The question: How can I branch out beyond open source?
I have completed a computer engineering course and have four years' experience with a manufacturing company working on open source programs using PHP and MySQL. However, I do not feel there is much future in this field and so I would like to switch to something with broader appeal. I am prepared to take on just about anything - software testing, Oracle, .net, etc. What would you suggest?
The solution: Think carefully before starting over
I am surprised that you feel that working in open source provides you with few prospects.
Rather than seeking to transfer to software testing or another area, you might be better off doing more research into what opportunities are already opento you.
Look on any IT jobs website and you will find that somebody with your experience is in demand and can command a good salary.
Analyst firm Gartner predicts that by 2006 more than 60% of the market for IT professional services will be based on web services standards and technology.
However, if you are determined to take on an entirely new challenge, I suggest that you take time to consider more carefully what it is that you would enjoy doing.
Instead of just thinking about salaries, it is a good idea to think about what environment you want to work in.
The fact that you seem so uncertain suggests that you need to pin down some more specific objectives. Do you want to work in a support role or would you prefer a more "behind the scenes" position.
A good training provider could discuss these things with you, in addition to assessing your background and skills, before recommending a course of study.
Solution by Robert Chapman co-founder and chief executive, The Training Camp
The panel: Plan-Net Services, Hudson, Reed Technology, Zarak Technology, No Limits Coaching, The Training Camp
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This was first published in December 2005