I'm making a career switch from accounting to computers.* I want to know about what kind of education to get.
tech guy I talk to seems to have an undergraduate degree in computer science, so I'm about to start that (at Northeastern Illinois University, in Chicago).** Am I better off getting a master's degree, or are they too research-oriented; the course choice seems, generally, too limited. I don't want to waste a year of my life writing a master's thesis, unless this will move me from $40k/year jobs to $80k/year jobs. The jobs that seem least likely to get exported from the US to the 3rd World are on-hands support, either for small (or to a lesser extent large) offices, for example as network/database/applicati
ons administrators or as consultants (e.g., working for Best Buy's Geek Squad). I'd rather work in website development, but these jobs seem too easy to ship off to the 3rd World.
My experience lies almost entirely in the Windows environment. I'm looking at taking undergraduate courses that lean toward network administration and security
, as these seem the most secure, 1st World jobs. I'd prefer education that would give me the ability to create and administer my own complex website projects, as I have a bunch of good ideas that could prove very lucrative
, but I need to be able to earn a living while doing these projects on the side, in case they don't pan out immediately.
So, am I right that a degree with an emphasis on networks and security is the way to go?
What kinds of jobs would I be eligible for and at what pay level? Much of this should carry over to my projects (which will require technical expertise comparable to the tech staff and creators of YouTube and Facebook), I think. Or, am I better off getting quasi-academic training (certifications, Etc.) in lieu of a university degree in computer science?
What other sort of education (preferably in the Chicago-land area, where I live) would be valuable?
I'm thinking of various certifications (which ones?) and seminars
, especially in WinXP, Win Server 2008, the Windows Registry--l REALLY want to learn about this last topic, as I live in terror of messing with it--a major database package like Oracle or SQL Server, and a major Web design package. Some knowledge of Linux seems crucial just to run outside-of-Windows security scans on Windows PCs; where can I learn this (I'd settle for a good beginner's book)? Training in applications that office users actually use (e.g., MS Office) seems like it would be very marketable, but maybe I'm wrong about that. Where do you go to learn this stuff?
Any info on financial aid
would also be helpful. (BTW, I already have an undergraduate degree, but in an unrelated field. Anybody know if this will mess up my financial aid situation?)
How about publications
I should be reading?
One final question. The program I'm about to start teaches Java
in its initial courses, which are of course programming, rather than C++
. Am I making a big mistake in entering such a program. I would, incidentally, after completing this degree and changing jobs, like to start studying electronics
. Am I right in that Java is useless in that field? Am I a fool to start a degree program not based around C++, even setting aside my future desire to study electronics? The thing I do
like about Java is that learning it would allow me to supplement my income by writing applications for BlackBerries and Androids
...or will what I learn be too academic to help me do that?
Any suggestions or corrections on any of these points would be most appreciated.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
* I currently work in a small office where I have access to XP machines and one Win Server 2008 (I forget the exact edition) machine. It's likely I'll end up with access in the next year to at least one Win 7 machine, as well.
** The URL for a .pdf of the catalog is http://www.collegesource.org/displayinfo/catalink.asp?pid=
(see pages 121-128
, as listed when file opened in Adobe Acrobat X).