The computer and information technology industry has seen explosive growth since 1990, and job demand in the industry remains relatively unscathed, even in times of economic crisis. Professionals in the industry design, build, protect and maintain software and hardware, computer systems and networks. Most jobs require a college degree and pay very well.
Information Security Analyst
Information security analysts help companies keep hackers out of their computer networks and systems. They install and maintain security measures like firewalls and encryption systems, monitor companies' networks for potential security risks and breaches, investigate security breaches to find a network's exploited weakness and work with top-level managers to suggest methods to correct those weaknesses. Information security analysts need an undergraduate degree in a field related to computer science, though some schools now offer specialized degrees in information security. A Master of Business Administration degree in information systems helps you stand out in the applicant pool. Information security analysts earn $89,000 to $121,500 per year, according to survey conducted by Robert Half Technology. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects demand for these professionals to remain very high.
In the software business, software developers are the architects, while computer programmers are the builders. Developers design software with end-users in mind, come up with flowcharts to help programmers code the software, oversee testing to ensure software works correctly and design upgrades to existing software. Software developers need a bachelor's degree in computer science or a closely related degree. They need to have analytical skills and creativity to design software that users will like and the communication skills to ensure their vision is properly executed. Software developers are enjoying very rapid employment growth, with the BLS projecting jobs to grow by 30 percent between 2010 and 2020. They are also well paid, with a median annual salary of $90,530.
Computer Systems Analyst
Computer systems analysts need to have a solid understanding of business and computer science to build systems that help companies meet their goals. They meet with managers to understand a company's technology goals, analyze costs and benefits, design new computer systems or make improvements on existing systems and supervise the installation of systems or upgrades. Computer systems analysts may have a computer science or related degree, but a degree in management information systems, which combines computer science and business, or an MBA is helpful. Some systems analysts have no formal computer science education and instead learn these skills on the job. Prospective computer systems analysts can expect faster than average employment growth and a median salary of $77,740 per year.
Computer and Information Research Scientist
Computer and information research scientists are the professional innovators of the computer science world. They come up with new technologies, find ways to use old technology in new ways and work to solve the most complex computing problems. They work in just about every field that uses technology, including business and medicine. These scientists face the most daunting education requirements and receive the biggest potential rewards. They must complete four to five year Ph.D. programs in computer science after earning a bachelor's degree. These programs allow computer and information researchers to spend the last two to three years of their program doing research in their specialty. These researchers earn an average of $100,660 per year, and a shortage of qualified applicants in the field makes job prospects in this profession excellent.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Information Security Analysts, Web Developers and Computer Network Architects
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Software Developers
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Computer Systems Analysts
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Computer and Information Research Scientists
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Computer and Information Technology
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Careers in the Growing Field of Information Technology Services
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