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Old 06.09.2007, 10:17
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Re-Training for IT industry

Mods, not sure if this is the place for this, apologies if it's not.

I have a few questions about the IT sector. Im one of these trailing partners, and although I usually find work wherever we go it is becoming more difficult as my age advances (just turned 47) and with the language barriers.
I've been thinking for sometime now about retraining for the IT industry, but realise that there are a lot of sectors and qualifications out there, my questions are: Does anyone know..

1) Are there any recommended training centres in the French speaking part, and are some courses offered in English.

2) For my age which sector would be more appropriate to get into i.e. programmer, administrator, support, network etc

3) Are these qualifications/certificates recognised worldwide or only in CH

4) Would my age be a barrier to finding work in this industry both here in Switzerland and other countries, ie would I be wasting my time because I'd be to old and lacking experience.
Thanks for any responses
Nick
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Old 06.09.2007, 12:48
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Re: Re-Training for IT industry

Sorry to say this, but I have found the IT sector to be very ageist, probably more so than any other industry. They also require large skill sets and lots of experience. There doesn't seem to be many junior positions around that allow training, most companies do not seem to have the time or man power to take on someone who learns on the job.

That said there is always high demand for IT skills due to the lack of people studying for it in Universities and people's perception that it is only for geeks! It depends what sector you want to enter into as to what to study for. If you enjoy coding then the top skills at the moment are for Microsoft .Net especially web coding e.g. ASP.Net. If you like looking at data and doing data queries/reports then look at Microsoft SQL Server or Oracle Databases courses. You can do exams in any Microsoft applications, just look out for Microsoft Certified Professional courses. These are world wide Microsoft recommended standards so you can take them with you to any country.
If you like building PCs, fixing problems etc, then maybe look at Helpdesk support. If you think sorting out servers and setting up networks is the way forward then look at courses specific for that e.g. Cisco exams seem to be a very popular and in demand.

Personally if I was you, I would choose what you would like to do first. If you like coding then have a go at building your own websites. If you would like to do networking then buy/borrow a couple of old PCs and build a network at home. A lot of IT courses can be very expensive so choose what road you want first before you put your money down.
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Old 06.09.2007, 12:52
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Re: Re-Training for IT industry

Thanks, some useful info to take on board
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Old 06.09.2007, 19:47
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Re: Re-Training for IT industry

Would like to add:

- Java (if you like coding). Here I'd advice to learn how to work in some java frameworks (Eclipse, GWT).
- Databases: Besides formal training, you can train yourself with "top", products: IBM DB2 and Oracle. These companies have in their websites free versions of DB products to train and learn.
- In a more "IT Consulting" side. I would advice to learn Business Intelligence, (even though here your might need previous experience in DB and Business projects). A good start point if you haven't work on BI is learning from Pentaho Suite of products (free too), (www.pentaho.com).
- ERP is a good choice too, but I think, previous business "hands-on" experience is mandatory. (SAP, Axapta, etc.)

PD: Besides my IT Job, I work as academic staff for an University here and do some mentoring too, so if you need further info, just let me know.
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Old 06.09.2007, 20:22
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Re: Re-Training for IT industry

I would agree with: go with whatever makes you happy. I must agree what the IT sector is very ageist, you hardly find IT support guys who are 40+, and I have never met an IT guy who entered IT while in his 40's. IT certification is quite expensive and usually required if one wants to get a shot at a job...if you're on a budget (like myself) then self study is the only option. Perhaps you can focus on an extremely rare skill, like supporting a really arcane piece of banking software.
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Old 07.09.2007, 06:33
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Re: Re-Training for IT industry

I disagree with the last 2 posters in some respects.

- Some of the IT sector is ageist. but it's usually agents who apply ageism when filtering CVs.
I'm the sunny side of 40 (just ) but I know a fair number of 40+ moving jobs easily.

- Most of the support guys I know are 40+, or least mid 30s onwards.
And DBAs (all flavours), and even my own team of MS developers.

- fran001: spoken like a true academic by ignoring Microsoft.
Microsoft is far easier to get into without the Java/Oracle elitism.
And there are far more online resources for MS stuff.

I'd recommend triyng to get a junior support role to test the waters and find your niche.
It will be difficult to get a "specialised" job without experience in Java, databases, ERP, SAP etc.
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Old 07.09.2007, 08:40
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Re: Re-Training for IT industry

Ok here is my two pennies worth,

I have been working in IT since I was 16, and I have often been asked how people can get into it. I do know that most of the juniour positions are taken up with younger staff, but that should not stop you.

So if you wanted a good basic start then an A+ is the first thing you should look for. Its an all round hardware and software qualification, it its self might tell you if you are right for IT. If you don’t enjoy it then it may be better not to start out as it gets a lot harder.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_ss_w_h_/026-3091582-6268458?initialSearch=1&url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=A%2B

have a look at these first, don’t spend a fortune on the course when a book for a few pounds will be just as good.

The http://www.comptia.org/ give courses and certificates that are recognized all over the world, While they are basic compared to the others it will give you a good start.

