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Starting an IT Career: Focus on Programming Skills or Certifications?

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1 Votes
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Starting an IT Career: Focus on Programming Skills or Certifications?

MJW6
I have a psychology and education background and I
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    2 Votes
    Tony Hopkinson

    and, and probably another degree, as well.
    Then in the current market you can get paid bugger all.

    If you are doing this for the money, you've gone well wrong mate.

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    4 Votes
    Tony Hopkinson

    The buzzword bingo boys will look for certs and degrees

    IT is not paying as well as it has, so if you are entering it for money, you aren't going to get any, and seeing as you don't have a passion for it, you aren't going to be very good, so you won't last ten minutes in the current environment.

    You are talking about a 3rd of your life until retirement here, pick something you like, because you like it, you'll be good at it, because you are good at it, you'll get paid for it.

    Oh and for the person who voted me down with no comment as to why, you aren't going to get far in life without growing some...

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    2 Votes
    avtark

    Sorry did not not wish to offend you in anyway. everyone has their own opinions and you are right with yours.

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    1 Votes
    AnsuGisalas

    Those buttons are small and close together, and yes, it's irreversible. It's usually good to put up an "Oops" reply when that happens, then someone will come along and correct it for you

    Tony is a sharp one, so he often says ... shall we say ... uncomfortable things? Things that some people very much would like not to hear, so he tends to pick up those anonymous tokens of disagreement (-).

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    0 Votes
    Tony Hopkinson

    you've confused me with some one else...

    okay may be not.

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    0 Votes
    Tony Hopkinson

    Even if you'd wanted to offend me, it wouldn't have shut me up. :)

    Have a plus for being one of the few people with enough sphericals to actually reply to one of my meek and plaintive "what did i do wrong now posts"

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    0 Votes
    info

    I've met tons of people that HATE their job, IT or otherwise, yet are still very good at it. You won't be an 'IT God', probably, but I've met lots of enthusiastic 'computer nerds' that still couldn't figure out which cables to plug into which connectors, how to code a basic loop, etc., etc...

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    Tony Hopkinson

    How many senior ones doing senior work do you know, and how much do they get paid?

    Beside anyone who spends a third of their prime doing something they hate, for naff all pay, is an idiot, and the person who employs them isn't even that clever.

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    1 Votes
    avtark

    Don't listen to what people say! no one knows what the next week in ICT land is going to be. It's going to be better for smart people and great for budding ICT geniuses. I have had similar concerns and learnt that employers don't really care about certification/higher qualifications. If you can prove that you have hands on experience and have the right attitude - world is your oyster. Certifications and University degrees have a very short redemption period if they relate to cutting edge specialist skills. You would find that every 6 months Java has a new release, .NET has a new release and same goes for other frameworks. Hence the chase is not a one-off but an on-going exercise.

    If I was in your situation, I would draw a Venn diagram
    1. What Skills are you passionate about?
    2. What Skills are in demand today and are likely to be in demand in 5-7 years time? (Programming is a skill, Java/.Net is not a skill --- very important understand the difference...)
    3. What Skills are employers willing to provide intern-ships or traineeships on? (very important to understand the market)

    Focus on intersection of two or more areas. Start small and keep asking (yourself/peers) until you are satisfied... then take the leap of faith.

    Above questions can be hard to answer correctly, but once you can answer them you would find that no one can be a better guide than yourself.

    I would say do not chase the money but your passions.... you would realise that your passions take care of you if you exercise discipline in ICT industry!

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    1 Votes
    Tony Hopkinson

    Programming being the skill, following your passion etc. The rest of it, for that to succeed you must have the skill, and the passion and self confidence bordering on arrogance to have a prayer of it working.

    If you have to go the usual route for your start in the job, and get past the recruiter numpties, the certs / IT related degree are effectively mandatory. The degree, versus certs versus obvious natuaral talent and passion debate is irrelevant, the buzzword bingo boys wordsearch for their first cut.

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    0 Votes
    avtark

    I never denied that Basic qualification/Certifications wouldn't help achieve the personal/professional goals but how much help, that is debatable. A vendor certificate these days are being bought over auction sites... nothing new there.

    Opinion: Having worked on projects (weather at a traineeships or voluntary) and hands on experience is in my opinion more influential than certifications in some cases - it all depends on what area you choose.

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    AnsuGisalas

    Tony pointed out that if you have mad skills and mad passion, but no certs, the wordsearch will drop you from the running.
    So, yeah on one hand, the odds of making it into a regular starting job with the certs divided by the odds of making it without them is a divide_by_zero error. So it looks like the certs help, but really the mechanics is that they're a passive prerequisite, a purely negative force, aimed at everyone who didn't pay their way through hours and hours of tedium.
    Or that's how I read it.

