Pros and Cons of a Career in Management Information Systems
Management information systems revolves around the use of technology to improve the efficiency of companies and organizations. Professionals in this field use computer networks, systems and databases to organize, store and analyze data relevant to business practices. There are many ways to enter to the field of management information systems, with some options including careers as a computer and information systems (CIS) manager, network and computer systems administrator and database administrator. You can learn more, at a glance, here:
|Computer & Information Systems Manager||Network & Computer Systems Administrator||Database Administrator|
|Career Overview||Computer and information systems managers oversee the information technology activities and goals of an organization.||Network and computer systems administrators are responsible for the day-to-day operations of a company's computer networks and systems.||Database administrators store, organize and supply secure data for organizations.|
|Education Requirement||Bachelor's degree required for entry, but master's degrees are common||Bachelor's degree||Bachelor's degree required; master's degree preferred by larger companies|
|Program Length||4-6 years||Four years||4-6 years|
|Certification||None||Voluntary certification offered through software vendors, like Microsoft and Cisco||Certification available through software vendors|
|Experience Requirement||More than five years||None; entry-level||1-5 years|
|Job Outlook for 2012-2022||50,900 additional jobs expected (15% increase)*||42,900 additional jobs expected (12% increase)*||17,900 additional jobs expected (15% increase)*|
|Mean Salary (2014)||$136,280*||$79,770*||$82,280*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Computer & Information Systems Manager
Computer and information systems managers, also known as information technology (IT) managers, perform computer-related activities for an organization. Duties include analyzing computer needs, ensuring network security, determining personnel needs, negotiating with vendors for new technology and assessing costs. Types of computer and information systems managers include Chief Information Officers (CIOs), Chief Technology Officers (CTOs), IT directors and IT security managers. Such professionals held approximately 307,900 jobs in 2010, according to the BLS. Most worked in the computer systems design and related services industry, but opportunities are also available in finance, manufacturing and government. The BLS estimated that roughly one-quarter of CIS managers worked more than 50 hours per week.
While many computer and information systems managers possess graduate degrees, a bachelor's degree in computer or information science is the entry-level requirement. Courses in software development, mathematics and computer programming are vital. Work experience also plays an important role in employment and advancement for this career field. While employment as a lower-level manager can be gained with only a few years of relevant work experience, most managers need at least five to ten years of experience before they can advance to this role; however, the required amount of work experience varies by employer and organization. Professionals can advance to higher positions within an IT department. For instance, an IT director can become a CTO, while a CTO can advance to the role of CIO, and so on.
In December 2012, some employers of computer and information systems managers were looking for the following:
- An internet services company in New Jersey wants to hire a computer information systems manager with either a bachelor's degree and five years of work experience or a master's degree and six months of experience. Acceptable fields of study include business administration, engineering, science and computer science. Duties include coordinating electronics data processing, directing hardware and software planning, implementing applications, planning systems analysis and working with Unix.
- A financial information services agency wants to hire a computer systems manager to act as a lead systems analyst at a New York office. Duties include ensuring that all software meets architecture quality requirements, reviewing technical designs, testing units and maintaining basic documentation. Candidates must have a minimum of six years of experience and a master's degree in computer science. Three years of experience with computer systems development, systems programming or data telecommunications is essential.
- An Internet services firm in California wants to hire a computer systems validation manager with ten years of hands-on experience in quality and compliance. Candidates must have experience working with FDA-regulated environments, reviewing system test scripts, writing necessary documentation and working with software development lifecycle (SDLC) and change control. Duties include assessing computer processes at client sites, developing validation strategy documents, guiding validation activities, approving work products and overseeing testing activities.
While job prospects in this field are favorable, many employers claim that it is exceedingly difficult to find applicants who have the education and experience requirements necessary for this position. Therefore, to stand out as a computer and information systems manager, you may wish to pursue an advanced degree. In addition, by staying abreast of technological trends, you could gain a competitive edge over other applicants. The healthcare industry is also experiencing significant growth, so by specializing in this field you may find improved job prospects.
Network & Computer Systems Administrator
Network and computer systems administrators manage the computer networks and servers of an organization. Duties include determining network needs, installing both hardware and software, maintaining computer system security, collecting data, training users and troubleshooting problems. Some professionals design network models and provide tech support. According to the BLS, these professionals held about 347,000 jobs in 2010, and 90% of all network and computer systems administrators worked full-time, though many work overtime and unusual hours. The majority were employed by the computer systems design and related services industry.
