The Careers Adviser

How do I get a job in video games? Is part-time training available for speech therapy?
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The Independent Online

Game for employment

Q. I would really like to get a job in the video games industry, but at 26, with no games qualifications and limited experience, I am finding it hard. I live on the Isle of Wight, so finding work without having to travel is difficult. Can producers mail me assignments?

A. You would think this was an option in the era of teleworking, but it is likely that, to get into a position to be assigned this sort of work, you will need to get programming skills first.

The games industry has become more advanced, with more specialised jobs. There may be more freelance work on the art side. More students are coming through undergraduate and postgraduate programmes - the best of these help with work placements in an industry that's notoriously hard to break into.

Work has tended to coalesce around hubs in the North-east, North-west, East Midlands and London. Networks or trade associations - like Codeworks, Game Republic and Game Alliance - have sprung up, and would be worth contacting. Brighton is the nearest small hub near you, and you will probably have to be prepared to move if this is really what you want to do.

Experience is vital, as even computing graduates will tell you. Dr Bob Hogg, who runs the BSc in multimedia games computing at the University of Sunderland, advises contacting games companies directly, asking about games testing (you are not likely to be able to do this at home), and digging into games discussion forums - students have been known to get work modifying games that way.

He also suggests looking beyond the traditional consoles. Web-based games, games on mobile phones and educational games all offer experience. Skillset, the sector skills council, carries profiles of the various jobs in the industry at www.skillset.org.

It's good to talk

Q. I have nursed for 20 years, and am looking for another career working with people. I want to become a speech therapist. I have a family and can't study full-time; can I do this part-time or by distance learning?

A. To train as a speech therapist, you need to complete one of the programmes approved by the Health Professions Council. Two are approved on a part-time basis; one at the University of Central England in Birmingham and one at the University of Manchester. There are no approved distance learning courses.

The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists ( www.rcslt.org) has developed a self-study programme that can be done by distance learning for people returning to the profession, but it's not available for those starting out.

Have a look at the Health Professions Council website on www.hpc-uk.org. The HPC regulates 13 healthcare fields, and lists the qualifying requirements for all. You may find another job that meets your requirements of working with people and training part-time.

Careers adviser: Angela Carter, the Institute of Work Psychology, University of Sheffield

Send your queries to Caroline Haydon at 'The Independent', Education Desk, Independent House, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS; fax 020-7005 2143; or e-mail to chaydon@blueyonder.co.uk

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