Pros and Cons of a Computer Applications Specialist Career
A computer applications specialist is a software developer that creates computer applications such as productivity applications and interactive media. Reading the pros and cons of being a computer applications specialist may help you decide if this is the right career for you.
|Pros of Being a Computer Applications Specialist|
|Good earning potential ($95,510 median salary in 2014)*|
|Jobs were predicted to grow 23% from 2012-2022*|
|Telecommuting opportunities may be available*|
|Interesting work specializations*|
|Cons of Being a Computer Applications Specialist|
|You may work more than 40 hours each week on a frequent basis*|
|Staying updated on technologies throughout your career is a necessity for job security*|
|Outsourcing to other countries is a concern*|
|Employers may require that your experience be industry specific*|
|Certifications may be required*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Job Description and Duties
Applications software developers create custom and commercial computer applications, including word processors, video games and Web applications. Your duties would center on managing every stage of the development process. You may also give instructions to computer programmers, as well as test and update your applications post-launch. Some developers are also considered IT managers, so your work could also involve managing other workers involved in the development process. On an administrative level, you may conduct needs assessments and create management reports on your findings. Your technical responsibilities may include applications development, testing and maintenance. You may develop also applications for databases, including creating the structural design for database servers and developing database administration schemes.
Job Outlook and Salary Info
According to the BLS, jobs for applications software developers were expected to grow 23% from 2012-2022. This much faster than average increase is due to the growth of the mobile technology industry and an increase in software used over the Internet. In 2014, the median salary for applications software developers was approximately $95,000.
What Are the Requirements?
While some employers may accept an associate's degree, the BLS reports that the typical educational requirement for this career is a bachelor's degree. Degree programs consistent with this profession include computer science, engineering, software engineering, information technology and technology engineering. Whether as a part of your standard curriculum or as a supplement to it, coursework in computer programming and software development is vital, according to the BLS. Other skills that you may need include:
- Practical, hands-on experience with relevant technologies
- Multi-tasking and organizational skills
- Customer service and communications skills
- Analytical and problem solving skills
Job Postings from Real Employers
You may work for a variety of government agencies, non-profit organizations and private businesses/companies. Most employers are seeking applications developers with bachelor's degrees, and five to eight years of experience is a common requirement. Here are just a few of the job listings in your field that were posted in May 2012:
- A healthcare company in Illinois needs an applications specialist with a bachelor's degree and five years of experience in information services applications support. Applicants must be proficient with multi-platform application software used in healthcare services delivery.
- A government agency in Michigan is looking for an applications specialist with a bachelor's degree; however, a master's degree is preferred. Five to seven years of work experience in application programming and support is also required.
- A pharmaceutical company in Pennsylvania is hiring an applications specialist with a bachelor's degree or equivalent work experience. At least eight years of systems analysis/application programming experience is also required. Additional requirements include IT consulting, web development, business information modeling and system design experience.
How to Make Your Skills Stand Out
Because bachelor's degrees are the most common degrees among professionals in this field, a graduate degree may help you stand out in the job market. Master's degrees in related computer and software disciplines are offered through on-campus and online formats. Also, obtaining certification in software applications that are dominant in your field may also be advantageous. Different types and levels of professional certifications are usually obtained through industry leaders, such as Oracle and Microsoft. Finally, joining a trade association such as the Software and Information Industry Association and the International Association for Computer Information Systems may increase your visibility through member networking opportunities.
Alternative Career Paths
Computer Support Specialist
If you would like to work with computers, but the cost and time required to earn a bachelor's degree is a disincentive, you may want to consider becoming a computer support specialist. You would provide customers/clients with information on their computer systems and assist with troubleshooting. Some college coursework coupled with on-the-job training is the most common requirement in this field. According to the BLS, the 2011 median salary for computer support specialists was about $48,000.
Computer Hardware Engineer
If you would prefer developing and testing hardware components of computers rather than software, you may be interested in becoming a computer hardware engineer. You will need at least a bachelor's degree to work as a computer hardware engineer. The 2011 median salary was about $99,000, according to the BLS, but job growth was expected to be slower than average, with only a nine percent increase in jobs expected from 2010-2020.