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Ask Slashdot: Best Degree For a Late Career Boost?

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the definitely-philosophy-for-the-big-bucks dept.

Businesses 234

Qbertino writes "I'm in my early 40s, and after a little more than 10 years of web, scripting and software development as a freelancer and some gigs as a regular, full-time employee, I'm seriously considering giving my IT career a boost by getting a degree. I'm your regular 1980s computer kid and made a career switch to IT during the dot-bomb days. I have quite a bit of programming and project experience, but no degree. I find myself hitting somewhat of a glass ceiling (with maybe a little age discrimination thrown in there). Since I'm in Germany, degrees count for a lot (70% of IT staff have a degree) so getting one seems fitting and a nice addition to my portfolio. However, I'm pondering wether I should go for Computer Science or Business Informatics. I'd like to move into Project Management or Technical Account Management, which causes my dilemma: CS gives me the pro credibility and proves my knowledge with low-level and technical stuff, and I'd be honing my C/C++ and *nix skills. Business Informatics would teach me some bean-counting skills; I'd be doing modelling, ERP with Java or .NET all day. It would give me some BA cred, but I'd lose karma with the T-shirt wearing crew and the decision-makers in that camp. I'm leaning toward Business Informatics because I suspect that's where the money is, but I'm not quite sure wether a classic CS degree wouldn't still be better — even if I'm wearing a suit. Any suggestions?"

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234 comments

Wow! (-1, Offtopic)

RidiculouslyCleanPC (2637867) | about 2 years ago | (#39981691)

About six months ago, I was overexerting myself trying to get rid of a terrible virus on a client's PC (I own a PC repair shop and have been fixing computers for over 10 years). Given my level of expertise, I thought I'd be able to get rid of it fairly quickly and without hassle, but as was made evident by my colossal failure, I was horribly, horribly wrong.

I couldn't remove the virus no matter what method I used. I tried all the latest anti-virus software and all the usual tricks, but it was all in vain. Failure after failure, my life was slowly being sucked away as I spent more and more of my time trying to get rid of this otherworldly virus.

Frustrated and stressed by my own failure, I began distancing myself from my wife and children. After a few days, I began verbally abusing them, and it eventually escalated into physical abuse. I was slowly losing what remaining sanity I had left. If this had continued for much longer, it is highly probable that I would have committed suicide. A mere shell of what I once was, I barricaded myself in my bedroom and cried myself to sleep for days on end.

That's when it happened: I found MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com]! I installed MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] right on the client's PC, ran a scan, and it immediately got rid of all the viruses without a single problem. MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] accomplished in record time what I was unable to accomplish after a full week. Wow! Such a thing!

MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] is outstanding! My client's computer is running faster than ever! I highly recommend you install MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] right this minuteness, run a scan, and then boost your PC speed in record time! MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] came through with flying colours where no one else could!

My client's response? "MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] totally cleaned up my system, and increased my speed!" All the PC repair professionals are using MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] to solve all of their problems. This should be reason enough for you to switch to MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com]! It'll speed up your computer, rid it of all viruses, and you'll be able to work productively again! Wow!

Even if you're not having any obvious computer problems, you could still be in danger. That's why I very highly recommend that you still use MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com]. After all, it will boost your PC & internet speed to levels you never would think are possible!

MyCleanPC: For a Cleaner, Safer PC. [mycleanpc.com]

Re:Wow! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39981719)

Didn't quite catch your point, could you explain it again to me ;)

Re:Wow! (-1, Offtopic)

koan (80826) | about 2 years ago | (#39982017)

I installed MyCleanPC now my mouse cursor moves by its self, is this normal?

Re:Wow! (1)

RMingin (985478) | about 2 years ago | (#39982353)

Next time, after a few hours, back up whatever you can be 100% certain is clean, and FORMAT THAT SHIT. Waste of goddamned time blew the setup for your spam comment. I stopped reading too soon.

No coffee for you today!

Also, what have I told you minimum wage idiots about establishing comments!? DON'T MAKE YOUR SHILL YOUR FIRST POST.

I swear, I need a new job.

Glass Ceiling @40s (4, Interesting)

ohnocitizen (1951674) | about 2 years ago | (#39981723)

I'm curious when people find the glass ceiling beginning to show it's face in their respective countries. The age discrimination the poster hints are starts pretty early in the USA, I've seen it start in as early as one's late 20s (though usually it seems to pick up in the early 30s).

Re:Glass Ceiling @40s (-1, Troll)

LookAtThatCleanBooty (2637863) | about 2 years ago | (#39981773)

A few weeks ago, I foolishly ran a strange executable file that one of my acquaintances sent me by email. As someone who doesn't know much about computers, at the time, I thought nothing of it. "Why would my acquaintance want to hurt me?" Following this line of thought, I ran the file without question.

How naive I was. Despite having what is supposedly the best anti-virus software out right now, a virus took over my computer and held it hostage. It was pretending to be a warning from Windows telling me to buy some strange anti-virus software I'd never heard of from a company I'd never heard of to remove the virus.

This immediately set alarm bells off in my head. "How could this happen? My anti-virus is supposed to be second to none!" Faced with this harsh reality, I decided to take it to a PC repair shop for repair. They gladly accepted the job, told me it'd be fixed in a few days, and sent me off with a smile.

A few days later, they called me and told me to come pick up my computer. At the time, I noticed that they sounded like whimpering animals, but I concluded that it must just be stress from work. When I arrived, they, with tears in their eyes, told me that the virus was so awful and merciless that they were unable to remove it. "Ah," I thought. "That must be why they sounded so frustrated and pathetic over the phone. Their failure must have truly ruined their pride as professionals." I later found out that two of them had committed suicide.

After returning home, I tried to fix it myself (despite the fact that even the professionals couldn't do it). After about a day or so, I was losing my very mind. I stopped going to work, stopped eating, was depressed, and I would very frequently throw my precious belongings across the room and break them; that is how bad this virus was.

That's when it happened: I found MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com]! I installed MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com], ran a scan, and let it remove all the viruses! They were removed in precisely 2.892 seconds. Wow! Such a thing! I can't even believe this as such never before! MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] is outstanding! My computer is running faster than ever! MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] came through with flying colors where no one else could!

MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] totally cleaned up my system, and increased my speed! If you're having computer problems, or even if you aren't having any obvious problems, I recommend that you using MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com]. As a user, it did more for me that any so-called "professional." It'll even boost your PC & internet speed!

MyCleanPC: For a Cleaner, Safer PC. [mycleanpc.com]

Re:Glass Ceiling @40s (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39981811)

Now, this can't be serious spam, can it? One would hoped that you would have commited suicide and not the made-up guys in you stupid nonsense text.

Re:Glass Ceiling @40s (0)

million_monkeys (2480792) | about 2 years ago | (#39981853)

I enjoyed this spam but I found it unconvincing. It starts out with a guy admitting he's a moron who knows nothing about computers - basically the last person you'd want to take computer advice from. Then it concludes with him giving computer advice. Having previously established that he's unqualified to give such advice, why would he expect us to heed it?

LookAtThatCleanBooty, I'd be eager to hear your response to my criticism.

Seconded. (4, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | about 2 years ago | (#39981791)

I'm pretty sure that any limits are really ageism and not related to whether you have a degree or not. It's all about how many hours-per-week they can get out of you for $X per month. The older you are the fewer those hours are.

