I'm trying to break back into programming after 12 years away. I was a programmer for only about 4 years but I was good at it. I coded mostly in C and Pascal.

I have no degree in computer science but I have a 20 year old four-year engineering degree. People have suggested I go back to school. I'm middle aged and I don't have time for a four- or even two-year degree.

Some have suggested an accelerated one-year associates degree. I've looked into that at both colleges and tech schools, but the programs seem to be surprisingly low level with a lot of non-computer courses even at the tech schools.

The Microsoft certifications seem much more to the point, but I'm told there's not much to them and they're not taken very seriously by employers.

And of course I have no recent work experience in the industry.

But maybe my old engineering degree (and maybe even my old work experience) mean SOMETHING to employers, and if I study hard for 6 to 12 months and can get some ADVANCED Microsoft certifications, maybe I can get a lousy, entry-level job for 6 to 12 months, do well, and in a year or two actually get a decent job for, I don't know, 60K?

For what it's worth, what I'm leaning towards pursuing is .NET / C# / C++ / ASP / SQL / Javascript (web, both server- and client-side, as well as desktop).

What do you think?

Since March I've been wondering the same thing myself. I was hoping to use some of my SEO knowledge to get an asp.net in c# gig, but I'm afraid of the pay scale. I've heard the same thing you have about the certifications that they don't mean much to employers and if you've searched careerbuilder for jobs you'll notice that they all require a computer science degree.

One thing that has given me a lot of insight is user groups. Every month I attend a .net user group close to me. The attendance is really good and usually there's a lot of opportunity to network with people. Since you have experience close to programming maybe you can network your way into a career.


What and where are "user groups"?

User groups (or .net usergroups) usually are monthly meetings where industry professionals come together to talk about .net technology and the industry. They allways have a presenter that talks about a certain .Net technology. I found mine by typing in "city" user group into Google and found a few in my area.

Be a part of the DaniWeb community

We're a friendly, industry-focused community of developers, IT pros, digital marketers, and technology enthusiasts meeting, networking, learning, and sharing knowledge.