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Getting Started

Jim Perdue

Joined: Apr 20, 2004
Posts: 2
I have some questions about getting started in Java Programming. I am 30 years old, and I am currently in the mechanical engineering field ( no degree though ). I was in the Navy for 8 years and been working for the past two. I was wondering what kind of routes I can take to get into this field. I have a book on Java Programming ( Java:Hot to Program by the Dietel ) and have begun to go through it. I am an excellent self-studier, and was wondering if this is a viable route to getting into the field. I am also interested in Web Programming. How many companies would hire someone who has just self-studied? Should I self-study and get certified?? Or is it NECCESSARY to go to college and get a degree in computer science? I have the G.I. Bill to pay for it, but at 30, I kind of want to get the ball rolling and if I can bypass 4 years then I would like to (just take night classes, which I am currently doing). Any suggestions/ideas/criticisms/etc. are greatly appreciated. Thanks for all your help!
Long Island, NY
Corey McGlone
Ranch Hand

Joined: Dec 20, 2001
Posts: 3271
Personally, Jim, I don't think the SCJP certification is a good way to "jump into" Java. Rather, I would suggest working through a book (I personally like "Head First Java" by Kathy Sierra and Bert Bates) and/or taking a class. If you really like Java and want to get into the details, you might think about certification.
Personally, I know a lot of people that I think are great Java programmers that are not Java certified and a lot of other people that I don't really respect much as programmers, but they've got their certification. I guess, what I'm saying is, I'd start with some basics and get yourself some experience prior to going after your certification, if you go after it at all.
I'm going to move this to the Java in General (Beginner) forum as this isn't specifically about the path to certification. If I can be any more help to you, please let me know.

SCJP Tipline, etc.
Mike Gershman
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 13, 2004
Posts: 1272
In normal times, I've often suggested getting any old IT job, attending night school, and moving within the company into computer programming. It's always been toughest getting that first programming job. After that, it's a great career.
However, these are not normal times. The off-shoring phenomenon is not wiping out all US programming jobs but it is sucking up the new hire opportunities. US employers now require both technical experience and experience in their industry. Why? Because the supply so exceeds the demand that they can.
Please check out the jobs discussion forum in depth.
If you're still interested, there is a lot of good material here on Java books. The best way to become a good programmer is to write lots of programs and read lots of really good code. Java is more than language rules and API's, it has a unique idiom on capitalization, indentation, etc., which you must follow for your code to be useful within a team. Here too, this site has some good examples.
One positive change from the bad old days is that your PC lets you run all the programs you want at no cost.
One final suggestion: your first programming job will probably be maintenance programming, such as minor changes and bug fixing. Read the posts here and try to find the bugs. Then see the responses and check your answer. You may even want to cut and paste the code onto your machine and see if you can test, debug, and beautify the code. You'll be working on other people's code a lot and you can't learn that skill from a book.
Good luck.
[ April 20, 2004: Message edited by: Mike Gershman ]

Mike Gershman
SCJP 1.4, SCWCD in process
I agree. Here's the link:
subject: Getting Started
It's not a secret anymore!