Computers were developed to make business processes more efficient and affordable, but today, computers do much more. It goes without saying that if you work in one of many computer careers, then you have graduated from being simply a business facilitator to a player in the business world.
To be competitive in a local, national or global marketplace today, a business must be able to conduct business from its website. Whether it is in sales, customer service, help desk support, or providing information, most businesses and organizations today have some kind of online component. Company revenue is directly affected by website crashes, which means a business experiences profit loss when their website goes offline – even for just a few minutes. And sophisticated computer networks are what allow businesses to be run at multiple locations throughout a region and even internationally.
Some careers are changing drastically right now as technological advancements alter the typical tasks and even the job descriptions of computer professionals. For example, telecommunications specialist jobs are now classified among other computer careers, and those who train for the job should pursue an education in programming and networking. Many phones today use computer protocols such as the internet, or they have computer components – smartphones, for example, allow individuals to access emails and perform other functions.
Because of the impact that technology plays on computer-related careers, it is important for you to stay abreast of technology changes as they occur by subscribing to industry journals and by maintaining certifications related to your specific line of work. It is also important for you to obtain a broad knowledge of business functions, and certifications related to your specific line of work.
On this site, we describe some of the most prominent computer careers, such as software engineers, and systems analysts. We provide a side-by-side comparison of the computer careers based on salary, job availability and advancement potential. Much of the data we used on this site is from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Other sources of salary and job availability data we used include O*NET Online and PayScale.com.
To review job salaries on this site, we compared average starting salaries of computer careers. We estimated that the average starting salary was the average of the 10th and 25th wage percentiles. A wage percentile is determined by considering the salaries of everyone in the United States in that profession. 90 percent of individuals make more than the 10th percentile, 75 percent of individuals make more than the 25th percentile, 50 percent of individuals in a particular profession make more than the 50th percentile and so forth.
Job availability is determined by considering the number of individuals presently employed in computer careers, the number of job openings anticipated over the next 10 years, as well as the percentage of growth expected during the same time. The 10-year period is based on figures from 2008 to 2018.
Whether a career has advancement potential depends on opportunities for advancement within in that profession and whether or not advancement requires more than a bachelor's degree or can be gained simply from adequate work experience.
In addition to the ranked criteria, we also discuss additional factors about jobs including work environment, physical requirements and basic office skills required, which are helpful in selecting the career that is right for you.
Work environment includes work schedules available in the position and whether individuals in a particular profession often work in a team environment or do more solo work.
All of the positions we researched require that you can see detail at close range, and they all require sitting at a desk for long periods of time. Because of this, frequent breaks are recommended, and staying physically fit can help prevent repetitive motion injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Some of the positions require additional physical requirements.
Basic Office Skills Required
Basic office skills are needed in all the positions we researched on this site, including basic spelling, grammar, punctuation, typing, data entry and 10-key skills, as well as basic math skills. A working knowledge of basic office applications, such as MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook is also helpful. These positions all require verbal and written communication skills and the ability to plan ahead and meet deadlines. English speaking proficiency is also required for these kinds of positions within the United States.
Training in basic office skills is not necessarily part of a profession's educational curriculum, but having the skills can often make or break your ability to hold down a job as well as provide opportunities for advancement.
In addition to reviews that describe each of these professions, this site includes a sample job description for each career under the Specifications tab on each review page. It also includes what we call a typical workday on Page 2 of each review, which describes tasks and the work environment of a fictional person in each career. We also include articles on computer careers, including "Continuing Education Resources for Computer-Related Careers" and "The History of Computers." Our assessment of computer careers will assist you in deciding which profession is right for you.
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