You’re a techie sort with a strong dash of curiosity and creativity; your girlfriends always bring you their cell phones and other technological marvels so you can work your magic on them. Information technology sounds as though it might be a great match for your skills and interests. IT jobs tend to fall into one of several categories: programming and software development; network administration; research, analysis and security; as well as hybrid occupations such as medical or nursing informatics.
Computer Support Specialists
Almost all businesses use computers for a variety of functions. The equipment must be maintained and will sometimes need to be repaired. New software updates must be installed and tested periodically. Some businesses hire their own in-house staff to perform these functions, while others use private computer support specialists. Support specialists provide technical assistance, answer questions and resolve problems over the phone, electronically or in person. Depending on the duties required, you might need anything from on-the-job training to a bachelor’s degree. The average annual salary for computer support specialists in 2011 was $51,820, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Software Developers and Computer Programmers
Software developers and computer programmers create the programs, databases and applications that make computers useful for functions as diverse as medical billing and online games. Generally speaking, the software developer designs the programs or applications, and the computer programmer writes the technical code that makes each step happen. Developers and programmers usually work in collaborative teams because their work is so interdependent, although the supervising function usually falls to the developers, according to the BLS. You’ll need a bachelor’s degree for either of these occupations. Computer programmers earned an average $76,010 in 2011, according to the BLS, while applications software developers earned $92,080 and systems software developers earned $100,420.
Nursing informatics is a good example of a hybrid IT career. Nursing informatics combines computers, software and information science with nursing knowledge to help nurses and other clinicians collect, manage and analyze medical data. You’ll need to get a nursing degree and go on for formal training in nursing informatics. More than half of the nursing informaticists who responded to the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society 2011 workforce survey had a master’s degree or doctorate. HIMSS reported the average annual salary for nurse informaticists in 2011 was $98,702.
Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics listed 10 different types of careers in the information technology realm as of 2011, new occupations appear frequently. For example, the concept of the cloud or virtual network that resides on the Internet rather than on a business’ own servers is a recent development, according to a June 2011 article in “InfoWorld.” Also new is the profession of cloud architect, an IT occupation that is concerned with the way the cloud services work, how to connect them to the business, and whether to run a cloud service internally or on a pay-per-use basis.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Computer Support Specialists
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Software Developers
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Computer Programmers
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: May 2011 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates United States
- InfoWorld: The 6 Hottest New Jobs in IT
- Ablestock.com/AbleStock.com/Getty Images