A degree or program to get into the Tech industry

Dear Tek,

I am currently a masters student in Texas and I have already graduated with a Bachelor's of Science in Agriculture Science and am currently working on a Master's degree in the same field. This is a very broad degree, and I was originally wanting to teach, but after teaching high school for awhile, I discovered it was not the career for me. I am looking to find a program that would help me get a foot hold in the tech industry, I am mainly looking at Information systems and design programs. So far I have come up with some interesting programs, but I am curious to know it is worth my time at this moment to get a third degree (Masters or Doctorate preferably) or should I go and find a job with a tech company and work my way up? You all seem to be very successful in your careers and I was hoping for some guidance.

The Tek is awesome by the way.


Duke the Celt



This question is directed to Logan, Pistol, Wendell, and Qain so I hope this fits the INBOX.EXE forum post.


I realize my degree might seem random but it is a decent degree and gave me valuable experience.


Duke the Celt

ag science... try getting a compsci or E eng degree alongside it, if possible. you can also learn to code on your own... but ag sci is not going to get you into tech easily

Yeah most don't know about Ag degrees. Yahoo thinks they are a joke, but people make a lot of freaking money in Ag. But I really would rather be doing something tech related. I have friends who are Comp Sci majors and they have expressed that their degree isn't really all that needed in some parts of the industry. I have a feeling I will need to find an internship and grind my way up to it with some experience. Though I have heard a few companies aren't particular on the degree. Know any good sources to learn coding? I took Java and C++ in high school but that was awhile ago :-/. When I ask my Comp Sci friends they never really can explain it in a simple way (hence why they chose Comp Sci and not education).

Thanks for the reply

Duke the Celt

You definitely do not need a Computer Science degree to get a job in the tech industry.  It certainly helps, but is not necessary.  I worked with a lot of people in Silicon Valley that have Chemistry and Physics degrees, and some only had limited development skills when they were hired.  Most tech companies are looking for people with good analytical thinking and logic skills.  If you have these, they are willing to teach you whatever skills you need to do the job.

I would not bother going back and getting a third degree, unless you really want to.  Plus, I am not sure what classes you took as an undergrad, but if you want to get a Master’s degree in CS without having a CS undergrad degree, you will more than likely have to take many prerequisites before you even start taking your grad level classes.  If you did not take Calculus 1 and 2 as an undergrad—the math/engineering version not the business version, you will have to take those, a few other math/algorithms classes, and depending on the program maybe even an assembly language class.  As a full time, all year student you are probably looking at 2-3 years to complete an MS degree.

Since you seem amenable to taking at least some additional classes and have not taken any programming classes since high school, I would re-enroll at your university and take a few classes just to refresh your knowledge and have these classes on your transcript.

Did you happen to get your degrees from UT-Austin by chance?  Or are you close by?  If you got your degree from there, I would actually start your job search immediately.  UT-Austin is one of the schools that major tech companies do heavy recruiting at.  If you graduated from there, they will let you participate in their onsite interview events and career fairs.  If you did not go there but you are close by, I would recommend taking a couple of classes there.  If you already have a degree, most schools will let you take classes without having to go through the whole admissions process, especially if you are in the same University System, like the UC system in California and SUNY system in New York.  Once you are a registered student, you will not only get the chance to refresh your skills, but also be able to participate in onsite interviews and recruiting events.

The hard part is really getting your first tech job, once you get some experience, no one will even look at what your degree is in again.  If you did not go to UT-Austin and it is too far away, you could definitely still do the same thing at your college.  Take a couple of classes to refresh your knowledge and get them on your transcript and use your school’s recruiting services, it just may take a little longer.  But if you are really interested and persistent, you will find a tech job.

@Lord Fauntleroy

That was a tremendously helpful and reassuring response! I actually got my degree from Texas A&M University which is in a different system, but they are both highly respected public universities inside and out of Texas. I will look into taking a few classes and also find companies that comes to my campus searching for new talent. I thank you for your advice! If you have any other advice I would welcome it. Also if anyone else has any other constructive advice I would be glad to take it as well.



I have to agree that you do not.  I have  BS In Information, Technology, and Sciences and now a MS in IT.

You need the capacity to learn, patience, curiosity, and problem solving skills.  A set of soft skills is always an added bonus.

My colleague, however, has a BA in History, but he is one of the most amazing members of my team.  He brings a different perspective rather than being "classically" trained in IT.  I think it really elevates our ability to work through issues and respond rapidly.  

My friend and fellow MS in IT graduate, has a BA in Graphic Design.  He was not as lucky to start off in such an advanced position.  He is still performing very well and progressing at a rapid rate.

Just need a love for what you do.

@Sophitia (Soul Caliber rocks!)

Thanks for the insight as well. I do have a love for technology and I feel like it might be an interesting career choice for me as I enjoy working with people and helping make their lives better. That and I enjoy fundamentally how a computer works and how it talks to other computers as well. Your insight has been much appreciated by this underemployed grad student worker.

I hope that I can offer the different perspective you speak of, and also find a team to work with that I enjoy working with everyday.

Best of luck to you.  There are more niche areas in IT than can be imagined until you get there.

Some additional advice, determine what you want to do tech wise.  Do you want to do software development, network engineering, cloud computing, hardware, or security?  And inside each of these broad categories there are specialization niches.  See if there are classes at A&M that match your interests.  If not, see if there are classes similar to what you are interested in, take those and ask the professor if you can tailor your projects to match your interests.  Regardless of whatever broad category interests you, you will more than likely have to do at least some coding.  So that is probably your best starting point. 

If you are interested in software development.  I would definitely focus on Java, and learn it well.  I have said this in a few other posts, and I will say it again Java is everywhere.  A lot of the backend server code at Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, and now Twitter is written in Java.  Hadoop--scalable Big Data is Java, and Android App development is Java based.  

If it has been a long time since you originally learned Java, a lot has changed.  If Java 1.4 was the last version of Java you used, it will be a completely different language for you.  Java 5 introduced generics, annotations, new concurrency libraries, and the for each loop just to name a few.  

And Java 8 is coming out in a couple of months, which will again, radically change the language.  Java 8 will add lambda expressions, Hadoop type of map-reduce streaming for Collections, and default method implementations to Interfaces--finally!

Once you have reacquainted yourself with Java, start to learn some Java server side technology, Android, or if you can, both.  For server side technologies, learn Java EE, Spring, or Akka.  Android development is very similar to Swing, so if you learned Swing when you first learn Java, the transition to Android development will be very straightforward. 

If you want to be a web developer, then you have to learn JavaScript--JavaScript is NOT Java, it is a scripting language with similar syntax to Java.  To be a web developer you basically need to know two things JavaScript and some server side technology:  JavaScript and Java, JavaScript and C#, JavaScript and PHP, etc.

Good luck, and if you get stuck on anything Java related, shoot me an email, I am happy to help