said:

I'm not 100% certain that I want to be a programmer. I will learn it either way because it will help me if I become a systems administrator. Frankly, I will learn it anyways because I enjoy it and like to do projects on the side for fun.

Personally, I think you need to figure this part out before you start pouring money into college and not blindly take courses for something you may not even want to do.
Doing it on the side for fun and doing it as a career are vastly different.

View PostSFT, on 22 July 2013 - 09:28 AM, said:

However, if I really find that I love programming

It'd be a shame for you to realize halfway through school that you didn't really enjoy it and waste all that money because credits might not transfer to another major.
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#3 DarenR   User is offline

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Re: Making a career change, CS vs. IT

Posted 24 July 2013 - 06:00 AM

Your best option is to decide what you want to do before you go handing out all kinds of money. Or you can just give me the money and I will tell you what to do...either way it's all about the bens.
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#4 lordofduct   User is offline

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Re: Making a career change, CS vs. IT

Posted 24 July 2013 - 07:06 AM

Let me point out that you don't need a degree to be a software developer. I for one am a college drop out who went to school for mathematics, I taught myself software programming in my garage, and I have a very good job from it designing and implementing large software (I don't necessarily advise this route, it takes a LOT of dedication and hardwork... I'm talking 100+ hours a week type work).

As for what the last 2 posts before me said. I think that's the intent of the original post. OP doesn't know what they want to do and would like to figure out what they'd like to do.

Here's the thing OP, you talk about not wanting to "waste your time". Sorry, when you're blind on what you want to do, you're going to waste some time. That's inevitable.

One could say I wasted my time in college since I spent most my time taking classes that never actually went toward a degree, half of which don't even apply to what I do as a career today. But I didn't know what I wanted to be back then, or better I thought I wanted to be something I actually didn't want to be. I don't consider that time in college a "waste", I learned quite a bit. Not just what I learned in their books (which actually pails in comparison to what I learned on my own time), but more what I learned from the experience. What I learned about myself, what aspects about maths and sciences that I really actually enjoyed, and if I actually wanted to do what I was studying for a living. When you want to do something that requires a lot of knowledge, you're not going to know for certain until after you've gained some knowledge.

So yeah, don't fret about "wasting your time". You're only wasting your time if you consider it a waste of your time.

Of course this doesn't mean just throw your money at a problem.

Now as to your specific question. I'm inferring that you're attempting to ask us which is the path of least resistance. Which path, that if it fails, come with the least fall back in the "time wasting" realm. Which... well... we don't know. We're not you. Time wasting is subjective.

If you gauge things purely on a class is wasted if the credit hour is non-transferable... well in my opinion, you're looking at the world in the wrong manner. Not everything you do will or even should have such a tangible outcome. Sometimes we have to spin our wheels to know what it's like to spin our wheels. Sometimes we have to do things that give us experience rather than a shiny piece of paper.

Think of it this way, it used to be that when you went to college (and several colleges still do this) you were required to take a bunch of unrelated courses to your field of study. And I don't just mean a few English courses, but the arts/history/latin/etc... Why do you think they wanted you to do this?

My skill sets aren't in only math and programming. I know physics, chemistry, history, pop-culture, literature, sociology, the entire history of video games in absurd detail, how to drive tractor trailer, plumb, a bit of electrician work, even a bit about working on a farm, and cultural experience living in every corner of the country so far. I would even include my experience with the criminal system, drugs, and general low-class mayhem. And you may be surprised how frequently I tap into the skills and experience I gained from all that stuff, and use it to perform my current job, and I'm considered a valuable employee for it.

So, you analyze the courses you want to take, and you decide what is the path of least resistance for YOU.

This post has been edited by lordofduct: 24 July 2013 - 07:35 AM

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#5 snoj   User is offline

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Re: Making a career change, CS vs. IT

Posted 24 July 2013 - 07:23 AM

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