Advice about web Programming career

They have: 4 posts

Joined: Jul 2006

Hey there,
I was wondering If any of you guys/gals could clear a few things up things for me regarding qualifications in webdesign.

I am basically looking for a career change and have seen courses advertised in newspapers saying earn £750 pound a week after you pass(I think it is CIW cert) and that they have jobs ready for you to go into. Now I am a little cautious when that sort of thing is implied. What is your experience of this sort of thing? I wouldn't like to get into debt for a pipe dream if you know what I mean.

I was thinking that there was some sort of special jobs publication that is only for this sector?

I was wondering if it was lies or not.

I have been around design as a hobby for many years now and thought I would look into it more and see if it was a viable decision for a carrer change.

Advice would be appreciated.

Busy's picture

He has: 6,151 posts

Joined: May 2001

I did a programming course years ago (C++ already knew C), was promised a 'rewarding career' on completion ... never happened, even thou I had good grades and ended up teaching the tutor HTML.

My brother who is now a pc engineer did all the courses starting with A+, had so many qualifactions under his belt he could use letters after his name, took him 3 years to find a ground level job - now he's head hunted.

I have other friends, and my brothers friends who found it hard getting a foot in the door, but once in your in.
The biggest problem you face is you need commerical experience to get a basic job, but without a job you can't get that experience. Starting at the ground level (help desk) you can work yourself up to where the employer will pay for your courses. My brother has to sit his microsoft cert every year or so as well as some others (costing about 12 grand) and the companies pay for it.

The CIW is a very basic cert in the world of certs. look for some jobs in the paper, apply for some (before doing the course) and send in your CV saying you have the CIW cert (no harm as you will get knocked back anyway), if on the off chance you do get the job, then the web is your friend and the answers you seek are only a search query away and you can earn as you learn. My brothers friend did this, lied his way into a job and relied on the web, he has worked in NZ, UK and now is working in Australia on the gold coast. there is a lot to be said about on the job training, teaches you way more than a course ever could

Megan's picture

She has: 11,421 posts

Joined: Jun 1999

I don't know about the UK, but in North America there are tons of these quasi-colleges that offer really fast certfications. I would be wary of them. Even credible colleges can sometimes have bad programs in these areas, and you'd never know from the way they market them. Make sure you ask a lot of questions, especially about the qualifications of the instructors (work experience!) and what grads are doing now. It would be best to talk to people who have graduated from the program, especially those who might not have had the best experience. Don't know how you would go about finding them though.

My boyfriend was looking into programs at Open University and we both thought they looked really good. He also went to a training class in London that he really liked but I don't remember the name of the company.

They have: 4 posts

Joined: Jul 2006

Thank you both for the great advice.

I have been down that road busy where I had certificates with distinctions in electronics servicing but in the end there was no job. It was many years ago. I think you hit the nail on the head real experience matters.

Your definately right about the web is your friend. It is where I have learn't 98% of what I know infact last book I bought was in 1998 for html laura lemay was the author I think.

I don't know if I could lie but It may be something I would consider as I think I could hold my own at a interview with what knowledge I have. Is the CIW about basic things like what the title and head tags, meta tags , tables and such? I have no idea about this.

Would a decent portfolio help enforce this white lie showing that I have the appropriate knowledge at a interview?

Megan I will ask around. I will certainly try to gauge any lecturers knowledge before I say yes to anything.

I am being very wary as I do not want to make a mistake and get into debt for nothing. On the other hand it is something I would like to do but get very indecisive because of this exact reason and never get of base one.

I had forgotten about open university courses. I will take a look at that in a little while.

Anyway thanks again to you both. I think this is something I will have to research a whole lot deeper before I do anything.

She has: 54 posts

Joined: Jun 2006

I'm a VB.net/HTML programmer with very little schooling in it. When I was looking for a programming job, it was a lot easier to find one of those than it was finding a starter job (i.e. help desk, computer tech support in call center), but those did also help when I finally found a good job. For me, what landed me the job I have now (I didn't have ANY high-end programming xp) was the fact that I answered a question that everyone else that had a degree couldn't. The interview is what made the difference. It you know what you are talking about, they usually don't mind if you have a degree or not. And once you're in, you're in. Now I can go get a job anywhere just based on my xp!

