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Overview

The world has come a long way since 1943 when the President of IBM, Thomas Watson, stated: “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” Mr. Watson was referring to the computer that was then a “vacuum-tube-powered adding machine that’s as big as a house.” Today, billions carry a computer in his/her pocket or purse. It’s called a cell phone-a type of computer. Needless to say, the computer is ubiquitous. Society has become overly dependent on the machine. It does everything except think for us-though that is debatable. Therefore, in a world run by computers, there is a burgeoning demand for computer specialists of various types and skills. Even as more factories become assembly lines of robots, someone must design the software to run the robots. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the growth rates average 15% in this field through 2022. Whether it is finance, retail, healthcare, manufacturing, or insurance-computer science is paramount to their success.

1. Applications Architect

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There are number of words that specifies Architect e.g. Enterprise, Systems, Software, Application, as related to Computer Science. Applications architecture describes the behavior of applications used in a business, focused on how they interact with each other and with users. It is focused on the data consumed and produced by applications rather than their internal structure. In application portfolio management, the applications are usually mapped to business functions and to application. The Application Architect usually operates within a scope of one application (system). His/her main task is to monitor the whole system, understand all interactions between components on a given level of abstraction, as well as to define limitations and requirements for source code. Also, the architect needs to understand and take into account the needs of all roles involved in the project. In particular: end users, the project sponsor, UX designer, programmers, Quality Assurance, for starters.

What should be the focus of one’s education for those interested in this career? According to the website, mymajors.com, there are several college majors related to a career as an applications architect. A handful to consider are:

  • Bioinformatics
  • Computer Engineering
  • Computer Programming- Specific Applications
  • Computer Science
  • Computer Software Engineering or Technology

A perusal of jobs posted on monster.com shows industries from UnitedHealth Group to UPS seeking applicants in the profession of application architect. Obviously, the degree requirements and experience differs per positions advertised. Many positions prefer a Bachelor’s or Master’s in Computer Science, Information Systems, Mathematics or related field.

Median Salary: $115,110

2. Network Architect

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Network architecture refers to the layout of the network, consisting of the hardware, software, connectivity, communication protocols and mode of transmission, such as wired or wireless. There are several ways in which a computer network can be designed. Network architecture refers to how computers are organized in a system and how tasks are allocated between these computers. It is the Network Architect’s job to develop computer network systems that meet the needs of the company. This network might span the length of a few desks, or connect one group of computers in Chicago to another office in Singapore. To accomplish this task, a network architect creates the initial blueprint for a network. They typically begin with a layout of the building or area with which they are working. They figure out where the network cables will go, what sorts of hardware is necessary and the maximum user numbers for each segment. In some cases, they design the virtual aspects of the networks as well, deciding which areas are segmented and which zones are able to communicate.

Most employers expect applicants for network architect jobs to have network architect bachelor’s degrees in computer science, information science, or management information systems (MIS). An aptitude in mathematics and information technology is required in the education process. Some employers may prefer candidates that hold a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree with a concentration in information systems. It is also a good idea to pursue coursework in coding languages, such as HTML, Java and PHP. As far as intangibles are concerned, excellent communication skills are paramount to your success in this field whose job growth rate is expected to be 15% through 2022. That calculates to a change in 20,900 jobs, according to the US Bureau of Labor (BLS).

Median Salary: $110,923

3. IT Architect

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The primary duties of an IT architect are to design and maintain computer networks. Architects use computer design software to model and test network plans prior to implementation. Additionally, they may use these programs to simulate adding new hubs, changing routers or making other modifications to existing networks. Thus, their duties are numerous; the following is a partial list:

  • Plans information architecture by studying the site concept, strategy, and target audience
  • Organizes information by translating user behavior into media structure and elements
  • Uses programs to simulate adding new hubs, changing routers or making other modifications to existing networks
  • Reviews existing software and hardware for efficiency
  • Resolves technical issues, to ensure that all parts of the technical design are correctly incorporated
  • Be the link between the application architect, project manager, data architect and network specialist and application engineers

Regarding the educational requirements, most positions require a minimum Bachelor’s degree, preferably a Master’s in Computer Science, Information Technology or Computer Engineering. Courses may cover programming, algorithms, operating systems, Web design, and software engineering. Master’s and Ph.D. programs in computer science may be sought for greater earnings and employment opportunities. Once employed as an IT Architect, you may want to consider one of the certifications offered by the International Association for Software Architects (IASA), now known as IASA Global. Their mission is to improve the quality of the IT architecture industry by developing and delivering standards, education programs and developing accreditation programs and services of the IT architecture profession.

