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Starting from scratch. Is CIW a good idea?

Discussion in 'CIW Certifications' started by GrittyChimp, Sep 13, 2011.

  1. GrittyChimp

    GrittyChimp New Member

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    Hi folks, I'm brand new to this place (and will introduce myself in the welcome section in good time) and I'm after some advice.

    After almost a decade of wasting my days in call centres as a trainer I've decided on a change of career and thought web design could be an area to get my teeth into. One of the big reasons is to get back into doing something creative rather than dodgy PowerPoints and dull flipcharts. I did a degree in Visual arts and before that a BTEC in Electronic arts and audio design where I got me some basic video editing and photoshop skills under my belt. I'm also a freelance writer and I'm looking to make a good looking site to host my own work.

    I've been looking into the CIW courses as a way to get some new skills. I appreciate that web design isn't all pretty pictures and I look forward to learning about the coding side of things in the hope that it can launch me on a new career path.

    As someone who is starting from the beginning would a CIW course give the tools I need to get started and apply for web design jobs? I understand it's just as important to build up a portfolio of work so I'd obviously start that as I learn so I've got something to show future employers.

    I've just been quoted £1939 by home learning college which seems a bit steep although they do offer tutor support. I'll be shopping around before I commit but I wanted to find out if there are any other courses more suitable for beginners. I'd be looking to learn from home as quickly as possible.

    Forgive my ignorance but I'm desperate for a change. Any advice would be very welcome.

    Cheers,

    Jon
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2011
  2. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

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    Don't pay 1,000's for the CIW foundation, 500 quid max.

    There are countless resources on the internet about the internet / web design etc, besides your ISP you needn't spend a penny...

    You could try starting here :-

    W3Schools Online Web Tutorials
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2011
    Certifications: CITP, BSc, HND, SCJP, SCJD, SCWCD, SCBCD, SCEA, N+, Sec+, Proj+, Server+, Linux+, MCTS, MCPD, MCSA, MCITP, CCDH
  3. GrittyChimp

    GrittyChimp New Member

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    Great link! Is that site comprehensive enough to give me the skills I'd need to create something good enough to take to an employer? I guess it'd give me a good idea what I'm letting myself in for before I commit cash up front to some cocky salesman. I'll certainly have a stab at this though and see where I get.

    Thanks :)
     
  4. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

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    The CIW will not make you a professional either, its going to take most people some time to become a competent professional. You can learn the basics of HTML and CSS in a week, to become a master takes years.

    In terms of design you may never be good enough, design takes artistic talent so it depends on the individual.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2011
    Certifications: CITP, BSc, HND, SCJP, SCJD, SCWCD, SCBCD, SCEA, N+, Sec+, Proj+, Server+, Linux+, MCTS, MCPD, MCSA, MCITP, CCDH
  5. GrittyChimp

    GrittyChimp New Member

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    Duly noted. I intend to throw myself into this, I'm too old to be pissing about at this stage.
    This site teaches the essential elements of web languages, what else would the CIW give me? I'd surely be competing with professionals for any work. Would the CIW help me in terms of understanding industry standards and common working practices?
     
  6. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

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    W3CSchools covers most of the major Mark-up and Scripting languages plus a few Domain Specific Languages.

    It covers most of what is in the CIW foundation in probably more detail.

    The CIW will set the scene a bit in the way a beginners book on web development, networking and the internet might.

    You could pick up a computer science textbook and browse Wikipedia learn this for almost nothing.

    Really without doing something useful like building your own site, things like DNS, B2B, WebDAV, FTP, SSL/TLS, OpenID, SQL, Apache, Firewalls, DMZ, etc are going to be meaningless buzzwords.

    You need to create something and deploy it to a server and start learning by doing.

    Then when you've covered the basics you can start looking at sites like InfoQ and Facebook engineering for the technical side or more designer based sites for the design side.
     
    Certifications: CITP, BSc, HND, SCJP, SCJD, SCWCD, SCBCD, SCEA, N+, Sec+, Proj+, Server+, Linux+, MCTS, MCPD, MCSA, MCITP, CCDH
  7. JonnyMX

    JonnyMX Petabyte Poster

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    It might seem strange, but one of the things CIW does not teach you is how to design websites.

    Don't get me wrong, it's got lots of great content and covers a lot of things that I would expect a web designer to know, but you could pass the course and the exams without ever actually having to design or build a real site.

    I certainly wouldn't pay thousands for a CIW course, although unfortunately training providers have pretty much got it sewn up as CIW don't sell their stuff publicly. And unlike other vendor exams, there isn't a lot of alternative material out there. The training providers tend not to actually understand the CIW range of certs so they sell them as 'web design' because they don't know what else to call them.

    Best way to start is usually just to get a couple of books. Maybe one on web design and one on HTML or something like that. Sit down and start playing around, then see where your interests take you.
     
    Certifications: MCT, MCTS, i-Net+, CIW CI, Prince2, MSP, MCSD
  8. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

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    Yeah the CIW is likely to cover the business and social issues from a high level too.

    So you've got privacy, ethics, accessibility, SSO, metrics, marketing, branding, mail shots, CRM, etc.

    As Jonny says is really a Web-Master / E-marketing 101 course.

    You could pass it easily and still not be able to perform a useful role in the real world.

    Mind you I've worked with 'e-commerce managers' and 'SSO experts' that don't know XML... :rolleyes:

    They won't teach you good design, just the very bare essentials of how a website could be made. If you make any websites they are likely to be the sort of dog food HTML any 12 year old could knock up in 10 minutes...
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2011
    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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    I think it's also worth pointing out that trying to make a living - especially being independent - in web design is very, very tough.

