Computer designers work directly for businesses or consultant companies designing and implementing computer systems to meet their clients' needs. The responsibilities of a computer designer vary, depending on if they are a computer designer, analyst or engineer. All need at least a bachelor's degree in a relevant field, and some positions call for professional certification.
Computer designers are responsible for creating and integrating computer systems to meet the demands of an organization. With programming language and operating system knowledge, they are able to create and customize systems that are vital to a company's daily success. Employers prefer candidates to have education in information technology, computer sciences or business information systems in order to be eligible for this position. Certification programs such as Microsoft Office are also preferred.
|Required Education||Bachelor's degree in computer related field|
|Other Requirements||Certification programs|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||17% (much faster than average) for Software Developer and 3% (slower than average) for Computer Hardware Engineer|
|Average Salary (2015)*||$108,760 for Software Developer and $114,970 for Computer Hardware Engineer|
Source: United States Bureau of Labor Statistics*
Job Description for Computer Designers
Computer designers work with organizations and individuals to establish technological business needs. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that computer designers often create and customize computer systems necessary for performing a company's daily tasks (www.bls.gov). Implementing new computer systems also requires computer designers to train employees on using the new programs, according to the BLS.
Computer designer positions have several alternative job titles, including:
- Computer systems designer
- Computer systems analyst
- Computer systems design engineer
- Computer systems engineer
- Computer software engineer
- Systems analyst
Some job titles include slightly different job duties, so computer designers may consider verifying the exact details of any alternative job title before applying for the position.
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Job Duties for Computer Designers
Daily duties differ based on the needs of the organization, but usually a computer designer starts with a client consultation. These discussions allow them to understand how the company's business goals correlate with their technological needs. After the consultation the computer designer's next duty includes determining what types of systems and computer programs would best serve the client's goals.
Upon determining which computer systems would work best, computer designers must receive approval to start creating or integrating the program with current technology on site. According to the BLS, the integration process can involve reworking the current computer security systems and firewalls.
Since adding on new systems can obstruct the company's regular operations, computer designers must plan out their actions ahead of time to cause the least amount of interruptions. After the systems have been installed, these designers must create training manuals that non-technical workers can understand.
Computer designers spend a lot of time testing the newly created systems with real world scenarios, such as having the company run reports or input data, which allows them verify what parts of the system require modification. Some companies keep computer designers permanently on staff, but many computer designers work for a third-party vendor and provide technical support by telecommuting.
Job Requirements for Computer Designers
The BLS states that although there is not a common education requirement throughout this industry, many employers prefer computer designers to have a bachelor's degree or significant industry experience and certification. Majoring in information technology, computer sciences or business information systems can provide the necessary training for careers in this field. Technology-based companies may prefer computer designers with highly technical degrees, while mainstream businesses may be more interested in a broader educational background that covers business practices and computer sciences.
Beyond a formal degree, most employers require various levels of software and computer language certification, which are primarily available through vendors in the technology industry or professional trade agencies. Most certification programs require passing an exam and some also offer training seminars. There is currently no industry standard on what types of certification computer designers should obtain.
Salary and Job Outlook
Computer systems software developers earned a median annual salary of $105,570 in 2015, according to the BLS. Computer hardware engineers, who design computer equipment, made a median salary of $111,730. While the salaries are similar for these occupations, the job growth prediction is not. The BLS projects that employment for computer hardware engineers will grow about 3% from 2014 to 2024, which is slower than average, while systems software developer employment is expected to grow by 17% over the same period.
Computers designers and software developers have a range of responsibilities that include client consultations, designing, creating and testing software and systems, and training employees. There are no established educational requirements for this career, but, in most cases, a bachelor's degree and formal training will be preferred by potential employers. Certification is available for different computer languages and programs; however, there is no established set of certifications that are required.