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Computer and Information Technology Careers Guide

Computer and IT career information

Computer technology is evolving faster than ever, and the need for computer professionals is at an all-time high. Individuals with a background in computer technology are in high demand—you’re wanted nearly everywhere, from offices to universities, and even civic organizations. A career in computers offers a variety of opportunities, relatively high job security, and great pay.

There is a wide range of fields that you can enter once you have a degree in computers. These include computer engineering, computer science, and information technology. Most careers will require postsecondary education such as an associate or bachelor’s degree in computer science. Post-graduate degrees will help you increase your skills and enhance your opportunities for a higher-paying job.

Tuition will vary due to the vast expanse of programs and degrees available to the field. On average, an associate degree at a community college will cost students $3,500 per year. A bachelor’s degree at a public university costs closer to $10,000 annually, not including housing. Private universities run closer to $34,000 a year. These prices go up every year, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

Computer Network Analyst

Main Article: Computer Networking Career

Typing at lightning speeds while staring intently at a computer screen, computer network specialists are the eyes and ears of the technology within an organization. Computer network specialists design, implement, secure, and troubleshoot networked computers within a company. Also referred to as a information technology (IT) specialist or a network administrator, computer network specialists are the ones to thank for a properly working computer system in a company or organization.

Your job is to solve problems, like when a computer freezes up, accounts have been hacked, or connection to a network cannot be reached. You also have extensive knowledge to secure and develop networked computers.

Network analysts are responsible for maintaining the security of a company’s network, troubleshooting calls and emails, and diagnosing issues and offering repair instructions remotely. To perform such tasks, you must have substantial knowledge of network connectivity, protocols, network security devices, network types, and operating systems.

Additionally, computer network specialists must monitor network access, security threats, problems with connectivity, and configure security devices to ensure the safety of company software systems and data. You’ll be found in the IT department of a company or business, and you will work closely with programmers, designers, and IT managers to complete each task.

Education

Network analysts must have good communication skills in both technical and non-technical language—you will deal with team members, vendors, internal and external clients, and technology professionals. It is crucial that a network analyst has the accurate knowledge of each machine and computer program to properly handle every troubleshooting error and customer complaint.

Find an information technology program now.

To become one, you’ll need to:

  1. Get your high school diploma or GED.
  2. Get your bachelor’s degree in computer science, network technology, software engineering, or information security. Some companies will hire you with a certificate or an associate degree, but most prefer bachelor’s degrees.
  3. Through the education process, you will receive both classroom instruction and hands-on experience in network fundamentals.
  4. Several organizations offer professional certification in the computer network industry. Certifications allow you to demonstrate your knowledge of the networking to the desired employer. Certification can be earned in CompTIA’s Network+ and Security+ credentials, Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist, or Cisco’s Certified Network Professional.

Salary and Job Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that in 2021, computer network professionals made an average salary of $91,250. In addition, the growth rate through 2030, is expected to increase at 5 percent. This is a little slower than the national average, but it is still a rewarding career to pursue.

Computer Scientist

Computer scientists create powerful new technologies and solve roadblocks that come up when producing advancements. Computer scientists, also called information scientists, are the geniuses behind smartphones, tablet computers, and GPS computers. They solve complex problems in society by developing computer programs, software, and applications.

If you become a computer scientist, you will design new technologies and advance old technology into something better than before. You will work in various settings, like government agencies and engineering firms, on things such as database and information theory to numerical analysis, algorithm, and data structure design.

You can be found working as part of a research team, full of computer programmers, information technology professionals, and mechanical or electrical engineers. Your team will investigate technological topics such as artificial intelligence, robotics, or virtual reality. By researching such topics, advancements toward new hardware or computer software can then take place.

Education

Executing such advanced and technical skill work in the computer science field takes close attention to detail, proper communication skills and strong math skills; and most importantly, a well-rounded education.

What You’ll Need:

  1. A high school diploma
  2. A four-year bachelor’s degree in computer science, information systems, or software engineering
  3. Your master’s degree in computer science or computer engineering

By earning your master’s, you will learn in-depth details about hardware and software systems, computational modeling, and program languages—all skills that will only advance and further a career in the computer science field.

