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  1. Junior Member
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    #1

    Default best way to become a software developer?

    Hi everyone. This is my first post and first thread. I am currently taking an online .NET Training course. I have no college degree at all and very limited formal programming training. The course I am taking is a bit over my head but I expected that. It prepares students (allegedly)for 70-526/536/528/529 but I am forced to supplement this with dummies books for VB and most likely C#. What will it take to get even the lowest job as a consultant (meaning day jobs, etc..)? I want to just get my foot in the door to take the fog away so I can focus exclusively on what I need to study and become a full-time developer. Am I just a wishful thinker? It's not too hard I don't think, but will I need the certifications from MS or Sun(Java) to get in this way with no degree? Do you think a certificate from a state university in the Northeast that states simply that I passed this online course will get me an entry level type contract (1 day, that sort of thing) even if I don't have any of the MS certs.?

    Tons of questions I know, but it's really bugging me if I'm just going to be wasting my time.
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  3. ITDufas TravR1's Avatar
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    #2
    I'm not an expert, and I know very little about developing.. with that said, my dad is a Sr. Java developer and grant it has not been involved in hiring or anything like that - he recommends anyone just starting out to go get the full degree at a college or a tech school in something development related.

    The market is full of people with programming ability but no degree. From what I'm told, employers prefer people with the degrees, obviously. The certifications will help you, but I don't know how easy of a time you will have finding a decent job in development with degree. My friend was able to find a job as a part time php programmer, but that's part time and they have not brought him on full time.. he has to keep his tech support job.

    Again, I don't know the industry personally, but if I were you, I would look in to attending a school AND working towards the certs. With all this said, and the market being considerably bad, it's easily justified. If that isn't possible then aggressively pursue the certs like SSJP, .NET, PHP, and the Three C's. Also join some forums just for developers and talk with them so you can get more expert developer advice.
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  4. Junior Member
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    Hi Trav, thanks for your input. I'm a bit older (35) and really don't want to spend 4 years or 120k on a comp. sci. degree if I can get in via certs. I realize any jobs I get at first (if at all) will be the lowest of the low but I'm fine with that. Any job as a programmer would be superior to tech support as far as putting what I've learned to use. I feel there is a good chance I can get the most basic Java cert. there is with little or no pro exp. but am working on the MS certs right now and am hoping that I can find some work without even getting the MS certs and just using the certificate of course completion I get from the uni. In the long run, Java will be the way to go for me I think, but short term I just want to work as a programmer of any kind.

    What you said about the market being full of people without degrees has boosted my confidence somewhat. It is frustrating not knowing what the market really wants in terms of knowledge. I think at best, my only options are the certs. I can't go back to college anymore. But I need to find work as a programmer before the summer ends. My class is due to be completed by mid-July and I am ready to go back to work.
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    #4
    The market may be full of people without degrees, but it's the people with degrees that usually get first crack at the available jobs. The degree-less exceptions are mostly very talented programmers who have spent years developing their skills, and have a considerable body of software work they can show to a hiring manager.

    Never let someone talk you out of investing in yourself.
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  6. Junior Member
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    #5
    So, do you think that, even with a Microsoft .NET related cert (only 1) or the Sun Certified Java Associate, I will not be able to find work at the lowest of levels?

    I am not greedy, meaning that I do not expect to earn more than $30k per year, but I just want to know if someone would be willing to hire me with only one of the above certs (at best, to start, by the end of summer).

    I understand what you are saying JD about the degree-less people being, for the most part, highly skilled and possessing a large library of work, but if I can get a job with just a certificate saying I passed a .NET Training course from a uni and build my skills as I go along, I don't want to quit. I am worrying that this is just a big waste of time and that there is no chance anyone will bother to risk bringing me on except out of charity.

