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Computing College Course Question & Advice Needed About Certs.

Last response: in Business Computing
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November 23, 2012 10:29:37 PM

Sorry if this isn't the right section. I'm 16 years old and I am choosing my college courses. I have been debating whether or not to do a Computing AS course or if it would just be a waste of time. I aim to get a job in IT - I am more inclined towards the hardware side of things and want to know if that course will be beneficial or if there is a better option.

Another thing is I have read a little bit about certifications such as the MCITP Certification and was wondering what age you have to be to do the cert., plus, when the best time to do the course would be(i.e. whilst I am at college, after college?).

Please feel free to help me out, thanks in advance :) 
November 23, 2012 10:39:23 PM

Some college's have certifications built into their Network/System Engineer courses. It sound like you either would want to go into the Business Computing degree field or the Network/System Engineering. Computer Science is usually for programming. Usually the head of the department or your college counselor will help find the non-programming one.


As far as age is required, I don't think there is a required age for certs- it's whenever you can pony up the money for the study materials and the tests (which can range from $300 to $1000 to just take the test). If your college has certificates built into their program, they'll generally give you a waiver.

The IT field is like any other professional field. You start out at the bottom and work your way up - as experience is the most important thing you can get. I'm only 25, but I've been working in IT since I was 20 and had to work my way up from the Help Desk *shudder shudder*

To answer your question: College and Certs are both a great way to get your foot in the door, but experience and work ethic is what is most important. When it comes to higher level and higher paying positions, employers want both, as well as at least 3 of your last 5 years having actively do X.
November 24, 2012 8:09:25 AM

Ok, thanks for the quick reply. In the college prospectus it mentions a 'IT (Business) Diploma (90 Credits)' and then in the second year you can move into to the extended diploma. This is the course description: "This course covers a variety of aspects of IT including website production, e-commerce, and the impact of IT on business systems. In this programme, you will investigate software design and development, looking at a variety of programming languages including Java, Javascript, Visual Basic, Scratch and C. You will actively use Java to undertake object- oriented programming. Students also learn to write machine code to develop small programs. Computer games development is also a feature of this course and you will learn how to use a visual language, Game Maker, to design and develop your own computer game. The course will also allow you to explore computing and hardware options; gaining skills in installing and upgrading software, computer networks, and organisational system security." Just wondering if this would be what I was looking for.

What are your opinions?
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November 25, 2012 4:57:25 PM

Opinions?
Anonymous
November 26, 2012 12:41:59 PM

It depends on what you want to do in the IT field, it is broad and varied.

The course sounds like it covers everything which tends to make me wonder how well it covers everything given the length of the course. Certs are good to backup experience, MCITP is being retired in June 2013 to be replaced by MCSA/MCSE.

CompTIA Server+, Network+, Security+ and possibly Storage+ would be good certs to get your CV recognised when applying for jobs. I think it would be better to go after vendor specific certs once you know where your career interests are.

Unless you get a degree course funded I wouldn't go that route, poor return on investment and it won't land you a dream job once you graduate. In the last 10 years I have seen quite a lot of applicants for jobs with fresh new graduation papers and not one of them knew how to deal with common everyday issues that you will see on a corporate network. One of them we did employ, but at just a little over entry level status/pay.
November 26, 2012 6:08:28 PM

Computer Games Development - Don't touch it. This is a flashy popular degree program. Unless they have a high direct hire rate. It's marketing mumbo-jumbo. For real game development look into Digipen and SMU's Guildhall program.

The IT Business - Sounds like they are trying to combine a typical Computer Science course with a Computer Engineering/Business Computing degree. You'll probably walk away without deep knowledge of either. Again, look at their direct hire out rate.

I'm going to agree with Mal - having a good idea of what you want to do before you get into the field helps. I got my degree in Computer Science (Programing) and now do absolutely none of it - found it to be too tedious. I'm a business consultant and system engineer now. Of course, I came from a small town, so I wasn't afforded the opportunity of "testing the waters" until after I had already finished college.

If at all possible, intern for a company as jr. developer or a help desk.

If you had to pick one of the college courses - go with the IT business but supplement it with certs that lead you to the field of your choice. If you want to do networking, get your Network+, Security+, and CCNA. If you want to do System Engineering, get your A+, Linux+, Network+, and start working on your MCSA/MCSE.




