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Beginning an IT career

I have a graduate degree in physics with a knack for creative problem-solving and would like to transition to having a career in IT, more specifically, software development.
I certainly am not able to study for an undergraduate computer science degree at this time, however, I am able to take one or two certification courses. My hope is to get an entry level IT job and make progress over time toward programming.
My questions is, what course(s) would you recommend I consider taking to get certification to be eligible for an entry level IT position that would benefit my interest in software development?

Would getting CompTIA A+ certified allow ease in being hired? Then earn money to take a few programming courses?

What about software testing toward ASQTB/ ISQTB? Would certification in that be good to start with?

Or should I jump right into studying LINUX or even JAVA programming to begin with? Or would I still not land an IT job right away after certification in either or those due to lack of on the job experience?

Any recommendations for someone with low-level IT experience? Since I know it would be difficult for me to get into IT with only a physics degree.

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Clarification Request
About CompTIA

In reply to: Beginning an IT career

Are your possible employers asking for this?

Same question about Linux and Java.

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Are your possible employers asking for this?

In reply to: About CompTIA

No. Not at all.

I'm currently unemployed and trying to break into the IT field to eventually code/ program. Wondering what's the best way to start..

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Then a total waste of money and time.

In reply to: Are your possible employers asking for this?

There are folk that are very new to all this and ask "How do I learn to code?"

The answer is the same as "Which way to Carnegie Hall?" Which is practice, practice, practice.

Those certifications are to part you from your money most of the time, especially if the employer didn't call for it.

For me, my best calling card was the apps I've written over the years. It's very nice to pull out my smart phone and demo what I wrote. In Other Words (IOW), build your portfolio. DO NOT GET HUNG UP ON "I want to be in IT." Why? IT here are the people running around rebooting PCs, connecting them to the network and loading the workplace machines with images.

The actual programmers here have never been in IT.

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IT is not Software Development

In reply to: Then a total waste of money and time.

I agree with R. Proffitt. In most places, there's essentially no overlap between IT and development.

You don't say what kind of programming you want to do. General fields include business, games, utilities, embedded, etc. Within those are sub-specialties like databases, networking, user interface, 3D graphics, physics simulation, AI, real-time control, asset management, etc. Some areas require far more discipline than others. If you're writing software for aircraft control then there's a lot of training and real certifications involved. OTOH, in game programming and a lot of utilities, "Not Crashing a Lot" is generally Good Enough. In between is something like a banking back end that can cost millions if it goes down, but generally lives don't depend on it.

Do you have any programming experience at all? Spreadsheet macros, or .BAT/Powershell/Linux scripts? One of those might be a good place to start, since you're already familiar. Come up with some simple tasks you want to do, or that you can add to an existing bit of code you already have.

I'm not sure what the popular beginning languages are, these days. Used to be Java, but I think that one is a bit advanced when learning on your own. I know that Python is easy to use. But, I'm not sure if it teaches good practices. There are plenty of How to Program sites out there. And, a lot of forums that are happy to help a beginner. (Make it clear that you're not a student looking for people to do homework for you Happy

After learning the basics, I once again think that a good place to start is to take some existing code and find something to change or add to it. Be very conservative. Even seemingly simple ideas can end up requiring a great deal of work. But, seeing code that actually sets things up and gets things done will be useful.

Forums and magazines was where I learned a lot, early on. And still do, albeit the web replaces the magazines. You'll see a lot of Stack Exchange when doing web searches for solutions to programming problems. And, chances are you'll settle on one or two forums with people who fit your level of experience.

Drake Christensen

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Also, branch out

In reply to: IT is not Software Development

One thing I forgot to add is, once you start to get comfortable, be voracious in trying new things. Try to do the same task in two or three languages. Learn more than one development environment, such as Eclipse and Visual Studio (free to download for non-commercial use.) Port a very simple program from Windows to Linux, or the other way.

Doing that will help separate in your mind the basic concepts vs the implementation details.

My anecdote: I first learned Object Oriented Programming in MS-DOS in Turbo Pascal v5.5. Not long after that, I did some Windows programming in C. My next job, we were using Microsoft's Foundation Class C++ library in Windows. With my background, the interfaces between the OS, the class library, the language syntax, the OOP structure were pretty clear to me.

My colleague was proficient in C in DOS. He was a bright guy, but, he was new to C++, OOP and Windows programming. When he was trying to build up a new section of the program, or trying to diagnose a bug, he had an extremely difficult time seeing through the different layers. Was he having trouble with OOP, or with an MFC detail? Was this a Windows issue, or a C++ mistake?

As an example of voracious, a guy on my hockey team is in a corporate environment, and on his own, he learns a new language every few months. He's volunteered his time to help the developer of an app he uses. It keeps him from trapping himself in a box. He ends up with many different perspectives on any issue he approaches. He has many tools, not just a metaphorical hammer.

Again, this advice is for after you start to get comfortable. To start with, it's okay to focus on one language and one environment.

All Answers

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I suggest you get into IT at a lower level

In reply to: Beginning an IT career

like a help desk type job then get training in web development. Developers in my organization are in IT but we are not developing much anymore. We are purchasing software from 3rd party vendors. Alot of our developers and moved into application support and sometime do get involved in writing integrations to those systems and using MS SQL 2012 and above. We are using MS SQL for reporting and using stored procedures in our interfaces.

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OK, for what it's worth...

In reply to: Beginning an IT career

... and that may not be much after the passage of half a century (!) my experience was not dissimilar to yours.I graduated with a degree in Physics and Chemistry, didn't really know what I wanted to do. I still had in mind the words of wisdom from the reception teacher at my high school, when he asked each one of us what we had come to study? "All wrong," he said, "you come here to learn how to learn."

For whatever reason, you don't want to become a physicist at this stage, not a problem, physics is a very logical science, thinking about developing an idea from first principles. Pretty much the same as computer programming or design.

In the UK, where I then lived, a well known engineering company was just embarking on a conversion of their developed programs from a machine now full to capacity to a new generation machine - one that introduced the concept of compatibility, so hopefully, this would be the last time this conversion would be necessary. They posted an advertisement offering open interviews at a few locations, the only requirement being a degree, any discipline - i.e. those who have learned how to learn.

I was successful in gaining a position and because the new machine needed a new language, they provided full training in programming in it. It's worth mentioning at this point I had only ever seen one computer, let alone programmed one! I never regretted my decision and developed my career in all aspects of what is now called IT.

What, if anything, can you pull from this? I was lucky, in that I found a company that believed its lifeblood depended on developing is staff and also because they were making a major transition at the time.

You'll need to do some serious research, there are a lot of new technologies making their inroads into general usage, for example, Artificial Intelligence, the Blockchain, Augmented and Virtual Reality. One thing these new technologies have in common is a scarcity of skilled practitioners and, being fresh out of college, your learning abilities are at their highest level. If you have an understanding of the basic concepts, rather than the nuts and bolts of actual coding, that will stand you in good stead. The hard part will be finding a company committed to staff development. Then find out what their plans are (annual report) and work out how you might apply some of your academic skills to address their problems (i.e. boost the bottom line!).

Good luck!

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Most inspiring

In reply to: OK, for what it's worth...

Not that inspiration will land me in the lap of my goal, but this helps tremendously in many ways!

Thank you.

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