Jobs in computer field? I need some career advice.

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by tsice19, Mar 2, 2009.

  1. tsice19 macrumors 6502a

    tsice19

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2008
    #1
    Hi all!

    I'm just wondering if anyone has any interesting jobs in the computer field. My high school is offering computer science and I'm thinking of jumping on board.

    I'm thinking of going to college and majoring in computer science when I graduate.


    I just don't want to get out in to the real world and not be able to get a job that pays.
     
  2. r.j.s Moderator emeritus

    r.j.s

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2007
    Location:
    Texas
    #2
    While the training will be good to have, you may not be able to find a great paying job in this economy. When you graduate, you might have to look into other fields for a little while.
     
  3. CalPoly10 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2006
    #3
    For what its worth:

    I graduated from high school in June 2006, and I had (and still have) an interest in computers. Loved taking them apart, programming, etc.

    I attended Cal Poly in SLO for Computer Engineering. I immediately hated the major. I realized that computers were fun to me, and when they were part of school, I began to hate them. I quickly switched my major to Industrial Engineering, which I absolutely love.

    There's quite a bit of money to be made in Computer Engineering. Just stay on top of your social skills, I feel like that is the MOST IMPORTANT aspect of getting a job.

    Example:

    I have a 2.4 GPA at school. I try, but I don't devote my life to school. I do a lot of other things. I'm currently working an internship for an Aerospace company, and the minimum requirements were a 3.25GPA. All the other guys here have a 3.4 or above. I told them what my GPA was during the interview, they shunned, but we proceeded. I guess I nailed the interview, and they never questioned my GPA.
     
  4. nomar383 macrumors 65816

    nomar383

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2008
    Location:
    Rexburg, ID
    #4
    I'm also looking into a degree in computer engineering. What type of real world jobs would I qualify for?
     
  5. steve2112 macrumors 68040

    steve2112

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    Location:
    East of Lyra, Northwest of Pegasus
    #5
    If you go into Comp. Sci., be prepared to do lots of programming. I thought about majoring in it early in my college career, but I really don't like programming. I'm more of a hands on person. Like CalPoly10, I initially went into Mechanical Engineering, because I didn't think I would enjoy computer related stuff as a major. I eventually changed majors after I discovered my brain doesn't handle Calculus very well. If you go into Comp. Science or Engineering, make sure you are really good with and really enjoy math, because you will take a lot of it.

    As far as careers, many comp. sci majors end up writing code for a living. I had a friend who majored in it, and wound up writing AI code for Red Storm entertainment. (Gamers will recognize that name) I thought that was a pretty cool career. Comp. Engineering majors actually cover a wide range of careers. I have known people from that career field who wound up designing circuit board level hardware, while another friend ended up writing BIOS code for Dell. It really is a versatile degree. As for prospects...before the current economic mess, I kept seeing reports that the job market was increasing, due to retirement of older IT people, and fewer students in the majors. One word of warning, though...coding is probably the easiest aspect of IT to be outsourced, so it can be unstable. The good thing is that you can be a freelancer and make a pretty good living.

    The other side of IT is network/system administrator. This is what I do. It isn't as high profile as programming, but it is a bit more stable. (If any job can be stable these days) The pay usually isn't as good, but I like it. It's hard to outsource installing and programming a new Cisco router to India. :)

    As CalPoly10 pointed out, don't sweat GPA too much. Outside of my first job out of college, I have never had a potential employer ask about it. The good thing about the IT field is that it tends to be more heavily focused on your abilities rather than your GPA or where you got your degree.
     
  6. nomar383 macrumors 65816

    nomar383

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2008
    Location:
    Rexburg, ID
    #6
    I would actually love to be a network admin, especially since I'm in the networking field already. How much would a degree in comp engineering benefit me in this respect?
     
  7. kainjow Moderator emeritus

    kainjow

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2000
    #7
    If you just want to do networking/IT stuff, a normal university degree isn't really required. You could just get some certificates, or go to a tech school instead. If you want to do programming, that's an easy route to go down if you are that "type" of person. Not everyone can become a programmer and slave away at the computer for hours on end without social interaction ;). But if you're in high school now and have interest in computers, do it and take the classes. That's how I started. It might not be a great job market right now but by the time you go through college I'm sure there'll be plenty of jobs. It's not like computers are going away. Everyone I know who is in any kind of computer-related job right now is doing fine, including me. *crosses fingers*
     
  8. nomar383 macrumors 65816

    nomar383

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2008
    Location:
    Rexburg, ID
    #8
    Well I'm in my last semester of my AA and about to go off for a BA, I just want to make sure I can actually use the degree for something :p
     
  9. steve2112 macrumors 68040

    steve2112

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    Location:
    East of Lyra, Northwest of Pegasus
    #9
    What is your AA in? It may be enough.

    As kainjow pointed out, experience and certifications are often enough in the sysadmin world. However, I did get an AA degree in the field. I actually did things backwards. I got a BA in History, then later decided to turn my hobby into a career. I went to a local community college, and got an AAS in Local Area Networking. The program I went through had classes on server admin (NT/2000), hardware repair, and was a Cisco Academy. Overall, it was a great program with lots of hands on experience. The Cisco Academy is also a wonderful program. You may want to look around at community colleges and see if any of them offer the Cisco Academy or a program similar to what I did.

