The question: Which web skills should I pursue?
I did a computing degree and an internet computing masters and have spent a year and a half working in a Cobol programming environment. I like website development and have been teaching myself PHP and MySQL. However, I do not have any IT professional qualifications. Which one should I get? I was considering the following certifications: HTML, XML, Dreamweaver, Flash and Wow.
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The solution: Aim for those skills in short supply
Many website developers will tell you that the way to an employer's heart is to provide them with a portfolio of sites that you have created or developed. It is all about showing off what you can do.
However, it is important not to underestimate the importance of qualifications. Given the high salaries that web developers can command, both recruitment agencies and employers are increasingly seeking evidence of professional training as an assurance of quality work.
Our experience of working with agencies tells us that certain skills are in very short supply at the moment, so the law of economics should be on the side of anybody adding them to their CV. These include SQL 2000 or SQL 2005, MCad/MCSD C# or Visual Basic.net, or Java certification.
Many people fear that gaining these qualifications will take a long time and attempt to give themselves crash courses, but it is actually possible to complete professional training courses in a matter of days. This gives you plenty of time to spend putting your skills to use on personal sites, or doing voluntary work for contacts, which will all further strengthen your CV.
A combination of professional certification plus an impressive portfolio should be a tempting prospect for most employers.
Solution by Robert Chapman, chief executive and co-founder of The Training Camp
The panel: Plan-Net Services, Hudson, Reed Technology, No Limits Coaching, The Training Camp