Information Systems Jobs & Career Options

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  • 0:05 Careers in IT & IS
  • 0:36 Data Entry & Computer Support
  • 3:55 Systems Analyst &…
  • 5:25 Network Admin &…
  • 7:10 Info Security, Web…
  • 8:49 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Lori Jacobson

Lori holds an MBA. She has taught business and accounting at several community colleges.

In this lesson, we'll give an overview of some of the careers in the information systems and technology fields. You have options, so let's explore them.

Careers in IT & IS

Step into my office of career counseling and we'll take a look at some of the current information systems and information technology fields.

Some of the things we'll talk about, such as salary and education information, are taken from the U.S.'s Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook. This is an excellent resource for a person in school or thinking of a career change. I'll give you a flyer before you go, but you can review the handbook on your own, by visiting

Data Entry and Computer Support

If your keyboarding skills are good, a job you would qualify for right now is a data entry operator. As an employee in this position, you would spend the majority of your day sitting, looking at a computer screen and inputting data from hand-written information sheets. There isn't a whole lot of person-to-person interaction in this job - you must have some self-direction and be able to work effectively alone.

How fast can you type? 45 words a minute? Okay, that converts to 13,500 keystrokes per hour. How'd I know that? You take your typing speed and multiply it by 300 to get keystrokes per hour. Employers would prefer 15,000 keystrokes per hour, or at least 50 wpm. What was that? Yes, that's error free; so if you are still keying and hitting backspace, you should work on that. This could be a good way to earn some money while you're in school. A data entry operator earns from minimum wage to around $16 an hour. This equates to a maximum yearly salary of $33,000. You wouldn't have to have a college education for this job, but it will be very beneficial.

Now a position that has a lot more interaction is the computer support specialist. In this job you would earn more money. Some college is helpful, but a degree isn't necessarily required. The median salary is just over $46,000 a year.

A support specialist provides assistance to users having trouble with proper hardware use, software installation or application software problems. Think of that phone call you've made to get help with fixing a problem on your computer or to find out how to use a specific function in some software. This means they are on the phone pretty much an entire shift, sit around all day long and look at a computer screen. While much on the job training is provided, depending on the specific job, knowledge of computer processes, application software and basic hardware components will be key in being hired.

Computer support specialists help users with computer issues
Computer Support Specialist

Other job titles for this position include technical support specialist, help desk technician or IT support professional. This position may help an organization's internal user or may work for a company who provides this type of service to the general public.

The remaining positions we'll talk about typically require a minimum of a bachelor's degree. While this isn't always the case, a degreed individual typically stands a better chance at landing a job.

Would you say you are more analytic or idea driven? If you're more analytic, then computer programmers, who use specialized languages to create computer software, might be an idea for you. They are typically not the creative force behind a program, but translate a software developer's vision into a reality. If you had said you were idea driven, I would suggest looking into this occupation. There is at least a $20,000 pay gap between the two careers with a programmer earning a median salary of $71,000 and the developer $90,000.

Both of these individuals will spend time at a computer every day, but the programmer will spend the most. You would not only need to know several different programming languages, but also have the people skills to properly interpret what the software developer's idea really is. As a software developer, you would spend time at a computer, but you'd also spend time in meetings with other developers, your intended audience and with programmers. You would be discussing your ideas for the program and how it would work for the audience. As a developer, you must have some analytic skills, but more importantly have excellent verbal and written communication.

Systems Analyst and Database Admin

Systems analysts must regularly attend meetings
Systems Analyst Meeting

Two important jobs that may work with developers and programmers are the systems analyst and the database administrator. As a systems analyst you would work with stakeholders to review an existing information system for improvement. You would also work with managers to develop a scope of the project and a budget so they can make a system that is effective and within set parameters.

A systems analyst has a median salary of $78,000. You would spend a lot of time in meetings and would have to have excellent communication skills. You'd formulate questions for different types of stakeholders and have to accurately hear what they are saying in order to convert that information into ideas for a new system to be presented. You wouldn't necessarily be a programmer or a software developer, but those skill sets may be helpful.

The database administrator earns around $73,000 and is a logical progression from a data entry operator with much experience. As a database administrator, you would create and maintain databases, or a collection of related records, and queries, or requests for a specific set of information derived from a database, and reports that can be generated from that database. Today's databases can be very simple or they can be very complex. As a database administrator you would need to be proficient in several query languages in order to be a frontrunner for an open position. Additionally, you would set user permissions and be responsible for the security of the database. Good communication skills are important and above average critical thinking abilities are needed.

Network Admin and Hardware Engineer

Network admins are responsible for computer networks in organizations
Computer Network

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