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RE: University Degree or CISSP
From: "David Gillett" <gillettdavid () fhda edu>
Date: Thu, 26 Jan 2006 17:36:07 -0800

  I began to work in the software industry in 1976 (co-op in college).
Circumstances intervened, and I began to work full-time in 1979 without 
having completed my degree.  By then I had enough experience to get my
foot in the door.
  I was able to complete my degree and finally graduate in 1988, while
still working full time.  My then employer recognized my accomplishment
with a substantial raise and promotion.
  In 1997, I was pushed from software development into IT, networking,
and security.  (I quickly grew to love it, and am not looking to move
back.)  And I embarked on my first certifications, *largely* as a way
to get up to speed and fill in gaps in my knowledge relative to my new
  Last month, I passed my CISSP.

  Even though I no longer routinely write code, I find my background 
and understanding of that world utterly invaluable in my current 

  I think the 3-4 years experience component of the CISSP is *at least*
as valuable to the practitioner as the actual exam knowledge.  An
unusually lucky individual *might* be able to obtain that experience 
without a degree, but I'm sure that a better quality of experience 
will be easier to acquire with a degree than without.
  So while both should be part of your career plan, I'd say the degree
is the one to start on first.

David Gillett
CISSP CCNP CCSE MCSE A+ (and seriously contemplating CWNA)
(My degree is a ("4-year") Bachelor of Independent Studies, earned for 
a thesis applying formal methods to verification of a functional 
specification of a communications protocol.)

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