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IT/Programming Career Help

Discussion in 'Training & Development' started by NightVision, Jan 27, 2010.

  1. NightVision

    NightVision New Member

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    Hi all!

    I am currently looking into a career at the moment and, after searching through many different options, I have decided upon programming (note I am not working in IT, I am planning on starting from new). Over the past couple of weeks I have been researching quite thoroughly into it and my initial plan was to go through a TP to provide the sufficient training as I thought this would be the best advice. I have since read through some posts on here stating that self study is the best option so now I am up in arms about my options, especially in programming as it is quite a specialised field.

    If I was to go through a TP then I was planning on going through National IT Learning Centre, has anyone used them?

    Before going into programming I would most likely have to do the Comptia A+ qualification to attempt to get started on the IT career ladder, would this be best done as a self study?

    My next set of questions is on experience and getting into IT jobwise. I enjoy using computers and want to learn more, gain recognised qualifications and get into IT as a career. If I was to take TP out of the equasion then what's my best option? I have tried helping out the IT department at work but they never have anything to do, they're a small team dealing with not very much work so it is quite spare and I feel they prefer to do things themselves (the old "if you want something done right, do it yourself" type of attitude), this is why I think training providers would be the most helpful option but are there any other options in order to show my efficiency?

    I am a complete newbie when it comes to this, I have only recently started researching into this, I am not buying into the "DO THIS COURSE, GET 30K JOB!!!" advertisements becuase I know that's totally unrealistic, I would just like some honest advice on getting started. Hell, I even phoned the Careers Advice Service, what a waste of time that was!

    If TPs are the best way for me then would you consider NILC to be the best provider or is there better one providing a programming course?

    Thanks in advance for any help you can provide!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 28, 2010
  2. wagnerk
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    wagnerk aka kitkatninja Moderator

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    Personally I would say, if you want to go down the programming/software engineering route, go to college/Uni and get your diploma/degree in Software engineering. Personally I believe it would be of better value to you than a X week course.

    -Ken
     
    Certifications: CITP, PGCert, BSc, HNC, LCGI, PTLLS, MCT, MCITP, MCTS, MCSE, MCSA:M, MCSA, MCDST, MCP, MTA, MCAS, MOS (Master), A+, N+, S+, ACA, VCA, etc... & 2nd Degree Black Belt
    WIP: PGDip
  3. ericrollo

    ericrollo Megabyte Poster

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    I would recommend a good university degree in computer science or mathematics.
     
    Certifications: MOS Master, A+, MCP 271
    WIP: HND, Programming, Another Job
  4. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

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    I agree with the rest, employers want to see a good degree in something like Maths, Physics, Electronic Engineering or Computer Science. You might even be able to do a combined degree.

    As a minimum employers in the UK tend to want to see a HND / Foundation Degree in Computing with an emphasis on programming.

    Of course there are exceptions but this seems to be the general rule, obviously a qualification is no substitute for talent, so along with the degree you will need to really develop your skills as much as you can in all areas.

    Use all the resources available at college to develop yourself, many special programs are available to students, ask questions of your lecturers, go to conferences and summer schools, look into Dreamspark, Microsoft Academy, Goggle Summer of Code, etc. Use your spare time to work on personal projects.

    I tend to think the actual software engineering aspects can be learnt in industry, but you must have at least a base to build on from college, this should include programming well in several languages, knowledge of Databases, Operating Systems, Computer Architecture, Datastructures and Algorithms, Maths.
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2010
    Certifications: CITP, BSc, HND, SCJP, SCJD, SCWCD, SCBCD, SCEA, N+, Sec+, Proj+, Server+, Linux+, MCTS, MCPD, MCSA, MCITP, CCDH
  5. ericrollo

    ericrollo Megabyte Poster

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    Certifications: MOS Master, A+, MCP 271
    WIP: HND, Programming, Another Job
  6. NightVision

    NightVision New Member

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    Thanks everyone for all of your help and advice. I appreciate it a lot!

    Through reading a lot I must agree that a degree would be the best option, what I might plan to do is study through the Open University, starting in October of this year in one of their Computing degrees. But I have also been given some advice from a friend who said that some graduates come out with a degree where their skills are out dated, whereas training providers keep very much up to date with the courses and skills provided as well as providing some qualifications that are not offered at university. Would this person be giving me false advice or can this be the case for some people?
     
  7. wagnerk
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    wagnerk aka kitkatninja Moderator

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    It really does depend on the area of IT that you're going into...

    For instance, if you were going into the support field, then the degree will help, but it may not keep up to date with the speed of technology. Entry level certs like the A+ & Network+ will help alot.

    However on the programming/software engineering side, ways to program and analysis & design don't change frequently (if at all). The language itself may evolve, but the underlining structure doesn't. And there's no way to develop the base you need in a X week course.

    -Ken
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2010
    Certifications: CITP, PGCert, BSc, HNC, LCGI, PTLLS, MCT, MCITP, MCTS, MCSE, MCSA:M, MCSA, MCDST, MCP, MTA, MCAS, MOS (Master), A+, N+, S+, ACA, VCA, etc... & 2nd Degree Black Belt
    WIP: PGDip
  8. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

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    This person would be giving you false advice.