    My intention when I created this thread was to hopefully get input from developers out there who are familiar with consulting and how often they see people like me as junior programmers.
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    #6

    Default need college

    I have been a software developer for a year now, and from my experience thus far, you need a college degree. The microsoft certs and java certs alone are not enough to find a decent developer job. I've done the SCJP, and it was about the equivalent of my 1st 2 programming classes at a university; stuff the freshmen learn. The certs can help you, lets say if you have a degree, but are working for an employer that uses Java, or C#.NET. The cert can show that you are proficient with the language. The certs really don't teach you that much about actual software DESIGN. If you can get a job, it will most likely be software testing, where you verify code does what its supposed to do. A lot of companies cut these positions in bad economic times however...either way, good luck
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    #7
    I hate to sound pessimistic, but for a programming career employers these days require at list an associate degree. Certifications might help but since you don't have any significant experience in software development, your chances of landing a job in this field are extremely slim.
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    #8

    Default more stuff

    Well I just checked out the .NET objectives for their certification. Have you ever had any programming experience before this .NET course you are taking? Does this course teach anything about discrete math, data structures, regular expressions, PDAs, UML, algorithms, and other stuff like that? Also, you should have experience with Unix systems as well. If you have a choice between C# and VB, I would probably go for C#. In my experience, this is a more desired language of the 2.
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    Default I'd love to go back to college and get a CS degree but don't want to

    Quote Originally Posted by crap I forgot my old pwd View Post
    Well I just checked out the .NET objectives for their certification. Have you ever had any programming experience before this .NET course you are taking? Does this course teach anything about discrete math, data structures, regular expressions, PDAs, UML, algorithms, and other stuff like that? Also, you should have experience with Unix systems as well. If you have a choice between C# and VB, I would probably go for C#. In my experience, this is a more desired language of the 2.
    Thanks again for all the replies. I read the two posts previous to the one quoted above and slept on them instead of just responding. I took a course in QuickBasic at the community college I went to years ago and BASIC when I was a child, nothing object-oriented. The course so far teaches nothing about discrete math, PDAs, algorithms, UML, and quite a bit else, but does teach the basics of HTML, XML, DHTML, JavaScript, VB/C#.NET and GUI design as well as ASP.NET.

    I have begun to augment the glaring VB deficiencies with a book on beginner VB which starts out teaching UML and a thorough description of OOP over many chapters and applies it to VB. The book even eventually delves into SQL as it applies to VB.NET. I believe that with enough work with this book (reading and understanding cover to cover) I can pass the lowest MS .NET cert like 70-526. The course includes a primer on passing this exam as well as others but it will not be enough to prepare me for the exam.

    I didn't pay for the course and could have gone the MCSE route but chose this because I never wanted to go into networking in the first place as a non-programmer. I realize it will take quite a bit of time to become respectable, and accept that I will need to do quite a bit more studying on my own but I want to work ASAP in literally any role I can get as a programmer.

    I'm well aware of the fact that the CS degree option is the best, but if there is a way to do it without it, I need to go that route. I am too old to go back to college and wait 4 years to work again.

    A big question that comes to mind is, will the 526 exam get me a low level job, like a 1 day contract? This is my immediate goal beyond getting the certificate of completion from the uni I got the online course through.
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  11. BOBBY_TABLES RobertKaucher's Avatar
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    #10
    I found this article interesting...
    Though I do not believe that this is what host HR people think, his opinion pretty much mirrord my own.
    When a computer science degree matters, and when it doesn't | NetworkWorld.com Community
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    #11
    Thanks Robert. I read what you linked to and it boosted my confidence a bit. I took some of the earlier advice given in this thread and started looking into Computer Science programs and am seriously considering starting one in the fall at my local community college.

    I expected when I made the choice to abandon MCSE training in favor of .NET that the course I chose would not be nearly enough to turn me into a programmer, and the change in career will require a commitment of years of my time dedicated to learning the skills required to stay employed. I also spoke with the developers I last worked with and they seemed to feel that if I picked up Java I would do well without a degree. I only chose the .NET at all because the course was not one I would be paying for out of my own pocket and it would introduce me to OOP fundamentals which I needed to learn Java. I also hoped that it would allow me to find work using my previously earned tech skills while hopefully giving me the opportunity to work with web or app developers on projects.