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    0 Votes
    Tony Hopkinson

    I'm saying you stand next to no chance at all of amassing experience, without certs and or degree to get you a foot in the door, in any area of IT.

    The training and learning you should have to undergo to get the paper, valuable.
    The people who do it and then learn to apply it, valuable.

    The bit of paper morons confuse with the above two assets, if they made it softer and thinner, at least you wouldn't have to be really deperate before you wiped your arse with it...

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    0 Votes
    HypnoToad72

    "starving artists"...

    And that was long before corporate echelons started touting the new normal as "creative capitalism"...

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    1 Votes
    AnsuGisalas

    Sounds like making a method out of snake oil and gold grease.

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    0 Votes
    brendanspaar

    There is a phrase in the IT industry called "Paper MCSE's." My former boss would actually look down on applicants who had MCSE behind their name. The point is, anyone with enough time and money can obtain a certification. Two months after you take the test, I bet you forget half of what you learned. Instead of investing $5k in certification boot camps, why not build a development lab in your home. Get a high end cisco router and license Server 2008. If you still have your .edu email address you can get a lot of these for cheap. I gaurentee you that a hiring manager will score you higher if you have applied your knowledge (even at home). Experience always trumps certifications. Experience and certifications are one two punches. - Brendan Spaar, Alpharetta, GA

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    TwoLittleDotes

    I used to hire developers and didn't see many CV's that had MCSE's. I see them as an indicator that the applicant is keeping their skills up to date but would ideally look for someone who had a degree, or was a year or two into a degree in IT. Applicants without IT degrees would need experience instead.
    In fact, we ended up paying for some of our dev's to take some MCSE's so that we could qualify for MS gold partner status.
    If you have a degree in psychology would you consider looking for a role in the HR dept of an IT company? That way you would probably get paid more than an entry level IT role while you are studying for your IT degree, if that's really what you want to do.

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    0 Votes
    info

    I've got 20 years experience in a variety of roles, and consider myself quite good at what I do (used to be GREAT, but it's a struggle trying to keep up with new tech (let alone certs) plus the responsibilities of being older). There's a number of 'stepping stone' jobs to where I am now (sole IT person at an SMB) I wouldn't have gotten without an A+, MCP on record, as well as a 2-year equivalent diploma program I took later during a stint of unemployment. The hiring managers (and there's more of them than your example) take it for granted that, if there's no paper, there's less chance of their taking a chance on you paying off. After all, look at what kind of dunces they hired WITH certifications, right?

    For instance, I interviewed for a job last year for a lower position (would have moved us closer to the wife's family). The hiring managers were impressed, until they asked what RECENT certification or training I've had. When I replied the last had been nearly a decade ago, the interview turned more into a conversation. They weren't interested in me after that.

    Just goes to show...

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    0 Votes
    ohios

    From my personal observation, A person with IT skills who is continually updating himself on the long run will will be most preferred over one who has just education or certifications. It is important that the job gets done especially in a business setting. Nevertheless, for a good public profile and to earn good ratings of professionalism in an organisation, certifications will come in handy. Everything has its place and it is not a bad idea after all to have the Skills backed up by Certifications!

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    1 Votes
    tech

    This has been said here before, but it bears repeating. DON'T GET INTO IT FOR MONEY. If you do not have passion and skill for IT, you won't last. You will be a 5 year burn out.

    IT is no longer the ultra high paycheck it once was, IT requires, long hours, continual learning, and is more often than not a thankless job. That is true for programmers and SysAdmins alike. Remember, IT is a Cost Center to business, not a Profit Center. If you are in it for the money, you need to choose a profession that falls in the Profit Center side of the equation. The Cost Center side of the equation will always be subject to cuts, economies of scale...

    If you have a passion for IT, follow that passion. If you enjoy programming, then be a programmer. I got in early, and am a jack of all trades. I do SysAdmin, DBAdmin, some programming, but I am probably the exception, and not the rule. Follow your passions and you will be a lot happier in the long run.

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    0 Votes
    info

    That's what I hit through high school. "Which way to turn? Which path to take?" In the end, I went IT, because I had a natural gift for it. Now I regret it. You actually have a good head start. What you want to do is take your psychology/education background and lever that HEAVILY into IT. Slip yourself into a niche that your 'off the mill' IT person couldn't do...

