Computer Science/Information Systems
Nature of the Profession: The ever-expanding application of computers continues to generate a need for highly-trained professionals to design and develop new hardware and software systems and to incorporate technological advances into new or existing systems. These highly-skilled workers – systems analysts, computer programmers, computer engineers and computer scientists - are commonly referred to as computer systems professionals. Job tasks and occupational titles used to describe this broad category of workers evolve rapidly, reflecting the new areas of specialization or changes in technology as well as the preferences and practices of employers.
Education and Training: Rapidly changing technology means an increasing level of skill and education demanded by employers. Companies are looking for professionals with a broader background and range of skills including not only technical knowledge, but also communication and other interpersonal skills. This shift from requiring workers to possess solely sound technical knowledge emphasizes individuals who can handle various responsibilities. While there is no universally accepted way to prepare for a job as a computer systems professional, most employers place a premium on some formal college education. A bachelor's degree is a prerequisite for many jobs. Relevant work experience also is very important. For more technically complex jobs, persons with graduate degrees are preferred.
Working Conditions: Computer systems professionals normally work in offices or laboratories in comfortable surroundings. They usually work about 40 hours per week - the same as many other professional or office workers; however, evening or weekend work may be necessary to meet deadlines or solve specific problems. Given the technology available today, telecommuting is common for computer professionals. As networks expand, more work can be done from remote locations using modems, laptops, electronic mail, and the Internet.
Salary Range: Average incomes for computer systems professionals depend on location, company size, and education level. According to the Wage Information Network, starting salary offers for graduates with a bachelor’s degree in computer science averaged about $47,790.
- Systems analysis and design: $67,500
- Computer programmers: $67,600
- Computer engineers: $81,400
Employment Outlook: Employment of computer systems professionals in Texas is expected to grow 30% by the year 2012. Nationally, these workers are expected to be the fastest growing group of occupations through 2012.
Nature of Profession: Computer support specialists provide technical assistance, support, and advice to individuals and organizations that depend on information technology. They work within organizations that use computer systems, for computer hardware or software vendors, or for third-party organizations that provide support services on a contract basis, such as help desk service firms. Support specialists are usually differentiated between technical support specialists and help desk technicians.
Technical support specialists respond to inquiries from their organizations' computer users and may run automatic diagnostics programs to resolve problems. In addition, they may write training manuals and train computer users in the use of new computer hardware and software. These workers also oversee the daily performance of their company's computer systems, resolving technical problems with local area networks (LAN), wide area networks (WAN), and other systems.
Help desk technicians respond to telephone calls and e-mail messages from customers looking for help with computer problems. In responding to these inquiries, help desk technicians must listen carefully to the customer, ask questions to diagnose the nature of the problem, and then patiently walk the customer through the problem-solving steps. They also install, modify, clean, and repair computer hardware and software. Many computer support specialists start out at the help desk.
Education and Training: A college degree is required for some computer support specialist positions, but an associate degree or certification may be sufficient for others. Strong problem-solving and communication skills are essential.
Due to the wide range of skills required, there are many paths of entry to a job as a computer support specialist. Training requirements for computer support specialist positions vary, but many employers prefer to hire applicants with some formal college education. Most support specialists receive on-the-job training after being hired. This training can last anywhere from 1 week to 1 year, but a common length is about 3 months. Many computer support specialists, in order to keep up with changes in technology, continue to receive training throughout their careers by attending professional training programs offered by employers, hardware and software vendors, colleges and universities, and private training institutions.
Certification and other qualifications: For some jobs, professional certification may qualify an applicant for employment. Certification can demonstrate proficiency in a product or process, and help applicants obtain some entry-level positions. Some hardware and software vendors require their computer support specialists to be certified, and many of these will fund this training after an applicant is hired.
Salary Range: Median annual wages of wage-and-salary computer support specialists were $46,300 in 2010. The middle 50 percent earned between $35,900 and $60,000. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $28,300, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $77,000.
Employment Outlook: Employment is expected to increase faster than the average. Job prospects should be good, especially for those with a college degree and relevant skills.
Nature of the Profession: System Administrators are needed to design, install, test and maintain computer hardware and software related to an organization's computing infrastructure. The System Administrator assists in; research and planning to determine the needs of the organization, installs and configures the hardware and software to meet the computing requirements, monitors and maintains the computing infrastructure to facilitate a stable computing environment. System Administrators are in demand as both in-house experts who work for a single company and as consultants who contract with many different companies. Students majoring in System Administration will be preparing themselves to become certified as a Microsoft Certified System Administrator. This type of industry recognized certification can provide graduates with a wide variety of opportunities in the technology field:
- designing solutions for various project and operational needs
- installing and rebuilding servers and configuring operating system and software in accordance with operational requirements
- maintaining and updating Active Directory infrastructures
- researching and recommending new solutions to help automate administrative tasks
- identifying solutions that maximize system resources
- monitoring computing systems and network infrastructure
- performing security analysis to protect computing environment
- troubleshooting system and network related issues
- facilitating communications with and training users
Education and Training: Students majoring in System Administration will be preparing themselves to become certified as a Microsoft Certified Information Technology Professional (MCITP): Server Administrator. This industry-recognized certification can provide graduates with a wide variety of opportunities in the networking field. The advantage of taking these courses at Tyler Junior College is that, instead of a “force-fed”, three to five day, eight-hour-a-day class, we train over an eight to sixteen week semester with a large amount of hands-on lab experience.
Salary Range: Median annual wages of wage-and-salary computer support specialists were $69,200 in 2010. The middle 50 percent earned between $53,900 and $87,700. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $42,400, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $108,100.
Employment Outlook: Employment of computer professionals in Texas is expected to increase by 18% by the year 2016; a much faster growth than any other occupation in Texas. In addition, this occupation is expected to add 155,000 jobs over the projection decade. Within the computer field, networking will be the fastest area of growth.
Nature of the Profession: Wide area networks (WAN) continue to grow in complexity as technology evolves and the demand for highly trained networking experts increases daily. With this in mind, CISCO Systems developed CISCO Career Certifications, a program that addresses the growing demand worldwide for more trained computer networking professionals. The CISCO Network Support Certification track is designed for professionals working with traditional CISCO-based networks that predominantly include LAN and WAN routers and LAN switches. WAN managers routinely install and configure networks to increase bandwidth, improve response times, and enhance reliability and quality of service. They are also responsible for maximizing performance, improving network security, and providing a range of application-oriented solutions.
Education and Training: The recommended courses for career certification are taught by CISCO Networking Academies. When you are trained by one of the Networking Academies, you’ll receive the high-quality instruction you would expect from CISCO Systems, the industry’s networking innovator. Equally important, product information will come straight to you from CISCO and its partners, rather than from a secondhand, uncertified source. This ensures you’ll receive the most up-to-date knowledge, reflecting the latest trends in the networking industry. The advantage of taking these courses at TJC is that, instead of a “force-fed”, three to five day, eight-hour-a-day class, we train over an eight- to sixteen-week semester with a large amount of hands-on lab experience.
Salary Range: $32,000 - $70,000 per year
Employment Outlook: Employment of computer professionals in Texas is expected to grow by a minimum of 50% by the year 2012; a much faster growth than any other occupation in Texas. Within the computer field, networking will be the fastest area of growth.