Find a computer science program.

Salary and Job Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics stated that computer scientists in 2021 averaged $142,650. The predicted growth rate of the industry is good as well. By 2030, the BLS reports that industry demand will increase by 22 percent, which is much faster than the national average.

With the constant demand for technology that’s the latest and greatest, the demand for computer scientists will be persistent, as well.

Computer Engineer

Computer engineers are the reason your Internet loads so fast, you can secure your laptop with a password, and your software doesn’t crash every 20 minutes. As a computer engineer, you are responsible for helping computers work correctly by creating and testing their software. You play a vital role in the successful functionality of a business or home office computer.

You can work in a variety of workplaces and perform will tasks with team members. You might do the research and design of circuit boards, routers, and other computer equipment. Developing new computer games, business applications, or an entirely new operating system may also fall to you. Additionally, your tasks might include developing a company’s computer system, keeping it up, and providing tech support when needed.

Education

Regardless of which process you may be a part of, an education in the computer engineering field is crucial for success as a programmer.

  1. Get your high school diploma or GED.
  2. An associate’s degree in computer science or a related field is a good first step, but you’ll need to move onto a bachelor’s degree.
  3. You are required to get a bachelor’s degree in computer science.
  4. These degree programs cover database design, systems analysis, critical thinking and technical writing.
  5. You’ll also need your master’s degree, it will greatly increase job opportunities in the computer engineering field.

Computer engineers should be able to share ideas and instructions easily with teammates, and you need to think carefully through problems. Without these, your projects could result in disorganization and misunderstood directions. Many computer engineers are working with clients on a regular basis, making it necessary for them to have the ability to express computer information in simpler terms for basic understanding.

Salary and Job Outlook

The Bureau of Labor statistics reports that in 2021, computer engineers earned an average of $136,230. Industry demand for computer engineers by 2030 is expected to increase by only 2 percent, which is slower than the national average.

Find a computer engineering program now.

Programming & Coding

Computer programmers teach computers to follow instructions so they operate correctly. These instructions have been created by software developers and engineers, with the intention of being written into a coded software program that a computer will be able to read.

You, the computer programmer, translates programs written by software developers and engineers and turns them into a code the computer is able to process. You’ll update and maintain computer programs, as well as consult with the management team to determine the program’s intent.

From writing programs in computer code to documenting program progress and conducting trial runs, you need to make sure the coding was correctly placed. If it doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to, then you’ll have to make corrections until it does work right. Some programs, such as mobile apps, are more simple to code and can take just a few days to write. Others, like computer operating systems, are more complex and can take months or years to complete. Revisions and repairs are frequently necessary due to the length of time that passes when coding a program.

Sometimes, you’ll find your job duties will run into those of software developers. When a programmer and software developer’s roles overlap, the computer programmer will not only be responsible for his or her duties regarding the coding of the program but also the designing of the program itself.

Education

A job in computer coding and programming requires dedication and a college degree.

  1. To enter the field, you’ll need an associate degree at minimum. During your education, you will receive instruction in computer languages, how to write code, and how to debug programs.
  2. You’ll get hands-on experience through internships and classroom participation.
  3. Bachelor’s degrees are available, and more and more employers are preferring their programmers and coders to have one.
  4. Keep up with your education through seminars and classes. It’s a necessity due to how quickly technology advances.
  5. To increase job prospects, you can choose to become certified in specific programming languages or programming products.

Find a programming degree program now.

Salary and Job Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the average salary for programmers and coders in 2021 was $96,650. The BLS also reported that by 2030, the industry will experience a 10 percent decline in demand. If you are committed to becoming a programmer and coder, however, don't let the slight decline dissuade you. Be sure to maintain your education and qualification as technology advances. Staying on top of the latest technology will give you a competitive edge.

Check out online Cyber Security programs, which are great options if you are proficient in programming and coding.