    No course is perfect, some degree courses leave much to be desired, but then so do many TP courses.

    If you find a good degree course and you work hard, and make full use of all resources, it will be the best option.

    Fundamentals stay the same for long periods in many fields, SQL, RDBMS, TCP/IP, Ethernet, 80x86, C, UNIX, Quicksort, many of these things have only changed slightly in 20+ years. Someone in the field with some CPD should have a resonable chance of staying up to date.

    Hell even Active Directory is based on LDAP (30 year old tech) and was included in Windows 2000.

    For fast changing areas no qualification will keep up, its up to you to keep up by doing research and development, forget certs. Certs have too long a development cycle to be of any use in such cases. The books don't come out until at least a year after the technology does, and the real development often happens years before the release, so these people who think they have 'cutting edge certs' are way behind the curve.
    There often will not be any books or conferences for such areas, only newsgroups or mail lists and the odd website.

    A good college will teach some modern stuff like web technologies and maybe Java or C# along with computer science theory which is generally good for decades.

    TP's may be more up to date than a bad college, even then the college may be the better option, you will generally get a more rounded education.

    The best colleges partner with people like MS and do research, therefore in some areas they can be years ahead of anything industry or the TP's have. Students from some of them go onto found things like Google or Cisco, never heard a TP or certs doing that...

    TP's in many cases basically sell you the books and leave you on your own, if this happens you would have been better off with self study.

    TP's generally don't care about your education, they will teach you what they think you want in order to make money, this means they will generally teach you advanced material without sufficient grounding first.

    I have yet to meet someone who has learnt to program from a TP, I only know one person who used a TP in this way, they have an MCSD, but they braindumped their way through it.

    They spent £8K and 'studied' for a whole year fulltime, they still can't cut a single line of code.

    Their TP has since closed down.

    They would have faired better with practically any college I know.
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2010
    Certifications: CITP, BSc, HND, SCJP, SCJD, SCWCD, SCBCD, SCEA, N+, Sec+, Proj+, Server+, Linux+, MCTS, MCPD, MCSA, MCITP, CCDH
  9. JonnyMX

    JonnyMX Petabyte Poster

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    Actually, they're members here.
    That is to say, they're a member here.
    Well, she's members here, or a member here.

    Or something like that...

    :blink
     
    Certifications: MCT, MCTS, i-Net+, CIW CI, Prince2, MSP, MCSD
  10. Fergal1982

    Fergal1982 Petabyte Poster

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    For a balance here. I should point out that a degree is not absolutely necessary in terms of getting a development job. I dont have one, and I'm currently a developer. It most likely makes you more marketable to employers, sure, but its not necessary. That said, it becomes much more about luck without a degree. I was lucky to be in a position where I could build some basic development skills, and foster a relationship with the development team at work.

    However, I will say that taking a degree will round out your knowledge much much more. There are gaping holes in my knowledge, simply because I have not had a requirement to know that. Because I'm self taught to a large extent, the knowledge I gather is based on a specific goal. If I need to achieve something, I start reading around on possible solutions, so I gather that knowledge only.

    Of course, I've also known people to join our servicedesk with a relevant degree, looking for software development roles. In all honesty, some of them I wouldnt entrust with a toaster, let alone developing a fully fledged application, so sometimes a degree isnt the be all and end all.
     
    Certifications: ITIL Foundation; MCTS: Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2010, Administration
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  11. derkit

    derkit Gigabyte Poster

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    QFT!!!
     
    Certifications: MBCS, BSc(Hons), Cert(Maths), A+, Net+, MCDST, ITIL-F v3, MCSA
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  12. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

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    Sure dumb people can scrape through degree courses in some insitutions, its about getting on the right course and ensuring YOU get the most out of it. Its about what you can learn and what support is there for you to learn.

    I've worked with the same dumb people, they come from all backgrounds, some had MSc's others first grade honours BSc's, I don't know how they got them, maybe they slept with their tutors, who knows. Do you think TP's turn out better candidantes on average ? I can assure you they do not, often there is no real training or assesment at all, and the 'exams' are certifications which are braindumped. The whole endevour can be totally worthless.

    The best colleges will do their best to ensure they fail people not upto the grade, the bad ones want the money too much to care.

    A degree also carries some status, not a huge amount these days, but more than most certs in the UK and should help you in the job market both in the short and long term.

    Unfortunately Fergal relying on 'winging it' or luck simply isn't much of an option these days, competition is tough, many candidates have got qualifications, or can already code.

    So unless you have something to bring to the table, your chances of making it as a developer with no coding skills and no qualifications are very slim, getting the right series of breaks is going to be virtually impossible, you'll most likely end up in a call centre with no chance of progression, thats if you can get a job at all.

    I'm all for self starters, if the OP was a guru coder from age 10 and knew more than lecturers could teach then they should feel free to start their own startup. However the OP mentioned they wanted to learn from someone.
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2010
    Certifications: CITP, BSc, HND, SCJP, SCJD, SCWCD, SCBCD, SCEA, N+, Sec+, Proj+, Server+, Linux+, MCTS, MCPD, MCSA, MCITP, CCDH
  13. Fergal1982

    Fergal1982 Petabyte Poster

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    Not at all. I'm not saying TP's are better, just that degrees arent necessarily required.

