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I'd appreciate some advice on certification; I'm switching "careers" RRS feed

  • Question

  • Long story short, I have a master's degree in physics. After graduating in May 2008, I was unemployed for nearly two years. Just a few months ago, I managed to get a teaching job. It is low-paying, however, and I'm being hired on an as-needed basis for periods of three months at a time. I'd say right now that it's safe to say that this degree is not going to give me a real job. I need to abandon any hopes of my master's degree producing anything decent and pursue something else.
    I'm very seriously considering some type of Microsoft certification right now so that I can get a better job and make more than $20k a year. Now, I have a good deal of programming experience that I've learned on my own (C++, Fortran, assembly) over the course of several years. I am not, however, a professional developer with any professional experience. I'm considering getting an MCTS certification in particular.
    So I would just like to get advice on which MCTS would be a good one to get right now. Mainly, I'd like to know which would be most accessible given my background, which would be most marketable nowadays (I was leaning towards some type of .NET certification), and also provide me with the best foundation so that I could branch out into other realms later as needed. If there's anything else that it sounds like I should be aware of, I'd appreciate that also.  Thanks in advance.

    Wednesday, September 29, 2010 3:05 AM

Answers

  • Hi,

    Thanks for your post here

    It depends that on which version of C++ you have got expertise and how you are looking yourself in near future but I will suggest you as per my best knowledge that you should start with latest version of certification of C++ or even .NET which will better for more than five years also most companies are working and planning to switch to newer version its mean if you will get certification on old technology than you will need to upgrade it again soon which will not better I think. I am posting detailed links from Microsoft which will guide you for getting certifications.

    Check both of these links please.

    http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/certification/exam-dev.aspx

    http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/certification/mcsd.aspx#tab2

    If further help needed kindly let us know.

    Regards.

    Shafaquat Ali.


    M.C.I.T.P Exchange 2007/2010, M.C.I.T.P Windows Server 2008, M.C.T.S OCS Server 2007 R2, URL: http://blog.WhatDoUC.net Phone: +923008210320
    Wednesday, September 29, 2010 5:14 AM
  • I had already looked into different Microsoft certifications some. It looks like in the second link you provided, all the exams are "retired." Is this link up-to-date? Also, I was hoping for something where I'd only have to pass one or two exams, instead of five for MCSD. This is why I was really leaning toward MCTS; it looks like they only require that you pass one or two tests. I've been looking at this:
    http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/certification/mcts.aspx#tab2
      In particular, I'm looking at the ones under "Microsoft Visual Studio and Microsoft .NET Framework technologies."  I'm trying to figure out which one of these would be the best; you mentioned that the newer the certification is, the better in general, which makes sense. I mean, if I would simply take & pass exam 70-511, for example, would that be a pretty good marketable certification nowadays? There are just so many that it's hard to select one. But maybe MCTS is a more specialized certification, and I should do something more general when just starting out like I am?
    Thank you for your help.

    Wednesday, September 29, 2010 2:53 PM
  • Hi PCP Smoking Furby,

    If history is anything to go by then take this into consideration. Dijkstra, the famous Dutch computer scientist, was a Physicist. So in fact is the programmer that sits next to me, so you know.

    Thing is right a MS Cert will not get you a job, companies are a bit touch and go with Certs because they only prove that you can study, not that you can develop software. But what a Cert might do is get you an interview, a foot in the door. I tell you something I've got a few Certs and I still get knock backs from jobs (always get an interview though); either I don't interview well or I'm a dick.

    "Hire for how they learn, not for what they know"

    Another thing is this. There are loads of .NET developers out there. Your entering into an job market where there will be a lot of competition. it will be tough but by no means impossible.

     

    To throw a masters away and start again is for me not a good idea you must be able to add to the value of your masters by learning software development. There must be companies out there that need the combined skills of physics and programming (companies that make games come to mind). You must have contacts from university that could offer some guidance.

    If a physicist could develop software what kind of software could he/she develop? and what companies need that sort of software?

    Creating pink fluffy web sites for a software house? no.... Creating computational fluid dynamics for an engineering company? that's a bit more like it...

    So what kind of software technologies do these companies use? Linux? Python? .NET?

    I'd find out...

     

    You should also get into open source projects. Contribute as best you can to them. It's a good way to get valuable programming experience without being a developer.

     

    Anyway not exactly a pro MS Cert post but it's an honest opinion. Good luck to you.

     

    Here is a link to the new MS Certs

    http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/certification/cert-vstudio.aspx#tab2

     

    Look how dilated that furbys pupils are!!! it's out there man.... it's out there.


