IT Job Myths Busted: Not Everyone Has a Computer Science Degree

by Eileen Ristau Tauchman | Apr 05, 2019

A broken smartphone with the words IT Job Myths: BustedThis article is of the first of an IT Career News series called IT Job Myths Busted. These articles break down and explain common misconceptions about a career in IT. Each article will address the myth and explain the truth behind it.

Are you craving a career in IT, but you’re not keen on the idea of having to spend years and money on earning a computer science degree? Maybe you’d be surprised to know that a computer science degree is not necessary to succeed in a technology career.

There are IT pros who have computer science degrees, but others have business degrees, communications degrees or no degree at all! A large portion of IT jobs don’t require a four-year degree or even a two-year degree. If not having a degree has kept you from pursuing a career in IT, you should know that most technology positions just require proof that you can do the job. And thanks to certifications and prior experience, this is possible!

IT Certifications

IT certifications are very important – they prove the skills and knowledge that an IT pro has on certain topics. For example, CompTIA Security+ validates the baseline skills you need to perform core security functions and pursue an IT security career.

Did you know that 96 percent of human resources managers use IT certifications as screening or hiring criteria? This shows that certifications are helpful in getting your foot in the door and making a good impression on a potential future employer.

There are hundreds of IT certifications out there that can help you move forward in your IT career. The CompTIA IT Certification Roadmap can make navigating the world of certifications a little easier. Whether you’re interested in information security, web and mobile, software development, or network and cloud technologies, choose your career path and identify the certifications that can help you get there.

The CompTIA Career Pathway can also help you discover which CompTIA certification is right for you at this point in your career. CompTIA certifications align with IT infrastructure and cybersecurity career paths, and each certification in the pathway strengthens your knowledge in that area. Early-career certifications like CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+ and CompTIA Security+ are great starting point for people who need to build foundational IT skills before moving into a specialization.

IT Experience

Gaining experience in the technology field is another way to learn skills that will make you a strong IT pro. You may be asking the following questions:

  • How can I gain experience without a job?
  • Don’t I need a job to get experience?

Not necessarily! You don’t need a full-time, paying job to get hands-on IT experience. You can gain experience in a lot of ways:

  • Fiddling around with a computer or mobile device at home
  • Helping out friends and family with their computer issues
  • Volunteering for a local nonprofit that needs tech support

Another way to gain experience is to surround yourself with people who are successful in the industry that you’re looking to break into. Talk to them, pick their brain and learn from their successes and failures. Many people disregard the benefits that having a mentor can bring to your career and miss out on gaining additional experience and knowledge. Find someone you respect and who is in a position you hope to be in one day or is in an area of IT that you are interested in.

While there are many things you can do to gain the tech skills and experience that you need to start a career in IT, you may already have some of the soft skills employers are looking for.

Check out the 10 Skills You Didn't Know Could Land You an IT Job

Conclusion

If you don’t have a computer science degree, don’t let it hold you back from pursuing a career in IT. Many top IT careers don’t require college degrees. The IT industry is looking for candidates who can get the job done and are willing to work hard, regardless of their academic standings. If that sounds like you, through certifications and experience, you’re on your way to a booming IT career!

Looking to get into IT? Check out our brand-new, free online course CompTIA On Ramp: How to Get an IT Job.

17 Comments

  • Adenn Jusik

    Friday, April 5, 2019

    Unless you are sidesaddle studying for Professional Certificates that coincide with your degree coursework, the degree is almost a waste of your time. So many people I've worked with got the paper from their school of choice and come to work in the I.T. dept prepared to do almost nothing without hands on training. It's only later in your career. When you move into more complex roles will you get a payoff for taking the classes.

  • Kathleen Brown

    Friday, April 5, 2019

    I must respectfully disagree with this article. After moving to a new state and leaving my long-time IT job (network administration) I can safely say a Bachelor's Degree in basket weaving, is better than no degree. For anything above tech support in this area anyway a degree is de riguer as the French say. I have an Associates in engineering and am certified in A+, Network+ and Security+. Still wasn't offered anything but low-level work down here in New York. Maybe it's this area, maybe the fact that I am not of the male persuasion. Anyway I finally took a job at a local Starbucks and they're paying for me to get a Bachelor's Degree. You can bet it won't be in IT though. My experience with the whole job search and certifications refresh, has turned me away from IT unfortunately. I look forward to a new career in GIS.

  • Ammar Joudeh

    Saturday, April 6, 2019

    Great Article! I can see the industry ultimately moving toward certified individuals, with no regard to scholar degrees earned or pursued.

  • Lake Tarpon

    Saturday, April 6, 2019

    I agree that BSCS is almost not relevant by the time you graduate, but without a bachelors degree you will not make it past the first round of screening at most if not all Fortune 500 companies regardless of your certifications or experience. Employers want to see you graduated from college first, then they look at your experience, and then maybe the certifications as a checkbox item. Just being certified will not likely get you a great job anywhere.

  • Nick Aiva

    Saturday, April 6, 2019

    As far as Greece and Germany is concerned there is a heavy bias in favour of IT uni degrees. In the rest of Europe professional experience alongside a STEM degree is preferred, because there is lack of computer scientists. It seems to me that it is always a question of HR supply and demand, when an employer does not have a candidate with a IT degree, (s)he will take other applications into consideration too. All in all a certification is the bare minimum! NA http://nickaiva.blogspot.com

  • Chancey

    Saturday, April 6, 2019

    Pursuing a career in IT is my every day life dream

  • EFUNDUNKE OLUWAKEMI SOWEMIMO

    Saturday, April 6, 2019

    I am really working hard to start my hands-on training so that I can move forward in time in the industry

  • Trish C.