    Fair point, and one I didnt cover specifically.
     
    Certifications: ITIL Foundation; MCTS: Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2010, Administration
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  14. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    Perhaps you two shoulda gotten together to compare notes so your employer wouldn't have hired the same dumb people that were employed by Ferg's company (or vice versa)... :twisted:
     
    Certifications: CISSP, MCSE+I, MCSE: Security, MCSE: Messaging, MCDST, MCDBA, MCTS, OCP, CCNP, CCDP, CCNA Security, CCNA Voice, CNE, SCSA, Security+, Linux+, Server+, Network+, A+
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  15. ITtech

    ITtech Bit Poster

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    I think you can self study and learn alot of development on your own. There are websites and resources out there to help you start programming. The best thing about the development field is that you dont need thousands of dollars worth of hardware (compared to hardware field) in order to practice. ALl you need is a decent laptop and you can start programming with notepad.

    I would recommend learning some access / web programming. There are tons of websites out there for asp.net and php etc. You can start doing this within 5 minutes and write your first "hello world" program within 5 minutes.

    I would recommend learning on your own first before you sign up with any TP or any long term program with a University. I would recommend taking Introduction to programming and Introduction to Database courses at a local community college.

    With the basic knowledge you can learn on your own and self study. As far as college and a degree is concerned it really depends on where you live. If you have 10 years of experience in IT (programming or hardware) I dont think you will have a problem getting work. But the way the current job market is here in the states a degree ALONG WITH EXPERIENCE will be required for most jobs.

    I would recommend start gaining experience today if you want to learn programming. Start searching on the web and get the "programming for dummies" or any of the dummies series books they are a great to start learning new technologies.

    A degree may take you 2+ years and a degree alone will not get you a job. If you do alot of self study along the way you can gain 2+ years of experience when you graduate.

    I use to own a TP and we use to get alot of college graduates come to the us after to get "certifications" so they can get a better job. This was 10 years ago when the market hot and certifications held a lot of weight. These days experience is the most important factor. With development you can show off your exeprience through programs / projects that you have done on your own.

    So.... Sign up for some INTRO classes at a local college and start reading on the web. Understand the basics to make your foundation strong and then sign up for a degree program.
     
    Certifications: A+, Network+, CNA, MCSE, CCNA, MCT
  16. NightVision

    NightVision New Member

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    Thanks very much everyone! I have been looking into self study and through ready everyones comments and advice, I think it's probably the best way at the moment, spend a few months doing some self study, get some books and look for tutorials online and then I'll probably decide what to so after a few months.

    I'm not sure how I'd be able to get experience with self study, but my plan is to do some work, submit a basic application showing skills and maybe try and get some sort of volenteer work, probably a good step to take, especially at weekends/evenings (if IT places stay open that long). I'm also looking into local college courses, the only one I can find is a course on networking my pc to my games consoles, tv etc which kind of seems irrelevent but I am still researching.

    Once again, thanks everyone, your advice has been extremely valuable to me.
     
  17. NightVision

    NightVision New Member

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    So I am bumping this up. Payday has now been and I am now going to start buying books this weekend, all I want is a bit of advice to get me off to a good start and then I will be on my way. So as I have been looking at the order in which TPs teach programming I have seen they normally start off with XML then go on to Visual Basic C# and then SQL, is this the order in which I should be starting? Am I missing out anything which I should also be reading about?

    Any help/recommendations will be appreciated.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 27, 2010
  18. kevndcks

    kevndcks Bit Poster

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    Do a degree, I have come from a top university doing a computer engineering/ computer science honours degree. It was also a Cisco NetAcademy and Cisco seems to love these little extras. My course consisted of:

    Object Orientated Programming/ Design methodologies
    Java programming
    Networking (Cisco, CCNA)
    Operating Systems (MCSA)
    Advanced Network with QOS, MPLS, IPv6 etc
    Web Design (HTML, XHTML, CSS, Flash etc)
    Database Design (Boyce Codd, Normalisation etc)
    Distributed Systems (CORBA, .NET)
    Programming Distributed Systems
    IT Support
    Project Management
    IT Law
    Research with Mathematics and statistics

    It was quite a difficult degree, has a huge competition number for entry and a massive fail rate. It went from two classes at start of the degree with around 25 people in both, to three people passing including me with honours (2:1). It has been a good development for personal knowledge and experience; I really recommend doing a degree at a good university if your intentions are to be an IT professional. I needed to be pretty good with my maths, science and computer skills as the course was demanding, and they are at reputable universities. People on my course failed to arrange time to do any certification training as we had no time, the course was demanding.

    If they are reputable universities, they wouldn't be getting an Ord or a 3rd; if they did the graduates must have been intelligent, happy go lucky kind of personalities. I think employees when hiring graduates should ask what uni the prospecting job candidates attended and what the course was.
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2010

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