    I am now mulling the differences between the BA and BS Computer Science degrees, have set up a counselling session at my local community college to work out the transfer issues and what it will take to guarantee admisssion to the BA program. I will need to work at least part time in the very near future just to pay for necessities, which is all I am hoping for at this point. I have some credits and am trying to figure out if I can do the associates degree in 3 semesters or less.

    There is even a curriculum designed not for transfer to a CS program but which gives an associates in applied science which is heavy on UNIX/LINUX, JAVA, networking, and OS but light on maths and sciences.

    Education wise, it is best at this point for me, I think, to just complete the course I've started to get the cert. of completion, work with the school to produce a resume and take their advice on how to find some type of work. At that point, I will have had plenty of time to decide what, if any, program I will pursue at the community college level. They will only be credit courses leading up to an associates degree with the option of transferring to a baccalaureate program.

    As a tech, and working many contracts over the years, I have seen many who were not very good as techs yet were kept on for one reason or another. I was thinking that maybe this was the case with the web/app side of things and that there was a possibility people would take a chance using me for specific tasks which they felt I could accomplish.
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  13. BOBBY_TABLES RobertKaucher's Avatar
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    #12
    wannabe,

    I am very much in a similar position to you. I have no degree. I have many certifications on the admin/infrastructure side but I am trying to break into developing, .Net and Java. But the area I want to work with is essentially SharePoint. In the middle of 2008 there was huge demand for SharePoint developers, but that seems to have slowed considerably since the economic crisis. We'll see...
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    #13
    It's nice to know I'm not alone being without a degree and seriously wanting to get into development. Good luck on your upcoming exam. You most certainly should be able to get someone to bring you in. Your certifications that you already have demonstrate skills that you have which would be quite useful (obviously) in any business environment. Being able to function on the infrastructure side of things should help keep you around in the event you need to be trained more than another.

    I don't have that luxury and so I need to find the quickest and most efficient way of acquiring skills before working 1 day. Just being a seasoned tech probably isn't going to help me in the short term, but if I have to take a job just as a tech in the very near future, it will not keep me from doing what I need to do to become a developer.

    The options presented to me here have shown me that in some ways, I have no alternatives but to do as they say if I want to get in. Wasting time studying at home is no better than taking courses toward an associates comp. sci. degree which I can tailor to transfer to any realistic uni. and not spend as much as I previously stated (120k). As soon as I can, I want to work part-time as a programmer if going to school so I can gain invaluable exp. and put money in my pocket. I can also focus on the Java certs. while going to school and working.
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  15. Certification Invigilator Forum Admin JDMurray's Avatar
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    #14
    Programming certs are a very good way to self-train yourself in programming, but most software hiring mangers have either never heard of programming certs or don't care about them. The MCSD was around for ten years and you could hardly find it mentioned in any job postings on dice.com. And a lot of hard-core Java people feel the SCJA/SCJP certs are too easy to be of any real measure of Java programming competency.

    In other words, don't think that having a bunch of certs is a good reason not to get a college-level education.
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  16. Certification Invigilator Forum Admin JDMurray's Avatar
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    #15
    Quote Originally Posted by RobertKaucher View Post
    I found this article interesting...
    Though I do not believe that this is what host HR people think, his opinion pretty much mirrord my own.
    When a computer science degree matters, and when it doesn't | NetworkWorld.com Community
    Degrees in Computer Science are for scientists. Very few companies have the need to hire scientists for programming work (or mathematicians, for that matter). Much of what most programmers do falls under the category of software engineering. In many schools you can get a good software engineering background majoring in Computer Information Systems rather than CS.
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  17. ITDufas TravR1's Avatar
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    #16
    Wannabeprogrammer,

    Why don't you go ahead and start a vocational school somewhere like ITT Technical Institute that offers development courses? You can take the courses online, and you can test out of classes you feel you don't need to take. You can have your associates degree in under two years if you are aggressive and work hard. You can use the Associates degree you land you a decent development job and continue the school at night to finish your BA.

