Have A Degree - Best Way To "Become A Programmer"?

By Tuples ·

I have an undergraduate degree unrelated to IT and 21 years of professional experience - most involves training adults how to use software used by engineers (CAD). I am in the process of learning Java using books & creating dozens of "self-inspired" programs.

I really enjoy learning about Java, Python, et cetera - it's difficult for me to stop writing more programs! My goal is to become a programmer, work for a few years, then I'd like to go back to teach this sort of thing or else provide consulting services.

So, I enrolled in an online program to obtain an MSCIT degree specializing in Software Engineering. I quit after realizing this was probably not the best way to obtain my goal. After all, how valid would a Masters degree be if I had zero professional experience as a programmer? Plus, the degree was going to cost at least $22K and at least two years of my life.

So, at this point, I'm open to suggestions. I think I should take the Sun Certification classes. For less than $1500 I could become a Sun Certified Java Programmer. It's really not so much about how much the education will cost, but rather, how fast I can get my foot in the door as a programmer. I am 48 years old, so, I'm also a little anxious to begin my new - and probably final - career as soon as possible.

With Sun Certified Java Programmer status and a few examples of code under my belt, could I expect to get hired as a programmer or is a four year degree much more important? I can obtain certification from Sun in less than a year, and in the next year I could create some professional examples of code. It seems that with both of these (Sun certification & professional examples) I could obtain a decent, entry level job.

I currently teach high school students which provides adequate time to pursue educational opportunities in the evening. Would anyone like to comment about what's the best direction I should take in order to obtain my goals?

Thank you,


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by onbliss In reply to Have A Degree - Best Way ...

You have written programs, but are they installed and running anywhere? Are people using it?

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Not Yet . . .

by Tuples In reply to Implementation?

I'm still not at a level where I consider myself "proficient". For example, I haven't even created a stand alone executable program yet. I began learning "a little here" and "a little there" without really putting some of the fundamental methods in place - which, as you can imagine, is a recipe for poor results.

I guess my most complex project to date involves only about 400 lines of code - which is not really an accurate way to describe how much anyone does or does not know about the software. One of my books is from Sun, and I need to go back to page one and "get it right", so to speak.

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the key to biz progs

by Dr Dij In reply to Not Yet . . .

is accessing database tables. yet it is usually 'chapter 14' in any book on java.

I would do this first. be able to read and write access database tables first. at this point it is a simple step to change the connection and read /write database tables in your company's ERP system when you get a job.

also text files.

then branch into other topics

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Thanks for the recommendation . . .

by Tuples In reply to the key to biz progs

This will be added to my list of goals - the goals with a gold star next to them.

Thank you for the suggestion.

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Can you do something for the school?

by onbliss In reply to Not Yet . . .

Maybe the school needs some software applications. I am not sure how a school goes about deciding on getting a software application for its use.

But maybe you can write programs that will automate/computerize simple tasks in your present career.

Maybe you can create a website for your school, or something specific to your teaching. It might not require Java, but it will help you gain some HTML & CSS knowledge.

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Another Great Suggestion

by Tuples In reply to Can you do something for ...

I do know (x)html & css, I've done several web sites and this could be an excellent way to help boost my resume.

I've written a simple math quiz for my students - it asks three types of questions:
* units conversions (km to miles, et cetera)
* acreage calculations
* simple interest loans

It's setup to get student information, then it randomly asks questions (within a range) about converting km to miles, mm to inches, yards to meters, et cetera. Each time the program runs, it's different (to help reduce academic dishonesty). Answers are randomly assigned to one of four buttons with incorrect answers located left/right in decreasing/increasing increments. I haven't created an interface yet with buttons, and so forth. I used multiple choice to help insure the program runs without errors - I am weak when it comes to solving/preventing errors while running programs (boring, but important chapters in the books).

I'd really love to create "in-depth" applications which are tutorials for entire semesters. I heard on NPR a story about a college economics class that was performed entirely online - using a virtual environment similar to the Sims, the college students enrolled in the class learned about economics throughout the semester by buying things, & so forth. I thought this was "fabulously cool" and would really love to be a part of something like that.


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Have A Degree - Best Way To "Become A Programmer"?

by pgilligan In reply to Have A Degree - Best Way ...

I am interested to know how your programming career has progressed since then. I am in a similar situation to you, a 48yo programmer looking to retrain into something modern eg Java but reluctant to invest the time
if there are no jobs for over 50 year olds in IT.

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