I haven't posted on here for a while as I've been busy at work and on my course, so I thought I'd just share some good news I've had in the last couple of months.
First of all, it now looks like I will be able to take voluntary redundancy from my existing customer services role next year, although it's not yet certain. I'm looking to leave about 7 months down the line, and not only will this mean I get to leave this rather dull job, but I will also go with a big fat redundancy cheque, in excess of £10,000! I don't know the exact amount - apparently it's based on months and years worked there, which would make it £10,500 as at December, so it will be more than that if I leave end of April, and I also get to take some free shares I was given that I would otherwise have had to leave in. I might also get pay in lieu of any holiday I'm owed at the time, and the whole thing is tax free, so it could work out considerably more. Put it this way, it's around a year's salary for me, and I'm pretty confident I could get a new office job quickly, probably paying more.
But that's not the plan, which is where my second news comes up. This morning I did the final exam for my CIW Foundations course. I'm pleased to report that I passed, with a score of 77 correct out of 85 (around 90.5%), which is pretty good as the pass mark is 54 out of 85, and it's multiple choice. This now means that I just have to register this online and they'll send me the certificate, and I will then be a CIW Associate!
So now I have a recognised IT qualification, my desire to become a web developer is now one step closer. As I've got plenty of time till my preferred redundancy date comes up, I figured it's worth doing another course so I've emailed the college and asked them to send me details on the three that I'm most interested in (Java, C# and C++). At this point I'm leaning towards Java as the impression I've gotten in the past is that Java is essential if you don't really want to go the Microsoft route (I'd much rather work on Linux/Unix or OS X), and is still useful if you do as C# is similar enough that it's easy to adapt to. I think C++ might be a bit too demanding, and while I don't mind C# as a language I reckon any course that focuses on C# is bound to use either Visual C# Express Edition or a trial of Visual Studio. These are pretty good tools but I'd much rather be able to use Vim for everything (or if I have to use an IDE, one that supports vi keybindings), together with an appropriate compiler and debugger as I find this way works better for me (although I am pretty fond of MonoDevelop as this gives you a killer combination of vi keybindings and Intellisense-style autocompletion).
Shame they don't offer a Python or PHP qualification, but hey, I can always do that later if I want. I'm now thinking that I'll start looking for something in February to have lined up for when I leave my existing job, so it would be good to have gotten a decent amount done on getting another qualification, one that involves actual programming. There are plenty of vacancies on offer all the time, but I really need experience with server-side web programming to be able to do them.
Here's hoping it all works out OK and in a year's time I'm doing a much more fun and better paid job!