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Switching to IT: Which qualifications are worthwhile?

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From time to time we dip into El Reg Forums to highlight questions raised by our commentards. Today we republish this post from Thomas 4, who writes:

I'm considering a change of career from my current medicinal line of work and stepping into the great grand world of IT. My current plan is starting in helpdesk work and moving up through network admin jobs (i.e. a junior position and working upwards).

Most of my current IT skills are self taught; it's pretty basic stuff like building a PC, installing hardware and OSes and setting up very basic home networks - pretty much a "gamer's toolbox". I've read a fair number of articles on here saying this qualification is worthless, that degree is worthless....

So what qualifications *do* IT recruiters look for in a newcomer? A friend of mine suggested that the Comp TIA A+ or Linux might be a good stepping stone but I'm throwing this one out to the more experienced folks out there. How does one actually get started in IT?

Oh, one small caveat - a degree is out of the question. I can't afford to quit my job and study full time. I'd be looking for a course I can do as an evening class or weekend class. I'm based in London if that helps.

Commentards! Your thoughts, please. ®

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