Top Career Paths in Computer and Information Technology
Since the advent of the affordable computer system, businesses have adopted this method of record keeping and communication across the globe. With that adaptation came jobs for individuals who understood the languages, the hardware, and the software that makes a computer function properly. The following top career paths in computer and information technology (IT) provide information about those careers and the education required to meet employment standards. Note that many jobs require bachelor’s degrees, and some careers require a master’s degree and even a PhD. However, you can begin a career soon with an associate’s degree and certification. Online learning makes it easy to continue your education throughout your life and to advance in any computer or IT career and make more money.
- Computer and Information Research Scientists: Individuals in this career invent and design new technology and find new uses for existing technology. They study and solve problems in computing for business, science, medicine, and other fields. A Ph.D. in computer science or a related subject is required for most computer and information research scientist jobs. You may need only a bachelor’s degree for some jobs within the federal government.
- Computer and Information Systems Managers: Often called information technology managers (IT managers or IT project managers), these skilled individuals plan, coordinate, and direct computer-related activities within an organization. They help determine the organization’s information technology goals and are responsible for implementing the appropriate computer systems to accomplish those goals. Computer and information systems managers normally must have a bachelor’s degree in a computer- or information science-related field. Many organizations require their computer and information systems managers to have a graduate degree as well.
- Computer Hardware Engineers: Computer hardware engineers research, design, develop, and test computer equipment. By solving problems in computer hardware, these engineers can create rapid advances in computer technology. Most entry-level computer hardware engineers have a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering, although a degree in electrical engineering generally is acceptable. To prepare for a major in computer or electrical engineering, students should have a solid background in math and science. Some larger firms or specialized jobs often require an individual with a master’s degree in computer engineering.
- Computer Programmers: If you like to write code to create software programs, this job may be perfect for you. Computer programmers turn the program designs created by software developers and engineers into instructions that a computer can follow. Most computer programmers have a bachelor’s degree; some employers hire workers with an associate’s degree.
- Computer Support Specialists: These specialists provide help and advice to people and organizations using computer software or hardware. Some, called technical support specialists, support IT employees within their organization. Others, called help-desk technicians, assist non-IT users who are having computer problems. Training requirements for computer support specialists vary, but many employers prefer to hire applicants who have a bachelor’s degree. A bachelor’s degree is required for some computer support specialist positions, but an associate’s degree or postsecondary classes may be enough education for other jobs.
- Computer Systems Analysts: These individuals analyze an organization’s current computer system and procedures and make recommendations to help the organization operate more efficiently and effectively through those systems and programs. They bring business and information IT together by understanding the needs and limitations of both fields. A bachelor’s degree in a computer or information science field is common, although not always a requirement. Some firms may hire analysts with business or liberal arts degrees who know how to write computer programs.
- Database Administrators: Database administrators use software to store and organize data, such as financial information and customer shipping records. These jobs carry a high degree of responsibility, as these administrators make sure that data are available to users and secure from unauthorized access. Most database administrators have a bachelor’s degree in management information systems (MIS) or a computer-related field. Firms with large databases may prefer applicants who have a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a concentration in information systems.
- Information Security Analysts, Web Developers, and Computer Network Architects: These employees all use IT to advance their organization’s goals. Security analysts ensure a firm’s information stays safe from cyberattacks. Web developers create websites to help firms create and maintain a public face. Computer network architects create the internal networks that all workers can use within an organization. Information security analysts usually need at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science, programming, or a related field. Information security analysts often need a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in information systems in addition to computer-related courses. Computer network architects usually need at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information systems, engineering, or a related field. Educational requirements for web developers vary with the setting they work in and the type of work they do.
- Network and Computer Systems Administrators: These individuals are responsible for day-to-day operations of an organization’s computer network. Administrators organize, install, and support an organization’s computer systems, including local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), network segments, intranets, and other data communication systems. Network and computer systems analysts usually have a bachelor’s degree in fields related to computer or information science. However, because administrators work with computer hardware and equipment, a degree in computer engineering or electrical engineering usually is acceptable.
- Software Developers: Software developers represent the creative minds behind computer programs. Some developers create the applications that allow people to do specific tasks on a computerized device. Others develop underlying systems that run the devices or that can control networks. Software developers usually have a bachelor’s degree, typically in computer science, software engineering, or a related field. A degree in mathematics also is acceptable.