Computer Information Specialist Careers: Job Description & Salary

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What are the pros and cons of a computer information specialist career? Get real job duties, career prospects and salary info to see if becoming a computer information specialist is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Computer Information Specialist Career

As a computer information specialist, also known as a computer and information systems manager, you would be responsible to plan, coordinate and then direct computer-related activities. If you're interested in this kind of career, continue reading to find out the pros and cons.

Pros of a Computer Information Specialist Career
High median salary ($127,640 in 2014)*
Technological advancements may allow for remote work*
Positions can be found in many fields*
Technological advancements may bring better job growth*

Cons of a Computer Information Specialist Career
May require you to work overtime and long hours in front of computer screen*
May need a master's degree*
Positions may require you to be in charge of many people*
Industry certifications may be necessary*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Career Information

Job Descriptions and Duties

Computer information specialists use their planning skills to create financial and technical goals. They are also in charge of coordinating activities such as network development and software upgrading. The ability to keep up with the latest technological developments is of great importance in this field. Additional duties can include directing techniques and applications for systems security, working with software and hardware vendors, assisting with data storage and relaying information to department executives.

Career Prospects and Salary

According to the BLS, computer and information systems managerial positions are expected to grow 15% between 2012 and 2022. The best places to start this career are companies who are planning to upgrade computer systems, to incorporate mobile inter-connectivity or to transition to digital systems. Many new positions may be found in healthcare companies. Factors driving job growth include cloud computing and an increase of Internet-related security threats. The major reason for a limited number of new positions is outsourcing. The median salary for employees in this field was $127,640 in May, 2014.

Requirements and Skills

Education Requirements

Completing a bachelor's degree program in computer science or information science can provide enough training to excel in this field. In these programs, you may learn hardware layouts, computer algorithms, data storage structures and components, operating systems configurations and remote access functionality. Electives can help develop additional skills in working with new technologies, social systems, business strategies, e-commerce systems, Java programming and network architecture.

Career Skills

Skills needed to work as a computer information specialist include planning, communication and problem-solving abilities. To be successful, specialists also need the ability to work well in a team environment. Technical and time-management skills are also vital to the success of someone in this line of work. During your career as a lower-level IT manager, you may be able to develop skills in organizing labor and increasing efficiency, communicating with both lower-level and higher-level employees, analyzing and solving potential issues, dividing department resources and inspiring co-workers.

Job Postings from Real Employers

Generally, employers require you to have a bachelor's degree and some experience in a related field prior to becoming a specialist. Potential employers include healthcare companies, IT firms, state offices and hospitals. The following requirements are gathered from job postings from April 2012:

  • A science consulting company in Chicago was looking for an IT specialist to back up information, maintain firewalls, repair laptop computers and install hardware and software. A bachelor's degree and 3-5 years of experience was required.
  • A healthcare company in Alaska was looking for an IT information specialist to correct data-transfer issues, use data tracking software and troubleshoot information systems.
  • A logistics company based in Denver advertised for an IT specialist to establish user/password connectivity and digital security clearance. A bachelor's degree was required, and industry certification, especially in Microsoft, Cisco and Novell, was preferred.
  • The North Dakota state government was looking for an IT professional with a college background in computer information systems or computer science.
  • A mental health institute in Los Angeles was seeking an IT specialist knowledgeable in compiling reports and detailed spreadsheets. Job duties included maintaining a wireless network, upgrading websites and maintaining hardware and software. A bachelor's degree and experience working with electronic health records were preferred.

How to Make Your Skills Stand Out

Continuing Education

If you want to increase your chances of being hired and to advance your career, you may want to look into completing a graduate program in either computer science or information science. According to the BLS, most employers prefer candidates with master's degrees. Earning a graduate degree may help you qualify for higher-level management positions. These programs are designed to hone your critical thinking, client-need analysis, user-interface development, computer programming and system-integration skills. If you intend to enroll in one of these programs, expect to complete an additional two years of education.

Alternative Career Paths

Computer Programmer

If you're looking for a job with less responsibility, you could consider becoming a computer programmer. These professionals often work alone to help develop the software used in a computer information specialist career. One of the main duties featured in this field is creating a detailed code map that makes computers and software programs function. Additional duties include writing codes, debugging software issues, updating old programming and using tools to make programming simpler. According to the BLS, some employers hire computer programmers who have associate's degrees. Computer programmers earned a median salary of $73,000 in 2011.

Network and Computer Systems Operator

As a network and computer systems administrator, you would be required to install, maintain, upgrade, repair and troubleshoot computer network systems. Other duties may include training people to use network systems, ensuring ease of access, monitoring systems activity, organizing systems access and increasing network speed. The BLS reports that most network and systems administrators have bachelor's degrees, but some employers will hire administrators who have associate's degrees or certificates. Employees in this field earned a median salary of $71,000 in 2011.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MSM in Information Technology
      • Master: Information Technology
      • Master: IT/Information Security and Assurance
      • Master: Information Technology - Project Management
      • MS in Information Technology - Business Intelligence and Analytics
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science in Information Technology
      • BS in IT - IT Management
      • BS in Cybersecurity
      • BS in Information Technology/Information Security and Assurance
    Associate's
      • AASIT: Network Admin
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Johns Hopkins University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Government Analytics
  • Campus and Online Programs
    3. Louisiana State University Shreveport

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Business Administration - Data Analytics Concentration
      • Master of Business Administration - Data Analytics Specialization
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Regent University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Arts in Leadership Studies - Information Technology
      • Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
      • Bachelor of Science in Information Systems Technology
      • Bachelor of Science in Information Systems Technology - General
      • Bachelor of Science in Information Systems Technology - Information Security
      • Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies - Information Systems Technology
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Tulane University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Online Master of Professional Studies in Cybersecurity Management
  • Campus Locations:
    6. American National University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Network Administration - Associate
  • Campus and Online Programs
    7. South College

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate of Science in Network Administration & Security
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Penn Foster

    Program Options

    Certificate
      • Career Diploma - PC Maintenance and Repair
  • Campus and Online Programs
    9. South University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Information Systems (MS)
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Georgetown University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Masters of Professional Studies in Technology Management

Featured Schools

Kaplan University

  • MSM in Information Technology
  • Bachelor of Science in Information Technology
  • AASIT: Network Admin

Which subject are you interested in?

Johns Hopkins University

  • Master of Science in Government Analytics

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Louisiana State University Shreveport

  • Master of Business Administration - Data Analytics Concentration
  • Master of Business Administration - Data Analytics Specialization

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Regent University

  • Bachelor of Arts in Leadership Studies - Information Technology
  • Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
  • Bachelor of Science in Information Systems Technology

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Tulane University

  • Online Master of Professional Studies in Cybersecurity Management

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American National University

  • Network Administration - Associate

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South College

  • Associate of Science in Network Administration & Security

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Penn Foster

  • Career Diploma - PC Maintenance and Repair

What is your highest level of education?