Information Systems Manager

An information systems manager is a business executive who manages and implements computer and information technology systems. These executives improve the productivity and organization of a corporation. There are a lot of different titles attached to this job, from IT managers to IT project managers.

With corporations increasing productivity, hiring more employees, and needing an effective organization plan, you are a critical implementation to the corporate setting. You’ll be responsible for managing and implementing computer and information technology systems throughout the business you work at.

As an information systems manager, you are taking charge of each computer system within a company, which can become an overwhelming and stressful task. It is your duty to oversee installations of a system, purchase equipment such as hardware and software, and evaluate user needs. Additionally, putting a budget in place for new technology equipment, comparing competitive prices, recruiting and training new employees, implementing backup software in case of a crash, and attending informational workshops are a part of the day-to-day routine. Each task must be executed appropriately and effectively, as well as follow the software licensing laws.

Education

For most employers, hiring an applicant with a bachelor’s degree allows for growth and improvement, but a prospective employee with a master’s degree is preferred.

  1. Earning an MBA in Information Systems Management can set you apart from other applicants and show an employer that you have a strong passion for this particular field.
  2. During your education, you will learn how to apply concepts of globalization to business challenges, evaluate up-and-coming technologies, apply business principles, and assess financial risks—both statistically and economically.

Having the ability to achieve a management position requires a capability to direct others. Staying current on business and technology is also necessary for the position. The further you push the educational outlet, the more opportunity you will encounter in the job market.

Find an information systems management program now.

Salary and Job Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that computer information systems managers in 2021 averaged $162,930. By 2030, the industry is expected to experience an increased demand of 11 percent.

Technical Writing

Main Article: Technical Writing

Career Talk: Freelance Tech Writer Interview

Career Talk: Corporate Tech Writer Interview

Technical writers think from both a consumer and producer standpoint as they complete the multitude of work on their plates. They establish simple ways to explain complex concepts in print and digital documents, as well as for videos. Additionally, technical communicators must proofread all of their work for spelling and grammar errors and provide new editions every couple of years.

In your writing, you will need to clearly explain every detail of a system or product to a reader/consumer through journal articles and instruction manuals that explain the product in basic terms. The hope is to help the consumer troubleshoot an issue themselves, without having to call 24-hour helplines. You will help improve the traffic flow within the technical support systems by creating how-to manuals, assembly instructions, references, and “frequently asked questions” pages.

Working with a team of various individuals such as hardware engineers, computer support specialists, and software developers, you need to manage the flow of information among team members while the testing process is occurring. Changes and improvements are usually addressed more efficiently when sharing and collaborating with the rest of the team.

Education

Most employers expect a technical writer to have a bachelor’s degree in journalism, English, or communications. Through the education process, you’ll learn how to write in a professional manner, embrace your creative strengths, and communicate accurate technical terminology in a simple way. Having a degree—as well as knowledge in a specialized field such as web design—provides an employer with the reassurance that you can perform the job efficiently and correctly.

There are a few voluntary certifications available to you. The Society for Technical Communication is one organization that provides credentials. If you are a technical writer in the medical industry, then you can look into the American Medical Writers Association for both continuing education and certification courses.

Salary and Job Outlook

Technical writing is one of the more profitable forms of a writing career. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that technical writers earned an average salary of $81,470 in 2021. The demand for technical writers is expected to increase 12 percent by 2030, which is a little faster than the national average for all careers.

Online Computer & IT Degrees

Online Computer & IT courses allow students the opportunity to access material when it’s most convenient for them. You can use an online learning platform to access and submit assignments, download lecture notes, watch instructional videos, and communicate with your peers and instructors.

Many schools offer online computer courses as individual courses or as part of a larger online bachelor’s or master’s degree programs in information technology, computer science, and related fields. These programs emphasize a variety of practices and theories that prepare you for opportunities in cutting-edge technology.

Students should look for technology-related programs that are recognized by the Association of Technology, Management, and Applied Engineering (ATMAE). ATMAE acknowledges the importance of standards for technology and encourages continuous quality improvement through evaluation processes.

Find a local or online information technology program.