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infinitenexus
infinitenexus Reader
10/15/19 2:13 p.m.

I got an associate's in computer programming (which I don't enjoy at all) back in 2002.  Since then I went to the language academy while in the Army (DLI FLC) twice for two foreign languages - and with a couple classes I could turn those into associates degrees.  Plus I have some trade school certifications.  That's it, nothing higher.   I don't really think three associate's would be an improvement on one though.  To be honest I don't care entirely what I do for a living, I just want to pay my bills, have a few bucks left over, and be happy.  The modern job market definitely seems to require a bachelor's degree for anything halfway decent, so I've been thinking of using the last of my GI bill to maybe build on my prior education and get a degree in something that'll help me get a decent job.  I feel the lack of education, combined with my oddly specific job skills from the army, have been some of the most limiting factors in me being where I am right now.

Any recommendations here?  My whole life I've been told I should have been an engineer, as I love designing things and figuring them out and my brain works well with analyzing things and details.  All that math is fairly daunting though.  I was considering some type of generic "business administration" degree that's relatively quick and easy to get and looks good on a resume.  Or something related to medical billing, since I'm moving down to central/south florida and that's a pretty big business down there.  I just want a better future for my family.  Any advice would be welcomed.

mtn
mtn MegaDork
10/15/19 2:31 p.m.

Our company will hire people into entry level positions without a degree. They'll promote them within, we have executives reporting to our COO that I'm not sure if they have even a GED. It hasn't hurt them at all in our company, however, they probably can never really leave our company - and, they had to start at the very bottom. 

 

So, if you're happy starting at the bottom and working your way up, or if you're happy setting off on your own, or if you go into the trades (which would probably require trade school), you don't need one. If you want to jump companies and move up at the same time, it is probably pretty close to a requirement. 

FuzzWuzzy
FuzzWuzzy Reader
10/15/19 2:35 p.m.

I've been lucky enough to do just fine without a degree. Learned how to Google issues with Excel and I can pick up nearly anything and be good to go after a week or so.

Nothing in the corporate world really interests me enough to "waste" my time trying to get a degree in a field I likely wouldn't even work in.

That's not to say getting a degree would hurt your prospects. Does give you that in to jobs that require a degree, regardless of what it's in.

Pete Gossett
Pete Gossett MegaDork
10/15/19 2:39 p.m.

I read an article a few weeks ago that indicated employers are having such a difficult time filling positions that many are relaxing their degree requirements. 

If you do pursue a bachelors, I’d suggest something finance or business related. 

NOHOME
NOHOME MegaDork
10/15/19 2:49 p.m.

Undergrad the engineering degree would be the best bet for wider horizons. Be warned that it is pretty much ALL math unless you join a formula SAE or some such.  After grad, it can be any combo of hands-on to desk jokey. Being able to code at some level is a bonus.

As an outlier, I will toss out Nursing as an option. It pays well, has no lack of storied days and you will be in demand. Job hoping is never an issue. You mention you are married. Too bad.

 

 

FuzzWuzzy
FuzzWuzzy Reader
10/15/19 2:50 p.m.

Some good questions to figure out what you should do...

What's your "ideal" pay? What kind of pay would cover your bills and give you some money left over?

What do you want to "do"? Do you wanna work in the field, working with your hands or sit in an office? Then from there, you can get more in-depth as to what you wanna do in either situation.

Robbie
Robbie UltimaDork
10/15/19 2:50 p.m.

I suggest becoming an electrician.

alfadriver
alfadriver MegaDork
10/15/19 2:53 p.m.

One thing to consider is if any of your previous training/education will contribute to a degree.  If you find a school that will use those as inputs- BONUS!

pinchvalve
pinchvalve MegaDork
10/15/19 2:57 p.m.

Go for the business degree. Just about every boss I have ever had did not have a degree related to the product of service of the company, rather, they had a business degree. I put it like this, if you have a welding certification, you can get a job as a welder with a manufacturer. If you have an engineering degree, you can get a job as an engineer with that manufacturer. Accounting degree? You can work there as an accountant. If you can code, you can work in the IT department. But with a business degree, you can manage all of the welders, engineers, accountants, and IT people beneath you.

