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Degree advice

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Degree advice
Sat Oct 15, 2016 2:58 pm
  • Before I ask my question, here's my situation. I'm in the Air Force with 7 years left until I retire. I'm stationed in Maryland at a government agency that employs a lot of civilians. I'm working on a bachelor's degree in Cyber Security from University of Maryland University College (dumb name, I know). I have 10 classes to go before I can get my bachelor's degree. I don't currently have a minor, but I'm also working on an undergraduate certificate in Space Studies from American Military University (personal hobby, because I'm a bit of a space geek, but it might come in handy). With or without the bachelor's degree, I can easily get a job at my current agency after I retire from the military. However, I'd rather not stay on the east coast if I don't have to. I'd much prefer to move back to Washington, preferably around Seattle.

    I'm contemplating adding Computer Science as a minor. That would require calculus and a few programming classes, and would add at least a year until I graduate. Graduating sooner would look good on a performance report and could help get me promoted sooner, and maybe get me started on a master's degree sooner (if I so choose). Is it worth doing the computer science minor to improve my job prospects in Seattle, or should I just graduate with a cyber security major? Or put another way, how much better is a cyber security major with computer science minor than just a cyber security major?
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    Erebus
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Re: Degree aand MS)dvice
Sat Oct 15, 2016 3:10 pm
  • As an EE (BS & MS) I don't have personal experience, but would guess that the Cyber Security degree with the CS minor would be way less valuable than a CS degree with cybersecurity minor. At least around here. OTOH, check out USA Jobs for cybersecurity positions around Washington State. I know we hire GS-12 level people for that at Puget Sound Shipyard in Bremerton, as well as other Navy locations around here. I imagine similar positions pop up at JLBM and such as well, and probably better-paying ones with the FAA. When looking at the GS-12 pay scale, be sure to select the Seattle-Tacoma one because it adds almost 25% offset for cost of living.
    At the same time, since you have 7 years left why not go for the BS you're currently getting, then spend the time to get a Masters in computer science? You may have to take some undergrad pre-reqs, but you could probably write your own ticket around here with that combo. I know that we had several people in my MSEE program who had undergrad degrees in ME as well as a couple with CS.
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Re: Degree advice
Sat Oct 15, 2016 3:21 pm
  • Thanks GeekHawk. I've actually been considering a CS Master's degree, but the undergrad pre-reqs just might get me a minor in it on my bachelor's degree, so if I go that route, I might as well make a minor out of it for now. Unfortunately neither UMUC nor AMU offer a CS master's degree, so I'd have to find another school that tuition assistance would cover.
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    Erebus
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Re: Degree advice
Sat Oct 15, 2016 4:13 pm
  • May want to try the education center for Embry Riddle classes that could fulfill that requirement. A friend did for his Aeronautics degree. I did a couple classes in Korea for my associates degree. Uni of Maryland asian studies. Looked at embry riddle when in Mt hOme but too much work, not enuff time..and seahawks football. ugh. the life. LOL


    Also, dunno what is online with U of Phoenix or other online universities. May want to check them out too. The only thing about them is making sure they are ACREDDITED colleges or universities. Some are just class type that have no class. Just trying to present options. Good luck sir.
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Re: Degree advice
Sat Oct 15, 2016 5:21 pm
  • This is very much a performance based market. If cyber security is your thing, you enjoy it and are very god at it, a minor in CS isn't going to help you at all. The skills might, but the piece of paper wont. Only get into CS if you enjoy it. I mean, it can't hurt to have, but if you're good, it won't matter to the companies out here.
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Re: Degree advice
Sat Oct 15, 2016 8:27 pm
  • The IT industry is one of the last remaining meritocracies in the professional world. A degree may help you with getting in on the ground floor, but companies tend to value experience far more. The reality is that while ComSci programs absolutely have their place in this world, the concepts taught in those programs are often dated in comparison to what's present in the "real world". The past 10 years have introduced some really interesting engineering problems which many of the Fortune 500s have solved, but the techniques haven't yet trickled down to the .edu level outside of well funded postgrad programs. They are the sorts of problems which arise only once an environment has been built to the scale of your Amazons, Googles, and Microsofts of the world.

