I think certs do help and I prefer the big name certs like COMP-TIA because a lot of large corporations participate and sponsor them. If you want to work for a small company, then it probably does not matter as much.
With most of a BSMIS complete, a Network+, and some Apple certs, I was able to get hired on with two other folks from my team that had consulted for a large bank for 4 years. I don't know the exact reason, but I was able to negotiate 20k more than my closest co-worker when we were hired. None of us had full degrees and I was the only one with any certs.
COMP-TIA recommends A+, Network+, then security+ in that order. I may be back in the job market soon and it's a lot easier to grab a couple certs for things I already know then to deal with finishing my degree via a bunch of bullshit classes that cost a lot more.
If you have a degree to finish, a lot of colleges will let you transfer over certs for credits, so you can sometimes do double-duty with certs. My college will give me 6 credit hours for an A+ and then I get to add A+ to my resume right away while I'm chipping away at the degree.
I also recommend certs that will stand without having to take update tests- this will save you money and pain in the future.
I will also say that although I had done a lot of networking prior to getting my Net+, I learned a lot in the process and it helped me stand out on our team. The info I learned directly applied to the project we we're on and it greatly elevated my status on the team.
I was quickly assigned to work directly with our software vendor to design and test enhancements to fix a lot of issues that had been missed originally.