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Molly advises a programmer with SQL and Microsoft Office experience to take some general computer science courses before pursuing any certifications.

Dear Molly: I am suffering from not being able to decipher the ever-expanding eye chart of computer certification programs: Oracle PL/SQL, MCSD, MCP, MOUS, CCNA, CCNP, etc. I have ample experience with Microsoft Office and some SQL programming (which fortunately coincides with my current and future work interests). So much of what I read about certification only explains what you will be able to do afterward; I’m interested in figuring out what training best fits my current skills and knowledge. What certification path do you think may best suit me?

Molly says: I’m not sure the best path for you at the moment is a certification path–maybe you’d be better served by putting your feet to an educational path. With experience in Office and SQL, you need to learn more about putting that experience to work in a broader context. I would suggest taking some computer science courses at the local technical university or computer department of the largest local university. There are also some online courses available from the biggie techie schools that you could combine with your classroom experience. After you’ve digested all that (say, in about two years), you could set to work on any of the database certifications (Microsoft or Oracle).

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

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