    In the end, I don't think it will make much of a difference to have the CompSci minor. Your title and pay will be based more on your demonstrable skills and experience than your education. You would be better off entering the job market now and earning real world experience.
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    SmokinHawk
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Re: Degree advice
Sun Oct 16, 2016 5:08 am
  • Remember that for some companies, the major and minor are just as they say above, pieces of paper. But the work involved to make that piece of paper work takes time and effort. Adding that you are doing it on your own time with a full time job makes a difference too. It will work well on a resume. Primary will be the degree and secondary will be the amount of years working in a full time military career. That is unless the job you did in the military co-relates to the position requested.
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Re: Degree advice
Sun Oct 16, 2016 6:21 am
  • Seahawkfan80 wrote:Also, dunno what is online with U of Phoenix or other online universities. May want to check them out too. The only thing about them is making sure they are ACREDDITED colleges or universities. Some are just class type that have no class. Just trying to present options. Good luck sir.


    No offense, and UMUC isn't the most prestigious school, but UoP is literally the bottom of the barrel. But if I do go to another school, it might have to be all online.

    Tical21 wrote:This is very much a performance based market. If cyber security is your thing, you enjoy it and are very god at it, a minor in CS isn't going to help you at all. The skills might, but the piece of paper wont. Only get into CS if you enjoy it. I mean, it can't hurt to have, but if you're good, it won't matter to the companies out here.


    CS isn't the most exciting field to me, but I think programming might help me be a better cyber security analyst, especially if I'm analyzing malware and looking for vulnerabilities in programs.

    SmokinHawk wrote:In the end, I don't think it will make much of a difference to have the CompSci minor. Your title and pay will be based more on your demonstrable skills and experience than your education. You would be better off entering the job market now and earning real world experience.


    Ideally I'd love to do a cyber warfare job here and use that experience to get a cyber security job afterwards. I've applied but I keep getting passed over for the training for people that do what the AF likes (excess volunteering, great PT scores, etc) instead of having great technical skills. This has caused me to become a bit disgruntled, and I've been wanting to get out at the end of this enlistment (March 2017), but I won't have my degree by then. My wife also won't let me get out before 20 years.

    I appreciate all your responses. It looks like I should get my degree in cyber security and learn the programming skills on my own from places like Codecademy without worrying about an official piece of paper.
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Re: Degree advice
Sun Oct 16, 2016 6:55 am
  • Erebus wrote:
    Seahawkfan80 wrote:Also, dunno what is online with U of Phoenix or other online universities. May want to check them out too. The only thing about them is making sure they are ACREDDITED colleges or universities. Some are just class type that have no class. Just trying to present options. Good luck sir.


    No offense, and UMUC isn't the most prestigious school, but UoP is literally the bottom of the barrel. But if I do go to another school, it might have to be all online.

    Tical21 wrote:This is very much a performance based market. If cyber security is your thing, you enjoy it and are very god at it, a minor in CS isn't going to help you at all. The skills might, but the piece of paper wont. Only get into CS if you enjoy it. I mean, it can't hurt to have, but if you're good, it won't matter to the companies out here.


    CS isn't the most exciting field to me, but I think programming might help me be a better cyber security analyst, especially if I'm analyzing malware and looking for vulnerabilities in programs.

    SmokinHawk wrote:In the end, I don't think it will make much of a difference to have the CompSci minor. Your title and pay will be based more on your demonstrable skills and experience than your education. You would be better off entering the job market now and earning real world experience.


    Ideally I'd love to do a cyber warfare job here and use that experience to get a cyber security job afterwards. I've applied but I keep getting passed over for the training for people that do what the AF likes (excess volunteering, great PT scores, etc) instead of having great technical skills. This has caused me to become a bit disgruntled, and I've been wanting to get out at the end of this enlistment (March 2017), but I won't have my degree by then. My wife also won't let me get out before 20 years.

    I appreciate all your responses. It looks like I should get my degree in cyber security and learn the programming skills on my own from places like Codecademy without worrying about an official piece of paper.


    I would agree with this. I just staffed my program with about 150 engineers of varying disciplines and can probably count on one hand the amount of times someone actually asked about or mentioned degrees.


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Re: Degree advice
Sun Oct 16, 2016 7:49 am
  • I'd look for an entirely different line of work. Pretty sure this "computer fad" is going to blow over soon and we'll laugh at people who use technology the way we laugh at acid washed jeans.
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