~Firegirl~

Busy's picture

He has: 6,151 posts

Joined: May 2001

Also, if the courses use the CBT method - walk away, no dont walk, run and don't look back.
Those CBT courses are really bad, heaps of bad habits, errors and typos, at least the html, java, C, C++, WRML, javascript and dhtml ones are (my brother had them all as part of being cert'd in whatever)

All courses are just basic stuff, no course teaches advance stuff unless it's a hands on type course where you do at least half of it in the real world, working for a company while you learn (these courses give you real life training which is awesome for portfolio/CV).

A portfolio always helps but if it's server side stuff then it needs to be commerical

They have: 426 posts

Joined: Feb 2005

Ok so what is exactly commercial. Working for a company on there website doing server scripting, or do you think you can create your own commercial experience? for example creating a successful website that has been completly written and marketed by you? Or is this just personal training?

They have: 20 posts

Joined: Jul 2006

I would say check the area you plan to work in. If there is a demand for your skill and you are dedicated you will make good money in the tech industry. Here is an example. I live in Austin TX. There are a TON of tech companies here. For a person to come into a company without work experience they would start off getting paid ok. After a few years they will be able to make some good money if they stick with it.

I hope this helps.

Johnny

Busy's picture

He has: 6,151 posts

Joined: May 2001

benf wrote: Ok so what is exactly commercial. Working for a company on there website doing server scripting, or do you think you can create your own commercial experience? for example creating a successful website that has been completly written and marketed by you? Or is this just personal training?

Commercial can mean different things to different people - has such a vast umbrella. IMO commerical is revenue based, a site that has an income from sales, this does not include adverts, affiliate links or drop ship type sites.
If you work on a clients site for 6 months plus it could be note worthy as long as you worked alone and not as part of a team, otherwise how do they know which bits you did - no proof, which is good as it proves you can do it but also bad as it doesn't show your a team player. It's a nasty catch 22 world out there.

If it's just web design you want to get into, a portfolio of sites you've done for others is a good start.
If it's graphics, then logo, banners, layouts etc for others is good
If it's scripting/programming then e-com style sites for others plus any scripts you have written and placed at places like hotscripts.com or if you have hired yourself out as a freelancer on any of the freelance sites.

personal sites don't do much, although they do show what type of person you are (kind of, ok not really), things like blogs etc just show you can download a script and babble on, and I doubt any employee would read any of it. Having working examples of established sites you've done is always going to get pixie points, and all you need for proof is "webdesign by you" on the site (or similar)

When I was looking for a web designers job I was told to ring a company (with no intention of actually asking for a job) and ask the person who does the hiring what they are most interested in - skill wise, this not only gives you insight into what is needed it also shows a willingness to learn and get ahead that employees like. Just don't do what I did and end up dating the girl who hires people lol, they dont mix business with pleasure Roll eyes

I saw a job ad in the paper the other week, they wanted someone that had at least 5 years commerical experience in Dreamweaver, CSS, Flash, PHP, MYSQL, ASP, SQL, Paint shop, freehand and something else as well as SE expertise - they don't want a person, they want a machine. would be very rare for anyone to have that much experience in all that stuff.

