in reply to Formal Education Required?

I don't have a degree and I am a sysadmin. I got my first paid computer job from a referral from a teacher that was teaching an A+ class I was taking. This job was crappy grunt work (installing 1700 pcs) that taught me little and paid me even less. I got my next job by hounding a recruiter until they finally gave me a job, that worked out well. When that job relocated and I didn't I was fortunate enough to get a job as a sysadmin with the recruiter's company based on the greatwork I had done for them on a contract.

For me that was the good part, now the bad.
Because I don't have a degree, I make about 20% less than people at similar levels as me
Because I don't have a degree, I don't yet have the problem solving background that a lot of people here have, takes me longer to learn & develop algorithms etc.

Because I too dropped out of college being an unmotivated loser also- I am now almost 30(yikes getting old), and miss spending two nights a week with my wife while I work towards a degree. If at all possible, get your degree now, if you hate where you live, move somewhere else and go to school. Do it now before you have the responsibilities of being older, debt, spouses, job, etc. Yes, school can be rough, however in 3-5 years of college, you will learn some great problem solving skills, probably be able to get a decent job without much of a problem, yet be able to move wherever you would like to live.

You mentioned certs, I took classes for several, A+, ccna, mcse before I realized these certs proved nothing more than you could pass a test. While this may get you a job, it is rarely enough to help you succeed in a field. After working with mcse's, ccna's, ccnp,s, ccnd's, solaris certs etc, the only one I have any respect for based purely on the cert is a ccie.
Just my opinion, hope it helps.

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