    As for programming or support, I've been torn, too. There's a future in both, although one that's seemingly more limited due to outsourcing and 'Cloud'. You'll probably see the numbers of IT personnel decrease somewhat, but be sucked into more centralized locations for IT and cloud 'shops' with lower pay. If you're GOOD at programming, I'd say that way can lie greater dividends overall if you can be idealistic and creative (I'm not) to come up with some hot new psychology app that makes you a small fortune. Otherwise, the path you mentioned (A+, etc.) is the one to go down. Pick a specialty, network or security, for example, and work your way into it. A lot of it is time, and a LOT of times it's dumb luck...

    The only thing that limits you is your vision... Then your attitude and skills.

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    0 Votes
    Sebzor1986

    WEll... I see alot of negativity about certs. But some certs are highly regarded. I just did my CCENT and am about to take my CCNA next. I am not just doing for the cert name on my CV, but rather/also because it is possible to LEARN soemthing here! I have alreayd learnt way more about networking than I knew before my CCENT, and I am learning a great deal more studying for my CCNA. This info is not irrelevent or usesless. Use these as a tool for yourself, so that you can pout those certs on the wall, and show yourself that you do know something! The Cisco Certs are extremely diffcult coming from no networking background and braind dumps and these things won;t help! You actually need to know what you are doing!

    It has also helped me land an internship this year, where last year I was studying Molecular Biology! I also think showing your intentions to do certs is vital, and approach companies and show them how willing you are to learn and work for them, and how you will add value to the company once you have spent some time there.

    Do the certs, or do a degree, or buy and online programming course, and then write some programs, make some websites! Whatever you do, do something! Show you willingness to learn and learn from the beginning.

    Its a long road, but when you look back you will be major proud of what you already have achieved and you will feel more confident moving forward!

    Good luck!

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    0 Votes
    ccietraininglab

    If you think that IT is your passion then work towards that goal. Let me warn you though, this industry is no walk in the park. There will be time when you'd wish that you hadn't gotten your foot into the door so make sure this is what you want. Not for the salary, nor for the prestige but for yourself.

    Start with the certs and then get as much experience as you can. You see, these certifications are only 1/4 of the whole package. Most employers are looking for papers but nothing beats hands on abilities and the drive to learn and improve in your craft.

    Whichever path you choose to take, Good luck!

  • +
    2 Votes
    Tony Hopkinson

    and, and probably another degree, as well.
    Then in the current market you can get paid bugger all.

    If you are doing this for the money, you've gone well wrong mate.

    +
    4 Votes
    Tony Hopkinson

    The buzzword bingo boys will look for certs and degrees

    IT is not paying as well as it has, so if you are entering it for money, you aren't going to get any, and seeing as you don't have a passion for it, you aren't going to be very good, so you won't last ten minutes in the current environment.

    You are talking about a 3rd of your life until retirement here, pick something you like, because you like it, you'll be good at it, because you are good at it, you'll get paid for it.

    Oh and for the person who voted me down with no comment as to why, you aren't going to get far in life without growing some...

    +
    2 Votes
    avtark

    Sorry did not not wish to offend you in anyway. everyone has their own opinions and you are right with yours.

    +
    1 Votes
    AnsuGisalas

    Those buttons are small and close together, and yes, it's irreversible. It's usually good to put up an "Oops" reply when that happens, then someone will come along and correct it for you

    Tony is a sharp one, so he often says ... shall we say ... uncomfortable things? Things that some people very much would like not to hear, so he tends to pick up those anonymous tokens of disagreement (-).

    +
    0 Votes
    Tony Hopkinson

    you've confused me with some one else...

    okay may be not.

    +
    0 Votes
    Tony Hopkinson

    Even if you'd wanted to offend me, it wouldn't have shut me up. :)

    Have a plus for being one of the few people with enough sphericals to actually reply to one of my meek and plaintive "what did i do wrong now posts"

    +
    0 Votes
    info

    I've met tons of people that HATE their job, IT or otherwise, yet are still very good at it. You won't be an 'IT God', probably, but I've met lots of enthusiastic 'computer nerds' that still couldn't figure out which cables to plug into which connectors, how to code a basic loop, etc., etc...

    +
    0 Votes
    Tony Hopkinson

    How many senior ones doing senior work do you know, and how much do they get paid?

    Beside anyone who spends a third of their prime doing something they hate, for naff all pay, is an idiot, and the person who employs them isn't even that clever.

