Technical Certificate worth it?

Wanted to post this here as this area tends to be where I spend most of my time. I am seriously considering going to my local state college (Florida State College at Jacksonville) to get a “Web Development Specialist” certification. Is this a good choice in getting work in this field?

Reason I would like to pursue this is for a structured education, networking, and more hands on training. I am kind of at a cross road and at 35 don’t have a lot of time to waste on something that will be no more than just a piece of paper to hang on the wall. What is the likely hood of getting into a good job having done this? Is this a good market to get into as far as pay and job availability?

I would like to get into front end developing but just not sure what is the best path to take to get there. Was thinking this would at least get me going in the right direction. Like I said, I don’t have the luxury of wasting anymore time. Any of you guys have any knowledge on what I should do or advice? HELP!:frowning:

Oh, and here is the list of classes for the Web Development Specialist cert:

* CTS 2328 - Internet Servers and Inter-Networking Credit Hours: 4
* CGS 2820 - Web Site Design and Development Credit Hours: 4
* CGS 2821 - Advanced Web Site Design and Development Credit Hours: 4
* COP 1000 - Introduction to Computer Programming Credit Hours: 3
* CTS 2440 - Oracle SQL and PL/SQL Credit Hours: 4
* COP 2822 - Web Technologies Credit Hours: 4
* COP 2840 - Internet Programming Credit Hours: 4

Thanks in advance…

Better question: who would actually recognize this certification? Or is it a associate/bachelor/graduate degree?

I’ve found that most of the time, experience and past projects, rather than certs, are what people look for (though there are exceptions for certain specialties, such as for DB admins)

So, if you think these classes will help you learn what you want to learn, then sure, take some classes. If you’re just taking them for a piece of paper, I’d skip it.

Same over here in the UK, many job adverts for web development put experience over qualifications

hmm…but qualifications is a factor when it comes to ranking?

I am not a Web professional, so take this with a grain of salt, but from how I understand it works at many firms, a certificate of the kind you’re talking about will get you some basic knowledge (looking over the course list, you need to know all that stuff), and enough chops to land an interview or two. After that, the firms are going to want to see lists of experiences, portfolios, etc.

I am seriously considering going to my local state college (Florida State College at Jacksonville) to get a “Web Development Specialist” certification.

I can’t speak for the College in Jacksonville, but I’ll warn you of Florida State University.

I use a page of theirs for stupid-easy tag lookup (not so much anymore nowadays but it’s still handy)

However, notice they are XHTML1.1 tags. If you navigate back to their mmain page for their “Certified Webmaster Curriculum” you’ll see: I can’t find now where i saw the MIME type but back when I first looked, it was XHTML1.1 with text/html MIME type.

Unfortunately, when it comes to schools, it seems many instructors have not been in the field in the last 10 years. Heck, my foster-brother-in-law is just starting a web design course at his school and they’re using <font> tags. Amen.

If I was an employer, a good portfolio would be the biggest selling point. Experience is also good, but while you can always give some experience, it’s harder to teach someone how to be good at something. If you have a good portfolio, even if you don’t have much work experience, then at least the employer knows that eventually, you’ll produce good work while being efficient and knowledgeable in business.

As Stomme poes pointed out, I’d also be weary of doing a course in a fast progressing field such as web development, as there’s a good possibility at least some of what you’ll learn is out-dated or redundant. Personally, I don’t think you can beat self-teaching. Buy a few books, but more importantly, do a lot of playing around with the technologies you’re learning, and read a lot of online articles and forums. This way, you get a broader pictures and are able to decide what techniques work best for you, not what technique is easiest to teach or write about.

While some businesses do require a degree, most are willing to accept relevant experience, the thing is that almost all education institutions teach out of date practices because things move too fast in our industry. While a degree does show dedication and willingness to learn, it’s no substitute for being out there and actually doing something which has real world implications. Based on the course you mentioned I would so no… for anything less than a degree or phD in a relevent subject it’s not worth bothering about, specific web design qualifications tend to go unrecognised or are treated with mild distaste (like the CIW certificates) because their pretty much a joke. When the minimum recognisable qualification to most business is a graduate level degree, any lesser qualifications tend to be seen as “flimsy”, at least that is what I’ve encountered. As the others have stated, a good portfolio will show off your skills much better than a generic qualification. :slight_smile:

Even that is debatable. My personal opinion is that someone who self-teaches themselves, is much more dedicated and interested in the subject at hand, than someone who pays $xxxx and goes to class x days a week.

That’s my too sense anyway.

Thank you. All good answers. I can’t afford to waste time on something that will turn out a waste. I was thinking it might help get my foot in the door so to speak and give me a more structured and full understanding. I enjoy learning on my own.

I did a job search on web design/developer on and there were not very many. The qualifications were way beyond what I thought one could get hired on with. Also, most required a 4 year degree and minimum 4 years experience in that field.

