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IT Job Titles & Descriptions
If you search for information technology titles, you might find new job labels each month. IT job titles change rapidly, because technology platforms may seem to evolve at the speed of light, so to speak. When Windows 95 revolutionized the world with its now-classic Rolling Stones' song "Start Me Up," computer users never imagined that one day they would have mobile phones and tablet computers. If studying an IT jobs list leaves you confused, you are not alone. But have no fear, because no matter where you set your sights, most IT careers offer a bright, fruitful future.
Web developers create the websites that we use every day. Some build and design front-end pages that we see, and others develop back-end technology that drives site elements such as contact forms and shopping carts.
Some web developers build websites, using platforms such as WordPress, which offers numerous templates that the developer can modify to fit the client’s needs. Others built websites from scratch using computer code.
Most employers seek web developers who have at least a bachelor’s degree in computer programming or web development.
Cloud engineers work with cloud computing technology. Cloud computing uses remote servers to process and store data. For example, Google Drive offers cloud storage for customers to back up and store important documents and photos.
Cloud engineers play various roles in cloud computing. Some deal exclusively with cloud storage architecture, while others handle security issues, which can involve user authentication and encryption. Some companies employ cloud engineers to design, build and maintain proprietary cloud storage systems. Others need cloud storage engineers to integrate their networks with commercial systems such as Amazon Web Services.
Most cloud engineer jobs require a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering or computer science.
Computer Systems Analyst
Computer systems analysts help companies redesign and reengineer existing computer systems to make them perform more efficiently. Their job requires them to understand the technical aspects of a computer network, along with the goals and needs of a business’ operation.
Systems analysts must stay abreast of emerging technologies to keep their systems up to date or compatible with other systems. They work with software developers and quality assurance analysts to create and implement system changes. In some cases, systems analysts create user manuals and train users on system changes.
Most employers seek computer systems analysts who have earned at least a bachelor’s degree in information science or computer science.
Network specialists establish and manage computer networks. They monitor network activity and performance, troubleshoot and repair problems and oversee network security components such as firewalls.
Network specialists oversee network hardware and software. They work with computer servers and routers, the backbone of a computer network. They help resolve clients’ network access problems and upgrade network software to maintain a smooth workflow.
Typically, employers seek network specialist who have a bachelor’s degree in computer networking or computer science. Throughout their careers, network specialists usually continue their education through industry-sponsored workshops and seminars.
Software engineers create and improve computer systems. Some software engineers create proprietary programs to fit their clients’ needs, while others modify open-source software or adapt closed-source software to meet requirements.
Software engineers ensure that programs work compatibly with operating systems and do not cause conflicts with other applications. The job requires extensive knowledge of computer codes, which software engineers use to write and modify programs. They must also ensure that programs are compatible with clients’ computer equipment. For example, if a program displays high definition graphics, the clients’ computers must have adequate graphics cards installed.
Most employers prefer software engineers who have earned at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science or software engineering.
Computer Support Specialist
Computer support specialists rescue computer users when their machines malfunction or crash. They are the men and women who understand the causes behind the blue screen of death.
The job requires expert knowledge of computer software and hardware. Support specialists install operating systems and applications. They also set up peripheral equipment such as printers and scanners and ensure they work compatibly with computers. Support specialists diagnose and repair computer issues caused by problems such as software incompatibilities or malware.
Computer support specialists must have extensive knowledge of computer networks. They must have a working knowledge of the proprietary and non-proprietary software their clients use.
Support specialists often instruct clients on how to use their computers and how to avoid computer problems. Some support specialists work on site, while others help computer users over the phone or through email.
Employers often seek computer support specialists who have at least a bachelor’s degree in information systems or computer science.
Database administrators install, configure, maintain and administer databases. They also configure and oversee database security and troubleshoot and repair database problems.
Database administrators build databases designed to fit clients’ needs. They design database architecture to work in an intuitive and efficient manner that provides adequate storage. Database administration often requires integrating front-end and back-end systems. For example, a retail consumer website might capture customer contact information, which migrates to a back-end database.
Typically, employers look for database administrators who hold at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science, computer systems engineering or information technology. Database administrators often train and specialize in administering specific database products such as Oracle, SAP ASE or MySQL.
Information Security Specialist
Information security specialist protect data from hackers and malware that can shut down a network system or expose customer data to unscrupulous parties. They define user access and evaluate abnormalities that can indicate a security breach.
Security specialists continuously update security software in servers and users’ computers. To prevent malicious attacks or hacking, they read reports published by major network security companies to learn about current and emerging threats.
Employers often look for information security specialists who have earned at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science or computer networking. Security specialists typically continue their education throughout their careers, enrolling in workshops and seminars in topics such as system administration, firewall administration and network security.
Mobile developers create applications for portable devises such as tablet computers and smart phones. Many developers write programs for a variety of mobile platforms, including Microsoft Windows Phone, Google Android and Apple iOS. Others specialize in developing for a single platform.
Creating mobile applications requires developers to learn programming languages for each platform work with. The constantly changing nature of mobile computing requires developers to continually modify and update applications they create.
Most mobile application developers have at least a bachelor’s degree in a subject such as software development or computer science.
IT Jobs Salaries
In 2017, computer network architects earned a median salary of nearly $105,000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The median salary represents the middle of the network architect pay scale. During the same period, computer support specialists earned a median salary of nearly $59,000 and database administrators took home a median wage of $87,000.
However, career statistics do not paint a complete picture. While IT jobs pay good salaries, wages can vary significantly by region and company. For example, a search for computer system analyst jobs on the Glassdoor website returns a large salary swing. According to job postings, Cognizant Technology Solutions offers a system analyst job that pays $60,400 per year, while Compunnel advertises a job with the same title that pays more than $84,000.
To make the most of your IT carrier, search for the best combination of location and company to find the greatest opportunities and income.
IT Jobs Outlook
The bottom line with IT jobs is that employment opportunities abound, and they should remain plentiful for the foreseeable future. According to BLS projections, jobs for network architects should grow by about 6 percent from now until 2026. Database administrators should see 11 percent more jobs during the same period, and software developers should experience a 24-percent increase in opportunities. Job outlook surveys do not always reflect the reality of your job market. If you are interested in an IT career, search within the community you plan to work in, so that you can explore the types of jobs available.
- TechTarget: Cloud Engineer
- TechTarget: Cloud Architect
- Truity: Computer Systems Analyst
- Monster: Information Security Specialist Job Description
- Target Jobs: Mobile Developer
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Computer and Information Technology Occupations
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Web Developers: Job Outlook
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Computer Network Architects: Job Outlook
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Database Administrators: Job Outlook
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Software Developers: Job Outlook
Michael Evans’ career path has taken many planned and unexpected twists and turns, from TV sports producer to internet project manager to cargo ship deckhand. He has worked in numerous industries, including higher education, government, transportation, finance, manufacturing, journalism and travel. Along the way, he has developed job descriptions, interviewed job applicants and gained insight into the types of education, work experience and personal characteristics employers seek in job candidates. Michael graduated from The University of Memphis, where he studied photography and film production. He began writing professionally while working for an online finance company in San Francisco, California. His writings have appeared in print and online publications, including Fox Business, Yahoo! Finance, Motley Fool and Bankrate.