Those who work in Information Technology have become the superstars of the working world. Once relegated to the back offices to hide behind servers the size of pick-up trucks, IT workers are now on the tip of the spear when it comes to driving results for companies big and small. They are no longer just the help desk folks who come to fix your computer when it comes down with a nasty virus; they are the masterminds behind massive computer networks and security programs, and are key players in strategizing and planning for a company’s future. Nothing happens in today’s business world without an IT element.
Employment in Information Technology tends to pay well, and the industry is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations. A bachelor’s degree in a computer-related field is required for management positions, but many employers will take into account military experience. Some employers require a graduate degree for their higher level managers, especially an MBA with technology as a core component.
Computer and information systems managers play a vital role in the implementation and administration of technology within their organizations. They plan, coordinate, and direct research on the computer-related activities of firms. They help determine the goals of an organization and then implement technology to meet them. They oversee all technical aspects of an organization, such as software development, network security, and Internet operations.
Other IT professionals include computer software engineers and computer programmers, computer systems analysts, and computer support specialists. They install and upgrade hardware and software, oversee programming and systems design, the implementation of computer networks, and the development of Internet and intranet sites. They are increasingly involved with the upkeep, maintenance, and security of networks. They analyze the computer and information needs of their organizations and determine immediate and long-range personnel and equipment requirements.
IT professionals need a broad range of skills. Employers look for individuals who can demonstrate an understanding of the specific software or technology used on the job. Generally, this knowledge is gained through years of experience working with that particular product. Another way to demonstrate this trait is with professional certification. Although not required for most computer and information system positions, certification demonstrates an area of expertise, and can increase an applicant’s chances of employment.
Employment of computer and information systems managers is expected to grow 17 percent over the 2008-18 decade, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is faster than the average for all occupations. Granted, the recent recession may have dulled the prospects for employment for a short time, but new technology applications in the workplace will continue to drive demand for workers, fueling the need for more managers. To remain competitive, firms will continue to install sophisticated computer networks and set up more complex intranets and websites.
Because so much business is carried out over computer networks, security will continue to be an important issue for businesses and other organizations, and will lead to strong growth for computer managers. Firms will increasingly hire security experts to fill key leadership roles in their information technology departments, because the integrity of their computing environments is of utmost importance.
So even with the recent economic downturn and slow recovery, prospects for qualified computer and information systems personnel should be excellent. Workers with specialized technical knowledge and strong communications and business skills, as well as those with an MBA with a concentration in information systems, will have the best prospects. Job openings will be the result of employment growth and the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations or leave the labor force.