no degree impedes climbing the ladder, was Re: mysql issue

Bryan Sant bryan.sant at
Thu Feb 9 09:33:01 MST 2012

On Thu, Feb 9, 2012 at 9:22 AM, Steve Alligood <steve at> wrote:
> On 2/8/12 5:03 PM, Jason Van Patten wrote:
>> Sorry my knee jerk reaction is to assume i'm being criticized. Working
>> this industry with no degree means i get paid crap relatively speaking
>> and am constantly on the defensive. Can we just say i was giving you a
>> good old southern "TESTIFY BROTHER!"?
>> Jason
> That's interesting.
> You find that having no degree still impedes your rise up the ladder?
> I find this topic fascinating, because I think it is entirely dependent on
> the shop, often to the shop's detriment.
> I have been doing sysadmin work for 15 years now, and most of the shops I
> have worked for have ended up with several dozen admins, most of whom do not
> have degrees.  In fact, usually only about 10% have degrees, and those shops
> have paid fairly well to anyone with the skills and can-do attitude, and do
> not care about that not-quite-worthless paper.
> I have also worked with several shops that think the degree is more
> important than the ability/experience of the admin.  They tend to be really
> large companies with really large bureaucracies, and usually have a very
> mediocre admin staff, with one or two good admins that carry the team.
> There are limited options in those shops.  As I see them, they are 1) go to
> your manager and have a frank discussion about what you need to do to get
> the raises, then do it.  Sometimes this even works, though usually at the 5%
> annual raises.  2) stay quiet and do what you currently do and stay at what
> you are at.  This is sometimes the best if you need specific benefits, or
> your skills are specific to the company you are at.  3) go looking and see
> if you can convince someone else that you are worth more.  It is a hard
> market right now for companies to find good talent, so it may be a good time
> to shop around.
> All three options suck in their own way.  I wish you luck on whichever you
> choose.
> -Steve

+1.  I have no degree -- heck, I don't have a high school diploma.  I
am a Director at a very successful VoIP startup.  I've never had a
problem getting high compensating jobs in the past either.  I think a
degree is useful when you're starting out in your career; you're taken
a little more seriously.  But once you have the experience and skills
to back up your worth, the paper is meaningless.  Sure, you'll run
into folks who really weight that high, and that may cut off some
opportunities, but I've found that to be the exception rather than the

Also, good advice from Steve on shopping around.  Don't wait for a
raise from an underpaying employer.  If the market thinks you're worth
more, go get your market value.  Capitalism FTW!!


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