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Systems Designer Training

Occupations in the computer systems design and related services industry require varying levels of training, but in 2006, about 75 percent of workers had college degrees. The level of education and type of training required depend on employers’ needs, which often are affected by such aspects as local demand for workers, project timelines, and changes in technology and business conditions. For example, the recent emphasis on cyberspace security has increased the demand for workers with expertise in security services. Employers also are demanding workers with skill and expertise in other fields. Computer software engineers who develop e-commerce applications, for example, should have some expertise in sales or finance.

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With more formal training, employees may advance to completely different jobs within the industry. For those wishing to advance to management positions, business skills are becoming increasingly important. Education or training in a specialty area can also lead to advancement opportunities.

Professional and related occupations. Although there are no universal educational requirements for computer programmers, workers in this occupation commonly hold a bachelor’s degree. Some hold a degree in computer science, mathematics, or information systems. Others have taken special courses in computer programming to supplement their study in fields such as accounting, inventory control, or other areas of business. Because employers’ needs are varied, a 2-year degree or certificate may be sufficient for some positions, so long as applicants possess the right technical skills. Some employers seek applicants with technical or professional certification. Certification can be obtained independently, although many organizations now assist employees in becoming certified.

Entry-level computer programmers usually start working with an experienced programmer to update existing code, generate lines of one portion of a larger program, or write relatively simple programs. They then advance to more difficult programming assignments, and may become project supervisors. With continued experience, they may move into management positions within their organizations. Many programmers who work closely with systems analysts advance to systems analyst positions.

Most computer engineers and scientists have a bachelor’s or higher degree and work experience. For computer and information scientists, a doctoral degree generally is required due to the highly technical nature of the work. Employers of some occupations, such as software engineers, may seek applicants with technical or professional certification.

Computer engineers and scientists who show leadership ability can become project managers or advance into management positions, such as manager of information systems or chief information officer.

For systems analyst, programmer-analyst, and database administrator positions, many employers seek applicants who have a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information science, or management information systems (MIS). Many of these workers hold an advanced degree in a technical field, and some hold a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) with a concentration in information systems, and are specialists in their fields. An associate’s degree or certificate generally is sufficient for some positions as network systems and data communication analysts positions, such as Webmaster, although more advanced positions might require a computer-related bachelor’s degree. Government, academic institutions, and other employers increasingly are seeking workers with certifications in information security, reflecting the importance of keeping complex computer networks and vital electronic infrastructure safe from intruders.

Systems analysts generally begin with limited responsibilities. They may begin working with experienced analysts, or may deal only with small systems or one aspect of a system. As they gain further education or work experience, they may move into supervisory positions. Systems analysts who work with one type of system, or one aspect or application of a system, can become specialty consultants or move into management positions.

Persons interested in becoming a computer support specialist generally need an associate degree’s in a computer-related field, as well as significant hands-on experience with computers. They also must possess strong problem-solving, analytical, and communication skills, because troubleshooting and helping others are their main job functions. As technology continues to improve, computer support specialists must constantly strive to acquire new skills if they wish to remain competitive in the field. One way to achieve this is through technical or professional certification.

Computer support specialists may advance by developing expertise in an area that leads to other opportunities. For example, those responsible for network support may advance into network administration or network security positions.

Consulting is an attractive option for experienced workers who do not wish to advance to management positions, or who would rather continue to work with hands-on applications or in a particular specialty. These workers may market their services on their own, under contract as specialized consultants, or with an organization that provides consulting services to outside clients. Many of the largest firms today have subsidiaries that offer specialized consulting services to other departments within the organization, and to outside clients. Large consulting and computer firms often hire inexperienced college graduates and put them through intensive, company-based programs that train them to provide such services.

Sales and related occupations. Many experienced workers move into sales positions, as they gain knowledge of specific products. The emergence of e-commerce has created opportunities for professionals who specialize in Web marketing and sales. For example, computer programmers who adapt prepackaged software for accounting organizations may use their specialized knowledge to sell such products to similar firms.

Management, business, and financial occupations. Computer and information systems managers usually are required to have a bachelor’s degree in a computer-related field and work experience, but employers often prefer a graduate degree. An MBA with technology as a core component is especially preferred, as business skills are becoming increasingly important

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008-09 Edition

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