    Sunday, April 7, 2019

    The truth is it depends on where you live, what companies are available in your vicinity and your situation. Obviously a company whose systems process a third of the world's currency won't allow unskilled workers or the newly certified touch their programs. If there's high demand for IT workers in the area but not enough skilled workers, you have a better chance of getting hired even without a CS degree or cert. In highly concentrated areas where there's a lot of competition for the same jobs, like New York or Chicago, someone with more experience or a related degree to the position may edge you out but not always. I'd say if you're lucky enough to pass the H.R. screening and get the interview with the hiring manager, it's more important to demonstrate your willingness to learn, troubleshooting skills and investment in yourself to stay on top of the changing technology. Many of the companies I've worked for have promotion plans in place, which can require any combination of specific certifications, a Bachelor's degree (sometimes they are specific in the concentration) or even a Masters (for executive level positions) but it'll almost always list it in the job description.

  • robert matteson

    Monday, April 8, 2019

    thanks for the feed back. im new at this so all info help

  • Jim Gibson

    Tuesday, April 9, 2019

    As a business owner of an IT company, I have hired over 200 technicians. I have come to realize, as your article suggested that certifications are proof that a person understands the technology. There are some colleges out there, usually junior colleges, that have courses that lead to a certification. I've always encouraged my employees, who are not self study type of individuals, that they need to take the course but then take the test and get certified! Some of my employees have questioned why they need certifications? I have explained to them that certs verifies the fact that they know the subject matter but more importantly it also proves to the my customers that you know the subject matter.

  • Ward Moran

    Tuesday, April 9, 2019

    I think CompTIA said it exactly as they meant it “Not Everyone Has a Computer Science Degree”, but that is not to say you do not need a degree in anything else. The job descriptions that do not indicate some form of degree along with certifications are rare. It is true, “IT jobs don’t require a four-year degree”, but that does not mean the job description is not going to be written without it. You want your certifications to mean something then start equating them with a level of knowledge, skill, and experience.

  • Jimbo

    Wednesday, April 10, 2019

    While a degree may not be required, it makes getting a job easier. Plan to knock on a whole lot more doors to land a job. Many job robots are programmed to reject no degree applicants. Also lack of a degree may limit your options as you get older and want to change your career, such as becoming a manager. If it's an either/or choice, start with meaningful certs, like mcsa, mcse, ccna. Then use those to get a job that will fund your bachelor's.

  • Timothy

    Friday, April 19, 2019

    While a degree in computer science or anything at all is not "required" with any job it always helps. It is a proven way to show a potential new employer that you set forth and accomplished a giant goal. That you can not only do what you studied, but also interact, work within teams, and know how to write papers, reports, spreadsheets, meet deadlines, etc. There are always ways around this by volunteering or learning on your own. Certifications help to show skill without a degree and cutting your teeth and proving yourself in a low level Helpdesk role can get you in without the degree. I think the biggest factors are work ethic, ability to pick things up and learn, networking, and ultimately what is available in the area for companies and open positions. If you can handle the time, commitment, and potentially the student loans it will always benefit someone to go to college/university and earn a degree. Preferably in some CS flavor if you want to do IT, but other degrees that are benefitial in the industry(business, graphic design, engineering).

  • Rob

    Friday, April 19, 2019

    As a hiring manager in an enterprise environment, I look for a combination of education, certifications and experience. I've rejected candidates with MS EE degrees with no experience or certifications in favor of an AAS degreed candidate with a CCNA and actual hands on experience. I've also managed brilliant network engineers with no certifications and a BS or BA degree in an unrelated field. It's all about the individual and their drive to learn the technology and their ability to demonstrate that knowledge.

  • Marsha Gull

    Saturday, April 20, 2019

    I'm very pleased that CompTia says you dont need a degree to be in IT. Plus not everyone has a computer. I like Busted It Job Meths read. I appreciate the comments that everyone is writing and the things you can click on to read other great information. Thank you for sending this article.

  • Howard B

    Saturday, April 20, 2019

    This is true and I am one of them. In 1995, I graduated from DeVry in New Jersey with an Electronics Technician Diploma. They didn't have the full-blown computer science offerings which they do now. My first job out of school was working for a PC VAR (value-added re-seller). The school's job placement office actually found me the job. It was good fit because I already had considerable computer experience of my own. The operation folded after I worked there for 4 months, but it was my foray into what has become my career path for the past 23+ years.

  • Samuel

    Saturday, April 20, 2019

    I see many responses here that I agree with. When I read this article, it sort of felt like a slap in the face to me. I started back to college a couple years ago and I am presently 50. I also hold both an A+ and a Network+ cert. I do feel they are important, but I feel that any prospective employer is going to look at them, and if they also see a degree along with them, they will see more of a potential benefit in that the candidate not only took the time to get certified, either through the degree work or separately, and to follow through and get their degree. The combination of the two shows drive and dedication. If you are getting your certifications first, that is fine, it is a good stepping point to move on to greater things. But I still strongly suggested working for the degree, as well.

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