I already have a bachelor's degree but it's in the humanities (art history). I want to get a job working in systems administration, and am wondering how to go about it.

At this point I don't have any formal experience, though I do have a mobile tech support business going on (part time).

I see two options:

  1. If I went back to school I would end up getting a masters degree in Computer Science (since I already have a bachelors degree...). With this, would I start out at a higher level (junior administrator) than if I just had a certification or two?

  2. I could get some certifications (Cisco, CompTia) and start out at the help desk level. But, then, would not having a CS degree be a hindrance to further advancement?

The time to get the degree is about 4 years. So, in your opinion, is it more valuable to put that time into school, or to put that time into working?

Any input would be appreciated.

closed as off topic by Sven, Iain, Michael Hampton Jun 9 '13 at 11:21

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Maybe the landscape has changed, but you typically won't learn systems administration in college, at least not without going through a technical trade program (DeVry, ITT, etc.). Not all systems administrators today have degrees relevant to the career. I pursued Computer Science, and I'm definitely not a developer... But those skills helped a little throughout my career.

Experience and opportunity matter. Some of this also depends on where you are regionally and what types of organizations are hiring. New York, Chicago and Seattle are completely different markets. My career fast-path was through working as a consultant for the first 6 years out of school.

Also note that the field of systems administration is changing, with a tremendous focus on development skills, automation and scripting. There's also The Cloud, and the ripple effects of datacenter consolidation.

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