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DB training advice

Take basic classes in database programming and talk to IT recruiters before you look into certification.

Dear Molly: How do I go about getting into an IT career in database management? I’m interested in making a career change and the research I’ve done makes me thinking database work would be interesting to me. I’ve been told I could take a few intro courses in Oracle and that because I have general knowledge, some employer would be willing to take me on. However, I’ve also been told I can’t get into the field without a bachelor’s degree in computer science. Is it at all possible to break into the field by attaining certification only or do employers want to see a four-year degree in computer science?

Molly says: What employers want and what they get varies, but they always want to find the person whose experience and education most closely match their idea of the perfect IT person. So, they sift through the pile of resumés on their desks searching for the people who come closest to their ideal. If the resumé of a person with certification only and no college degree is in the same pile with that of someone with a four-year degree in Computer Science and experience or certification, guess who gets the interview.

As to your specific questions, I doubt any employer would be ready to pay for anybody’s certification in Oracle or any other IT area. They would be more likely to keep looking until someone turns up with more training that someone else has already paid for. But, you can get a job in the IT field without a Computer Science degree. I know people who have done it–one even has a degree in Latin!

Start exploring your interest in databases by taking a course that teaches you the theory of database design while letting you get your hands dirty by creating a few databases. Look for a program in your area at a training center or college that focuses on databases. See if you think you’d really do like doing this kind of work for a living on a day in, day out basis.

While you’re taking these courses, see if you can find an IT recruiter who will talk with you over the telephone or via e-mail about the kinds of jobs you might eventually qualify for with the right training. Make sure to tell these folks that you won’t take up a lot of time and you only have a few questions. If they won’t talk with you now, don’t go back to these people when you’re ready to get a job in IT. If they don’t have time for a 10-minute conversation now, will they have time to help you later?

Molly Joss also writes the monthly Career Advisor column for ComputerUser magazine. Ask a career-related question at [email protected]

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