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I currently hold a BA in Middle Eastern History, which was a pretty good fit for my last job in the Army. I'm getting ready to move on to the civillian world now, and computer science/programming has always been a hobby for me that I'd like to look into turning into a career.

My question is, what type of program should I look into in order to deepen my knowledge and verify my abilities? Should I look at getting a second undergrad, or would a programming education certificate be enough to get my foot in the door for employment/grad school later on? Are online certificates such as Kaplan/Phoenix respected enough, especially if they are in addition to a traditional degree?

I basically want to know where to set my sights, in order to get going in software development. Getting an additional qualification seems necessary, so which kind makes the most sense for getting started?

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Are online certificates such as Kaplan/Phoenix respected enough — Oh dear god I hope not. –  JeffE Jun 22 '12 at 3:00
I've never worked in a job where I needed such a certification, but I think generally Microsoft certifications are given much more respect than something like Kaplan/Phoenix. –  Dan C Jun 22 '12 at 5:39
this would also be a good question for workplace.stackexchange.com - they may give you different advice, e.g. working on open source projects, networking, etc –  Amy Feb 7 '13 at 21:11
I agree with @Amy, and would actually suggest that, if you're looking for a professional rather than an academic career, you're on the wrong site. There's no particular need to get an academic degree for a career in software development; employers in that field tend to put more value on practical skills, as demonstrated by prior work (including hobbyist work) and/or directly during the hiring process. Certifications may also be useful, at least for satisfying formal qualifications and for demonstrating a basic level of competence. –  Ilmari Karonen Mar 30 '13 at 19:51

1 Answer 1

I think it's going to depend vastly on what kind of position you want to be headed into, and how deep down the rabbit hole you wish to go.

The one thing I would say you ought to focus on is fundamentals: No matter what kind of work you end up doing, be it programming business processes or pursuing a PhD, getting your fundamentals straight will pay dividends over and over again. Courses in algorithms, software engineering, computer architecture, each will give you a different view into the work you do, no matter where you're doing it. A CS undergraduate degree would be a good choice, especially if grad studies is where you want to go after. I understand they vary in quality though, so that's something to bear in mind.

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