    …we each have more potential than we might ever presume to guess. (Blog: http://dsmyth.blogspot.com/)
    Wednesday, September 29, 2010 4:30 PM
  • Hi PCP Sm......by

     

    I can sense what is your situation, if not completely understand it. I know for some reason in North America now a days it is difficult and trying to get job in non IT field. I was (i am to be precise) in same boat as you, although i did complete my Bachelor in Telecommunications and graduate almost 5 years ago, within year of graduating moved to Canada. I was not able to secure a job in Telecom, forget job not even an interview.

    Finally after spending 3 years, doing Non professional stuff, I started studying for CompTIA A+ Cert. (I am/was good at hardware & relate stuff, also had some experience as Tech Support with one of major PC manufaturer before coming to Canada. Within a month of studying and doing some research figured out, I need something more concrete than just a cert. finally decided to go for one year Fast track program with an internship focused completely on Database and Application development. I am done with academics right now and working as an intern. And future looks quite good to me if not completely rosy. At the same time now i am pursuing MS certs in Database Techs.

    My point here is same as derek that go for some fast track program focused on computer studies or appllication developemt may be at some good school or Uni. it will definetly help you to get started. and do certs along side. Ofcourse looks like long way but will help you in long term for sure. If program has some internship associated, its great. If not try to voulnteer in some IT development groups or compnies. This will give you invaluable experince to get your foot in door when you graduate.

    P.S. There was a time i used to run away from anything to do with programming...although i liked computers, Now there is no expect of an IT which does not interests me. (this actually happened only after I started my Grad, fast track program) May it be programming, Designing, developing web app or game prog. its an interesting field, and you will explore and enjoy it if you're one of those curious souls.

     

    All the Best

    J

     

     

    Wednesday, October 13, 2010 8:45 PM
  • Hey, I am not going to comment on which is better ? physics degree or being a programmer...

    I think that this is your situation - you are looking to enter dotnet domain. You currently have some experiece on C++ (on your own).


    Let me explain how companies look at dotnet knowledge :

    It is definitly good that you have have c++ knowledge. You should begin to develop console applications using C#. Next, you should advance to developing windows applications. After you have developed some windows applications, try connecting to SQL Database. i.e., ADO.net. once you can connect to database and create windows applications seamlessly, your next goal is ASP.net.

    in windows programming, you have developed programs that run on a single machine. Next, when you design similar programs, that can run on the internet (world wide web or even an inranet), such programming can be broadly be called as ASP.net.



    Now, this is what DOTNET is all about  - you can create windows programs and web programs using dotnet. The important point is that it supports numerous languages also. I have suggested C# for you since you have a background in C++. examples of other languages are VB, VC++etc.

    I suggest that once you are good at programming windows and web programs and connecting to an SQL server, you can review the certifications available. Also refer what the companies are currently asking for. Go ahead, clear the certification, clear your interview and get the job !

    all the best

    Arunjith | Managing Director | MIT Campus - MCITP, MCSA, MCSE, MCTS, CCNP, CCNA, RHCE, Java, Dotnet, PHP training at trivandrum, Kerala, India | www.mitcampus.com

    Saturday, October 16, 2010 12:33 PM

All replies

  • Hi,

    Thanks for your post here

    It depends that on which version of C++ you have got expertise and how you are looking yourself in near future but I will suggest you as per my best knowledge that you should start with latest version of certification of C++ or even .NET which will better for more than five years also most companies are working and planning to switch to newer version its mean if you will get certification on old technology than you will need to upgrade it again soon which will not better I think. I am posting detailed links from Microsoft which will guide you for getting certifications.

    Check both of these links please.

    http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/certification/exam-dev.aspx

    http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/certification/mcsd.aspx#tab2

    If further help needed kindly let us know.

    Regards.

    Shafaquat Ali.


    M.C.I.T.P Exchange 2007/2010, M.C.I.T.P Windows Server 2008, M.C.T.S OCS Server 2007 R2, URL: http://blog.WhatDoUC.net Phone: +923008210320
    Wednesday, September 29, 2010 5:14 AM
  • I had already looked into different Microsoft certifications some. It looks like in the second link you provided, all the exams are "retired." Is this link up-to-date? Also, I was hoping for something where I'd only have to pass one or two exams, instead of five for MCSD. This is why I was really leaning toward MCTS; it looks like they only require that you pass one or two tests. I've been looking at this:
    http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/certification/mcts.aspx#tab2
      In particular, I'm looking at the ones under "Microsoft Visual Studio and Microsoft .NET Framework technologies."  I'm trying to figure out which one of these would be the best; you mentioned that the newer the certification is, the better in general, which makes sense. I mean, if I would simply take & pass exam 70-511, for example, would that be a pretty good marketable certification nowadays? There are just so many that it's hard to select one. But maybe MCTS is a more specialized certification, and I should do something more general when just starting out like I am?
    Thank you for your help.