4. Data Architect

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In information technology, data architecture is composed of models, policies, rules or standards that govern which data is collected, and how it is stored, arranged, integrated, and put to use in data systems and in organizations. It provides a formal approach to creating and managing the flow of data and how it is processed across an organization’s IT systems and applications. Data architecture is a broad term that refers to all of the processes and methodologies that address data at rest, data in motion, data sets and how these relate to data dependent processes and applications. It includes the primary data entities and data types and sources that are essential to an organization in its data sourcing and management needs. Typically, data architecture is designed, created, deployed and managed by a data architect.

The theme continues in this profession, in that the basic education is a Bachelor’s degree in Information Technology or related field. Typical courses in the core information technology curriculum introduce students to website development, programming, operating systems, systems analysis, database application development, and project management. The curriculum may also involve courses in Microsoft Access, Visual Basic, Oracle Query Language, and Structured Query Language (SQL). One advantage to pursuing a degree in one of the computer sciences is that several colleges offer online undergraduate and graduate degree programs. For example, Purdue University Global, Colorado Technical University, and Southern New Hampshire University, all have reputable online programs.

Median Salary: $108,497

5. Applications Development Manager

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According to an actual job posting, the responsibilities of an Application Development Manager are:  all aspects of development and support for internally created or supported application software, including: the development methodologies, technologies (language, databases, support tools), development and testing hardware/software environments, and management of the application development staff and project workload. This ad was placed by the American Association of Advertising Agencies. This parallels the succinct definition of the professional as one who determines systems development strategy and standards. However, this is also a management role, which may require ensuring that the development team works effectively and efficiently. You may be working with senior management; a role necessitating communication and management skills in addition to the technical skills mandated by the specific job.

Enrolling in a bachelor’s degree in business administration program with a specialization in computer information systems (CIS) can be the first step to a successful application development manager career. Many bachelor’s degree programs in information technology are available with a focus in application development. Undergraduate students learn to troubleshoot hardware and software. Topics include data communications, relational databases and programming languages. It is beneficial to add a program in Web applications development to gain relevant coding languages and frameworks, such as .NET and SQL. Another consideration is earning a Master’s degree in Computer Information Systems with a concentration in Application Development. More advanced degrees usually garner higher wages and enhance your employment prospects in the IT marketplace.

Median Salary: $106,369

6. Data Warehouse Manager

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The job title itself connotes the image of someone in a typical massive warehouse with forklifts scurrying around with pallets of merchandise. However, as it relates to computer science, it plays a vital role in a business. This professional oversees the work of IT and business customers in developing requirements and design specifications for complex data warehouse systems. Their primary responsibilities are ensuring data standards and procedures, warehousing, designing and developmenting logical and physical data models and databases, distributing data management and information management functions. The Data Warehouse Manager manages all aspects of a data warehouse such as data sourcing, migration, quality, design, and implementation. He/she directs and develops staff who are dedicated to the development, upkeep and integrity of data warehouses. All of these duties place him/her in a position to consult with senior management within an organization.

There is no degree specific to data warehousing, however, many associate, bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in Information Technology or Systems include data warehouse concepts. These courses provide a study of the actions and means of analyzing, organizing, storing, retrieving, extracting and loading data. An associate’s degree is one avenue into the profession as most provide courses in systems analysis, data mining and warehousing. At the Bachelor’s level, the courses include: advanced SQL, web architecture, design concepts, and network administration. At the graduate level, the student may be interested in the Master of Science in Information Systems Management. The Master’s courses prepare graduates for intensive study in data mining, multimedia databases, homeland security application, and warehousing.

Median Salary: $105,966

7. Information Technology Director

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The information technology director is responsible for the overall planning, organizing, and execution of all IT functions within a business. This includes directing all IT operations to meet customer requirements as well as the support and maintenance of existing applications and development of new technical solutions. They are responsible for directing the effective delivery of networks, development, and disaster recovery systems and processes. These tasks are accomplished by working with information engineers to find solutions to manage business activities, while researching and recommending new products and market opportunities. To be successful in this myriad of duties, the IT Director must possess not only the technical skills, but master business practices, demonstrate leadership, and excel in communication.

