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. George Mason University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Business Administration: Business Analytics Specialization
      • Master of Business Administration: Business Analytics Specialization
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Georgetown University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Masters of Professional Studies in Technology Management
      • Masters of Professional Studies in Technology Management
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Johns Hopkins University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Government Analytics
      • Master of Science in Government Analytics
    Certificate
      • Post-Master's Certificate in Sequence Analysis and Genomics
      • Post-Master's Certificate in Sequence Analysis and Genomics
  • Online Programs Available
    4. 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
      • MS in Cybersecurity Management
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science in Information Technology
      • BSIT - Information Management
      • BS in Cybersecurity
      • BS in Information Technology/Information Security and Assurance
    Associate's
      • Associate: Information Technology
      • AASIT: Network Admin
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Northcentral University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Business Admin - Applied Computer Science
      • PhD in Business Admin - Applied Computer Science
      • PhD-TIM - Computer Science
      • PhD-TIM - Data Science
      • Doctor of Philosophy in Data Science
      • Doctor of Business Admin - Computer and Information Security
    Master's
      • MBA - Computer and Information Security
      • MBA - Applied Computer Science
      • MSTIM - Computer Science
      • MSTIM - Data Science
      • Master of Science in Data Science
      • MSTIM - Information Systems
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Baker College Online

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Cloud Security Risk Management - MBA (Master's)
      • Cloud Security Risk Management - MSIS (Master's)
      • Information Systems - MSIS (Master's)
      • Leadership Studies - MBA (Master's)
    Bachelor's
      • Information Technology and Security - Bachelor
      • Business Intelligence - MBA (Master's)
      • Game Software Development - Bachelor
    Associate's
      • Information Technology - Associate
  • Campus and Online Programs
    7. The Art Institutes

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Web Design & Interactive Media (BFA)
      • Web Design & Interactive Media (BS)
      • Visual & Game Programming (BS)
      • Visual & Game Programming (BA)
    Associate's
      • Web Design & Interactive Media (AAS)
      • Web Design & Interactive Media (AS)
      • Web Design & Interactive Media (AAA)
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Utica College

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS in Data Science
      • MS in Data Science: Social Science Analytics
      • MS in Data Science: Business Analytics
      • Master of Professional Studies in Cyber Policy and Risk Analysis
      • MBA - Data Analytics
      • MBA - Cyber Policy
    Bachelor's
      • BS in Cybersecurity - Cyber Operations
      • BS in Cybersecurity - Information Assurance
      • Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity
      • BS in Cybersecurity - Network Forensics and Intrusion Investigation
  • Campus and Online Programs
    9. Full Sail University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science - Business Intelligence
    Bachelor's
      • BS - Cloud Technologies (Campus)
      • BS - Game Design (Campus)
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Graduate Specialization - Information Technology
      • Master - Information Technology Management
    Bachelor's
      • BS - Information Technology
    Certificate
      • Graduate Certificate - Cyber Security

Featured Schools

George Mason University

  • Master of Business Administration: Business Analytics Specialization

What is your highest level of education?

Georgetown University

  • Masters of Professional Studies in Technology Management

What is your highest level of education completed?

Johns Hopkins University

  • Master of Science in Government Analytics
  • Post-Master's Certificate in Sequence Analysis and Genomics

What is your highest level of education?

Kaplan University

  • MSM in Information Technology
  • Bachelor of Science in Information Technology
  • Associate: Information Technology

Which subject are you interested in?

Northcentral University

  • Doctor of Business Admin - Applied Computer Science
  • PhD in Business Admin - Applied Computer Science
  • MBA - Computer and Information Security
  • MBA - Applied Computer Science

What is your highest level of education?

Baker College Online

  • Cloud Security Risk Management - MBA (Master's)
  • Information Technology and Security - Bachelor
  • Information Technology - Associate

What is your highest level of education?

The Art Institutes

  • Web Design & Interactive Media (BFA)
  • Web Design & Interactive Media (BS)
  • Web Design & Interactive Media (AAS)
  • Web Design & Interactive Media (AS)

What is your highest level of education?

Utica College

  • MS in Data Science
  • MS in Data Science: Social Science Analytics
  • BS in Cybersecurity - Cyber Operations
  • BS in Cybersecurity - Information Assurance

What is your highest level of education completed?