Even if the hours you do provide are really worth more in terms of productivity because your experience means that you do not go off on unproductive tangents.

But just in case the limit really is the degree .... get the fastest cheapest degree you can. It does NOT matter what the subject is. As long as it is fast and cheap. It is just the first step and at this point you really aren't concerned about making the correct relationships with the other kids in the frats.

THEN start working on an advanced degree in the subject that you really want. Such as computer science. Or whatever.

Re:Seconded. (-1, Troll)

Opportunlst (2442008) | about 2 years ago | (#39981965)

A few days ago, a customer brought in their PC for repair. They told me that they had a very nasty virus that was holding their computer hostage and wouldn't stop unless they paid the creators $50. "Alright," I thought. "That's pretty standard."

But, soon enough, I found that I was overexerting myself trying to get rid of this virus. I had never seen a virus this bad before. Reformatting and using all of the usual software to try to remove the virus didn't help at all!

As a PC repair technician with 10+ years of experience, I was dumbfounded. I couldn't remove the virus, and to make matters worse, their gigabits were running slower than ever! I soon plummeted into a severe state of depression and anxiety.

That's when I found MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com]. I went to MyCleanPC's [mycleanpc.com] website, ran a free scan, and the virus simply vanished from their computer this minuteness. I couldn't believe how fast their gigabits were running afterwards just from using MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com]!

My customer's response? "MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] is outstanding! My computer is running faster than ever! MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] totally cleaned up my system and increased my speed!"

My thoughts: MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] came through with flying colors where no one else could! I love MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com]!

The fact that such an experienced PC repair technician is recommending MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] should be more than enough to convince you that it is high-quality software.

If you're having computer problems, then as an experienced PC repair technician, I wholeheartedly recommend using MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com]. Your gigabits and speed will be overclocking and running at maximum efficiency!

But, in my experience, even if you're not having any visible problems, you could still be infected. So get MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] and run a scan this minuteness so you'll be overclocking with the rest of us!

Watch their commercial! [youtube.com]

MyCleanPC: For a Cleaner, Safer PC. [mycleanpc.com]

Re:Glass Ceiling @40s (4, Insightful)

Matheus (586080) | about 2 years ago | (#39981945)

At that young it's not as much age discrimination in the US as it is $$ discrimination. They are saying that because you are older you expect more pay and therefore if we can find someone fresh out of school who can do the same job we'll hire them because we can pay them peanuts.

Honestly, in person, the only people I have run into complaining about age discrimination before showing lots of grey hair haven't put forth the effort to keep their skills fresh and are completely surprised why no one will just hand them a job. Interviewing for a high paying, higher level position when unfortunately they are only qualified for the entry level / junior positions still. This is probably true in all trades to some extent but in the computer field I think more than others if you are not constantly learning new things, adding new capabilities to your repertoire then you are moving in reverse. There are too many people resting on their laurels and I will hire a young kid a couple years out of school long before I'll hire someone who has demonstrably become stagnant.

If anything, for the OP's OQ, reverse age, or at least experience, discrimination helps him. If I'm hiring someone fresh or recently out of school then their schooling will play heavily into whether I bring them into an interview or not. Once someone has 5-10 years of experience under their belt, as he says he has, I rarely even look at that part of the resume as, frankly, it's not relevant anymore.

Re:Glass Ceiling @40s (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39982023)

The Church of Climatology is always looking for a few good priests.
Yes the religious branch of the Professional Left needs professional astroturfers.
No age discrimination.

what's your advantage? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39981727)

Degree may not boost your career, do you see so many jobless PhDs around ? Take some risk to start up your own company may give you a boost.

Re:what's your advantage? (3, Interesting)

Auroch (1403671) | about 2 years ago | (#39981977)

Degree may not boost your career, do you see so many jobless PhDs around ? Take some risk to start up your own company may give you a boost.

Because you posted AC, I'm going to assume that you don't realize that a Ph.D can take, on average, between 6 and 10 years, lacking any undergraduate work. Also, starting your own company may give a boost - but that's not really answering the question.

There is one thing that the AC/OP got right - the type degree doesn't matter nearly so much (notice: I qualified that with "nearly") as the fact that you hold a degree. What I'd suggest, is to get a degree in the type of management that you'd like to be - If you're planning on overseeing a bunch of programmers, figure out what they would have, and try for that. In other words - your "promotability" doesn't depend on your degree, it depends on the success of your direct reports (your area of responsibility).

If you connect with your direct reports in a way that makes them more productive (and it sounds as if you plan to use the degree to do this), then going "higher" will happen. You'll be a top performer, as a manager, and in most companies, performance is the #1 factor in promotion. Isn't that your goal?

Any suggestions? (1, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#39981755)

Go into management, or switch careers. America allows age discrimination so long as it's not against people near retirement age. In this industry, age discrimination is common knowledge, and several groups have tried to get laws passed to eliminate it, to no effect.

At the risk of being perfectly and completely crass, you're facing the same level of discrimination that black people did in the South prior to the civil rights movement: And unlike them, nobody gives a shit. Sorry. :(

Re:Any suggestions? (4, Funny)

cyber-vandal (148830) | about 2 years ago | (#39981779)

Age discrimination must be the government's fault since no business would ever discriminate against any particular group of people for fear of going instantly bust due to the magic market fairy [/libertarian]

Re:Any suggestions? (2)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#39981909)

Age discrimination must be the government's fault since no business would ever discriminate against any particular group of people for fear of going instantly bust due to the magic market fairy [/libertarian]

People will be people, and people are prejudiced. [/realist]

Re:Any suggestions? (3, Insightful)

cyber-vandal (148830) | about 2 years ago | (#39981995)

Try telling any libertarian that logical and realistic piece of common sense.

Re:Any suggestions? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39982405)

Libertarians are perfectly aware that people have prejudices and do not recognize the need to do anything about it.

If a "prejudiced" employer only hires young people and an "enlightened" employer only hires experienced people, and the "prejudiced" employer outperforms the "enlightened" employer, then he has proven that his "prejudice" is a correct reflection of reality. Results speak for themselves. If the "enlightened" employer wins, than kudos to him.

You don't get magical treatment just because you are old. Why don't we force the NBA to hire 50 year old to play basketball?

 

Re:Any suggestions? (1)

frost22 (115958) | about 2 years ago | (#39982511)

which is why libertarians tend to end up on ropes or pitchforks when the next revolution comes. We get the "magical treatment" because we are more than you, and we force you to (and that is quite independent of the actual item of discrimination).

Re:Any suggestions? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39982563)

What are you talking about? Libertarians have never been a significant political force and are relatively small in number. Socialists and fascists and truck loads of innocent people are the ones that end up dead after revolutions (depending on the situation).

Libertarian (in concept) is a human rights platform where all consequences derive from a "no use of force" antecedent. Your personal political philosophy (assumption here) is a grab bag of biases and opinion plus the belief that you can do whatever you want to other people as long as you get majority consensus (that is of course assuming that you even believe in democracy).

Just so you know also, libertarian != anarchist (most people don't seem to understand the difference).

Re:Any suggestions? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39982463)

We know people are prejudiced but we just don't care because people have a right to their own biases and to their by voluntarily associate with whom they choose.