    +
    1 Votes
    avtark

    Don't listen to what people say! no one knows what the next week in ICT land is going to be. It's going to be better for smart people and great for budding ICT geniuses. I have had similar concerns and learnt that employers don't really care about certification/higher qualifications. If you can prove that you have hands on experience and have the right attitude - world is your oyster. Certifications and University degrees have a very short redemption period if they relate to cutting edge specialist skills. You would find that every 6 months Java has a new release, .NET has a new release and same goes for other frameworks. Hence the chase is not a one-off but an on-going exercise.

    If I was in your situation, I would draw a Venn diagram
    1. What Skills are you passionate about?
    2. What Skills are in demand today and are likely to be in demand in 5-7 years time? (Programming is a skill, Java/.Net is not a skill --- very important understand the difference...)
    3. What Skills are employers willing to provide intern-ships or traineeships on? (very important to understand the market)

    Focus on intersection of two or more areas. Start small and keep asking (yourself/peers) until you are satisfied... then take the leap of faith.

    Above questions can be hard to answer correctly, but once you can answer them you would find that no one can be a better guide than yourself.

    I would say do not chase the money but your passions.... you would realise that your passions take care of you if you exercise discipline in ICT industry!

    +
    1 Votes
    Tony Hopkinson

    Programming being the skill, following your passion etc. The rest of it, for that to succeed you must have the skill, and the passion and self confidence bordering on arrogance to have a prayer of it working.

    If you have to go the usual route for your start in the job, and get past the recruiter numpties, the certs / IT related degree are effectively mandatory. The degree, versus certs versus obvious natuaral talent and passion debate is irrelevant, the buzzword bingo boys wordsearch for their first cut.

    +
    0 Votes
    avtark

    I never denied that Basic qualification/Certifications wouldn't help achieve the personal/professional goals but how much help, that is debatable. A vendor certificate these days are being bought over auction sites... nothing new there.

    Opinion: Having worked on projects (weather at a traineeships or voluntary) and hands on experience is in my opinion more influential than certifications in some cases - it all depends on what area you choose.

    +
    0 Votes
    AnsuGisalas

    Tony pointed out that if you have mad skills and mad passion, but no certs, the wordsearch will drop you from the running.
    So, yeah on one hand, the odds of making it into a regular starting job with the certs divided by the odds of making it without them is a divide_by_zero error. So it looks like the certs help, but really the mechanics is that they're a passive prerequisite, a purely negative force, aimed at everyone who didn't pay their way through hours and hours of tedium.
    Or that's how I read it.

    +
    0 Votes
    Tony Hopkinson

    I'm saying you stand next to no chance at all of amassing experience, without certs and or degree to get you a foot in the door, in any area of IT.

    The training and learning you should have to undergo to get the paper, valuable.
    The people who do it and then learn to apply it, valuable.

    The bit of paper morons confuse with the above two assets, if they made it softer and thinner, at least you wouldn't have to be really deperate before you wiped your arse with it...

    +
    0 Votes
    HypnoToad72

    "starving artists"...

    And that was long before corporate echelons started touting the new normal as "creative capitalism"...

    +
    1 Votes
    AnsuGisalas

    Sounds like making a method out of snake oil and gold grease.

    +
    0 Votes
    brendanspaar

    There is a phrase in the IT industry called "Paper MCSE's." My former boss would actually look down on applicants who had MCSE behind their name. The point is, anyone with enough time and money can obtain a certification. Two months after you take the test, I bet you forget half of what you learned. Instead of investing $5k in certification boot camps, why not build a development lab in your home. Get a high end cisco router and license Server 2008. If you still have your .edu email address you can get a lot of these for cheap. I gaurentee you that a hiring manager will score you higher if you have applied your knowledge (even at home). Experience always trumps certifications. Experience and certifications are one two punches. - Brendan Spaar, Alpharetta, GA

    +
    0 Votes
    TwoLittleDotes

    I used to hire developers and didn't see many CV's that had MCSE's. I see them as an indicator that the applicant is keeping their skills up to date but would ideally look for someone who had a degree, or was a year or two into a degree in IT. Applicants without IT degrees would need experience instead.
    In fact, we ended up paying for some of our dev's to take some MCSE's so that we could qualify for MS gold partner status.
    If you have a degree in psychology would you consider looking for a role in the HR dept of an IT company? That way you would probably get paid more than an entry level IT role while you are studying for your IT degree, if that's really what you want to do.

