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 Post subject: Hrm...what shall my future (computer-based) career be?
PostPosted: Sat Jun 21, 2008 1:37 am 
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Joined: Sun Apr 20, 2008 4:35 pm
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For a long time now, I've been absolutely in love with computers. I love building them, I love being around them, I love teaching people about computers...almost every day of my life is spent on or very near a computer (Maybe a little unhealthy? >.>). The thing is though, I don't know as much as I'd like to know about computers (Despite my being able to teach the "Slightly-more-than-basic" things). I'd love to learn to program, or more advanced knowledge of hardware. I know I want a future in computers, but I haven't got the slightest clue what part of computers I want a future in.

I'm not even quite sure what I'm asking here, but I'll try my best. Being 17, what more can I do, besides googling / reading Maximum PC's site and magazine, to improve my knowledge of computers to one day be a successful computer <Insert title here>? I've seen talk of certain certifications, but I'm not sure how one would go about getting one, what sort of knowledge one must have of computers / computer software / networks to gain the certifications, or if these certifications are going to be of any use later on. Can you guys recommend any courses or books or anything I should pick up to jump-start a career in programming or hardware engineering or something?

(I do apologize if this message / question is somewhat hazy. I typed it up at about 4:30AM, after taking quite a bit of cold medicine. Still, after reading an article on jobs, I figured I should stop sitting around gaming all day and get to work on a job I'd enjoy).


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jun 21, 2008 6:26 am 
Java Junkie
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This is a very broad question. As you know, computers are now part of every aspect of our lives .. so you've got LOTS of options.

First, hardware. You can be a technician and build / repair PCs for a living. You can do this for individuals (not much money there, but you are your own boss), or you can do it for a company as the 'IT guy' (hourly pay, not enough to support a family, but stable and relatively secure).

This kind of work requires basic PC knowledge and the relevant certifications (A+, for instance) will help land your first job. Once you have experience, that will count more than the certs.

In the same vein, you could specialise in a more advanced form of hardware. Networking, for instance, requires people who know how to route, splice, and set up cable runs, set up PCs on the network, etc. There are many specialised networking certifications that can lead you on this parth: Cisco, Network+, etc.. Choose the easiest / cheapest and if you like it, you can go onward.

Pay in the Networking field can vary from slightly more than a PC tech (for laying cable and setting up PCs) to executive-level salaries in the 6 figure rance for those who get their Cisco certs, lead a team of network engineers and (generally) have a degree and the knowledge to design large networks.

Finally, the hardware category also includes Computer Engineering. This field specialises in designing and building new technologies. Want to work with Intel or AMD and design new CPUs? Work with nVidia to design new GPUs? Fujitsu to design new hard drives? If so, this is your field. The minimum entry price is a Bachelor's degree in Engineering (Electrical or Computer Eng are best). Pay is professional-level salary.

The other side of the coin, of course, is software.

The 'technician' level of software employment is similar to hardware. These are the guys who install OSes and other software on PCs for others, who troubleshoot software problems, etc.. Again, the price of entry tends to be a certification (Microsoft certs are particularly useful since most professional environments are MS based) and an hourly wage is most common.

Software, of course, must also be written and tested. Doing this generally requires a degree in Computer Science. If you enjoy writing code and solving math problems, then you should looking into programming.

There is far more to software development than writing code, though. Someone needs to design the software (aka, software architecture), someone has to test it thoroughly (QA testing), etc. etc..

If this hasn't helped you narrow it down, then consider getting entry-level jobs in the various areas of the industry and see what really appeals to you. Get a job in a PC shop and learn to build and test systems; get a job as a tech-support guy and learn how NOT to throttle your co-workers. These will help you decide how to spend your life. ;)

For instance, 15 years ago, I thought that building PCs was the greatest fun in the world. Now, I slap new parts into my aging machine as I need them .. the joy of slotting a new card into an old slot just doesn't do it for me anymore.

(that's what SHE said!).


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jun 21, 2008 5:29 pm 
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Well I gotta say, you may have narrowed it down for me to programming (Computer Science), but the reason I say "may have" is because...well...I can't find anywhere to start with programming (Though I do love math, and not to toot my own horn here but I am quite good at it -_^). There are damn near 0 beginners guides anywhere on the internet, and I can't quite seem to find anything at the nearby schools. Could be that I'm looking in the wrong areas, or looking for the wrong thing, so any possible help on what I should be looking for? Also, would Computer Sciences also branch off towards game creation, possibly? If not, what sort of knowledge does one need to work in the game design field?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jul 06, 2008 11:40 am 
Thunderbird
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17, eh? Go to college fulltime, work parttime (or any other combination of work AND school). when you pick your major, choose programming or comp sci or even game design. If you get work study, a type of financial aid, you may be able to work in your university's help desk office or IT department or computer lab to get some hands on experience.

Look to your local community college. You can change major or experiment with different classes without wasting as much money as doing this at a 4yr college. And at the end of 2 yrs, you'll have a degree to show for it.

jipstyle wrote:
you can do it for a company as the 'IT guy' (hourly pay, not enough to support a family, but stable and relatively secure).


It should be enough to support a family of 1 :wink:


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jul 06, 2008 6:42 pm 
Java Junkie
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I have expensive tastes. ;) A man needs to look good, y'know.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2008 4:08 pm 
Team Member Top 50
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Krinkles172 wrote:
Well I gotta say, you may have narrowed it down for me to programming (Computer Science), but the reason I say "may have" is because...well...I can't find anywhere to start with programming (Though I do love math, and not to toot my own horn here but I am quite good at it -_^). There are damn near 0 beginners guides anywhere on the internet, and I can't quite seem to find anything at the nearby schools. Could be that I'm looking in the wrong areas, or looking for the wrong thing, so any possible help on what I should be looking for? Also, would Computer Sciences also branch off towards game creation, possibly? If not, what sort of knowledge does one need to work in the game design field?

Look at the programmer's resource sticky at the top of the programming section.


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