What is illogical is that you lot think you can change people by just making it illegal to think how you don't want them to think, only by letting people do as they wish (they does not include acts of force) then talking about it will you see any real change.

Re:Any suggestions? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39982697)

And tell any Republicrat to stop doing business with assholes that openly practice bigotry and they'll eventually adapt or die. Opps! Walmart is doing just fine. Thank you and fuck you.
 
Sorry if some of us don't need the government to lead us around by the dick and are still willing to do The Right Thing (tm).

Informatics is more likely to be useful (4, Informative)

billstewart (78916) | about 2 years ago | (#39981939)

The submitter's not in America, he's in Germany, so ranting about US attitudes is off-topic. I don't know much about the German market, but having a BA is pretty commonly useful in business, and if you're thinking about doing project management professionally, here in the US it helps to have some professional certification in that. Also, I don't know how much college you have taken already; whether you're looking for two years or four can make a big difference in your plans.

If you haven't had a good course in algorithms and data structures, you'll benefit from that, and you're going to need math if you don't have that, but you can take those along with the Business Informatics, and if you're thinking about going into management, you're not going to be doing compiler design or operating system development yourself anyway.

Re:Informatics is more likely to be useful (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39982039)

If you haven't had a good course in algorithms and data structures, you'll benefit from that

Having taught at the undergraduate level and currently working on a PhD in CS, I disagree with this advice. If you have 10 years experience, you've probably already figured out what a linked list, red-black tree, graph data structure, etc. are. You probably know how to implement various sorts, graph searches, spanning trees. The things you will likely run into in a CS degree that you haven't had to deal with in the past are the theoretical side. Turing Machines, paradigms (depending on how the course is taught), formal languages (as in regular languages, context free languages, context sensitive languages, not formal programming languages), operating systems, maybe some AI, networking, discrete math. Outside of the CS-based courses, you'll have all the standard gen-eds. Depending on how curious you've been since high school, you might already have covered large swaths of this, or maybe you would do well to take those.

In short, view a CS degree as a way of broadening your world, but don't for a second think you are going to "hone your C/C++ and *nix skills". As most employers complain, CS isn't really about programming so much as it is about the theory that underlies why programming works (or doesn't). It will inform your programming a great deal, but it really won't make you much of a better programmer/designer/software engineer than simple working experience can do.

Re:Any suggestions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39982163)

At the risk of being perfectly and completely crass, you're facing the same level of discrimination that black people did in the South prior to the civil rights movement: And unlike them, nobody gives a shit. Sorry. :(

Thinking and typing isn't working out for you.

Re:Any suggestions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39982175)

At the risk of being perfectly and completely crass

I'd call it less crass and more a completely naive, ignorant, and/or hateful comment with no understanding of history or how things really were back then. Moron.

Re:Any suggestions? (2)

Kjella (173770) | about 2 years ago | (#39982365)

In this industry, age discrimination is common knowledge, and several groups have tried to get laws passed to eliminate it, to no effect.

Yes, in some cases old people are discriminated against but I'd say in total I've seen more young people discriminated against. I'm your elder and I've been in this business longer than you have so I'm right and you're wrong and I'll be damned if I get passed up by a young whippersnapper like you. Many career ladders enforce this with a straight up "years of experience" limit that translates into an age limit, even if you're performing at an equal or better level. That is also abused to make really bright young people work at wage levels far below what they're worth. Many people have a hard time accepting that a lot of their old skills and knowledge is obsolete and while they've probably gained some sort of wisdom with age they have 20 years of experience but still perform no better than the guy with 5 years of experience.

If I try to be objective on my own job performance, I'd have to agree there's a diminishing return on experience. There was a huge difference between being fresh out of school and having a few years of experience, but now? The difference between 8 and 10 years seems completely marginal to the difference between 0 and 2 or even 2 and 4 years. Of course I'm now somewhat more experienced than I was, but I felt pretty experienced two years ago too. I'd say this is reflected in the career ladder as well, if I want to move up I have to improve in team management and customer management, if I just keep becoming a super-experienced expert in what I do now I've hit the ceiling already. Okay sure I expect a little pay raise if I get 20 or 30 years of experience instead of 10, but it won't be the kind of continued rise some people seem to expect.

Re:Any suggestions? (2)

cmarkn (31706) | about 2 years ago | (#39982491)

Also unlike them, you are completely free to start your own business and employ the people that are being excluded by your competitors. Since your workers are more productive, you can produce more for less cost. Less cost means more customers for you and you make a better living than you would have if you were working for them.

Or, in terms /. will understand:
1. start company,
2. hire most productive workers available,
3. lower cost,
4. Profit!

MBA might be a good choice. (5, Insightful)

MaerD (954222) | about 2 years ago | (#39981763)

Wait.. wait.. hear me out. The MBA will give you insight into how those who are MBAs think (and therefore, most of management). Also, your experience will say "I can do IT/CS", while the degree will say "I can do business". Which means you're more likely to be able to make a jump to management if you find your career options topping out on the IT/CS end.

And you'd be following in the footsteps of Alan Cox.

Re:MBA might be a good choice. (4, Informative)

garcia (6573) | about 2 years ago | (#39981847)

Yes an MBA might be a good choice depending on the person. As an IT manager myself, I work(ed) with and supervise a variety of individuals who are very well suited for IT but are not at all suited for management.

Just because you earn an MBA doesn't mean that you will suddenly have the personality or qualities required for IT management.

---

On a related note: I chose to go with an MPA instead of an MBA. Why? Well, I'm personally interested in the public sector but both types of degrees provide a fairly similar background--just with one providing more for the public sector's unique needs.

I still get the HR, finance, etc, etc, etc, but I have the ability to leverage both sides of the fence more easily. If the government changes its focus to move away from "smaller" to "larger" I may have an advantage that MBA degree holders do not.

Re:MBA might be a good choice. (2)

Nerdfest (867930) | about 2 years ago | (#39982229)

No, but it balances quite nicely with a background in software. You can be both part of the solution and the problem.

Re:MBA might be a good choice. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39981885)

You will need an undergraduate degree before an MBA. I have always felt that a good technical undgraduate degree combined with an MBA gives one the best of both worlds you get the geek creed along with the respect you deserve from management. So if you go this route then either cs or informatics will work. Additionally if you are seriouse about project management, which us a good transition path in my opinion, then consider enhancing your portfolio with a PMP certification. This line up of credentials is the secret sauce to get you from geekdom to executive business management with respect from both sides of the technical divide (engineers verses managers). It is a powerful combination to be able to see the business needs and understand the technology required to fulfill those needs. Its he path i've chosen and it has served me extreemely well. Best of luck.

Re:MBA might be a good choice. (4, Informative)

dontclapthrowmoney (1534613) | about 2 years ago | (#39982213)

You will need an undergraduate degree before an MBA

You often don't need an undergraduate degree to do a post-graduate degree like an MBA - I didn't - if you can demonstrate long term, relevant experience. It would depend on the institution where you were doing the MBA, many offer this option.

The "work experience" option exists for a degree like an MBA, because the OP would have worked in a business environment for most of his career. There is an understanding that an undergraduate degree prepares you to a specific level and often work experience can teach the same level of preparedness to complete a post-graduate degree (note, that's your ability to study, not your preparedness to work in a specific job).