Typically, IT director jobs require at least a bachelor’s degree and extensive experience; however, many employers prefer to hire candidates with a master’s degree. A Bachelor of Science in Information Systems is required initially. To increase your knowledge and job prospects, a Master of Science in Information Technology can be obtained on campus or online. Both degrees may be obtained at Florida Tech University Online, as one example. Another consideration is a Master of Business Administration with a specialization in IT Management.  This combination provides a higher level of knowledge in two essential area of the IT Director’s role: business acumen and technical expertise. Also, with increased demand in this field, advanced degrees will make you more competitive and provide greater earnings.

Median Salary: $103,866

8. Senior Software Engineer

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Senior software engineers are responsible for developing or upgrading operating systems and application software. They prepares and installs solutions by determining and designing system specifications, standards, and programming. They are experienced members of development teams and might take a lead role in software projects. Some of these engineers work for information technology companies, developing operating system software for computers or networks. Others work for software publishers, developing applications for personal, educational or business users. Their goal is to develop software that offers users high-quality performance and reliability, and this may be performed in collaboration with other software engineers on your staff. Also, as the senior member of a team, you may be required to advise and coach the less experienced engineers comprising your group.

A career as a software design engineer generally entails a Bachelor of Science in Software Engineering or Development with a concentration in Computer Programming.  Within the major, students will have the chance to learn to engineer software and create technical solutions designed to address organizational problems. Courses cover topics in programming logic and languages, object-oriented programming, and scripting. Beyond the bachelor’s degree, students may want to enroll in a Master of Science (M.S.) in Information Technology with a specialization in Software Engineering program. Graduate students tackle the more complex computing areas, such as parallel computing, artificial intelligence, network security and wireless engineering.

Median Salary: $102,444

9. Information Security Manager

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Information security managers are responsible for protecting their organization’s computers, networks and data against threats, such as security breaches, computer viruses or attacks by cyber-criminals. They assess the organization’s security measures, such as firewalls, anti-virus software and passwords, to identify any weak points that might make information systems vulnerable to attack. They may carry out simulated attacks to test the efficiency of security measures. To ensure the safety of the networks, IS Managers will also analyze reports generated by the monitoring system to identify trends that might indicate a future risk. They also provide training for employees, explaining security risks and demonstrating good practices. Additionally, they prioritize security coverage to ensure that strategically important data, such as commercial information or personal data, receives the highest levels of protection.

A bachelor’s degree in computer or information science is the minimum educational requirement to work as an information systems security manager. These programs examine the fundamental principles of web authoring applications, database design, data structures, programming, systems software security, and network security. Many master’s programs are available online, for example, Southern New Hampshire University has a  Master of Science in Information Technology with a concentration in Internet Security program. These courses emphasize computer security, computer forensics, network defense, and ethical hacking. Subsequent to one’s degree and employment, an important consideration is to complete a certification exam through the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA). This site provides information for the cybersecurity professional.

Median Salary: $102,360

10. Software Quality Assurance Manager

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Software quality assurance managers test software for potential problems or bugs. It is necessary to test new software before it is released to the public to be sure it working properly. These “QA managers” also test and maintain existing software used by major companies to help avoid any future problems. Software testing involves going through the typical uses of the program, as well as potential misuses to see if problems or security issues arise. As a manager they are likely to be setting up the testing parameters. In addition, they may have lower-level employees follow through the procedures before reporting back to a client or upper management. An example of these duties is a job posting by Comcast that was looking for a Software Quality Assurance Director to lead a team in the testing of its advanced video products. This job required not only the technical skills but also the need for the person to manage budgets and maximize return-on-investment of the product tested.

The aforementioned posting required a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering, Computer Science or equivalent, as well as 8 years experience in software testing. Obviously, the only means to gain experience is to obtain employment, and that is done by earning the appropriate degree. A Bachelor of Science in Software Engineering is a start, whose programs allow students to specialize in topics like bioinformatics, information security or e-commerce systems. At the next level is the Master of Science in Software Engineering where students will cover topics as: systems specifications, software testing, software artifact analysis, and software development. During the graduate program, students will also have an opportunity to explore system architecture, software quality and cost, system management, and alternative design techniques. To bolster your professional level, there is the designation of Certified Software Quality Analyst; this requires a minimum of 2 years experience before taking the exam.

Median Salary: $100,687

Note: The salaries are taken from PayScale which has compiled the world’s largest database (computers again) of 54 million individual salary profiles. Keep in mind that salaries differ from one industry to another, as do bonuses and other compensation incorporated into these salary figures.