Personal computers and the field of Information Technology have become integral to modern society. Computers impact every industry, influence social patterns and provide many levels of entertainment. Traditionally, computer-based careers yield relatively high income levels and require specialised training and experience; however, actually working with computers can mean anything from running a Web store to working at the Apple store to designing Intel chips. New computer-based roles are created all the time. When considering work in the computer field, think carefully about what your strengths are and what you enjoy, and then choose a general area of computers to begin your qualifications. Requirements and qualifications depend on what area of computers you specialise in.
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Working in Computer Hardware
Computers function through the use of complex circuitry that users do not interact directly with. These are the circuits that enable your computer's hard drive and other internal components to work. They are found in personal computers as well as special purpose computers such as cell phones, video games systems and televisions. Computer circuity is designed in labs by computer engineers and fabricated in factories for companies such as IBM and Intel. To work in this area of computers requires skill and experience typically received through an accredited college or university. Computer engineering schools issue technical science degrees such as a Master's of Science in Computer Engineering. A Bachelor's of Science degree qualifies you for entry-level positions in computer hardware. The more experience and education you accumulate, the more specialised your skills become, which generally translates to higher level positions and pay rates.
Working in Computer Software
Computer software encompasses the tools users operate when controlling a personal computer. Software is built using lines of text commands based on a library of functions called a programming language. Many programming languages exist; the languages have specific strengths and niches that make them ideal for software design in certain industries. For instance, HTML is a programming language used to build websites, while mySQL is a language used to develop databases. Large and complex software tools are built by teams of professionals, including engineers, programmers and graphical designers, each of which requires a variety of skills and training. The quality software developers share is a strong foundation in computer programming.
A Bachelor's of Science degree from a college or university prepares you with the fundamental's of computer software and builds competency with programming languages. Mastery of industry level computer programming is generally achieved through repetitive and iterative programming, building upon foundational knowledge to create increasingly more complex programs.
Another valid route to working in computer software is through independent study and mastery of a programming language and successful completion of a certification exam. Start by examining job descriptions for companies you'd like to work with and review the qualifications section. They will list programming languages necessary to work in their industry.
Working in Social Media
Social media is a newer area of computers attracting many professionals. It is defined by Internet and mobile technology based media used for social interaction. Although a core component of working with social media is software development, there is a growing emphasis on social media marketing and social media management, with roles that are akin to practitioners using social media technologies as a tool. For instance, marketing firms use social media as a tool for market intelligence, a means of understanding how to sell goods and services to customers. Other firms use social media to provide customer service to existing clients. The number-one qualification for working in this field is extreme comfort and evidenced success using social media effectively. This experience must generally be supported by skills in the job function (i.e., marketing, customer service, business). That being said, it is becoming increasingly more common for college graduates with strong social media presence on websites such as Facebook and Twitter to be hired by businesses looking to grow their effectiveness in social media.
Working in eCommerce
eCommerce is a term used to refer to buying and selling goods across the Internet. Essentially, it is a business run through the use of an online store. The two basic qualifications for running an eCommerce store are computer savvy and a working knowledge of the product you are selling. Using automated systems and packaged eCommerce Web engines, an entrepreneur can set up a Web store front overnight. Although eCommerce businesses operate predominately in virtual space, creating a successful venture requires the same skills, tenacity and responsiveness of brick-and-mortar businesses.
Working as a Computer Technician
Computer technicians are highly trained individuals capable of diagnosing, maintaining, repairing and building computer systems. Technical support is a key function of business and valuable to anyone who owns a computer. Computer techs are employed by consumer stores such as Best Buy as well as by companies such as UBS, which has an internal department dedicated to supporting computers. It is not uncommon to find working computer technicians who are self-trained as it is a field where skill and familiarity with computer troubleshooting are necessary. However, employers generally seek candidates who are certified in the requisite skills necessary for a specific role. Qualifications sought by computer techs and employers include Comptia's A+ Certification for hardware and Cisco Certified Network Associate certification. Major colleges that prepare individuals for careers in this field are ITT Technical Institute, Devry University and Strayer University.
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