    Wednesday, September 29, 2010 2:53 PM
  • Hi PCP Smoking Furby,

    If history is anything to go by then take this into consideration. Dijkstra, the famous Dutch computer scientist, was a Physicist. So in fact is the programmer that sits next to me, so you know.

    Thing is right a MS Cert will not get you a job, companies are a bit touch and go with Certs because they only prove that you can study, not that you can develop software. But what a Cert might do is get you an interview, a foot in the door. I tell you something I've got a few Certs and I still get knock backs from jobs (always get an interview though); either I don't interview well or I'm a dick.

    "Hire for how they learn, not for what they know"

    Another thing is this. There are loads of .NET developers out there. Your entering into an job market where there will be a lot of competition. it will be tough but by no means impossible.

     

    To throw a masters away and start again is for me not a good idea you must be able to add to the value of your masters by learning software development. There must be companies out there that need the combined skills of physics and programming (companies that make games come to mind). You must have contacts from university that could offer some guidance.

    If a physicist could develop software what kind of software could he/she develop? and what companies need that sort of software?

    Creating pink fluffy web sites for a software house? no.... Creating computational fluid dynamics for an engineering company? that's a bit more like it...

    So what kind of software technologies do these companies use? Linux? Python? .NET?

    I'd find out...

     

    You should also get into open source projects. Contribute as best you can to them. It's a good way to get valuable programming experience without being a developer.

     

    Anyway not exactly a pro MS Cert post but it's an honest opinion. Good luck to you.

     

    Here is a link to the new MS Certs

    http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/certification/cert-vstudio.aspx#tab2

     

    Look how dilated that furbys pupils are!!! it's out there man.... it's out there.


    …we each have more potential than we might ever presume to guess. (Blog: http://dsmyth.blogspot.com/)
    Wednesday, September 29, 2010 4:30 PM
  • Hi again, look here

    http://jobs.rockstargames.com/rnjobs/jobs2.php

    This is RockStar the makers of GTA and Red Dead Redemption, they are looking for ....

    Physics Programmers

    Rockstar North is seeking experienced, talented physics programmers to join our team  to work across the development of low level physics systems and to innovate on physics in game. This is an exciting opportunity to develop cutting-edge physics and collision systems and use them in creative and novel ways. We want to hear from candidates who can iterate toward the perfect blend of realism and fun in how games feel to play and from candidates with a proven track record in robust, fast physics engine development. You will be working with other departments such as Animation & AI, to solve complex physics problems  - so as well as possessing the math skills you will be able to communicate with clarity and confidence as part of a creative team.

    Requirements:

    • 3+ years physics programming experience
    • Outstanding math skills (linear algebra, trigonometry, matrix/quaternion math)
    • Fluency in C/C++, Assembly, and SIMD programming
    • Strong multi-threaded programming skills
    • Prior experience driving and developing a physics engine for shipped game titles on current generation consoles.
    • Experience of low level optimisations and fixing stability issues.
    • Familiarity with existing physics packages
    • Self-motivation
    • Passion for playing and making games
    • Physics/mathematics/computer science degree
    • Please provide a code sample along with your application.

     

    Masters in Physics + Programming Experience = FTW.

    Contact them and ask about what it would take, what needs to be learned, to get a job like that!

     

     


    …we each have more potential than we might ever presume to guess. (Blog: http://dsmyth.blogspot.com/)
    Wednesday, September 29, 2010 4:37 PM
  • Hi Derek,
    I really appreciate your honest opinion.
    I'd certainly prefer not to start over and give up on the degree I spent so much time and work getting, but really, I've tried looking for jobs, and in two years, I got exactly two interviews, neither of which led to employment. My friends who got their master's degrees around the same time I did are in similar situations; for example: one is going to school to be a massage therapist, one (who was delivering pizza for a long time post-graduation) is now teaching in a high school, and another is an actuary. A master's degree in physics, from what I can tell, is not that marketable, especially now that the economy is really dogshit. And it's not that I went to some two-bit school nobody's heard of; our program is consistently ranked in the top 25 in the nation.
    Still, I'll look into the above job and apply for it. I'd really like to do some physics modelling for a game or computational fluid dynamics modelling, for example, but the jobs out there are so few and far between.
    "Hire for how they learn, not for what they know"
    That's what I always thought, but that hasn't been my experience in this job hunt. I hate to sound so negative, but I'm just trying to be realistic.