    +
    0 Votes
    info

    I've got 20 years experience in a variety of roles, and consider myself quite good at what I do (used to be GREAT, but it's a struggle trying to keep up with new tech (let alone certs) plus the responsibilities of being older). There's a number of 'stepping stone' jobs to where I am now (sole IT person at an SMB) I wouldn't have gotten without an A+, MCP on record, as well as a 2-year equivalent diploma program I took later during a stint of unemployment. The hiring managers (and there's more of them than your example) take it for granted that, if there's no paper, there's less chance of their taking a chance on you paying off. After all, look at what kind of dunces they hired WITH certifications, right?

    For instance, I interviewed for a job last year for a lower position (would have moved us closer to the wife's family). The hiring managers were impressed, until they asked what RECENT certification or training I've had. When I replied the last had been nearly a decade ago, the interview turned more into a conversation. They weren't interested in me after that.

    Just goes to show...

    +
    0 Votes
    ohios

    From my personal observation, A person with IT skills who is continually updating himself on the long run will will be most preferred over one who has just education or certifications. It is important that the job gets done especially in a business setting. Nevertheless, for a good public profile and to earn good ratings of professionalism in an organisation, certifications will come in handy. Everything has its place and it is not a bad idea after all to have the Skills backed up by Certifications!

    +
    1 Votes
    tech

    This has been said here before, but it bears repeating. DON'T GET INTO IT FOR MONEY. If you do not have passion and skill for IT, you won't last. You will be a 5 year burn out.

    IT is no longer the ultra high paycheck it once was, IT requires, long hours, continual learning, and is more often than not a thankless job. That is true for programmers and SysAdmins alike. Remember, IT is a Cost Center to business, not a Profit Center. If you are in it for the money, you need to choose a profession that falls in the Profit Center side of the equation. The Cost Center side of the equation will always be subject to cuts, economies of scale...

    If you have a passion for IT, follow that passion. If you enjoy programming, then be a programmer. I got in early, and am a jack of all trades. I do SysAdmin, DBAdmin, some programming, but I am probably the exception, and not the rule. Follow your passions and you will be a lot happier in the long run.

    +
    0 Votes
    info

    That's what I hit through high school. "Which way to turn? Which path to take?" In the end, I went IT, because I had a natural gift for it. Now I regret it. You actually have a good head start. What you want to do is take your psychology/education background and lever that HEAVILY into IT. Slip yourself into a niche that your 'off the mill' IT person couldn't do...

    As for programming or support, I've been torn, too. There's a future in both, although one that's seemingly more limited due to outsourcing and 'Cloud'. You'll probably see the numbers of IT personnel decrease somewhat, but be sucked into more centralized locations for IT and cloud 'shops' with lower pay. If you're GOOD at programming, I'd say that way can lie greater dividends overall if you can be idealistic and creative (I'm not) to come up with some hot new psychology app that makes you a small fortune. Otherwise, the path you mentioned (A+, etc.) is the one to go down. Pick a specialty, network or security, for example, and work your way into it. A lot of it is time, and a LOT of times it's dumb luck...

    The only thing that limits you is your vision... Then your attitude and skills.

    +
    0 Votes
    Sebzor1986

    WEll... I see alot of negativity about certs. But some certs are highly regarded. I just did my CCENT and am about to take my CCNA next. I am not just doing for the cert name on my CV, but rather/also because it is possible to LEARN soemthing here! I have alreayd learnt way more about networking than I knew before my CCENT, and I am learning a great deal more studying for my CCNA. This info is not irrelevent or usesless. Use these as a tool for yourself, so that you can pout those certs on the wall, and show yourself that you do know something! The Cisco Certs are extremely diffcult coming from no networking background and braind dumps and these things won;t help! You actually need to know what you are doing!

    It has also helped me land an internship this year, where last year I was studying Molecular Biology! I also think showing your intentions to do certs is vital, and approach companies and show them how willing you are to learn and work for them, and how you will add value to the company once you have spent some time there.

    Do the certs, or do a degree, or buy and online programming course, and then write some programs, make some websites! Whatever you do, do something! Show you willingness to learn and learn from the beginning.

    Its a long road, but when you look back you will be major proud of what you already have achieved and you will feel more confident moving forward!

    Good luck!

    +
    0 Votes
    ccietraininglab

    If you think that IT is your passion then work towards that goal. Let me warn you though, this industry is no walk in the park. There will be time when you'd wish that you hadn't gotten your foot into the door so make sure this is what you want. Not for the salary, nor for the prestige but for yourself.

    Start with the certs and then get as much experience as you can. You see, these certifications are only 1/4 of the whole package. Most employers are looking for papers but nothing beats hands on abilities and the drive to learn and improve in your craft.

    Whichever path you choose to take, Good luck!