There are technology/management post-graduate degrees also, which is what I did, and I do not have an undergraduate degree, and that's never been an issue for me. For the most part it's been having a degree of some kind that gets the "tick" when applying for jobs, again at least in my experience.

You would often need to complete the initial graduate certificate (in my case, that was 4 subjects) with a specific grade point average to be able to continue on to the full degree.

And that was going to be my suggestion to the OP - not to do a full degree initially, look at post-graduate options that he may have access to as a mature-age student. Advantages include, there is an early exit point (graduate certificate, graduate diploma) and they are faster to complete, as there are less (but harder) subjects. In my case my degree was 12 subjects, the undergrad would have been 24... I finished it in 2 years, while working full time.

consider enhancing your portfolio with a PMP certification.

I completely agree - PMP or maybe CAPM if he doesn't have the PM experience to do the PMP straight away - and/or Prince2 (just do the foundations cert if you're short on cash). These are "quick wins" also, doing them is an instant line to add to your resume.

Re:MBA might be a good choice. (1)

Dahamma (304068) | about 2 years ago | (#39982215)

You will need an undergraduate degree before an MBA

That's a good point. And I don't know what college expenses are like in Germany, but in the US 6 years of college (the last of which, the MBA, are usually $$$) would probably set you back so far you'd never be able to work long enough to pay for it anyway (assuming you did ever get the job you wanted afterwards).

And if you don't have the money saved up to afford going to school full-time without working, make that more like 10+ years, so if you are already in youd mid 40's you are going to be nearing retirement age by the time you even finish.

Moral is, if you don't even have a bachelor's/associate/whatever at this point, I'd think HARD before deciding an MBA should be your final goal...

Re:MBA might be a good choice. (4, Informative)

frost22 (115958) | about 2 years ago | (#39982393)

Nice of you to recognize that you (and nearly everybody else) is blowing hot steam.

There is no college in Germany. Until very recently, we didn't even have Bachelor degrees at all. There are full universities and "universities of applied science". (Fachhochschulen). The latter are, in theory, not staffed and equipped for research and cater to a lower qualified student tier, but these days everyone and his dog are offering masters programs under the new Bologna rules, and depending on their motivation and other factors they may or may not do research.

I do assume the OP has the necessary requirements for university attendance (Abitur for universities, "Fachhochschulreife" plus relevant experience for universities of applied science).

The MBA market in Germany has become especially intransparent. Here Bologna has really ruined the educational system. Crappy provincial Fachhochschulen compete with first rate universities offering the same title. Moreover, the MBA is NOT part of the "consecutive" system (where a Master require a Bachelor) but are basically given to everyone who completed the course, whatever its requirements were. There are MBAs that can be had after 2 years of distance learning.

If you want a regular masters degree in Business Administration, otoh, you'll get a M.A. in Business administration. Bologna at its finest.

Re:MBA might be a good choice. (2, Insightful)

Dahamma (304068) | about 2 years ago | (#39982541)

You don't have to be an asshole about it.

If he wanted a German-only opinion on it he should have asked a German site, not one where the vast majority of users are not German. The topics of career change and continuing education are relevant everywhere, and slashdot is a site for discussion where I would HOPE answers are supposed to be relevant to more than one person. I'm sure he's smart enough to pick and choose the pieces relevant to him.

And in the US, "college' and "university" are used interchangeably in everyday discussion.

Your elitist attitude towards education in general really demonstrates why there is so little true entrepeneurship in Germany. It's striking how many of the biggest tech companies around today (Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, Google, and I could go on) were founded by innovators who dropped out of college/university/whatever to pursue their ideas. Luckily there are enough people who are more impressed by ideas and hard work than your pile of Bologna.

Re:MBA might be a good choice. (1)

nadaou (535365) | about 2 years ago | (#39982627)

> You will need an undergraduate degree before an MBA.

no, actually you don't, if you can prove enough experience. whch this guy can.

Re:MBA might be a good choice. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39982103)

MBA's are good for personal career progression -- every high-tech company I worked for the MBA's destroyed the companies as they benefited greatly in the downfall. Short term gain benefits the MBA's and long term gain benefits the health of the company. The two are mutually exclusive. Most CEO's & CFO's are MBA's. QED

History will show the MBA as being a bad idea. It will be shown as the major source of the failure of western civilization.

Re:MBA might be a good choice. (1, Insightful)

Dahamma (304068) | about 2 years ago | (#39982227)

Under your logic, if most CEOs are MBA's, and most MBA's destroy their companies at their own benefit, most companies shouldn't exist.

So then, as for "MBAs being a bad idea", can we stop making stupid generalizations and understand that good or bad management is about the person, not the degree?

Re:MBA might be a good choice. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39982355)

USA MBAs are not the same as UK MBAs. One isn't worth cleaning shit off your ring-hole.

MBA plus PMP (1)

kiwimate (458274) | about 2 years ago | (#39982577)

Agree about the MBA. If you are interested in moving into project management, you'd also do well to get the PMP as well as the MBA. PMP is universally recognized as *the* project management qualification, and you can get it in a reasonably quick time period.

Business Informatics (4, Insightful)

gristlebud (638970) | about 2 years ago | (#39981765)

Since you're doing this for the money, and hitting the "glass ceiling", honing your business skills will give you the best chance of moving into a position where you can make significantly more money. You say that you want to go into project management, and having business skills in achieving the trifecta of a successful project (scope, schedule, and budget) will go far. Since you've spent a significant part of your career in deep technical fields, it will also give you a different perspective on what your employer thinks is important. It will also give you a hand-up on your peer competition, because being able to tell when the tech folks are bullshitting the "suits" is extremely valuable.

Business (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39981777)

You seem to have a misconception about what a CS degree will teach you. I highly doubt any of your low level skills will improve. Plus, get the degree for the job you want, not the job you have

forget it... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39981783)

your a hoser, too old, and won't get hired... take it from someone who has been there, done that...

Law... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39981789)

If you have the intellect for tech stuff, you have the IQ to get a J. D. This (and a valid bar membership) is the only degree that actually guarantees an income these days.

With a tech background + law degree, you have a large niche market that virtually nobody else can fill, and that is regulatory compliance -- turn legalese into GPOs and policies that are implemented in IT. People get paid megabucks for this.

Yes, /. doesn't hate lawyers, but lets be real. They are the guys who have the real cars and fund the tech projects with their play money. Instead of whining about it, might as well join them and end your "last circus" with a bang with a decent nest egg.

Re:Law... (5, Informative)

gpmanrpi (548447) | about 2 years ago | (#39982137)

Yah, about that lawyer thing. I have a degree in CS. IAAL and got my degree from a decent Florida Law School. However, I just started medical school to get out of the legal field. Law is an odd field. There are many states where there are actually too many lawyers. You can make a respectable living as a lawyer, but it won't be doing the "cool" stuff you normally think of. If you are not in the top 10% of your law class, many of those "cool" jobs will not be even an option until you get 2-5 years of experience doing something horribly boring for very little pay. Also coming from an IT field you may undervalue yourself in the work that you do, I know I did. Also, whatever you do, don't do family law. Please I did, and it was what turned me off of the legal profession completely. That is my 2 cents.