    Wednesday, September 29, 2010 8:08 PM
  • It's really difficult getting a job out of university. It's not your masters though, it's not the subject you studied, it's the lack of experience that puts companies off. I got a hons degree in software development and I got plenty of knock backs because lack of experience, like I said before I still get knock backs and it's amazing as I've got plenly of qualifications and experience (might be the problem).

    Your right to be negative about finding work. The whole recruitment process is flawed in my opinion, companies and industries would do well to change it.

    Don't ever think your masters degree wasn't worth it though.

     

    The RockStar job was to show you that software development is multi-disciplined. You have the oppertunity to combine two disciplines; but for what end?

    You can be sure there is someone at RockStar who knows what the best next move for you is. I'd contact RockStar and ask them about it.

     

    Maybe a course like this would be better than a MS Cert. Maybe a crash course... it takes a few years anyway to get MS Certs.

    http://www.uws.ac.uk/courses/ug-courseinfo.asp?courseid=720

     

    I actually think your in a great position, you've got an oppertunity to move towards developing console games; it will take some effort to get there but you've got a great head start.

     

    Anyway don't get yourself down.


    …we each have more potential than we might ever presume to guess. (Blog: http://dsmyth.blogspot.com/)
    Thursday, September 30, 2010 9:47 AM
  • Yeah, the lack of experience thing certainly seems to be a major stumbling block. It's a contradiction because you need experience to get work, but you can only get experience by first getting work.
    But anyway, yeah, what the ____, I will try to contact Rockstar and possibly other companies. Maybe I should reconsider this whole MS certification thing. It wasn't something I really wanted to do anyway.
    Thanks so much for your help.
    Thursday, September 30, 2010 2:30 PM
  • Hi PCP Sm......by

     

    I can sense what is your situation, if not completely understand it. I know for some reason in North America now a days it is difficult and trying to get job in non IT field. I was (i am to be precise) in same boat as you, although i did complete my Bachelor in Telecommunications and graduate almost 5 years ago, within year of graduating moved to Canada. I was not able to secure a job in Telecom, forget job not even an interview.

    Finally after spending 3 years, doing Non professional stuff, I started studying for CompTIA A+ Cert. (I am/was good at hardware & relate stuff, also had some experience as Tech Support with one of major PC manufaturer before coming to Canada. Within a month of studying and doing some research figured out, I need something more concrete than just a cert. finally decided to go for one year Fast track program with an internship focused completely on Database and Application development. I am done with academics right now and working as an intern. And future looks quite good to me if not completely rosy. At the same time now i am pursuing MS certs in Database Techs.

    My point here is same as derek that go for some fast track program focused on computer studies or appllication developemt may be at some good school or Uni. it will definetly help you to get started. and do certs along side. Ofcourse looks like long way but will help you in long term for sure. If program has some internship associated, its great. If not try to voulnteer in some IT development groups or compnies. This will give you invaluable experince to get your foot in door when you graduate.

    P.S. There was a time i used to run away from anything to do with programming...although i liked computers, Now there is no expect of an IT which does not interests me. (this actually happened only after I started my Grad, fast track program) May it be programming, Designing, developing web app or game prog. its an interesting field, and you will explore and enjoy it if you're one of those curious souls.

     

    All the Best

    J

     

     

    Wednesday, October 13, 2010 8:45 PM
  • Hey, I am not going to comment on which is better ? physics degree or being a programmer...

    I think that this is your situation - you are looking to enter dotnet domain. You currently have some experiece on C++ (on your own).


    Let me explain how companies look at dotnet knowledge :

    It is definitly good that you have have c++ knowledge. You should begin to develop console applications using C#. Next, you should advance to developing windows applications. After you have developed some windows applications, try connecting to SQL Database. i.e., ADO.net. once you can connect to database and create windows applications seamlessly, your next goal is ASP.net.

    in windows programming, you have developed programs that run on a single machine. Next, when you design similar programs, that can run on the internet (world wide web or even an inranet), such programming can be broadly be called as ASP.net.



    Now, this is what DOTNET is all about  - you can create windows programs and web programs using dotnet. The important point is that it supports numerous languages also. I have suggested C# for you since you have a background in C++. examples of other languages are VB, VC++etc.

    I suggest that once you are good at programming windows and web programs and connecting to an SQL server, you can review the certifications available. Also refer what the companies are currently asking for. Go ahead, clear the certification, clear your interview and get the job !

    all the best

    Arunjith | Managing Director | MIT Campus - MCITP, MCSA, MCSE, MCTS, CCNP, CCNA, RHCE, Java, Dotnet, PHP training at trivandrum, Kerala, India | www.mitcampus.com

    Saturday, October 16, 2010 12:33 PM