Question: I have never worked in IT before, but I am studying for a City & Guilds 7262 diploma for IT practitioners (networking and ICT systems support). I am thinking of working as a software tester in the future and am saving up to take the ISEB foundation course in software testing. What do you advise as a good route into software testing, short of a good degree and experience?
The solution: Learn the basics then hone your skills
A good foundation would be Computing Technology Industry Association (Comptia) A+/Net+ course. This supplier-independent qualification is recognised the world over and will provide you with the basic hardware, software and networking skills that you will need in your first IT job, either in a technical or support role.
These certifications are backed by major hardware and software suppliers, distributors and resellers, and they will be recognised by any employer.
Many of the Comptia's courses are prerequisites in the curriculum of more advanced courses such as the MCSA (Microsoft certified systems administrator), which means that you will be able to build on them to acquire more specific skills.
There is no need to have a degree to enter the IT industry, and experience is best acquired through good old fashioned practice. Many students find that the quickest method of learning skills is to try them out in a "lab" environment with an instructor on hand to answer questions.
The quicker you get the certification, the quicker you can expect to get your first job and start earning.
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
E-mail your career questions to