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Careers in Service Oriented Architecture: An Overview of Options

Degrees in service oriented architecture (SOA) typically cover computer analytics, software, networking and/or enterprise data management. Find out more about the curricula of these programs; and learn about career options, job growth and salary info for SOA graduates.

Computer programmers, software developers, system analysts and support specialists are all professionals within the field of service oriented architecture. Service oriented architecture is what allows computer programs to communicate effectively. Professionals in this field are typically required to have a bachelor's degree in computer science, software engineering, or a related field, and some jobs may also require a master's degree.

Essential Information

Service oriented architecture (SOA) enables efficient communication among multiple computer programs and databases. Software developers and other technology professionals assess the technical communication needs of various organizations, then design computer and networking systems that can address customized SOA objectives. Occupational options include software developer, computer programmer, computer systems analyst and computer support specialist. Many employers prefer that candidates have a bachelor's degree in a technical discipline. However, not every position requires workers to hold a degree.

Software Developer Computer Programmer Systems Analyst Computer Support Specialist
Required Education Usually, bachelor's degree Often, bachelor's degree Often, bachelor's degree Some postsecondary education at minimum
Other Requirements Strong computer programming background; sometimes internship Often, continuing education and/or industry-specific classes Sometimes, master's degree with technical concentration Varies widely by position
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 17% 8% decline 21% 8% for network support specialists
Average Salary (2015)* $108,760 $84,360 $90,180 $67,260 for network support specialists

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Service-Oriented Architecture Career Options

Software Developer

Service-oriented architecture (SOA) allows multiple computer programs and databases to communicate with one another more easily. Software developers determine the needs of different organizations in terms of technical communications. They then design the computer and networking systems needed to implement the SOA. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) predicted that software developer jobs in general would increase 17% from 2014 to 2024, with those focusing on systems software going up 13% and those in applications going up 19%. This is generally quite a bit faster than average across all occupations. The BLS also reported that software developers who worked in systems software earned an average annual salary of $108,760 as of May 2015; while those who worked in applications earned an average yearly wage of $102,160 during that same reporting interval.

Computer Programmer

After software developers design the SOA, computer programmers bring those designs to life. Computer programmers use complex computer codes and algorithms to build software programs, operating systems and software applications. After they write the codes, programmers run tests to make sure that everything works correctly. Sometimes programmers take existing SOA software and add on new features. The BLS reported that computer programmer jobs were expected to decline by about 8% from 2014 to 2024. According to the BLS, those working as computer programmers earned an average yearly salary of $84,360 as of May 2015.

Computer Analyst

Professional organizations often purchase technology and develop computer systems for each department; however, each system may not sync together. SOA computer analysts help businesses make decisions about investing in equipment that can effectively link all systems together.

Analysts identify which current systems are being used, the effectiveness of each system and how the systems presently communicate. After gathering this information, analysts make recommendations on which SOAs to purchase. Some analysts may work with teams of software developers and computer programmers. In these scenarios, analysts work as liaisons between businesses and SOA designers. Jobs for computer systems analysts were expected to increase 21% from 2014 to 2024, according to the BLS. This is considered significantly faster than average across all occupations. The BLS also reported that professionals in this career earned an average annual salary of $90,180 as of May 2015.

Technical Support Specialist

After SOAs have been installed and implemented, technical support specialists maintain those systems. Preventative maintenance duties may include running regular tests to verify if the SOA is working properly. If applications on one department's system cannot be viewed correctly by another department, specialists analyze the problem and try to fix the issue. Sometimes specialists have to fix problems with individual software programs, but other times they may make repairs on the SOA itself. Some repairs may require specialists to communicate with SOA developers. The BLS reported that these jobs would increase about 8% from 2014 to 2024, generally faster than average across all occupations. The BLS also estimated that computer network support specialists -- another name for technical support specialists -- earned an average yearly salary of $67,260 as of May 2015.

Service-Oriented Architecture Career Requirements

Education

Information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that most employers prefer software developers and computer analysts to hold bachelor's degrees in fields such as software engineering, information technology or computer science (www.bls.gov). Not all employers require computer programmers to hold bachelor's degrees, but the BLS did state that a large amount of employers preferred programmers who held a minimum of an associate's degree. Technical support specialists often possess some postsecondary training, but not all positions require workers to hold degrees.

Workers who want to specialize in SOA may consider elective courses on the topic. Some universities also offer SOA certificate programs. SOA courses may cover systems migration, software architect duties, design principles, systems security and implementation strategies.

Certification

There are many certification options for information technology professionals. For example, computer programmers are often certified in various computer codes, including Java, HTML and C++. Technical support specialists may have certification in using or fixing different operating systems.

Earning computer-related certification usually requires passing one or more exams. Some certifications may require applicants to have sufficient academic training and work experience, but this varies significantly. Depending on the type of certification, some individuals may have to complete continuing education coursework as part of the certification renewal process. As computers change over time, some workers may have to re-certify by taking updated versions of certification exams.

Computer software developers, programmers and system analysts determine the networking needs of a company and create programs to enable appropriate access between computers and programs. When the system isn't working properly technicians attempt to locate the source of the problem and correct it. They usually hold bachelor's degrees and may increase their employability by earning professional certifications.


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