Careers in the US (0)

JWSmythe (446288) | about 2 years ago | (#39981803)

    If you're in the US, you've probably noticed the news that we're rapidly becoming a theocracy. A degree from the Universal Life Church [ulc.net] is probably your fastest and cheapest route. :)

    But the serious answer is, we don't know. None of us really know what market segment is going to do particularly well. We're still pretty well down in the recession to make any sort of guesses on what line of work to switch to. If we found out that ditch digging was the new golden field, I'd be out practicing my shovel techniques right now.

    As I've noticed over the years, it doesn't really matter to many corps *what* your degree is in, as long as you have one. For example, my sister was an English lit major. She's been doing accounting for several years. Along the way, she's picked up job specific certs.

    You may be better off getting some respected certs in roles that you are interested in. If you do networking, a couple good Cisco certs are always impressive. You'd just need to find out what the respective certs in the field you chose are, and go for them.

Get an MBA if you want a boost (3, Insightful)

HunterZero (102709) | about 2 years ago | (#39981831)

I don't know how it is in Germany, but here in the USA (especially in the Silicon Valley) if you want a late career boost, go get an MBA. Having an MBA isn't a four-letter word around here, especially if you get one from a good program. MIT has an excellent executive MBA program that can be done remotely, and everyone I've encountered with one has been top-notch. Same goes for an MBA from Stanford or even the other colleges local to the area.

Having an MBA opens a lot more doors for you. If you already have a good amount of experience in IT and Software Development, go get a degree in something outside of those fields to help expand your options.

You could also get a degree in something you enjoy personally but won't directly get you a job. Education doesn't just have to be for professional development.

Is any degree late in life a good decision? (4, Insightful)

taxman_10m (41083) | about 2 years ago | (#39981843)

Anything you go for will take time and put you into debt. What are the odds you will make enough money so that the degree pays for itself? It's something I've thought of myself. I'd rather plug along and slowly build or maintain what I have rather than incur a great deal of debt. Maybe a cert here and there, but that's it.

Re:Is any degree late in life a good decision? (5, Insightful)

Lurks (526137) | about 2 years ago | (#39981879)

"What are the odds you will make enough money so that the degree pays for itself?"

I'm a little loath to reply to this on the basis that the vast majority of posts from the Slashdot crowd on anything to do with university tend to view education as all about money. I suspect that's a heavy cultural bias from the US... anyway.

As someone who is a 40-something about to finish a degree this year, I have some experience of this but for me, at least, your question loads the dice. I was earning plenty of money doing what I was doing before, I just didn't like it. I'd be happy to earn a living, doing something I love and that is what, in my experience, most mature students are doing back at university.

Granted that might be a little skewed because useless public services like healthcare and universities cost more in the US than anywhere else in the world, and maybe you do feel some pressure to get a career result to pay back the debt. That said, there are cheap or even free ways to get educated if you're willing to move beyond the top-tier universities.

Finally, I'd add this: It's easy to make the decision to go to university to study something based on some sort of future goal. What universally happens is that by the end of the degree, you have a different idea about what that goal is. It's also quite hard to motivate yourself, do well, and even benefit particularly well from a degree if you aren't really interested in the subject.

So my advice is this: do a degree in something you're really interested in and when faced with choices, go for the flexible choices. There is every chance that you'll run into some niche off of something you're interested in which will turn out to be a gold mine. It happened to me. I found a field that blended my previous skills with what I was learning and it's the best thing that ever happened to me.

Re:Is any degree late in life a good decision? (1)

shinehead (603005) | about 2 years ago | (#39981955)

Maybe I'm oblivious to age discrimination or it isn't as prevalent with sysadmin types. I'm 49 yrs old with no degree and have done very well since being laid off in 2009. I am making 25% more money at the expense of a longer commute which is offset by working from home part time. I don't think I'm a statistical outlier, I am mundane skillset wise and quite inarticulate. When should the ageism kick in? 55? 60? I'm not bragging just trying to understand why experienced coders have this trouble but the datacenter / infrastructure people don't seem to have as much trouble.

Re:Is any degree late in life a good decision? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39982041)

He's in Germany. The tuition there is _much_ lower than in the US (to the extent that tuition is practically negligible - the only reason why he might be indebted after doing a university degree is because he might have to quit his job to finish the degree in a reasonable time).

Re:Is any degree late in life a good decision? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39982053)

This is a valid argument, but money is a lesser issue at german universities. You usually pay ~300€ per semester plus 500€ if the state you're studying demands tuition fees. Also it only takes you ~3 years to finish you bachelor degree, provided you're studying full time.

You have a choice to make. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39981851)

You can either continue to pursue technical mastery for the rest of your career or get into management. For technical mastery, you will need to stay atop the the in demand technical skills that keep you employeed. This will mean learning new languages, and competing with less skilled (youth, foreign labor) workers entering the marketplace. As you get older, it will be tougher for you to remain technically savvy.

Your second choice is management. Leading even a small team of developers counts as management. In this case, your technical aptitude is deployed to help others understand the right paths to done. Both to your management -- time, budget, scope. And to your employee's -- priorities, methods and scope.

If you have any aptitude or ability to influence and handle people, choose management.

Whatever... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39981863)

...Zuckerberg did.

What are business skills? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39981873)

I have no idea how you could call what business people do skills. Either you understand the domain of your business or you understand the technical details of how you would implement that domains software. Business skills it seems are one one of a few things that it seems unlikely that a degree would give. Business skills are things like access to capital, connections, charisma or vision. Project management might be a skill, but it only exists with in the context of a specific business, a good project manager is the person who knows the right people or proceed urges to actually get things done... There are other tricky things like taxes, payroll, and HR, but I don't imagine they actually cover that in a university course.

Long view (4, Insightful)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | about 2 years ago | (#39981875)

Where do you want to be 10-15 years from now? Aim towards that.

Re:Long view (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39982127)

Retired. At a point, they're better sticking money in an average yield fund and sitting on it. A 4 year degree is 100k or more when counting tuition, books, and time invested. 100 k at 8% will be 900k in 30 years. His main risk is spending a few years under-employed without a degree. That 100k pays for several years of frugal living for most people.. But, a 100k sheepskin won't make a difference for the most part, especially after a few years.. Veeps don't care about degrees when laying off people by department, and you won't get a new job by messing with the inferiority complexes of the people interviewing.

My mentor spent several years getting a masters degree when he was told his schooling was too old. Guess what, they still wouldn't hire him afterwards. Said he was over-qualified. The lack of degree is an excuse because they don't want him. Perhaps the issue for the poster is he is working as a foreigner and doesn't fit in. No amount of schooling will make him 'the right nationality'.

Perhaps the poster needs a confidence or health boost. Eye surgery, sleep tests, gastric surgery, personal trainer, luxury vacations, houses in country, hair plugs, a darkened bedroom, a good shrink, may all do much more for careers and livelyhoods than a degree. And, most cost less than 100k. Hell, get a weekend job waiting tables. Learning how to read and deal with people really well (and getting in shape in process) will really relaunch any career.

Re:Long view (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39982141)

Okay, now what's the best route to take to getting married to Natalie Portman? I'm already pretty good at cooking vegan food, but otherwise I'm at a bit of a loss. (And even there, I think she may have stopped being vegan.)

