The design, configuration and maintenance of information management systems and computer networks are looked after by professionals known as computer information systems specialists. There are several areas of specialization these professionals can choose to pursue including overseeing of system design or network security; alternatively, they may opt for a management level role. In this article, we will look at the career path of a computer information systems specialist and discuss what an aspiring computer information systems specialist must do in order to pursue their career. There are several career options that computer information systems specialists can target:
Computer Support Specialists
Computer support specialists are expected to troubleshoot software, hardware and computer networks by employing their technical skills. They field inquiries from clients while acting as help desk technicians or overseeing an organization’s day-to-day computer needs. Other responsibilities could include installation of hardware and software, resolution of computer problems through the use of diagnostic tools and maintenance of records of service and updates.
Computer Security Specialists
Organizations rely on computer security specialists to monitor, protect information and network security from unauthorized persons. Additionally, computer users are trained and informed with regard to cyber security by these specialists. Other responsibilities include checking of systems for viruses and updating security software. Prospective computer security specialists can improve their career prospects by earning security certifications to add to their formal educational qualifications.
Computer Systems Analysts
Organizations rely on computer systems analysts to advise and configure computer networks and systems. A project can begin with the examination of clients by analysts seeking to establish needs of users. Thereafter, the system requirements and specifications can be determined by performing a cost-benefit analysis. After the completion of the analytical process come the design, development and configuration of systems. At this stage, software and hardware may be tested to ensure system efficiency and functional effectiveness. Such testing will help debug problems and eliminate errors. Other analysts duties may include providing technical recommendations, perform diagnostic tests, educate users and write instruction guides. Recruiters usually require candidates to possess a bachelor degree, though some employers may give preference to MBA graduates majoring in information systems (source: BLS).
Network, Systems and Database Administrators
Organizations rely on administrators to setup and perform maintenance on databases, networks and computers systems. In the course of their duties, they usually install, analyze and service network and computer software and hardware. Such equipment can include switches, routers, operating systems and computers. Administrators are required to provide consistent support to wide-area and local networks, intranet and internet systems, and database and security software. Administrators are usually required to have completed a bachelor degree program; however, some employers prefer MBA graduates majoring in information systems management.
Information Systems Managers
Organizations rely on Information Systems managers for planning, coordination and management of information and computer technology within the firms. In determining the computing needs of the organization, Information Systems managers typically rely on consultations with other professionals including technicians and system users. They are involved in designing of systems and coordinating their implementation. Apart from configuration of systems; managers’ responsibilities include assessment of network and system operations, review of advancements in the industry, overseeing of scheduling and budgeting. They are expected to recommend system updates, evaluate personnel and set annual performance targets.
Career Prerequisites for Computer Information Systems Specialists
The educational requirements for computer information systems specialists will depend on the position they occupy, usually most of these professionals are known to have completed a bachelor degree program in computer-related fields such as computer science, and information systems management, among others (source: BLS). Employers do not always insist on bachelor degrees; they may accept candidates holding certificates, associate degrees, professional certification, work experience; a combination of experience and education is usually sufficient. According to the BLS, those seeking administrative positions may need to complete MBA programs majoring in information systems. Some employers may require computer information systems specialists to obtain product certification. Several types of certification are offered through a vendor-neutral organization called the Computing Technology Industry Association (source: www.comptia.org). Hardware, software or operating system certifications from vendors such as Cisco and Microsoft could enhance the career prospects of computer information systems specialists.
Wage Potential for Computer Information Systems Specialists
In 2009, the average annual salary of a computer specialist was $78,010; computer support specialists took home $47,360while a computer and information systems manager earned $120,640 (source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) (www.bls.gov).