November 27, 2012 2:35:18 PM

Ok, one last question: is it compulsory to have Maths/Further Maths at a-level even if you decide to do system engineering, or is it just a good thing to have?
November 27, 2012 2:45:25 PM

I work in IT support and have no qualifications beyond a D in A level Computing.

What you want (in general) is experience. I've worked for MSN and News Ltd with these qualifications.

The big *but* is that I'm not sure how far up the career ladder I'm likely to get!
November 27, 2012 2:58:17 PM

I'll chime in quickly on my way to work. I'll come back tomorrow morning to respond to any questions you may have.

I'm a software engineer. My degree is a Bachelor's in Software Engineering (pretty uncommon, only about half a dozen universities in the US offer it). It's one of several computer degrees you can get. Here's a quick rundown on what I know about the programs.

1. Software Engineering. This is for people who want to design big, complex programs. Best jobs would be with Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Apple and Facebook (right now).

2. Computer Science. Another programming degree, but more focus on the nuts and bolts and less on process and business than SWE. Either degree is fine for a programmer.

3. IT. Don't expect to get a top job with an IT degree. I work at one of the companies listed above (can't say which), and we employ IT personnel to fix our computers and nothing else. I've seen several people go into IT because the degrees are easy (sorry, they are) and they think they'll get an awesome job "in computers" when they're done. Unfortunately, the awesome jobs require bachelors degrees in CS or SWE.

4. Computer Engineering. This is a hardware degree. If you want to build physical things, like control systems, radars, robots, etc., then this is the degree for you.

5. Systems Engineering. This one I don't know so much about, but from what I gather these are the guys who design large computing resources. Might be a good midpoint between IT and Computer Engineering, would need an actual systems engineer to chime in.

Personally, if you want to make big bucks and want a good job, get a CS or SWE degree. Software Engineer has been ranked the #1 job in the world for two years in a row now, and it's easy to see why. Great pay and benefits, reasonable hours (if you work at a good company) and high work satisfaction make for a pretty damn good career path.
November 27, 2012 3:12:52 PM

Your major may also be classified as Hardware Engineer. Like I am in college for Software.. But my major is classified under Computer Programming. Also to if you want you can probably go get your "certifications" now. All you do is find a A+ Hardware Certification handbook. and then go to a local testing center and then take the test. Hardware can be a bit confusing at first.. But its fun and worth it. I chose the Software side of things because I dream to become a Developer for NVIDIA. But I to like you wanted to be a Hardware Engineer specifically a Thermal Design and Power Design junkie in the Hardware department. But... I learned Money is what runs a country and Software development is needed. If you want to mix business with pleasure. the Networking field is nice. Since how you really do get to do both. And a networking skill is something you can very much use on and off the job.
November 27, 2012 3:36:22 PM

Thanks for the good advice guys, it's definitely given me a lot to think about.
November 27, 2012 6:43:07 PM

@Willard

I can't speak for all System Engineers, but my title is System Engineer, and my daily life is servers, scripts, SQL, etc. Of course, I work in a siloless environment, but it's a wide variety of things requiring a mix of knowledge and experience. As a System Engineer I rarely interact with non C/E/VIP users and I only interact with those upon occasions. I've found the exacts vary from company to company - but you are expected to have a strong knowledge of environments and ecosystems - build, upgrade, maintain, and optimize. I regularly have to leverage knowledge of Powershell, VBA, SQL, Server Infrastructure, Networking Infrastructure, etc.

Then again, I work for an MSP, so I'm not sure how much of that is "run of the mill" for in house IT. I was a System/Network Admin previously and minus the varied environments, the jobs were fundamentally similar.
November 28, 2012 2:31:22 PM

cscott_it said:
@Willard

I can't speak for all System Engineers, but my title is System Engineer, and my daily life is servers, scripts, SQL, etc.

Good to know. As a software engineer, I've never once interacted with a system engineer. Mostly just DBAs and other SDEs. All I know is we kick our server allocation requests over the proverbial fence, and we get an email once they're ready. I presume somebody in your line of work is taking care of the details.
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