I'm not saying a business degree is a panacea, but you have some practical background and experience along with language skills that would go well with it. Learn the ins and outs of profitability and firing people, and you should be able to find a good career.

Javelin
Javelin MegaDork
10/15/19 3:00 p.m.

Have you considered work as a medical translator? 

I can tell you that in the health industry, being multi-lingual is a huge asset that you can leverage for $$$. 

No matter what, you should definitely leverage your GI Bill benefits!

pointofdeparture
pointofdeparture PowerDork
10/15/19 3:11 p.m.

In reply to pinchvalve :

I would agree with this. Communications is a similarly broad-but-consistently-relevant degree option.

The other thing to do would be to decide what exactly it is you want to do/see yourself as capable of doing and then work backwards from there to a relevant degree.

Ultimately, as long as you can come up with legitimate ways to market yourself and apply the degree you have to the work you want, and never give up on pursuing what you want to do you'll come out OK. Being hungry for it is 75% of the battle.

I went to school for journalism wanting to be a writer, then the big collapse of 2008 happened. I transitioned to more of an advertising/public relations course load to build skills that I saw as more marketable and graduated with my B.A., but still languished in a tech support role full-time for a while. I kept at it, working freelance/contract copywriting gigs when I could, and ultimately found work as a technical writer that uses my full skill set.

Of course, applying that B.A. in Interdisciplinary Basket Weaving to an aerospace sector job may be a little difficult, but I think my point is made...

NOHOME
NOHOME MegaDork
10/15/19 3:16 p.m.

Without getting an actual degree, a certificate in project management is a path forward. Language and technical insight is a big bonus. You would be surprised how many project managers have zero grasp of the technology they manage. The skills are pretty universal across industries, so mobility should not be an issue.

84FSP
84FSP SuperDork
10/15/19 3:40 p.m.

I don't believe a job you shower before rather than after is better or worse.  Pay can be quite similar if you are willing to work the overtime.  I have welding/machinist buddies that pull in what I do and check out of work completely at the end of their shift.

The healthcare option is really solid as well.  If you wanted to test the waters you can get a Phlebotomy (blood draw) certification in just a few months and be making decent money in the field while you go to school on the side.  You will know in short order if you want that for a lifetime.  

I was undecided in terms of major but was pushed by my father towards a business degree, he emphasized that it had to have a solid co-op program.  This worked out fantastic for me and the co-op experience made my B GPA more valuable than A+ GPA folks.  If you can cut the math engineering is a better starting pay out of the gate always vs business.  That would bee one thing I would have done different despite things having worked out.  I ended up in a Supply Chain Statistics degree with lots of technical hrs on the side when i could have come out of the gate 20K higher with an Engineering degree.  In this world I generally work a lot of hrs, travel a lot, and take my work home with me.

 

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
10/15/19 3:55 p.m.

If you don't like programming, then my suggestion is out. 

Are you working as a programmer now? Based on your other thread, it doesn't seem like you are based on comments regarding pay.

With programming and other languages.....are you still fluent? Like legitimately fluent? I could see you taking that in to Technical Writing (what I do). But again, that may not be something that interests you.

ProDarwin
ProDarwin UltimaDork
10/15/19 4:07 p.m.

Do not get a typical engineering degree if math is a problem.  Some places are now offering Mechanical Engineering Technology programs which are less math & theory heavy and more hands on.  But then again, if it isn't your passion I don't know that I'd bother with that type of degree.

rob_lewis
rob_lewis UltraDork
10/15/19 4:30 p.m.
NOHOME said:

Without getting an actual degree, a certificate in project management is a path forward. Language and technical insight is a big bonus. You would be surprised how many project managers have zero grasp of the technology they manage. The skills are pretty universal across industries, so mobility should not be an issue.

Depending on what you want to do, this is an excellent suggestion.  A PMP Certificate can be pricey (but cheaper than a degree) and takes some time, but really has value.  Along the same lines, certification in Agile practices (Scrum Master, Product Owner, Scaled Agile Consultant) would be a benefit, too.  Combine that with some experience in programming (although you didn't like it), would also be helpful as you don't often see that and companies are looking for technical folks who can manage projects.  Plus, with a PMP, it doesn't just apply to software, but can apply to construction, manufacturing, etc. 