Do you have any other degree already . . . ? (2, Interesting)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 2 years ago | (#39981877)

You did not mention if you have a higher education degree in anything else. This makes a big difference. If you have a university degree in a science field, I would not bother. I see plenty of successful IT folks who are retreads with physics, chemistry or other engineering degrees. If you have none at all, or something in arts or social science, I would consider getting a degree.

Well, hope this helps. . . . (4, Informative)

Salgak1 (20136) | about 2 years ago | (#39981883)

. . .my bachelor's dates to 1983. Lot of been-there-done-that IT engineering since then. 2006, got TOLD that if I wanted to advance, I'd need a Masters' and at least one advanced certification. I went and got a Masters' in Management Information Systems online (fairly painless, other than writing 20-30 pages every weekend) and followed it with a CISSP cert and a CEH cert. Income is up 50% since I started the Master's program. Except for a few things, like an introduction to Forensics, and crawling into database theory, it wasn't anything new and/or hard. And most of my fellow students (who were either just out of undergrad, or late 20s) weren't much competition. The few that WERE, I'm still in contact with: their inputs and opinions are as valuable as anything I'd learned in the classes. Mind you. my employer paid for most of it, I had (at max point) about 7K in student loans. But considering the uptick in salary, even doing it ALL on student loans would probably have been somewhere between a good and very-good investment. Your mileage may. of course, vary: I was a security geek BEFORE my Masters', CISSP, and CEH. . . but all three combined opened doors and definitely raised compensation. . . .

Don't bother (2)

rsilvergun (571051) | about 2 years ago | (#39981895)

do something useful. Write software. School is there so when you get stuck someone's there to help you over that hump. You've got the Internet now. Google + forums. There's nothing in this world you can't do. Nothing. P.S. I'm not against school as a social construct. It gives us something to do with people we don't need in the job market. Just sayin' in you're goal is to succeed you don't NEED school anymore. That said, we've got plenty of room in society for it.

Re:Don't bother (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39982263)

I think I understand your point, and if I do I agree to a certain point, and education is only part of the answer. The OP has outlined a specific scenario that he wants to deal with: He's at an interview and is asked a question like: "If we make you the team leader, what skills and experience do you have that will help you contribute to aligning the operational direction of the team with the organisation's documented strategies?"

And his answer should be something like "In my experience, I have done the following: fu, bar, etc, backed up by my understanding of business strategy/team strategy alignment that I gained from my degree in (x)".

If is answer is "Hi! I make Firefox Plug-ins", that isn't going to get him to the second interview.

No Degree. (5, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | about 2 years ago | (#39981903)

Stop working for Faceless Corps and switch to a smaller company where you rub elbows with the Owners daily. They are not stupid and do the "only youngsters here" stupidity. They realize the older worker is a pro in the field they have been in for the past 20 years and use them to compete with the morons that have MBA's

I'll never work for another Fortune 500 company again. I prefer having beers at the end of the day with the guys that own the business.

Game the system (2)

RedLeg (22564) | about 2 years ago | (#39981907)

First, I'm from the US (lived in Germany for a few years and speak Deutsch), so I'm acutely aware of the different business cultures.

My assumption is that the degree is not so much to teach you something, as to "check a box" and get you through the glass ceiling....

That being said, I would go for the Business Informatics track rather than pure CS. You are more likely to learn new things which are useful in the future career you describe there.

All you have to do to earn cred with the t-shirt crowd is to format your CV in TeX, show up with a linux laptop for your interview, and build a RepRap.

Red

Re:Game the system (1)

wrook (134116) | about 2 years ago | (#39982217)

I've never worked in Germany, but what you say makes sense to me. Reading the summary, I was feeling confused. I have *never* worked anywhere where a CS degree impressed good technical people. Either you have the chops or you don't. There are lots of people with CS degrees that are crap. There are lots of people without a CS degree (either other degrees, or no degree at all) who are good. A 40-something with 20-odd years of experience should not be having *any* trouble impressing people on the technical side, no matter what their schooling.

So if the degree is essential for impressing management (and getting in the door), then you should pick a program that will impress management (not techies).

However, like I said, there is something about the way the summary is worded that sounds a few alarm bells for me. It seems possible to me that the person is hitting a ceiling, but it isn't necessarily made of glass. My degree is something I did more than 20 years ago to show that I can be an entry level programmer. If I were a potential employer, I'd rather see what 20 years of experience has done for the person. If it hasn't gotten them much past the point of an entry level programmer, I think I'm going to pass even if they got that degree.

Re:Game the system (3, Interesting)

frost22 (115958) | about 2 years ago | (#39982479)

You have SO no idea what the working environment in Europe is, especially in Germany. A university degree is the entry card to a very invisible club. I work in a Telco, and that sector has had many lateral recruits in the 90s. One of my colleagues is a journeyman pastry chef. Another one is a licensed railway train driver. We have tons of physicists, electrical engineers, a few engineers of other disciplines, chemicists, a few MBAs, even a Master of Divinity, all doing IT and network engineering work.

Those without a university degree usually don't play in the same level though (exceptions do exist, but are rare). And even among those - Germany has an extensive sub-university education system. Folks with a technical journeyman qualification can easily find a job elsewhere. Those without have a very very hard time. They are chained to their current job - because to the HR dept in another company they are just a guy without papers.

Wasn't a problem for me (1)

Cute Fuzzy Bunny (2234232) | about 2 years ago | (#39981957)

I went straight into operating system and microprocessor design in the 1970's and frankly don't remember too many people complaining about a lack of a degree after 4-5 years of job effort. I did have a few people get excited about hiring me but then change their minds when they found out I wasn't carrying a masters or doctorate. I decided I didn't want to work for buttheads who were more interested in the paper than the ability.

After ten years, it was more of a "wow, you don't have a degree?" as a minor item of interest when someone saw my resume. So either the guys you work for are buttheads or the ceiling you're hitting is an excuse you're having laid on you.

Does the subject matter? (2)

InsaneLampshade (890845) | about 2 years ago | (#39981985)

In IT in the UK degrees are pretty much worthless bits of paper. Companies that want degrees only care that you have a degree, they don't care what the subject is, and frankly if you've had that much working experience in your field then the content of a degree isn't likely to teach you anything you don't already know.

Therefore do something for yourself, a subject you want to learn about that may not even be related at all to your working life, archaeology, history, politics, philosophy, physics, music, literature... the list is endless, have fun, life isn't all about work.

LATE career boost? (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about 2 years ago | (#39981999)

I have some bad news for you. If you're in your early 40's, you're not looking for a late career boost because you should be considering yourself mid-career.

If you work until your expected retirement age, that will be until your LATE 60s. You're half way there at best.

But there's some good news too. If it takes you 2 to 4 years to get your degree, you'll have 20 years of work ahead of you over which to make it pay.

But there's some more bad news for you. You're likely to have to change careers again sometime in that 20 years, because nobody knows what kind of jobs will be available 20 years from now.

Unless you're in government. There will always be government.

CS degrees (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39982019)

Your question sounds as if you expect to do a lot of programming ("honing my C/C++ and *nix skills", "modelling, ERP with Java or .NET"). If you're talking about a _university_ degree, you might be in for a surprise. That's not at all the focus of a CS (or even business) degree.