The best advice I can offer is believe in yourself
good luck

They have: 2 posts

Joined: Jul 2006

Alright guys. I won't give a bunch of bull. My experience is that in the realm of programming careers "Experience is better than School" An employer will be more likely to hire someone with experience over a degree and no experience. Although If you have both a Degree and the Experience then you are "Golden". If you are in school then take some programming courses, just to get the foundation ex.. object-orientation, poly-morphism etc.... Make sure you go to college though because you will be a worth a lot more. While in college get your foot in the door and then by the time you get out you should have a good portfolio and experience to boot. Oh Yah! Don't use one of those little tiny trade schools to get certs or a degree. Most of them just want your money and then don't give the right support when it comes to getting a job and or they aren't accredited like they say. I went to one of those trade schools once. It was for my A+ certification. It sucked. I ended up getting a $7.50 an hour job. after I got my cert. No-one would hire me because I had no experience so I had to take it. It was the only way in. But, I guess you have to start somewhere. Thank God that I lived with my parents at the time otherwise $7.50 per hour wouldn't have got me anything. Iwould have been out on the street. Because, you cannot find an apartment where I'm at for that cheap. GO TO COLLEGE. GET EXPERIENCE. BUILD A PORTFOLIO.

Megan's picture

She has: 11,421 posts

Joined: Jun 1999

I'm going to disagree with a few of the things Busy said.

If you want to do graphic design you probably need to go to college for that. If you want a real job in the field you'll need a kick-*** portfolio, and you need to know how to use all the high end programs. Some piddly banners or little web sites aren't going to cut it.

I think personal sites are a good way to show potential employers what you know. If you start blogging about the field you're trying ot get into, or even talk about what you're learning and things like that it can show an employer a lot about your abilities and set you apart from other applicants. You could also include samples of your work and your CV and things like that. I work at a university and we're really starting to push ePortfolios, which is basically a personal site with exmples of your work and reflection on what you've learned.

Remember that employers aren't just looking at how well you can program. They want someone who can communicate well, has good "soft skills", and can work well with their team. These days it isn't always enough to have the technical skills.

The bit about calling up a company and asking to talk to them (not about a job) is something that was suggested to me as well. Although I could never get up the guts to do it. You're supposed to find out who the person in charge of the department you want to work for is (good luck finding that out! If you're lucky it'll be on their website), then go through this whole process of sending a paper letter and asking to meet with them and stuff. Seemed like too much faking it to me, although networking is definitely good!

Megan's picture

She has: 11,421 posts

Joined: Jun 1999

Here's an article that might ineterest you:

Can't Find a Job? Here's Why...

JeevesBond's picture

He has: 3,955 posts

Joined: Jun 2002

Megan wrote: Although I could never get up the guts to do it. You're supposed to find out who the person in charge of the department you want to work for is (good luck finding that out! If you're lucky it'll be on their website), then go through this whole process of sending a paper letter and asking to meet with them and stuff. Seemed like too much faking it to me, although networking is definitely good!

The way I got around this is to get a very low-end job in the right department. Being a bit loud and opinionated, people soon understood what skills I had, saw a gap in the Engineering team that I could fill doing web development. Although loud I always attempted to be modest - the trick is to hook people into asking you about something before you tell them. Smiling

I got on friendly terms with the person running the project I wanted to be on, he's a really nice bloke, we got on well so he wanted me on the team. So there is always a bit of luck involved, things you can do though:

  1. Be in the right place at the right time.
  2. Get to know the right people.
  3. Make sure you're skillset matches that of the job you're aiming for, if it doesn't bend yours to fit and/or get some demonstrable experience in the right areas
  4. When you're in the right place, help engineers around you, especially if they're related to or are doing the role you want to slot into. Doing what is known as Social Engineering.
  5. It's not what you know, it's what you know and who you know. Smiling

In answer to the original question I would be extremely dubious about anything that promises results! Would you trust an SEO expert that said they could guarantee you to get the top position on Google? I wouldn't. I would be very suspicious!

Possibly the best way to find out is to ask them some very probing - open ended - questions about the course, such as:

  • Do you teach table or xhtml/css based design?
  • What server technologies do you use?
  • How do you intend to put me in touch with employers so I can get my £750?

That's just off the top of my head, if you need more am sure I could have a think about it!

a Padded Cell our articles site!

MarkJo1980's picture

They have: 2 posts

Joined: Jun 2011

Web programmer, also known as a computer or software programmer, is considered to be one of the most popular IT professional jobs today.

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