After 12 years working in tech support, consulting & systems administration in various jobs I am debating whether to transition into a programming position.
I have a degree in computing, majoring in software engineering, however that was a over 10 years ago. I recently completed an intermediate-level college unit in Java with a pass mark of 90%. I really enjoyed the Java language.
I'm not sure what kind of entry-level Java-based position to aim for. Any suggestions out there? I am thinking of obtaining the first 2 Oracle Java certifications for something to put on my CV. Is there anything else I can do to increase my employability?
I have thought about Android or web app development, but I'm concerned about the potential graphic design skills that may be required with these positions. I'm no good with UI, Photoshop etc!
If you want to increase your competency in java join any opensource mailing list, and start contributing it.
Your assumptions about Android programming is not completely correct, you will have different team for UI design, they don't trust java developers for UI, so need not worry about that.
Also we are moving to mobile platform very fast, so that would be much better for you.
but I'm concerned about the potential graphic design skills that may be required with these positions
Dont worry about that. You are a programmer not a designer. Many programmers despise work on the UI primarily because they suck at it or they get tired of it (try tweaking a CSS to get consistent results across IE / Firefox / chrome ). Platform engineering positions for example require next to 0 skills on the UI. If you write APIs / frameworks, there will rarely be a need to tweak look and feel.
Entry level java positions and their nature will depend on the area you are in right now. Search job forums around your locality to check what skills are in demand.
Hey I worked at Support for a few years. Tech support, developer support for a software development tool. So it was mainly helping other programmers to program with our tool. Nevertheless, job agencies could not see the difference between this and end-user support. Once you have 'support' on your resume, you should be placed in the support department according to them. Hence I think doing the job itself is not such a problem. You should convince the agencies though that you have skills by doing some projects somehow.
I'm also in my late 30's trying to become a Java devel. What I've found is that the certs help me get a phone call sometimes, but they don't get much further than that. What is much more important is to do well in the interview, and that means having data structures and algorithms down cold. Most of the questions I've been getting are things like traversing and/or doing interesting operations on binary trees (that's by far the most common). I've gotten some threading questions. I've gotten some bitwise operator stuff, some dynamic programming, recursion, etc etc. All in all, it's been more challenging than I expected, but I'm coming from a completely different engineering discipline, so this is all new to me. I learned it from scratch in the last year or so. I guess the point I'm trying to make is that it is challenging, but seemingly possible, but knowing programming is far more important than knowing Java syntax alone.