Trying to advance in the IT field

I'm looking into getting some certifications, but I'm unsure as to which ones I should go for. Seems like the big ones are Microsoft and CompTIA, though I've seen CISCO in there as well.

At the moment, I'm leaning more towards getting my MCTS and MCITP certifications, and possible the Microsoft Office ones (couldn't hurt, right?). At the same time though, I've heard good things about CompTIA's A+, as well as the certifications beyond that. At the same time, I've heard just about anyone can get A+ at this point, and that it would "devalue" it. I'm also looking into possibly going back to college and getting a Bachelor's, probably in Computer Science.

Any advice here?
Just for some background, I already have an Associate's Degree in Control Systems Technology (Industrial IT, essentially. Did a lot of work with Emerson's DeltaV systems, as well as industrial PLCs). I'm currently working as a Administrator at a marketing company, mostly using Excel for 8 hours a day (data management and macro building/troublshooting). I build my own PCs and all that, but I figure the certification would help a ton with moving up the pay ladder. I love this company, but I doubt I'll stay long. The pay is pretty bad, and there's no room here to move up unless I went into sales or something.

I figure I have better job opportunities with CISCO, but I feel FAR more comfortable with Microsoft. If Microsoft certs won't really help me though, then I have no problem jumping into the networking field. I just want to be working with computers and making a decent living, is all.
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  1. I think in the IT world good experience and applicable certifications have more influence in getting a good paying job than a degree, at least initially. I'd work on the bachelor's degree part time while you work a good full time job. The bachelor's degree will later help you move into a management type position. I really don't know a whole lot about various certifications, but MCITP and CCIE are two that I hear about a lot.
  2. You mentioned a lot of IT related stuff. Computer Science is not anything like IT. People in that field do A LOT of math and data-structure designs.

    CS will leach you a lot of critical thinking and problem analysis, but it is quite different than IT.

    What do you enjoy most about working with computers that you could potentially do 8hr+/day for the next few decades? Answering this will help with giving suggestions.
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