July 19th, 2013, 07:37 PM
Cert for beginner
I am a beginner who is not planning on getting a CS degree but taking lots of classes in programming. What certifications should I take to help me get my foot in the door, career wise and give me valuable skills?
July 19th, 2013, 10:08 PM
Depends on what doors you want to stick your feet in. Certs are mostly useful for administrators, not developers -- and even then many companies don't hire or interview based on certs (mine certainly doesn't).
You need to elaborate on your goals before anyone can give you advice. That said, a degree isn't necessary, but the knowledge you can gain in academia can be of immense use if you actually apply yourself in school.
July 20th, 2013, 12:21 PM
I just want to be a software developer and I've seen certs in SQL, C++ etc.
July 20th, 2013, 09:12 PM
As an employer I might take an database administration course or cert into account, but not an "SQL cert" per se. In other words, the cert is still meaningful to me only with regard to administration, not development.
A cert in SQL wouldn't count against you, it would merely be ignored.
A cert in C++ would actually count against you (a cert for a specific C++ library wouldn't). C++ is such a huge language that only a small subset is ever used by any dev team or learned in any school at a time. In fact, the first step in any major C++ project involving a newly formed team is deciding which 10~20% of the language is safe to use (not joking). This determines what idioms one should expect in the code and what libraries will be a good fit. So if I saw something like "Level 3 C++ Certified" on a resume I'd be very skeptical (and you should be wary of schools selling certs in languages in general).
If I saw "Proficient in X, Y, Z; Familiarity with A, B, C" followed up by some project experience (academic, closed or open source) then we'd have something to talk about. Open source project experience is particularly useful because I can read something he's worked on before I meet him. I check language proficiency and/or ability to learn during the interview and sometimes during an internship. I don't think this practice is particularly unusual in the industry when it comes to hiring developers.
There are a lot of non-tech companies that have Java, PHP and COBOL coding positions to fill, though, and those companies simply have to trust the resume and whatever other paper the guy can show. So maybe "certs" in languages would be useful for getting hired somewhere like that, just don't put that stuff on a resume for a company whose main business is software development.
If you're not going to go to school then your best bet may be developing an interesting project or two on GitHub to use as a reference instead of certs. Solid, verifiable work is worth more than any degree or cert. A good way to make your programming self-education pay for itself is to get a job as a system administrator (and here is where Linux, db, webserver, etc. certs are indeed helpful), and while working that job learn more about software development and get involved in some open source projects. Then your next resume for the development position you really want will say "system administrator 2 years; experience in lang X, Y, Z; project experience A, B, C" and people will want to talk to you.
July 20th, 2013, 09:44 PM
Originally Posted by zxq9
I have heard the advice to work on an open source project from several sources, so it definitely seems like a good idea. I also appreciate all the other information you gave me!
July 23rd, 2013, 08:26 AM
Software application programming certificatiions
I'm Currently in the beginning stages of obtaining a BA in IT with a concentrate in software application programming--Java Track--
I have three fields in mind. 1: Software Developer 2: Application engineer and 3: Application Developer (in descending order)
What certificates should I obtain while en route through my degree program to increase my chances of getting into one of the above job fields? Are there any most have certificates?
July 23rd, 2013, 09:01 AM
In practical terms you should expend a lot of effort getting familiar with a non-OOP language -- preferably one that is a complete 180 from Java, like Common Lisp or Haskell. If you're already familiar with the Java libraries then Clojure or Scala might serve you better. The reason is to prevent you from getting stuck with OO paradigms and only OO paradigms, because they are not a natural fit everywhere.
Originally Posted by Sam57
As for certificates, you'll have a degree. That's better than any cert (especially if you sneak an electrical engineering or compiler design course in while you're at school -- seriously). But project experience is better than both certs and degrees, by a long way. Most of all, though, spend your time in school doing what you're supposed to be doing: paying attention, asking questions, and thinking.
Spend your time in school working on some generally useful open source stuff that you can point out on your resume if you can. Letting this coincide with major class projects is a good way of accomplishing your school and resume-inflation goals. It doesn't matter what language its in, so long as it demonstrates an ability to get practical things done. If you still want a cert, I'd recommend getting taking a data design course that focuses on Postgres or Oracle. You don't have to go become a wizard DBA (though that is a good way to land good gigs) but understanding functional programming, OOP and relational data design would make you a significant asset.
As for your position descriptions... those sort of blend together in the real world unless you're at a really huge company. If you get on a team doing new development then you might be doing systems work for a while, then move to a new project in applications, then work on a API component of a system or whatever. What changes the most as your career progresses is the likelihood of being picked up as a lead coder, lead developer, project manager or principal designer/architect on a something large and expensive -- and by that time certs will be so last decade for you.
Last edited by zxq9; July 23rd, 2013 at 09:05 AM.
July 23rd, 2013, 09:29 AM
Thanks zxq9...I really do appreciate it. Now i'm going to take a new approach to this.
Originally Posted by zxq9