I may be getting into something that will require more knowledge than just HTML, CSS, Javascript. Kind of re-thinking my career path and just continue this as a side thing. Thanks for the responses. Looks like I have some thinking to do…

There are so many half-baked amateurs out there (i.e. me) whose abilities, though limited, let them put together functional and attractive sites that for someone to be able to make a living at it requires that they have a wide skill set as well as plenty of experience. Knowledge of HTML, CSS, and JS alone won’t get you in to many positions.

I did a job search on web design/developer on and there were not very many. The qualifications were way beyond what I thought one could get hired on with. Also, most required a 4 year degree and minimum 4 years experience in that field.

Well, when I look at jobs, often when they require a degree, it’s usually a degree in CS, which makes sense for those jobs because for some unknown reason these are “front-end” jobs but require back-end programming (huhwhat?) and sure, it makes sense to have a CS degree if you’re programming (might even help a little bit wrt Javascript I suppose).

Another degree I see requested now and then is some degree in design. Again, depends on whether you’re trying to get work as a code monkey or not.

There’s no reason to need a 4 year degree for HTML, XML, CSS and Javascript. There could be an argument for a degree if you’re doing interface design, back-end programming or the like.

for some unknown reason these are “front-end” jobs but require back-end programming (huhwhat?) and sure, it makes sense to have a CS degree if you’re programming

A broadened my job search to all of Florida and found a little more realistic requirements but it seems as though they still want back end programmingf experience with all the front end including AJAX, FLASH, graphics etc. And here is where I laughed: The salaries I saw posted averaged $32,000 to $35,000 a year.

So not only does a ‘web designer’ need to know ALL the front end responsibilities but also .NET, Java, etc etc, and have a 4 year degree all for $32,000 a year!?

No thanks. Freelancing is looking better and better to me. Oh, and the sites that were posting these job searches average 250 to 270 errors in their mark up. Guess thats why they’re hiring.:rofl:

or just become a highly paid back-end programmer who happens to be able to do front-end stuff : )

Is it just Florida or is this the US? Cause they don’t ask for so many degrees over here in NL. They do ask for PHP/ASP(.NET)/C# and AJAX/XML/JSON/JS/AS on top of HTML/CSS and godlike skills in Photoshop/Illustrator/InDesign/Fireworks/Flash… and they usually want you to write your HTML in either dreambeaver or something like Eclipse. Plain ol’ text editors just won’t do.

By the time I learn all thats required I’ll be retirement age.

I don’t think it could hurt. It certainly might help. Qualifications coupled with experience could make you a front runner for a job.

I would agree in that manner, web design for me is more than a job, it’s my hobby and I give all my free time to it (usually helping people on here). Arguably that could be seen as dedication though it’s probably not considered by a job agency as valued testing of skills :stuck_out_tongue:

Lowprofile, the issue is there are literally tens (possibly hundreds) of thousands of web designers and developers out there all bidding in different niches for jobs, it’s a highly desirable career (though the burnout rate is VERY high) and it’s seen as a fashionable job to have, which means loads of people are trying to get into it. The reason why degree levels are so high is that as a result of people wanting to be part of the “web millionaire” movement they all flood into education, get their degrees and dilute the value of lower level certificates. But what is also lucky is that because the value of degrees has been seriously diluted, it means those with self-taught proven experience our skills tend to be highlighted above those who just graduated (especially when it comes to high paying jobs). :slight_smile:

Max, your not an amateur, your just a teacher, you can afford to let your standards slip like everyone else over there in education land (j/k) :stuck_out_tongue:

Seriously though, you know loads about typography and design and I wouldn’t class you in the region of amateur by any standard, there’s little chance we would see you selling a frame ridden animated GIF website for several thousand dollars claiming it to be “new-agey” :wink:

The problem with those jobs is they are looking for someone who is good at everything (which is impossible), probably the same reason why the high paying jobs (those over 50-100k a year) are specialists who are focused and highly tuned to a single element of website design and can therefore provide a level of service a graduate who knows all those languages couldn’t even compete with. :slight_smile:

I did a career change at 40 and started teaching myself Classic ASP HTML/CSS/Javascript etc… and decided to go to college at 43. I never finished because I started freelancing and didn’t have time for school, at 49 I landed a steady well paying job, now at 50 I’m the senior programmer. When I asked the boss why he hired me without completing college he said because I had a good portfolio and I was mostly self taught which showed him dedication to my work.

I would only go to school if I thought it would benifit me in some way, not for a piece of paper.

I’ve had technical certificates lead to work with the certificate authority in the form of consultation for new exams.

In the beginning I mentioned certificates when looking for work, I don’t know if it made much of a difference though, I never asked.

I to thought about doing this. I do however believe this works better for you in the corporate world when trying to land a job in the field. I think internet/contracted work will lean more towards experience and a strong protfolio.