Microcomputer Applications Careers: Salary Info & Job Description

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What are the pros and cons of a career in microcomputer applications? Get real job descriptions and education requirements to see if a career in this field is right for you.
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Career Information At a Glance

Applications are the programs that run on microcomputers, the small computing devices most of us use every day. Working as a computer support specialist, computer programmer or administrative manager is a common career track in this field. Keep reading for specific information about each of these choices below.

Computer Support Specialist Computer Programmer Administrative Manager
Career Overview Provides computer software and equipment support for individuals, companies and organizations. Designs computer software by writing code. Supervises the supportive services of many different types of companies and organizations.
Education Requirements Usually an associate's or a bachelor's degree Usually an associate's or a bachelor's degree At least a high school diploma or a GED, although an associate's or bachelor's degree may be required
Program Length 1-2 years for an associate's; 3-5 for a bachelor's degree 1-2 years for an associate's; 3-5 for a bachelor's degree 1-2 years for an associate's; 3-5 for a bachelor's degree
Certification N/A Voluntary professional certification may help with advancement Voluntary professional certification may help with advancement
Work Experience Little to none, in most cases Varies depending on the position Several years of experience is usually required
Job Outlook for 2012-22 Faster than average growth (17%) compared to all occupations* Average growth (8%) compared to all occupations* Average growth (12%) compared to all occupations*
Mean Salary (2014) $51,500 (for user support specialists)* or $66,140 (for network support specialists)* $82,690* $92,250*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Computer Support Specialist

As a computer support specialist, you'll provide computer help to those who need it, often by phone, but sometimes in person. As a technical support specialist, you'll typically service network systems, computers and microcomputing devices, as well as solve issues with local and wide area networks and different kinds of Internet systems. As a help-desk technician, you'll assist customers and clients with setting-up and fixing their computer systems.

Requirements

Although requirements vary, you'll usually need to earn an undergraduate degree in computer science, information technology (IT) or a related field. The number of years of experience that you'll need varies, but it's rarely more than five years and may not be necessary at all for entry-level positions. When offered, on-the-job training lasts about three months.

The following computer support specialist positions were available online in January 2013:

  • A technical support company in New Jersey was seeking an IT Technical Support Specialist with 1-2 years of firsthand experience with computers and 1-2 years of repair experience.
  • An organization located in New York, NY, working towards an AIDS vaccine, sought an IT desktop support specialist with 3-5 years of experience with both PCs and Macs.
  • A two-year degree and a year of experience were required for a computer support specialist position in Wichita, KS.

Standing Out

As you learn basic computer support techniques and more advanced methods, you will be able to take on more duties and impress your employer. Another option for demonstrating your proficiency and dedication to the field is joining a relevant professional organization such as HDI, the Technology Services Industry Association, or the Association for Computing Machinery. Organizations such as these can offer access to helpful resources such as industry journals and magazines, webinars and conferences to help keep you current with the latest technology.

Computer Programmer

Computer programmers design computer software applications by writing code. They work with other professionals such as computer engineers and software developers to design software by translating the program into code that a computer can understand. In this position, you may also need to eliminate bugs from new programs and debug old programs by writing the code for software updates.

Requirements

Although work experience and on-the-job performance are often valued more than formal education, an associate's or bachelor's degree is sometimes required to become a computer programmer. In order to learn about applications and other technologies specific to your employer, you may be required to complete in-house training. If you gain some business experience, you may be able to eventually advance to the position of computer systems analyst.

In January 2013, potential employers listed the following programming jobs on the Internet:

  • A candidate with five years of experience, drive and a solid work ethic was sought by a health care firm's tech center in Denver, CO.
  • In Jersey City, NJ, a software services firm was searching for a computer programmer with an associate's degree in the field.
  • A bachelor's degree in computer engineering or computer science and two years of experience were required for a Java programming job for games in New York, NY.

Standing Out

The more kinds of code that you're able to write, the more your job opportunities in a variety of fields. Java-J2EE is a common platform that you may need to know. In addition to this, skills with HTML, SP, jQuery, Servlets, WebSphere, AJAX, Hibernate, XML, Spring, Unix Shell Scripts and Oracle can be useful. Knowledge of 3D and 2D programming may also help you stand out against other applicants. Gaining certification from specific software vendors such as Adobe can help too.

Administrative Manager

An administrative manager typically supervises the daily operations of a company or organization. Some of these managers work directly in the microcomputer applications industry, but those employed in all industries likely use microcomputer applications to help them do their jobs more productively. Managing administrative and clerical staff, maintaining the organization of the work facility and dealing with budgets and finance are fairly standard job requirements. While contract administrators tend to deal more with the business side of the industry, facility managers maintain and oversee daily operations.

Requirements

Education requirements vary widely in this field. Although a high school diploma or a GED is often all that is required for certain positions, you may need to earn a computer science or IT degree to work in the microcomputing industry itself. Prospective employers may also expect you to have at least 1-5 years of related experience.

Here are a few administrative manager positions that were listed online in January of 2013:

  • A health services company in Pennsylvania sought an assistant director of information services. Requirements included ten years of health care experience, including at least five years of management experience, and a bachelor's degree in the field. RN certification was a plus.
  • In Maryland, a biopharmaceutical company needed a director of information services with a bachelor's degree in information technology, computer operations or computer science and ten years of experience.
  • Seven years of experience with three at the managerial level were required for a Washington, DC-area director of information technology services position.

Standing Out

Knowledge of both microcomputing and managerial styles can help you stand out as an administrative manager. Many jobs in this field require not only that you have experience with IT or computer science, but that you have executive experience as well. A solid way to give your resume a boost may be to earn your Certified Manager (CM) credential from the Institute of Certified Professional Managers; you will need some part- or full-time experience to obtain this credential.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Saint Leo University

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      • AA: Cybersecurity
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    2. Full Sail University

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    3. Purdue University Global

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      • MSM in Information Technology
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      • BS in Information Technology/Multiplatform Software Development
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      • M.S. in Cybersecurity - Cybersecurity Management
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      • B.S. in Computer Programming
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    6. Colorado State University Global

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      • Master - Information Technology Management
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      • Masters of Professional Studies in Technology Management
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Featured Schools

Saint Leo University

  • BS: Computer Science
  • BS: Computer Science - Information Assurance
  • AA: Cybersecurity
  • AA: Information Technology

What is your highest level of education completed?

Full Sail University

  • MS - Game Design (Campus)
  • Master of Science - Mobile Gaming
  • BS - Mobile Development (Campus)
  • B.S. - Game Development

What is your highest level of education?

Purdue University Global

  • MSM in Information Technology
  • BS in Information Technology/Multiplatform Software Development
  • AAS in Information Technology - Multiplatform Software Development

Which subject are you interested in?

Regent University

  • M.S. in Cybersecurity - Cybersecurity Management
  • M.S. in Cybersecurity - Cybersecurity Policy
  • Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
  • Bachelor of Applied Science in Information Systems Technology

What is your highest level of education completed?

Grand Canyon University

  • Bridge to the M.S. in Information Technology Management
  • M.S. in Information Technology Management
  • B.S. in Computer Programming
  • B.S. in Information Technology

What is your highest level of education?

Colorado State University Global

  • Master - Information Technology Management
  • Graduate Specialization - Information Technology
  • Graduate Certificate - Cyber Security

What is your highest level of education?

Georgetown University

  • Masters of Professional Studies in Technology Management

What is your highest level of education completed?

Colorado Christian University

  • Cyber Security, M.S.
  • Computer Information Technology, B.S.
  • Computer Information Technology, A.S.

What is your highest level of education completed?