Career Boost in 40's (5, Informative)

David_Hart (1184661) | about 2 years ago | (#39982029)

I'm in my 40's and just completed a Masters degree in IT Management from Brandeis University, I already had a Bachelors in both Business and Computer Science. The degree spanned two employers, both of which offered employee education reimbursement.

I guess you could say that I am now three degrees above zero... ; - )

A Masters degree is 10 courses and can be completed in 3 to 5 years when going part-time. For most Master's programs, if not all, you first need a Bachelors degree. Some educational institutions will recognize work experience as an equivalent.

It sounds like you have not completed a Bachelors degree. A Bachelors degree takes 120 credit hours or 30 per year over 4 years. It's a lot of work and time which is why most students go full time. Basically, you wouldn't be completed in time for it to help your career.

The first step to get a Masters degree, assuming you are working full time and are not a contractor, is to determine if your employer has an education reimbursement program, what their limits are per year, and what you need to do to apply. If they do, you next need to research the type of Masters degree you want and the schools. Narrow down the schools to your top 5 and begin calling their Admissions department to determine if you can use your work experience and what, if any, additional courses you will need to take. While doing this, talk to your manager and let him/her know that you are interested in advancing your career by taking a Masters degree. Go into how it will prepare you to take on a greater leadership role, in project management and as team lead. Once you have all of the information about the school, put it together in a package with your employer education application and begin the employer approval process. Once approved at work, you then need to apply to the school and get accepted. The rest is just a lot of hard work...

David

Business Informatics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39982051)

First, IMO it's always preferable to take college courses for those topics which aren't readily accessible to someone outside of academia or the field in question. In other words, don't pay someone to teach you something you can teach yourself; pay them to introduce you to a field in which you would become lost if exploring yourself. Classic examples are the law and medicine, which really require that you pay a toll to the gatekeepers. But business systems is another good example, because your only options are experience (and that's hard to find starting from scratch) or paid introduction. The opposite extreme is something like software engineering. You can join some mailing list and ask questions of the most preeminent practitioners.. and they'll be happy to answer as long as you're not being obtuse. And even the most sophisticated theoretical work is freely accessible--both in cost and exposition. That kind of culture is hard to find in any other field.

Second, the _type_ of degree hardly matters for engineers. Technology people don't pay too much heed to degrees. Degrees only matter when there's a scarcity of objective signals by which to judge a person's competence. In business, degree's very much matter; objective signaling criteria are few and far between.

Both points counsel to pursue a degree in Business Informatics.

Hone your C(++) skills with CS degree? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39982119)

If you think that "CS gives me the pro credibility and proves my knowledge with low-level and technical stuff, and I'd be honing my C/C++ and *nix skills." you clearly have no idea what getting a CS degree in Germany is like, at least in a university. You will learn concepts, not a programming language.

None (2)

Zadaz (950521) | about 2 years ago | (#39982121)

I hire people and I work with and know a lot of people at big and small companies who hire people, so I'll say this:

Qualifications for most jobs and the amount we pay for them is almost completely unrelated to type or number of degrees. Create a portfolio and be able to answer questions about it. Period.

(There are a few very very large employers who look for specific degrees, but they are shrinking as they can no longer afford to spend a year training a potential candidate if they want to stay competitive.)

let me add some perspective from Germany (2)

frost22 (115958) | about 2 years ago | (#39982123)

First - you are right. A degree is substantially more relevant in D than in the US. A tech without a university degree is presumed to play in a lower league. A guy with a degree gets a certain respect from his peers, but can of course loose it. A guy without is assumed to be a simple mind and has to earn peer respect the hard way - up front. In large organizations, people know exactly who has a degree and who doesn't. Funnily, the exact subject of the degeree is less relevant in practice. Anything remotely serious will get you going, even BA (BWL), though that is borderline for techs.

But - having said that - somewhere in your fourties, going back to University is not an option any more. You can basically do 2 things

- a get a cheap part-time degree. With cheap I mean BA or some such (aka BWL). Part time means internet or study-by-mail - Fernuni Hagen comes to mind, but I'm sure there are others.
- accumulate non-academic/professional certifications. If you want to go into project management, there are at least 2 relevant certification bodies. You could mix that with tech vendor certs, or not.

And whatever route you go - start going. Now. Your time has run out, If you want to do project management, start getting into project management roles in large projects now.

Re:let me add some perspective from Germany (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39982277)

I wonder if this has anything to do with the relative lack of entrepreneurship in Germany (and to some degree most of Western Europe). A surprising percentage of the success in tech companies has been led by innovators who never finished their degrees. Investors or competitors underestimate them at their own peril...

Re:let me add some perspective from Germany (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39982305)

Don't listen to that advice. I'm in my mid-40's and almost done with a masters degree in CS. I've learned way more than I could have imagined and it has made me rethink a lot of the technical decisions I made in the past. Find a well-respected university with a distance education option and you will find lots of other people like you.

Re:let me add some perspective from Germany (2)

frost22 (115958) | about 2 years ago | (#39982569)

well, I have no idea where you sit. But if it is Germany, you are now ~5 years older than when you started going to University, and you have a degree nobody really knows if its any good (thanks to Bologna). The the tech labor market right now is ok but not nearly as good many folks claim it to be.

If you went full time you spent 5 years hardly earning a dime. And moreover, you probably didn't learn a thing you could not have learned reading a good book or article on the subject. On the other hand, you spent tons of time and energy on stuff you will never ever touch again.

Trust me, been there, done that. I have full masters-equivalent degree in CS from a research university. Yes, it's a good basis when you start. But not something I would suggest you spent 5 years in your forties on.

OTOH, I support your distance ed suggestion. But MSc in CS per distance ed while working normally means either the equivalent of 2 jobs or more for ~5 years, or 7-10 with a less demanding schedule. Both are not very good alternatives.

Consider PRINCE 2 or PMP certification (2)

MisplacedLonghorn (1284138) | about 2 years ago | (#39982149)

OP mentioned project management background and desire to move more in that direction. One thing to consider is the PRINCE 2 certification in Europe or PMP for those in the States in similar situtations.

Go for it (1)

koan (80826) | about 2 years ago | (#39982189)

The one thing I can tell you with certainty, do what interest you and don't worry about your age.

Other than that, business degrees are always handy for starting your own business or employers, in addition computer security is a growing field.

Engineering (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39982191)

Don't dick around. Engineers are not like code monkeys. Engineers gain respect and status as they age. An engineering degree puts you in a whole different ballgame. The fact that you have a professional license means you never have to worry about being replaced by the boss's nineteen year old son. Many jobs require an engineer's signature. It's the law.

With an engineering degree you should be able to leverage your experience very nicely indeed.

Re:Engineering (1)

frost22 (115958) | about 2 years ago | (#39982593)

*sigh* Knock knock. Anybody at home. McFly? Repeat after me:

NOT U.S.
Germany.

There is no such thing as an Engineering license around here. The degree is the real thing.
(except in a few historically isolated cases like mining, where the degree is usually complemented by a state organized additional training and exam.)

We stupid Germans used to think our universities were all good enough so the degree directly means qualification. Then came Bologna.....

A few years or decades down the road you might even be right. But not today.

Do both (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | about 2 years ago | (#39982205)

You've been around long enough to know all the technical stuff and you've seen a lot of the business side. If you just do one degree, you'd be coasting through. So do both degrees at once, then you won't be wasting your time. You can mention only one or the other when talking to a fellow geek or a PHB.

