Ask the Expert

When pursuing an IT career, is certification the best place to begin?

I have a PhD in math, but can't find a job in academia. I'm very interested in moving into computing. I need to start somewhere -- is certification a good idea? What cert would you recommend to start? I think my abilities are more in tune with programming than networking, though I honestly don't know. Any advice is appreciated.

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With a PhD in math, you should probably sit down with a search firm and discuss the possibilities for professional employment with a placement specialist. PhDs are always in high demand in research and development jobs.

I think you'd be wasting your time going after certification; rather, I think you should work with someone who knows the job market well, explain your interests to that person, then develop a plan of attack at the industries or companies you decide to target. Especially if you've done numerical or computational analysis, there are always oodles of opportunities in cryptography, encode/decode algorithm development, signal processing, and other intensely mathematical arms of the computing biz.

Good luck with your efforts, and don't sell yourself short.

This was first published in October 2007

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