Careers in Information Technology
Careers in information technology (IT) and the computer industry are among the fastest growing jobs today. The field of information technology uses computers and computer software to manage and process vital information, and the technology is constantly evolving. IT careers cut across many industries, including healthcare, biotechnology, education, and financial services. Although there is no single way to prepare for an IT career, a bachelor's degree can help you land a job.
Software engineering is the design and development of computer software applications that help businesses run numerous processes automatically and efficiently. A software engineer's job may include:
- Researching and studying a client's needs for a variety of tasks, including inventory, billing, and payroll.
- Using computer programming languages such as C++ and Java to instruct a computer on a line-by-line basis on how to perform each function
- Testing the software they've developed, to evaluate it, monitor for quality, and resolve technical problems
Software engineers require a bachelor's degree in computer science, computer information systems, or software engineering.
Systems Support Assistant
Systems support assistants deal with a variety of computer industry problems, from forgotten passwords to crashed computers. They provide support and advice to customers and help maintain day-to-day computer operations in businesses and hardware and software companies. Their jobs may include:
- Answering phone calls from clients
- Using diagnostic programs
- Remotely analyzing and correcting problems
- Rotating on-call duties at nights and during weekends
- Installing, updating, and cleaning computer systems
- Making repairs
Systems support assistants typically have a bachelor's degree, and certification is also available through a variety of programs.
Network administrators design, install, and maintain Internet services, local area networks (LANs), and wide area networks (WANs) for a variety of users, including small businesses, corporations, and government offices. A network administrator's job includes:
- Monitoring networks for availability
- Watching network gear such as routers and firewalls
- Assigning network addresses and for directory services
- Maintaining the network's software and hardware such as personal computers and printers
A network administrator should have a bachelor's degree in computer science, management information systems (MIS), or other relevant area. Increasingly, employers are searching for applicants with a master's degree in business administration (MBA).
Database specialists develop and maintain database applications for businesses in order to make computer data processing more efficient. A typical day in the life of a database specialist may include:
- Working with a variety of clients
- Ensuring that employees of a company can easily access, analyze and compare information
- Using applications such as Microsoft SLQ and Oracle to develop databases that fit customer needs
- Assessing existing databases to improve weaknesses and expand security
Database specialists typically have a bachelor's degree in computer science, information science or MIS. An MBA is also an asset, and talented database specialists may advance to become chief technology officers.
IT consultants, working independently or with consulting firms, advise businesses on how best to use computers and information technology to improve efficiency and solve problems. Consulting jobs may include some of the following tasks:
- Planning new projects to improve workflow
- Finding solutions to problems in existing technology
- Creating a timeline and ensuring that the company has the hardware and software required to make changes
- Installing and monitoring the technology
- Providing education to staff and listening to feedback
An IT consultant should have a bachelor's degree in a technology-related field and substantial experience working in the computer industry.
Web designers work with project managers, programmers, and market research teams to plan, design, and test websites. Working independently or for advertising agencies, design firms, or corporate marketing departments, they complete a number of tasks, including:
- Create images, icons, and other features that allow the public to learn about new products and services online
- Use specialized skills to complete design projects
- Know graphic design software, HTML, or computer programming languages to design sites
- Find clients and negotiate contracts, pricing, and legal issues.
The computer industry is growing quickly, and a bachelor's degree in the field of information technology can put you in demand. If you're interested in an IT career, earning your bachelor's degree in technology -- a field widely available in online degree programs -- may help you find a job in one of the fastest growing industries today.