    In the mean time in the year and a half study study study study! You can still chase after jobs and work on your certifications, but this way you aren't putting all your eggs in one basket, and if a year goes by and you still haven't found a development job then you will have been in school for a year already more than half way to your associates.

    35 is not too old to start school. If you really want it, work hard and be aggressive. It will work out for you.
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    #17
    I am no programmer but there is how I would do it, if I were to career shift right now.

    I would probably take a few classes at community college while I earn the rest of the entry level certs from Microsoft, Sun and maybe even Oracle. You are going to need a firm understanding of databases so Oracle wouldn't be a waste.

    From there, I would continue taking classes as you have time and money, but start giving your time an OpenSource project. Something that you really believe in. Blog, twitter and be social about it. Get known for your work on the project and if you are good and your work quality a sponsoring company will eventually take you on.

    By the time you've worked your way up, you can round off the advanced certs and will be near your degree. 3ish years and your in.
    -Daniel
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    #18
    Hey guys,

    I just spent the day going over the courses at my local CC and found that I only need to complete 2 semesters (9 courses total) for my CSc.AA (Computer Science Associate in Arts). I was viewing a years old version of their program guide when I stated earlier that the Applied Arts track contained a lot of programming and UNIX/Linux stuff, it's now only in a certificate track which is still two semesters. I can however get an Intro to Java course in one of the two semesters for the Comp. Sci. Associates in Arts.

    The downside is that I probably won't be able to get a BS in Comp. Sci. without a lot of extra work, but it seems like a good start. I can also work on Java certs. to bolster my credentials and knowledge. The other seemingly bad part is that it really doesn't give a whole lot of tech work, just maths (Calc. I and Discrete Math), a lab science like Physics (one semester) and 2 gen. ed. classes, but it will include Comp. Sci. I and II, a prog. lang. elective (like intro to Java) and a structured programming course in C++.

    I spoke with a counselor at the school today in person and we went over my transcript and will setup a meeting with the transfer counselor to tailor the course to a specific school(s).

    They don't seem to have a formal degree program setup for CIS, so at the present time that appears not to be an option, and this is the best CC in my area by far. I'm not going to set my sights just yet beyond the associates degree until I speak with the transfer counselor and a particular school that has a baccalaureate program in Europe taught in English(I'm from the USA but am a dual citizen who can get EU tuition rates). Their program is called Software Engineering and that may be what I will go for if I can ever get them to accept me as a student, which I have tried unsuccessfully twice to get them to do. Maybe having an associates in Comp. Sci. and some recent coursework and recommendations will get me over the hump. They also focus on Java and I believe they give a BS and not a BA.
    Last edited by wannabedeveloper; 06-03-2009 at 11:05 PM.
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    #19
    start giving your time an OpenSource project
    Wow, that's a great idea. I never even thought about working on open source projects. My skills in programming at this time I feel are not much beyond basic HTML, which is not even true programming in the eyes of most people. So I don't know if I could do that just yet, but maybe after the two semesters and getting my associates, as well as any work I manage to do that improves my skill set, maybe I would be able to participate in something like that.

    I'm really happy right now because I am able to use many of my previously earned credits with a C or better and only have to go for 2 semesters to get past this first issue (the associates degree). That should go a long way to helping me get better work on a much more consistent basis. It's probably clear though that I made a big mistake not doing this before and it cost me a lot of time and wasted energy.
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    #20
    Quote Originally Posted by TravR1 View Post
    35 is not too old to start school. If you really want it, work hard and be aggressive. It will work out for you.
    Heck yeah! I started moving my career in a new direction when I was 41. Persistence, planning, and money has made the decision pay off for me.
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    #21

