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What is the value of continuing education?

I'm just 40, disabled, and work from home part time as web developer. I love my job and been given more complex projects, which I enjoy doing. I'm also taking a continuing education course in VB.NET. My boss is enthusiastic in my decision to increase my skills. In addition, I'm doing tutorials at

While it's all and good for my employment, I'm wondering what the overall merit is for continuing education in the workplace? I'm just curious as to what people would think of a 40-yr. old disabled person who has recently obtained, say, a "Letter of Completion" for each course in a series of courses (VB.NET, C++, C#, PHP/MySQL, Perl, and PhotoShop - these are the ones I hope to take) and "Certifications" from W3Schools in ASP/ADO and HTML/CSS? Do these really matter much?

It seems from my employer's view, it's what I can DO that matters, rather than what papers I have. Is this the general consensus? If so, I'd like to know so maybe I can follow free online tutorials and get skilled and not pay a lot of money. The continuing education courses do take a bite out of my limited income. Anything to save some money yet increase my skills would be nice.

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by Tony Hopkinson In reply to What is the value of cont ...

Personally I think continuing education is just for the sheer enjoyment of it, if someone will pay you to apply it, then that's the icing on the cake.

If it's HR you have to get past then you want recognised qualifications (ones that HR will recognise !). If you have to get past someone technical then they'll judge you relative to their 'own' knowledge.

You get a lot of candidates qualified in this or that, you ask them a question they don't know the answer. There's only two possibilities at this point, they lied or the qualification is irrelevant, neither one much use really.

You aren't taking irrelevant courses for a web developer, whether they are recognised by pimps (recruiters) and technical eejits (HR) is more problematic.

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There are a few reasons this is good

by jdclyde In reply to What is the value of cont ...

first, technology is changing all the time. This shows an employer that you are working to keep your skill set current.

As Tony said, this is also a big "feel good" thing to do, as you are accomplishing something that many can't and don't. Doing something difficult is often it's own reward.

Can mean pay increases in some cases, and can also open up opportunities that would otherwise be closed.

It is a very personal thing to decide. Can you afford the money, the time? What is it worth to YOU?

Being disabled, it is more important than ever to have something that shows people what you KNOW. There are some that just see a disability, and this is one more thing to get them back on track to look at YOU and what you CAN do for them.

Good luck.

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So experience is worth more than paper?

I can see what you're saying. So showing completed web projects would be worth more than a piece of paper, if I understand right?

Right now, I'm in a rut financially. I have a financial plan in my head which I am going to put on paper and rigidly follow to get myself out of possible doom (large debt to work on). So I was trying to find any way to cut costs yet keep my skills growing. Free online tutorials are places to learn. But I was wondering which is better - studying for free or taking a paid course. Seems like if I can show them what I did, that would carry more weight than paper?

Seems like it where I work in that I started writing just FAQ pages and then went on to design templates to have the programmer fill in with asp or whatever code. Then I developed sites, and even interfaces (like file manager, etc.) Now I have a full blown ASP project start-to-finish which I am doing good at. :) All this in a bit over 2 years! So my work is a learning experience but there's enthusiasm about my dedication to learn more, both by me and my employer.

Being that I have to cut expenses, I want to be sure to keep those that are most important and know what can be cut back without cutting off my nose to spite my face, so to speak.

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Which is worth more

by jdclyde In reply to So experience is worth mo ...

completely depends on who your talking to.

There are people out there that are highly educated. They spend a long time getting their fancy degree they have hanging on the wall behind them. By requiring a degree out of their hires, it justifies their own existance.

There are also people out there that are there for the bottom line, and they worked their way up. These people are going to like certs and experince DOING something.

So like in most computer questions, the answer is "It depends".

The thing to look for is an employer interested in someone that is keeping their skills current, AND is willing to invest it that skill set. Have you approached the employer about helping to offset the costs of the training, or is this just contracted only?

If you have to pay for it all, I would cut back and specialize. Look at the skills you use and where you think the tasks are going to be in the future. Slow down the training, but don't stop if you don't have to. There are many people out there that learned most of what they know by doing it and reading. People learn differently. Some people just can't sit down with a book and learn how to do something.

I would start a discussion for web developers, asking them what skills they find the most helpful, and which they see fading away. That would probably give you a better answer than I would be able to give you as I am just a humble network guy!

Good luck.

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Thank You :)

jdclyde - I like your ideas. Thank you. :) I agree also that asking other developers what skills are needed is a good idea. I wouldn't mind increasing skills so if/when my employer needs to expand and do other things, I will be at the ready. :)

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Putting yourself in the employers shoes...

by ZoomZoom In reply to Which is worth more

The responses you've been getting are probably as good as you can expect to get. JClyde is absolutely right with the response "It depends".

I can only speak from the perspective of someone without a fancy degree. To me, experience rules... but you have to be able to prove it.