-Rob

ShawnG
ShawnG PowerDork
10/15/19 4:32 p.m.

Why not pick up a trade instead?

If nothing else, it might make you a better engineer. 

yupididit
yupididit UberDork
10/15/19 5:08 p.m.

Get into robotics process automation. 

Email me your number and we can have a discussion about it. I'm a bit too busy right now to type it out. But, I taught myself and applied it to my job and now I'm revolutionizing how the air force does work (already saved air force 1.5mil and thousands of hours of work! ). It's one of the fastest growing things in the tech industry right now. 

yupididit
yupididit UberDork
10/15/19 5:09 p.m.
rob_lewis said:
NOHOME said:

Without getting an actual degree, a certificate in project management is a path forward. Language and technical insight is a big bonus. You would be surprised how many project managers have zero grasp of the technology they manage. The skills are pretty universal across industries, so mobility should not be an issue.

Depending on what you want to do, this is an excellent suggestion.  A PMP Certificate can be pricey (but cheaper than a degree) and takes some time, but really has value.  Along the same lines, certification in Agile practices (Scrum Master, Product Owner, Scaled Agile Consultant) would be a benefit, too.  Combine that with some experience in programming (although you didn't like it), would also be helpful as you don't often see that and companies are looking for technical folks who can manage projects.  Plus, with a PMP, it doesn't just apply to software, but can apply to construction, manufacturing, etc. 

-Rob

This too. I've gone through a lot of agile training this year and working on being a scrum master. 

bentwrench
bentwrench SuperDork
10/15/19 5:17 p.m.

Yes get a degree, it shows potential employers that your are trainable and understand goals and the commitments needed to achieve them.

Don't do it in a subject you do not enjoy, but do go for something technical/medical or business related.

It's so much easier when you enjoy the subject.

02Pilot
02Pilot SuperDork
10/15/19 5:35 p.m.

If you can do it without incurring debt, do it. From the instructional side (I teach at a four-year college), it doesn't matter what you do your degree in. If you can follow instructions, complete assignments, write reasonably well, and generally not be a dumbass, you'll be well ahead of curve. I suggest you do the degree in whatever interests you - you'll be more motived to complete it. Once you get the paper, it becomes just one piece of the puzzle; your previous experience will probably make you far more interesting to employers than the degree, but not having the latter may disqualify you from some positions. That said, if this is purely an economic decision, then yeah, find out what's big where you're going to live and do that.

SVreX
SVreX MegaDork
10/15/19 5:41 p.m.

I am usually one of the first ones to recommend a trade- I’ve worked with tradesmen my whole life, and the lifestyle/ pay is good. 

However, I’m now 58. With end of career/ retirement/ post-retirement career looming on the horizon, I REALLY wish I had a degree in a technical field. (I have a useless liberal arts degree). Jobs in the trades tend to run out of steam toward the end of a career.  It would be awesome to lean back on some credibility established by a degree (for me it would be engineering)

 

SVreX
SVreX MegaDork
10/15/19 5:43 p.m.

Having worked in a medical environment for the last few years, I say no, No, NO!! 

Unless you work well being micromanaged and accepting blame for stuff (in a PC manner), it’s a soul crushing environment. 

It looks really good on paper. But I’d say less than 5% of the people are really happy at what they do, and many live in fear of unpredictable work demands. (Unless you are a doctor)

Mndsm
Mndsm MegaDork
10/15/19 5:46 p.m.

I do not have a degree. Some days, I wish I had one. Everyone I know tells me I'm one of the most intelligent people they know, and EVERYONE tells me I SHOULD go to college and do college stuff. 

 

Problem is- I don't want to. I'll freely admit, my life could be a lot less difficult that I have made it, but at the same time, I know what i've done and I'm ok with that. I do wish people would recognize my abilities beyond what a piece of paper tells them, but I understand where I am is of my own design. It's the choices we make, and quite frankly, I'm ok with that. School will help move you along in the world- there's no question. But it's about what you want to do. Don't chase a check- it never works out. Be happy with who you are and what you're doing first. 

SVreX
SVreX MegaDork
10/15/19 5:51 p.m.

40 year old me would have had a drastically different answer than 58 year old me. 

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