    Default stuff

    I found it easier to learn Java as my first language before I transitioned into other OOP languages like C and C++. Many schools are also now adopting Java as an intro programming language. Some schools may have you take physics and calculus, but honestly you will most likely never use them in your actual work. Some discrete math is good, and is usually taught in conjunction with data structures, which is absolutely mandatory for software engineering. Self-studying the Java certs is a good way to learn the nitty gritty parts of Java, like access modifiers, inheritence, references, pointers in Java, encapsulation, and other stuff like that. Many design firms definately require those skills for their engineers. Also, another bit from my experience, make sure your code is readible. I can't tell you how many engineers I know who didn't get a good gig because they had somewhat sloppy coding styles. It is very important that someone who uses the modules that you make can read and edit them. I don't know what line of work it is that you are looking at doing, but I did an internship with Motorola developing software for their phones, and the main tool we used was J2ME. So, that being said, that is an example where Java certifications can help you out. J2ME is not a tool we ever used while I was in school, so the certifications are a good supplement to your degree. Same goes to the .NET stuff, we never really learned any of that in school. As a student, I learned MIPS, Java, C, C++, Perl, and some other stuff involving those languages like QT, JNI, and database applications using Oracle servers and Java.
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    #22
    This is really kind of great. Data Structures, while not addressed in a specific course dedicated to it, appears to be one of the foundations of the Comp. Sci. I and II courses, so maybe it will be sufficient if not taken afterward. Also, it appears I have read the book incorrectly (yet again) and I won't get to take an intro to Java program so the course list is as follows:

    1) Calc. I
    2) Comp. Sci. I and II (in C++ which focuses on data structures in both courses)
    3) a "diversity" and humanities general ed. elective (total of 2 courses) such as:
    Elementary German I and Psychology of Women (second one may come in handy)
    4) Programming Languages OR Computer Organization (PL is an overview course of all prog. languages and not a specific one of my or their choice)
    5) Lab Science such as Bio., Chem., or Physics I
    6) Structured Prog. in C++
    7) Discrete Mathematics

    a total of 9 courses spread over 2 semesters and maybe a winter course in something easy like a gen. ed. course to make it 4 courses per semester

    Just on the off chance I get the Associate of Arts Computer Science degree but stop there and don't continue a formal education beyond that (not even certifications), what would the employment field look at me as?

    I'm fascinated to find out how different it would be from just an A+/MCP help desk technician.
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    #23
    Well, the pre-reqs for Comp. Sci. will maybe push this to three semesters which is kind of a bummer unless I can find a Structured Programming course in C++ that I can start asap this summer which finishes before fall semester and that matches the original course in the program, or get in a winter 2009 or summer 2010 course that is Comp. Sci. I or II. I'm checking around to see what my options are. I don't think Comp. Sci I or II will have a summer or winter session class so I am looking for the Structured Prog. in C++ to do before fall.
    Last edited by wannabedeveloper; 06-04-2009 at 05:48 PM.
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    #24
    This is a good thread!

    Hey, why don't you go get a book on C++ and read it. Just because you have to wait, don't wait on the learning. Get a head start on the class.. that way you'll get more out of the course that way since your not struggling to learn from the bottom up and you can have good questions for your instructor.
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    #25
    Right now I have to focus on completing the .NET course I have in progress, which may take me until mid-July. I am also trying read an almost 400 page book on Visual Basic. The neat thing about it is that even though I may have to go 3 semesters due to pre-requisites for the Comp. Sci. classes, meaning I have to take Structured Programming (C++) before Comp. Sci. I, and Comp. Sci. I before CSII, the SP(C++) course is listed as being a first year, first semester course, with no pre-requisites, and is a 4 credit course, meaning labs, so a total of 3 progressively more difficult C++ courses means I may not have to do anything extra beyond the courses to get a B or better provided I go to all the classes and complete the labs/homeworks. I like the idea but I have too much on my plate right now.

    When I have the degree, I will maybe look into more C++, but if I have to wait until winter 2010 to get the associates, I can use the extra semester to take an Advanced C++ course, whose pre-req. is only CS I, It all depends on my work load, how my money situation is holding up, how much I need to work, and so on. I can also use that extra semester to maybe pick up courses to prepare me in the event I transfer to a baccalaureate program in the fall of 2011.

    Everything I've just said is probably full of holes right now, because I'm a little excited and happy I've made the decision.
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