    The bubble has burst there really. As dmarsh says, there are 10 year olds out there that can design websites these days. Most people have access to some sort of tools that allow them to build a website of some kind (even Word will let you to an extent) and many hosting providers are making it quick, easy and cheap to get a site up and running. Even 'clever' stuff like database integration and shopping carts are often provided by default these days.

    Then, when you get out of the realm of anyone but the smallest businesses, you're dealing with the big boys which is never going to work out well.

    I did a stint as a self-employed designer and it was a nightmare. Customers who couldn't make up their minds, or would phone you several times a day to change a number on the site, or failed to pay bills. Yuk.

    I'm not even sure it's true to say there is such a thing as a 'web designer' any more. People are 'graphical consultants' or 'web solution architects' or 'database integration developers'. As with many developing technologies it all seems to have got more complicated, rather than simpler.

    Personally I'd say you might want to consider working on your specialities rather than trying to pick up a bit of everything. If your background is graphics or media then work on those skills and leave writing code to others. Might work out best in the long run...
     
    Certifications: MCT, MCTS, i-Net+, CIW CI, Prince2, MSP, MCSD
  10. BosonJosh

    BosonJosh Gigabyte Poster

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    Here in the US I've never seen a single job posting that required (or even mentioned) any of the CIW certifications. In my opinion, being able to show a portfolio of sites that you've designed or developed is a much better approach to getting a web design or development job.
     
  11. disarm

    disarm Byte Poster

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    I spent 3 years at a web/software agency. I think the way forward is providing the whole package - front end web site integrating with back end accounting, warehousing, despatch, etc, and supplying/supporting the servers, websites, windows services as a maintenance/support package.

    I guess you'll start off with learning HTML and creating some basic CMS brochure type sites using something like Wordpress or Joomla. Get yourself IIS/SQL/Apache/MySQL installed and get building and deploying.
     
  12. disarm

    disarm Byte Poster

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    One of the web guys I worked with started out with just a 'html module' he got at college, and a small portfolio.
     
  13. soundian

    soundian Gigabyte Poster

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    I used the W3schools site when I was first learning about web pages. I didn't have a clue about how to construct a website, several hours later I had a functioning website (with little content and awful design, but nevertheless a website). The basics are pretty easy and don't really need tuition.
    My advice would be to take it as far as you can on your own while developing a portfolio, then re-evaluate your training needs.

    Find a project to work on, my first was a friend's small restaurant and that stretched my meagre skills a lot, trying to do what they wanted with my limited knowledge. Good practice for the real world though, finding ways to meet clients needs without anything at stake.
    That gave me the knowledge, and courage, to put together my own website using PHP and MySql on the backend, which was quite successful for a couple of years.
     
    Certifications: A+, N+,MCDST,MCTS(680), MCP(270, 271, 272), ITILv3F, CCENT
    WIP: Knuckling down at my new job
  14. GrittyChimp

    GrittyChimp New Member

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    Some great advice there guys, thanks. I'm definitely more interested in the art side of things but who knows, maybe I'll catch the coding bug. I think starting a course would help me focus and get me into the habit of studying. I reckon I could study the W3schools stuff on the side. I just need to find the most suitable course. The CIW seems to be a good all rounder but from what I read it's virtually unheard of. What alternatives are out there? Is there anything specific I could get into that focuses more on the design elements, I'd also be very interested in developing mobile apps.
     
  15. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

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    Adobe do certifications, they also allow you to target mobile platforms with Flash.

    Adobe certification programs

    Otherwise for Mobile you have Objective C, C++ or C#.
     
    Certifications: CITP, BSc, HND, SCJP, SCJD, SCWCD, SCBCD, SCEA, N+, Sec+, Proj+, Server+, Linux+, MCTS, MCPD, MCSA, MCITP, CCDH
  16. GrittyChimp

    GrittyChimp New Member

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    Have spent the day with the HTML tutorials on W3Schools. AMAZING! I feel like Johnny 5, INPUT!! Can't wait to see what's next. Just told the pushy salesman where to stick his two grand CIW course. If there's one good that comes out of working in call centres for a decade is that salesmen have absolutely no power over me. I'd still be interested in some kind of certification but for now I'm keen to see what I can do on W3Schools and go from there.
     
  17. big-jme

    big-jme Bit Poster

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    I've been studying the CIW course on a part-time basis through my local college. It certainly doesn't cost thousands of pounds. The next part will probably set me back about £200.
    I've been stung before with the whole "home learning" thing. I signed up to Advent years ago, their material was worse than useless, and when they went bust I was approx £5,000 down!
    The CIW course is really good. It gives you a good overview of everything from design concepts to network infrastructure. I'd recommend it as a good starting point.
     
    Certifications: CIW Associate
    WIP: CIW Site Designer
  18. Hally

    Hally Bit Poster

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    Are the Adobe Certifications you mention the ACE Certificates? I have seen these around and considered them but heard bad things about Adobe tests. Anyone done them?

    In regards to CIW. I would definitely advise skipping the Foundations Course and aiming for the Web Design Specialist.

    W3Schools is perfect for beginners and will give you more skills and design ideas than the Foundations will ever do.

    I speak to so many people who have paid thousands for CIW Courses! Mostly through those companies you see and hear on the television and radio who often send sales people to visit your home to get the enrolment! Someone I work with paid £1500.00 for his Foundations Course. I had to smile!!

    As someone said earlier never pay more than £500.00 for a CIW Course. I got the Master Designer Course from Distance Learning Centre who offer the official courses and their support was quick although not much was needed to be fair! I think I paid about £450.00 which was the cheapest I could find.
     
    Certifications: CIW Web Foundations Associate, CIW Web Design Specialist, A+ Certification

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