When I look at resumes for a position, the first chore is to weed out the people that just don't have any experience in what I'm looking for. So, if I have a position working with ASP.Net and SQL Server, and you don't have both listed as having experience with them... you're out.

Next sweep through the resumes is to determine what kind of experience you have. Being in the business, I know there is a big difference between an introductory computer class and real world experience. Unless you are actually working with the technologies you took classes in... I don't put much weight in them.

Next is determining what direction you seem to be going in. If it looks like you are making an attempt to take your career in a direction that compliments the position I'm hiring for, that says a lot.

Before you'd get an interview with me, I'd need to be able to tell from your resume that you can do the job, that you want to do this type of job, and that you are willing to fill in the experience holes as quickly as possible if given the chance. I personally like a resume that "makes sense" when I look at it and try to determine your direction.

You know how some people will pay for a gym membership to work out, but then wait as long as it takes to get the closest parking space so they don't have to walk? It just doesn't make sense to me.

If you are going to take classes in a specific technology, make sure you do what you can to get real world experience in it too. If you can't get that experience at work, I'd suggest talking to local temp agencies and look for side jobs that allow you do do real work for experience, and hopefully earn a few dollars in the process too (to help pay for that class). There are plenty of small businesses that want websites that would be willing to give you a chance... if it's not costing them much. They get an inexpensive dynamic website and you get experience for your resume. Win-Win!

Visualize yourself listing a dozen websites on your resume with brief explanations of what technologies you used in each of them. That would do more for me than seeing a bunch of classes with no experience to compliment them.

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Very informative - I agree!

While your reply is geared to a job seeker (I'm not looking for work since I love my current job), it contains some very important information. And for those who are also reading this thread and are looking for work, I think this is another message they should read and seriously consider. I was hoping to hear from someone like you who is on the hiring side, just to see what exactly the skills are. Plus the suggestions of others about asking other developers what skills are now needed is a good idea.

I'm working in the ASP/.NET stuff now for work, and so the VB.NET class I'm taking now is definitely a must-have. So I will be finishing this and I'm actually going to be using these skills. In addition, what I'm learning at W3Schools I'm also currently actually using on a project.

Your reply gave me some thought though. I probably won't be using C# at work, at least not for awhile, since VB seems to be the preference. So I can probably wait a bit on the C# thing. The C++ I was going to take was only so I could do something with a hobby though (I want to work with AI and chatbots). So I can probably save the money and buy a book or use free online tutorials for C++. Maybe offer some free programs on my web site or some shareware at some point. The PHP/MySQL I'm already working with at work as I write how to install scripts and modify them to work in some cases. I also have a few Joomla-based sites and a very active phpBB forum. I have two WordPress blogs. I made templates for all but the blogs. So I already know some php/MySQL and figure I can just learn from a book or online stuff as I get more into it. Maybe at some point take the course later on (but not right away). The Perl one, seems like hardly nobody uses Perl anymore anyway. I may just use an online free tutorial to brush up or whatever and offer some Perl scripts on my site every so often.

If someone is looking for work and reading this, it would seem that if you get a good portfolio of links to sites you have done and programs you made (whichever is relevant to the job you're trying to get), then you'd be in good standing as well.

As for those like me that are happily employed and want to expand their skills, it seems like one should take only the courses that help with what you're currently or intend to be doing for work.

I think now I'm getting a better picture of what courses I should take and what I can wait on, and what I can just do free tutorials for. :)

Thank you folks for all the good suggestions. I'm still watching this thread as more good ideas come up.

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about showcasing your work

by jdclyde In reply to Very informative - I agre ...

Get some of the mini cd's, and burn a few example websites on it. Have an autorun that brings up a page that can call in the other pages as the links are selected.

And ZoomZoom proved my point. People with a degree will value a degree, people that learned hands-on will be looking for experience.

I personally am working towards both, as my employer pays for me to get training and I am using that to get a free degree in network management WHILE I work in the field. A little something for everyone. Can't expect to have the same job forever, so you have to keep adding to the "toolbox".

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PHP and ASP won't work from CD

Thing is, if anyone wants to show their PHP and ASP skills, they won't be able to do that on a CD because the potential employer may not want or the HR may not know how to view such things or copy to a server to view, etc. If one is using a Linux demo boot then it might not all fit on a business card CD anyway. In addition, if one is trying for a Windows job, having a linux boot won't really be too useful.

This is why I'd suggest using links to web sites hosted on servers that handle these things. This way they don't have to worry about if/how to copy or install the sites to view and/or the worry of security issues of viewing PHP and ASP code from someone they don't yet know. Going online with a web browser is far easier. :)

Business card CDs are more useful for things like showing off offline-related skills, like perhaps HTML/CSS would work. As would graphics or photography portfolios, presentations, resume, etc.

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Fine, be difficult why don't you?

by jdclyde In reply to about showcasing your wor ...

your business card CD could always link to external sites.....

I just know many people are pretty lazy. If they have to type in a url, they are less likely to follow up compared to just clicking on a link.

Just a thought.

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