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Certification for advancement?

I have about 10 years experience in IT mostly in the finance industry. My experience is mainly in programming (various languages and platforms - COBOL/JCL, SQL (MS and Oracle, HTML/ASP, Java/Javascript, VB/Vbscript)). I've worked on PC's, mainframe and have been involved in many of conversion projects as programmer/analyst and have lots of experience getting all sorts of data from one format to another. I was laid-off after 9/11 and was out of work for over a year. During that time I took a 6-month $10, 000 Java Master certification (I don't use it much). I was lucky enough to find a data analyst/web developer position in the Health Care industry in a small department (I took a 20% pay cut) and I wear many hats. I do some web site development (40%), data analysis and reporting using SQL, Access, Excel and another reporting tool TSI (30%) and I troubleshoot whatever technical issues my coworkers or my boss may have (printer, excel, word, data submissions, PDF files, mouse, etc) (30%). I have a Bachelor in Business with MIS major and a Master's in IS from a great management school; but I do feel I need more certifications to get ahead or even stay afloat in IT. I need to take care of both my career and my financial future. I love to help others and solve puzzles. I love programming because there's always something to fix or a better, faster way of doing something. Any thoughts on certifications I could do piece meal without spending a fortune on more education but that will help advance my career?

Based on your degrees, background, experience and current level of certification, I don't think more credentials will really do you that much good. Alas, my analysis leads me to suggest that you spend more time and effort looking for your next job and that you don't settle for making less than you're worth. That doesn't mean you should quit your current job to look for other employment, but you should probably plan to spend 6 months to a year researching and looking for your next position, and don't just "settle" for something else because it's marginally better than where you're at now. To some extent you're a victim of a tight job market, but I can't help but speculate that you may be selling yourself a little short of what you're actually worth.

Keep at it, look hard and long and don't settle for the next halfway decent thing to come along. Dig until you find a job you really want, then jump on it with both feet!

Good luck,

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