I am currently working as a junior administrator. I've been thinking about changing direction to be a developer. I don't have any programming experience but I am very interested in the MCSD for .NET. How should I tackle this transition and what should I start with to get the basics for programming? Is Visual Basic for .NET the best place to start? What would be the best home study training solution? Thanks for your help.
.NET has certainly opened up the doors for people looking to make a career change into development. Instead of worrying about the MCSD, which in my opinion is not worth much, you may want to consider a different sort of programming course. Many universities offer a programming certificate course, in which you spend six months learning about development and technologies. For example, Boston University has an excellent program and I have hired numerous BU graduates, because I found them more prepared for development than traditional baccalaureates in Computer Science.
While getting some sort of certificate or certification is important, it won't automatically get you into development. The best thing you can do is simply to write tons of code. Development is one of those skills that talking about can't help; you have to do it. If you interview with me, I always request a code sample. That way I can judge your skills and see if you have the ability to complete projects without direction. Many times, I have hired developers with no college degrees or certifications because their sample code was so outstanding.
As far as technologies, concentrating on .NET is very appropriate since Microsoft has bet the company on it. It's much easier to handle than native C++, as well. The choice of language is moot as there's little difference between C# and VB.NET. The other important item to concentrate on is SQL database design and development. Nearly all programs talk to a database, so knowing how to properly utilize them will do a considerable amount to help your career.
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