After you have done the basic its then time to try something harder, all the big companies offer online courses that you can do at home. Pick something that interests you if you are not interested in it, it won’t work.

If you have any more questions I am happy to help

Sam
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Old 07.09.2007, 09:02
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Re: Re-Training for IT industry

I'd agree with the above post.

You can buy the books you need from Amazon or similar (or I've heard that some people have downloaded them for free from popular filesharing networks) and study at home for a fraction of the cost of doing an organised course. You can also find practice exams which are close to the real thing (I used 'transcender' exams) - so you can establish that you're ready for the exam before paying the cash to take it. Oh, yeah there are also training video's you watch on your computer called CBTNuggets and Learnkey which are absolute gold, you should look out for these.

The A+ is definately a good place to start, you need to pass the OS, and Hardware exams to be A+ certified. I did this and the I-Net+ which deals with web technologies, before moving on to the Microsoft exams (MCP's).

I haven't done the Cisco exams but am familiar with them. The entry level exam is the CCNA, and is more networking (cabling, switches, routers) oriented than the MS exams, which are obviously based around the MS Operating Systems.

It seems to me that most people find their way in to the industry in some kind of helpdesk role, where hopefully you'd get to do some support using remote support tools (such as PCAnywhere), and also some support on the telephone. I also know people who started doing rollout contracts, where you dump pc's on desks, plug everything in, then configure them.

Last edited by adrian76; 07.09.2007 at 10:24.
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Old 07.09.2007, 10:15
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Re: Re-Training for IT industry

What is your current job / Career. I'm just wondering whether you can sidleine from that profession into IT. That way utilising both sets of skills.

Don't be fooled by any of the advertising you see for computer skills courses offering large salaries and stuff. Most IT jobs you start at the bottom (usually help desk) and work your way up. That's probably why the Ageist thing. It usually takes 18 months to two years to get out of the help desk and on to something my specialised. The help desk is good for gaining a breadth of knowledge across all the organisation. It's also good for networking with people and building a good reputation. The downside is you have to hqave a lot of patience and enjoy being shouted at down the phone once in a while. Normallly because some dumb @SS doesn't know how to reboot there machine or find the start button.

There are two routes you usually can take once in an IT organisation Technical or managerial. Most people who talk about IT stuff are technical. I have been fortunate to do a bit of both sides. The real money is in management, but the fun is in the techncal side. At least for me anyway.

Myself. I have 18 years IT experience and hold a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) 2003 qualification. Background is mainly Microsoft products, architecting, building and supporting application infrastructures and security.

I'm currently unemployed Ok it was my own doing left my job inb the UK to come to Switzerland so my Wife could continue her career with the Swiss Government.

I'm taking a career break to study French, Java, SAP, Sharepoint, Linux, Unix, Office. I going to start looking for a job end of October for a start date in the new year.

Anyway I'm waffling.
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Old 07.09.2007, 10:20
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Re: Re-Training for IT industry

This is important. It will be much easier to find a job using a skill or experience you already have, and then move into the IT side of that business...

dave

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What is your current job / Career. I'm just wondering whether you can sidleine from that profession into IT. That way utilising both sets of skills.
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Old 07.09.2007, 11:51
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Re: Re-Training for IT industry

Thanks everyone for your constructive comments.
I was looking to veer more towards database administration, but appreciate the fact that maybe I should look at the microsoft A+ first off, as Sam says it might help to tell me if it is right for me, also it does make sense to sideline into it through my present job. However I work with such a small outfit in corporate hospitality that that wouldn't be an option.

Once again really appreciate your input and comments,
Nick.
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Old 07.09.2007, 12:57
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Re: Re-Training for IT industry

Not a problem Nickj, if you need any more help let us know

Sam
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Old 07.09.2007, 13:44
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Re: Re-Training for IT industry

I believe that people with knowledge of SUN Solaris (a UNIX flavor) are very much in demand. I've worked in a bank for 2 years and all the critical trading apps were running on SUN Solaris over there, so getting a SUN SCSA might be a good start. I don't know too much about the CompTIA A+ exam, I've heard that most of the material is outdated, but that info comes second hand to me. Any opinions? As for networking, the Cisco CCNA is a good place to start, but it's a difficult exam to pass, anything below 85% is a fail, I was lucky and passed it in one go, but then again I've got 5 years of IT experience. Another networking certification option is Nortel Networks, though not as popular as Cisco, it is more of a niche market certification and is a requirement for certain jobs. As for Microsoft exams, I dunno, isn't the market saturated with Microsoft certified techies? Any opinions? In any case, I hope something that suits your fancy, learning something you like makes the process a whole lot easier!
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Old 07.09.2007, 14:27
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Re: Re-Training for IT industry

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As for Microsoft exams, I dunno, isn't the market saturated with Microsoft certified techies?
Definately, but well, I don't know the exact figures, and I've noticed the likes of Google looking for Linux people this year, but I'd still say a very decent majority of support jobs are still asking for Microsoft.

Its still gotta be the place to start - although, with the Cisco route you're probably more platform independant I'd say.

