I have been working as a system admin for about 3 years now with a AAS system admin degree. I have decided I really want to do programming instead and am wondering what your thoughts are. I could either get an AAS in programming for about 30 credits. Or go for a BS in Info Systems which would cost about 50k. Just thinking if it would be worth it to have a BS degree when I would learn less programming than with the AAS degree. Plus the AAS degree would only cost about 10-15k more.

I know there are companies out there that only allow BS credentials working for them but personally don't think i would want to work for that company anyways. The company that allows there to be experience to equal the BS degree is by far the better way to do it in my opinion. Programming seems like one area of IT that experience out weights degree credentials almost always.

Let me know what you all think please. Would be great to have some info. Spending all that more money for a BS degree just doesn't seem worth it to me. 

Thanks
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This is an interesting question. I could see benefits either way but my gut reaction to this was if a BS is an option, then go for it. My reasoning comes from my experiences learning programming, programming professionally, and dealing with various work environments. 

About the degree: From a professional standpoint I'd say a BS is going to look better up front on paper. I think in the long run you'll have more opportunities with a BS. Plus you'll be in line to possibly continue on up to bigger, better degree paths. An example: the IT Director here in my organization has a degree in chemistry or something of the sorts but has the experience and knowledge of any IT Director. 

About programming (and why I say go for the BS): School gave me a starting point for programming, but most of what I've learned didn't come from school. You spend a lot of your time in forums and digging through reference manuals for languages to find the answers to your question and hopefully lead to a solution that fits your problem. 

So, while you might get more formal training doing a second AAS in programming, I feel that you'd likely be better off going for that BS and teaching yourself programming. There are loads of resources out there to get you started too. You could start and learn without having to spend any money. IDE's/code editors are free and there are many many tutorials and videos out there.

All that said, the first thing you should do is start coding! Really though, the best thing you can do in your path to becoming a programmer is start coding and building applications. They don't need to be glamorous or anything. They don't even need to serve any real purpose in the beginning. The important part is that your behind a keyboard, putting code on the screen, and learning! Also, really be diligent about following best practices and completing your projects. I believe seeing your projects to completion is the most beneficial (and rewarding). 

Have fun! I wish you luck.
Answered 01/07/2015 by: getElementById
Second Degree Blue Belt

  • As I was writing all this it made me think of my very first "full" application back when I was learning. It was essentially a birthday calculator. You could see how many minutes, days, months, etc it's been since a date (like a birthday, marriage, or day you quit smoking). It would also show how long till your next year anniversary. Then I added a feature where you could save or load a list of things/people so you could track multiple items. It was a silly little app but I sure was proud of it back then.
  • Hmm so the base for getting a BS would only be to move up the ladder later on in life? Meaning you can't move up the ladder at most companies without a BS degree? I would never in my life want to me the IT director so that sounds good to me. But what I think you are failing to understand from what I am asking is the price. From learning almost nothing in the BS info systems degree I would be between 50-70k more in debt. That is insane for not learning much for what I actually want to do in life.

    I also thinking learning during an actual degree for programming would be much easier rather than just going on forums and sites trying to learn myself. That for me wouldnt work. So can we look at these two degrees and you let me know if more debt would be worth it?

    http://programs.madisoncollege.edu/programs/it-web-software-developer/

    or

    http://www.herzing.edu/career-programs/undergraduate-degrees/technology/software-development

    Does anyone have any idea how good herzing would actually be. I can do most classes either online or in person. This is such a hard decision. I would have to quit my job currently to finish a BS in person due to class times.

    Also I make good money now just do not like what I do. Big decisions and very hard decisions. I would have so much learning on my own for programming if I went to herzing I feel
    • Well first and foremost - do what you know is going to work for you. You know yourself best! If the BS doesn't sound appealing due to class content and cost then go with the AAS. Plus, quitting you job would be a bummer. Like I said, I see benefits either way. I simply offered my suggestion.
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If you can get a job that will give you experience without a BS then you can do that. I've noticed experience counts more than certs, etc... That said I'd urge you to go for a BS if you can afford it since school will provide you with more ways of thinking about a problem which will ultimately benefit your programming skills and career.
Answered 01/08/2015 by: h2opolo25
Red Belt

  • What if the BS degree doesn't teach me any programming. There is only one programming class in the Info Systems degree offered. And I do not qualify for the CS degree at my local college. It is 3.5 or better from all previous college credits including withdrawals. I have a 3.2. SO go for a info systems BS and have to learn all programming on my own or go for a two year degree and learn it all with some of the best instructors in the midwest
    • Even when you go to school you'll still learn programming on your own. The class it just a helpful tutorial but in the end you'll be the one throwing a fit only to return to your PC 30 minutes later with a fresh idea of how to approach the problem.
      Example: I have a computer engineering BS but I'm a network admin. Did I learn anything that directly applies to my job in school? NO
      Does what I learn in school help me in my job? Yes. All that schooling did was help me be able to approach problems in many different ways. Even calculus, which I was not fond of, gave me a new way to look at the world.

      Going to school and getting a BS will help you in your life even though it might not directly help you start your programming career.
      Do you know anyone that can help you get a programming job? If so start learning whatever programming language that job requires and start from there.

      Better question: How much experience do you have with programming? You might get into it and realize you hate it. Full time programming is different than creating the odd script or program here and there.
      • I really don't think at this point a BS is possible now that I look into it more because I would have to quit my full time system admin job. So I guess AAS degree is the only path atm with classes that are actually offered at times I can go. The BS degree classes are almost all offered only during the day when I am working:(
      • I think an AAS degree with a good portfolio and resume with experience will get you the same job as someone with a BS degree. The problem would be later on in the career moving up to manager level positions
      • h2o raises some excellent points. You seem set on the AAS. Either way though, I hope it does works out for you and you end up loving it.
      • I do know many people that can help me get programming jobs which raises another point on how it is almost all about who you know now days rather than credentials
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