Market yourself (2)

eulernet (1132389) | about 2 years ago | (#39982241)

Being myself without diploma, but with 26 years of experience (I'm in my middle fourties), I think that you should try to find what is your value for a company, and make yourself known in this area.

In my case, I realized that I have technical skills, but my human skills were most important (perhaps 30% technical skills, and 70% human skills).
So I'm trying to become a coach, and competition in this domain is tough, so I had to learn how to sell my product: me.

It's not as obvious as it seems.
You need to work to increase your visibility:
  - I'm using linkedin to create my own network
  - I'm using a blog to convey my ideas
  - I'm trying to discover new ideas, which might be of interest
  - I'll probably write a book (not for the money, but for the reputation, you can easily become an expert with a single book)

Degrees are useless if your goal is to make money ("making money" is a terrible goal, you can make money in almost any domain, as long as you believe in what you do), you really need to know what you want to do, and this comes after discovering what you don't want to do anymore.

After that, you need to discover what you want to share with people (I call that "passion").
I recommend that you keep your current job, and negotiate to attend all the conferences about your subject.
You'll discover that most of the speakers don't master the domains they talk about, and that you can do a better job than them.

The next step is presenting conferences related to your domain.
After a few years, you'll be well known and you'll be able to earn your life with your passion.

In my case, I had to learn how to speak in public, and how to convey my ideas with powerful words, but I'm still working at my job, since I don't earn enough money with my new part-time activity.
My way requires dedication, but I don't take tremendous risks, since I still work at my last job.
I'll be able to quit when I have enough business.

Glass ceiling? (1)

Dahamma (304068) | about 2 years ago | (#39982249)

If you are not being promoted because you don't have the credentials or experience, maybe you are just hitting a normal ceiling.

You can do it (1)

WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) | about 2 years ago | (#39982425)

First off, you can do it because not every company marches lockstep with the prevailing age-discriminatory practices of Silicon Valley.

There are a ton of shops out there who aren't primarily IT but rely on it. I have a friend who just started programming - in basic and something else I'd never heard of (I think) - for a company that has an inventory system written in such. They need to keep it running the owner/ founder is in his mid-60s early 70s and - get this- doesn't buy into "that whole Windows-GUI thing. " We're talking green screen.

He took it not b/c it's his dream job but because it pays him 60k (he was trending towards destitution) and he can keep his family going on that until he moves on in 5 or so years.

The best thing about your new chosen career is this is DIY like nothing else. Be thinking about entrepreneurism from the start. If you can dream it, you can build it. Then you can sell it to people who find it useful. That last sentence is the missing link in the underwear gnomes puzzle, the one that comes just before "profit".

.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gnomes_(South_Park) [wikipedia.org]

I just bought a piece of software (a tool) for 70 bucks yesterday. People give money for tools that help them. People who crack software and steal it are either not really your customers (they just want everything and never use it) or are, well thieves. In programming I would say if it's not free as in beer and not overpriced , people pay. I LIKE to pay; it's a respect / pride of ownership thing.

Regarding language, start with C because it's out there by the ton and people are not learning it anymore. Nevermind COBOL... unless you want that to be your niche, which is a possible career path I guess but there's little synergy between it and C C++ C# and Java which are all strongly similar to each other IMO.

Go for it all b/c once you know one language, you can learn others easily. Start with good old fashioned C, not even C++. There are great books out there that older people never had available to them.. Deitel and Dietel come to mind but there are others too. You can't go wrong in the learning department. Perhaps nothing is so well explained and accessible as programming languages in terms of pedagogical material at great prices..

Re:You can do it (1)

WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) | about 2 years ago | (#39982489)

OK I fucked up. Mea culpa. I now RTFA, sorry for he useless advice.

The last thing I would do is go into debt for an education. Assuming that isn't going to happen, I would go for Biz Dev since you're getting out of being a programmer.

It doesn't matter (2)

billybob_jcv (967047) | about 2 years ago | (#39982437)

Just get a bachelor's degree - any degree. The people who say you don't need a degree are probably people without a degree. It doesn't matter whether the degree is useful or not, and in most cases it doesn't matter where the degree came from or what major it is - what matters is that you have it. The hiring processes of most companies (big or small) are fairly similar. The job description is written and given to the HR recruiter. If the job description says "Bachelor's Degree", then anyone without that requirement will most likely be excluded. The entire point of your resume is to NOT be eliminated from contention so that you get a chance to actually talk to the hiring manager. If you can't get into the manager's office, you never have a chance to wow them with your brilliance and charm. So, if you get a degree in Underwater Basket Weaving, your resume is perfectly accurate if it simply says: Bachelor's Degree, University of Late Bloomers, 2012. You really don't need to say more than that, and you will have passed that hurdle. If they want to know more than that, let them ask you - at least you will be talking to them!
           

Career Boost (3, Interesting)

hackus (159037) | about 2 years ago | (#39982443)

Here is what I did, last year I came off a really good year, 6 figure income from my personal consulting business so I took a year off, and went back to UW-Madison to finish my foreign language requirements and took one advanced course towards degree CS credit.

I however, am back to work full time with my business and am making Bioinformatics tool sets for the mobile genomic researcher.

Now, if you can take a year off an pay for cash all of your expenses, plusd have a independant income like I have then you can do what you want.

However, even I would never consider taking all the time off to get a CS degree. That would be nuts and too costly.

So I do it when I have the time and money.

If you are thinking about taking off, or quitting your job, and taking out loans, you should see a doctor and have your head looked at to insure you haven't had a recent stroke or something.

-Hack

PS: It was a nice vacation too. The student lifestyle is pretty nice. Most of my friend at my age (47) look at me in wonder because they have no independent income, have a huge mortgage, and are in my view no better off than I am with thier degrees in hand. (Certainly far more stressed out it would seem.)

Enroll in AppStore U (1, Interesting)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | about 2 years ago | (#39982493)

If you already have practical experience, school is a waste of time and money. You want to increase your potential employability and/or income? Then create an App, publish it to iTMS, Google Play and Amazon.

There's many ways to monetize apps, but even if it's just a free app with no ads, you can put it on your resume and link to it.

Don't know Objective-C or Java or the Mobile APIs/SDKs? No problem in fact, in most cases it's more practical for a lone developer or small software shops not to use native code. You can create cross-platform Native Apps for iOS and Android with either HTML5/JS with Titanium or PhoneGap or with AS3/MXML with Flash Builder 4.6.

Does the Germany system have IT tech schools? (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 2 years ago | (#39982549)

Does the Germany system have IT tech schools? I know they have a dual system there and things are different then in other places there.

Re:Does the Germany system have IT tech schools? (1)

frost22 (115958) | about 2 years ago | (#39982651)

yes.

There are IT and related tech qualifications at the craft level, and also intermediate (tech) level schools.

But they both have in common that they are intellectually less demanding but not faster than an Bachelor
in CS or engineering. And the craftman's qualification is only available full time.

EE or ECE (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39982663)

Electrical and Computer Engineering...

Too many software developers have no idea about the hardware they're writing software for.

I had to lecture a developer just last week on why his software wouldn't work because of his poor knowledge of the underlying hardware.

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