Network and computer systems administrators must have bachelor's degrees in computer or information science or in a related field, like computer or electrical engineering. Alternatively, lower-level positions sometimes require only an associate's degree or certificate in a major related to computers coupled with relevant experience. Continuing education courses for this constantly evolving field are also necessary. Some employers even require that you advance your education by earning a master's degree.
In December 2012, some employers of network and computer systems administrators were looking for the following:
- A distributor of consumer electronics in Oklahoma wants to hire a network administrator to provide IT support and education to employees and enable effective IT operations. Responsibilities include acting as a contact point for the IT Department, troubleshooting software, monitoring system performances, applying software updates and assisting with technology planning. Candidates must have a bachelor's degree in management information systems or computer science with roughly one to three years of relevant work experience. In addition, proficiency in various programming languages is essential.
- A software development company in Virginia wants to hire a senior network systems administrator with current top secret clearance and at least eight years of experience with virtual private network management and network or systems administration. A bachelor's degree in computer science, mathematics or electrical engineering is required, as is experience with Linux, VMware-based virtualization servers and Microsoft software. Experience working in a government environment is essential. Duties include managing the infrastructure, Microsoft Active Directory, Linux server and network security.
- A manufacturing company in Iowa wants to hire a network administrator with a bachelor's degree in a relevant field, such as computer science or engineering. Candidates should also have two to three years of experience working with server, laptop or desktop hardware. In addition, strong communication skills and knowledge of Microsoft Active Directory and enterprise resource planning (ERP) packages is essential. Duties include working with an infrastructure team to maintain Windows servers, troubleshoot problems and implement new systems.
The increase in importance of IT security for hospitals is expected to pave the way for improved job prospects. By gaining experience in the healthcare industry, you could be at an advantage. Additionally, certification in software products commonly used in this profession is preferred by some employers. Software vendors, like Microsoft and Cisco, award certification to IT professionals who pass exams on their products.
Database administrators utilize software to secure, store and organize various types of data, such as financial information or customer records. These professionals create, modify, test, merge, backup and restore databases to ensure the efficiency of data administration. In addition, you may oversee the work of data analysts and ensure the integrity of the database. In this profession, you can choose to specialize in either systems or applications, although many choose to be general purpose database administrators. Many work full-time, though about one-quarter worked overtime in 2010, and the majority were employed by the computer systems design and related services industry, according to the BLS.
A bachelor's degree in an information- or computer-related field is essential for a career as a database administrator, although many employers who have large databases prefer to hire candidates with a Master of Business Administration (MBA). Knowledge of database languages, such as SQL, is required. Work experience is often required before advancing to this position. Many perform roles as database developers and data analysts before becoming database administrators.
In December 2012, some employers of database administrators were looking for the following:
- A government contractor in Virginia wants to hire a database administrator with public trust clearance and a bachelor's degree in computer science. Candidates must have at least 13 years of work experience with databases and at least five years working with Oracle. Experience with database creation, PeopleSoft Data Mover and troubleshooting is required. Duties include providing database administrative support, implementing database object maintenance, resolving database performance and capacity issues, applying upgrades and providing guidance to users.
- In Baltimore, a computer services company wants to hire a database administrator with a bachelor's degree and 11 years of IT experience. Responsibilities include providing mainframe performance review and working with the application development team. Candidates must have experience with Omegamon for DB2 and appropriate database certifications.
- A software development company in San Francisco wants to hire a database administrator to collaborate with development teams and system administrators to troubleshoot Oracle clusters and databases. Additional duties include building new databases, maintaining recovery plans, writing shell scripts and staging data replication from production to development. Candidates must have a bachelor's degree in management information systems or computer science as well as three to five years of experience with Oracle database administration.
You can stand out in this field by gaining experience with new technology and database security. In addition, as the healthcare industry increases the use of electronic medical records, these workers will be needed to organize and sustain the required databases used to store patient information; therefore, having experience in the healthcare or medical fields would be beneficial. Like other IT professionals, these workers can also demonstrate proficiency in industry-specific computer software by obtaining certification from product vendors and software firms. As December 2012 job listings reveal, these positions often require working with Oracle products, so certification from this vendor may be beneficial.