How to Become a Computer Information Technologist

Research the requirements to become a computer information technologist. Learn about the job description and duties, and read the step-by-step process to start a career in computer information technology.

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  • 0:46 Career Requirements
  • 1:23 Be a Computer Information Tech

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Computer Information Technologists

A computer information technologist, often called a computer support specialist, works with both software and hardware issues for companies. Their duties and tasks vary, but typical work includes developing applications, managing servers, securing computer networks, and solving basic computer-related problems.

Computer information technology jobs are available in a range of different industries, including business, healthcare, law enforcement, manufacturing, and educational services. Since computer maintenance is needed at all hours, many workers must put in night and weekend shifts. They may also need to travel to clients' homes for computer support.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degrees are usually preferred by employers
Degree Field Information technology, computer science, computer engineering, or a related field
Key Skills Excellent communication skills; ability to multitask; analytical skills; strong interpersonal and listening skills; knowledge of routers and switches; C++, Java, Microsoft Windows, and Linux
Median Salary (2015)* $51,470 per year (for computer support specialists)

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Online job postings (December 2012)

Be a Computer Information Technologist

Step 1: Get an Undergraduate Degree

While lower-level positions in call centers or help desks may only require candidates to have basic computer knowledge, most employers prefer hiring computer information technologists with a 4-year degree in computer science, information technology, or a related field. Degree programs offer courses in software development, data management, wireless networking, systems integration, web programming, and system analysis. Coursework is designed to give students a strong technical background and the ability to understand and address business needs.

Success Tip:

During your undergraduate career, you will want to specialize in a specific area of computer information technology. Having a broad set of skills combined with training in a specialty may offer a competitive edge in the job market. Many degree programs allow students to specialize in one or more areas, including network engineering, computer support, cyber forensics, information security, or wireless networks.

Step 2: Find a Job

Computer information technology is a broad field. Potential job titles include software engineer, data analyst, application developer, security specialist, business analyst, or network administrator. Entry-level computer information technologists usually work on easier problems, gradually handling more complex problems and equipment after gaining experience.

Many companies offer intensive training in the specific systems, technologies, and methods relevant to the position. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most computer information technologists work full time and may be required to work long hours or nights and weekends.

Step 3: Become Certified

Certification is not required in order to gain employment, although it may offer computer information professionals a competitive edge. Some companies require computer information technologists to become certified in the product or technology being used. To become certified, individuals must successfully complete an exam or series of exams. Software companies and product vendors like Microsoft, Cisco, and CompTIA offer most certifications.

Microsoft credentials are available in the server, desktop, database, and developer categories. Cisco offers designations in routing and switching, network security, storage networking, and more. The CompTIA A+ certification is open to entry-level candidates and focuses on basic networking, troubleshooting, preventative maintenance, and installation.

Success Tip:

Be sure to maintain certification. Most organizations that issue certification require recertification every two to five years, depending on the level of certification and the company. To become recertified, individuals must register for and take a recertification test or complete continuing education requirements.

Step 4: Earn a Graduate Degree

After gaining experience, computer information technologists might pursue an advanced degree, such as a Master of Information Science, Master in Computer Science, or Master of Science in Information Technology. Earning an advanced degree may lead to additional career opportunities.

Computer information technologists usually have bachelor's degrees in computer sciences or related fields. They are often certified with expertise in computer software and hardware, and they earn a median annual salary of $51,470.

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