Back to Work - Formal Qualification or Training?

Hi all.

I have been asked by a friend. And I could not give her the right answer. I am a programmer. She would like to go back to IT job or IT related job.

Before having kids (like 7 years ago), she worked in IT about 5 years as SQL developer/analyst. She is good in excel (formula, pivot etc), access, query, store procedure. She attempted sql server implementation exam before but failed.

Now she is working in data entry/admin role for 3-4 years, and feel bored.

She wants to up skills or refresh her skills around data (she is not into programming). I told her today's trend is around BI, reporting and big data.

The questions are
0. What area / software she should study?
1. What course to take?
2. And where? Tafe or University (she prefers online or mix as she still needs to work), or training (but don't think she is willing to pay 5K for 5 days).
3. Is Selfstudy possible and take couple of certifications?

Any other suggestions or directions are welcomed.

Thanks all


  • +1

    I wouldn't worry about study etc. Just ask her existing work for opportunities to up skill, apply for junior tech roles and basically prove she can do the work. Experience is king and if she can prove she is a fast learner and is cheaper, they will both be laughing.

  • +2

    Kids. Killing careers since 2000 B.C

  • +1

    She needs to refresh her skills but she should be able to get into BI-related or application support roles. Get her to apply to jobs in the public service such as local councils, who might be more open to someone who has been out of the field for a while.

  • Thanks guys for inputs.

    I don't think there is opportunity for her to upskill. She keep changing work. Her job agency places her at client site.

    She has been trying to apply junior or support role but no luck so far, I guess because she does not have current IT experience.

    Agreed. I think study IT at TAFE or uni won't help her much.

    Is self study for certification a good option? I have suggested her to study SQL Server.

  • SQL is very corporate-oriented and not as forgiving with people they can't be sure would hit the ground running, hence my comment on going public service (or non-profit).

    Getting public service jobs is very onerous due to the amount of documentation that you need. This is enough to dissuade at least some competition. So I would recommend to keep applying.

    To get recognised for her technical abilities, she needs to have a portfolio. Unfortunately, SQL is more back-end oriented and won't be something easily demonstrated. She could help in open source, volunteering, citizen-tech projects or create her own.

    Maybe she can learn python programming if she wants to get into data science, or even just automation.

    Studying SQL server won't go very far as that's more on the infrastructure side and doesn't fit her previous experience.

    But she can get into BI by learning SSRS, Qlikview, or Tableau. Or Salesforce. Aside from SSRS, most of these products are only in larger companies and getting in through the IT side is the hard part. But she could be successful in an admin role with techie skills (but working for an admin agency might not give her enough flexibility to demonstrate her tech skills to her client).

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