As for A+, they update it every few years, I know they did in 2004. I'd say that definately its not upto date with the latest technology. But its still a good place to get that grounding (if thats what you need).
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Old 07.09.2007, 14:41
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Re: Re-Training for IT industry

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Definately, but well, I don't know the exact figures, and I've noticed the likes of Google looking for Linux people this year, but I'd still say a very decent majority of support jobs are still asking for Microsoft.

Its still gotta be the place to start - although, with the Cisco route you're probably more platform independant I'd say.

As for A+, they update it every few years, I know they did in 2004. I'd say that definately its not upto date with the latest technology. But its still a good place to get that grounding (if thats what you need).
Yes, there are a lot of devalued MS certs out there.
However, if it's so simple to get, why not have it...?

It shows you're prepared to spend time and money for a piece of paper and it may be the thing that separates you from the other, otherwise equal candidate.

Last edited by gbn; 07.09.2007 at 14:41. Reason: typo
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Old 07.09.2007, 14:49
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Re: Re-Training for IT industry

I have all the MS certs MCP MCSE(twice) MCDBA etc
what I have noticed is not that i need them for my job. The knowledge need to pass the exams are nothing like working in the reall world. I'm glad i have them as when it comes to getting an agency to put your CV forward the often say WOW you have all these certs you must be good, and just put me forward.

SO

The Certs get me interviews and my expreience gets me the jobs.

you kind of have to have both.

but I think the advice we all agree on is that the A+ is a very good place to start for anyone who wants to find out if IT is the place for them. No matter if you later choose CISCO, Unix, DBA or Microsoft(MS) the A+ will give you the basics that is used by all of them

Sam
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Old 07.09.2007, 19:12
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Re: Re-Training for IT industry

I agree with that.

Most people see IT as just support roles. It's not that simple there are too many areas to specialise in.

A+ plus is a good place to start as it gives you the bare essentials.

The Microsoft Certs I got paid for by my Employer and it helped me understand more of the theory behind other systems.
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Old 07.09.2007, 19:47
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Re: Re-Training for IT industry

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I believe that people with knowledge of SUN Solaris (a UNIX flavor) are very much in demand. I've worked in a bank for 2 years and all the critical trading apps were running on SUN Solaris over there, so getting a SUN SCSA might be a good start. I don't know too much about the CompTIA A+ exam, I've heard that most of the material is outdated, but that info comes second hand to me. Any opinions? As for networking, the Cisco CCNA is a good place to start, but it's a difficult exam to pass, anything below 85% is a fail, I was lucky and passed it in one go, but then again I've got 5 years of IT experience. Another networking certification option is Nortel Networks, though not as popular as Cisco, it is more of a niche market certification and is a requirement for certain jobs. As for Microsoft exams, I dunno, isn't the market saturated with Microsoft certified techies? Any opinions? In any case, I hope something that suits your fancy, learning something you like makes the process a whole lot easier!
I would refrain from advising certifications on a concrete product for a beginner. While the bank you worked at might be pushing UNIX stuff, the TBB (two biggest banks) are moving their core products to the Microsoft platform.

I agree with the others who advised more generic training and trying to get a helpdesk role at first. Once you're hired, it is a lot easier to move to other roles and the OP shouldn't have problems advancing his career. What good is a specialized certification if there is no underlying experience? I think it would be a waste of money and effort.

Anyway, fingers crossed for NickJ, I'm sure that with determination you'll find a way to start an IT career.
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Old 10.09.2007, 02:27
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Re: Re-Training for IT industry

Dear GBN:

I completely agree with you...! I think your misunderstood my post.
I was not leaving MS out. If you read my post carefully , it starts with "Would like to add:"
(i said "add"), because .NET (Microsoft stuff) was already posted by our friend WelshBoyo).
Maybe I should have started my post with: "Besides to what WelshBoyo said, I would like to add: ...."

Regards,
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Old 18.02.2008, 12:10
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Re: Re-Training for IT industry

Hi all. Thought I'd just tag onto this already useful thread.

I'm in a similar posish to nickj, well similarish. I'm a mere baby at 29 but I'm seriously considering getting out of academia (which is where I'm at now). I'm English, live in Germany at the mo and would like to come back to Switzerland (we lived in Zuerich for three years) and find a real job (no offence to other academics intended ). Zuerich would be good, but I'd certainly consider elsewhere. January 2010 would be my ideal time to make the jump.

Now I do have programming experience, I'm a theoretical/numerical astrophysicist and I program in Fortran (I know) and a bit of C. I have a UK PhD in theoretical astrophysics and three years experience as a postdoc. I'm doing a part time one year course in Java (German govt. approved if you don't mind, and auf Deutsch) which I'm getting quite a lot out of. I'm an experienced linux user, but I don't know a lot about admin, though I did do a short course last year. My German is fair to middling (B2/C1 level) and I get by in French. I have done a little SQL and php in the past but just for fun and it's very rusty.

So, in addition to the great advice previously meted out, does anyone have any suggestions for my case? Where I might look? What I might do to prepare myself? Am I barking up the wrong tree entirely?

Thanks is advance.
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