    Honestly, an AA in that type of program would be fine for sysadmin jobs. To be honest, though, even with that type of degree, you will probably start a little lower on the chain, doing things like PC repair before moving up the chain to full fledged network admin.
     
  10. nomar383 macrumors 65816

    nomar383

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2008
    Location:
    Rexburg, ID
    #10
    My AA is only in General Education, but I have a year of technical support experience now. I'm thinking of going for the computer engineering degree and working on some certifications while I'm at it. Seems like it would be a good choice to stay well-rounded.
     
  11. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2006
    #11
    To add to these thread I am considering a career change into computer field. Mostly heading into network administrator area.

    What degree or certification would be recommended to go that route. I was thinking a MIS degree would be what is used but is there something else that would be better.
     
  12. nomar383 macrumors 65816

    nomar383

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2008
    Location:
    Rexburg, ID
    #12
    Good question. What certs are real-world companies truly interested in? What is the process for obtaining various certs?
     
  13. steve2112 macrumors 68040

    steve2112

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    Location:
    East of Lyra, Northwest of Pegasus
    #13
    Rodimus: MIS/BIS would be fine. I have had several friends get into the field and get decent jobs with that type of degree.

    Anyway, as for which certs: Err, it depends. :)

    Ok, ok...I'm joking, but it really does depend on what the employer is looking for. Some good standards are A+ and Network+ from Comptia for beginners. A+ covers hardware repair and Net+ should be self-explanitory. The Cisco CCNA is the big entry level networking cert. TONS of jobs have this as a requirement or preference. It isn't easy to get, but it is a bit more prestigious than some others. Security is also getting more important, and Cisco offers the CCNA Security. CompTIA also has the Security+.

    And, there is the one we want to avoid, but can't...Microsoft. Oh the horror! Talking about Microsoft on a Mac site! :) Sad, but the truth is they are still the dominant player.
    In the past there was the Microsoft MCSA (System administrator..around 4 tests) and MCSE (System Engineer...7 tests), but they have changed up that with the coming of Vista and Server 2008. I don't know all the new acronyms, but you can check out Microsoft's site for all the info.

    As far as getting them...study! You can find tons of books, and electronic study guides for all major certs. The quality tends to vary depending on author, but customer reviews at places like Amazon can give you an idea on the quality.
     
  14. nomar383 macrumors 65816

    nomar383

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2008
    Location:
    Rexburg, ID
    #14
    Any idea how often the different tests are administered, costs, etc? I know I could google it, but sometimes it's good to hear from someone who's been there :)
     
  15. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2006
    #15

    I would like to point out that I already have one bachlars degree. I was more thinking about going back to school to get it in another field and trying to see what degree would be best for that type of direction.
     
  16. steve2112 macrumors 68040

    steve2112

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    Location:
    East of Lyra, Northwest of Pegasus
    #16
    Yeah, I just realized I never addressed that.

    Basically, most certifications are sponsored by an organization, such as Microsoft or Cisco. The tests are actually administered in a testing center. There are basically two testing centers for IT certs: Pearson Vue and Thompson-Prometric. These are usually located at schools such as community colleges or training centers such as New Horizons. Basically, you create an account with one of these places, find a local testing center, and schedule the test whenever you are ready to take it. Be warned, though, that some tests are exclusive to one company. Cisco tests are offered exclusively through Pearson Vue, while Microsoft is only through Thompson Prometric.

    As for costs: They aren't cheap. The CCNA was $200+ on my last test. ($250, I think). And it's only valid for 3 years. Microsoft tests, on the MCSE 2003 tracks, were around $125 each. CompTIA tests were more expensive, but they are good for life. They are generally $200+ per test.

    Most of the Cisco tests are a mixture of simulation, multiple choice, and matching. Microsoft has moved in that direction as well. Most CompTia tests I have taken have been all multiple choice.

    Rodimus: It really depends on what you want to do. Most Computer Science degrees involve lots of programming. If you like that, that may be your best bet. When I was in school, BIS/MIS involved some programming, but not as much as Comp. Sci. (Not as much math, either! :)) More schools are starting to offer networking type degrees, so look around, and you may find one. Those types of programs are tough to generalize. What field is your bachelor's degree?
     
  17. toolbox macrumors 68020

    toolbox

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2007
    Location:
    Australia (WA)
    #17
    I am in the computer industry now and i can tell the stuff your learn is incredible, how ever it can be a lot of stress with this job and like any other job.

    I started with building systems, then moved up to service work doing harddrive swap outs, cleaning spyware etc. Then i moved up again doing Network Admin, building Servers, maintaining them and doing site inspections. I have done my A+ and started network + but i left highschool two weeks into the course.

    The things that i have learn't over the years is incredible and if you enjoy what you do it makes it even better. If you have a great team of techs then the day goes quicker.
     
  18. nomar383 macrumors 65816

    nomar383

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2008
    Location:
    Rexburg, ID
    #18
  19. nadyne macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2004
    Location:
    Mountain View, CA USA
    #19
    If you're in high school now, you should focus on figuring out what you like, not what you think is going to earn you a lot of money. In the time between now and when you graduate from college, the job market is guaranteed to shift in ways that you won't be able to guess (well, unless you've got a functional crystal ball, but then you should use it to figure out what the winning lottery numbers are!). Picking a career path based on what makes money today doesn't guarantee that it will be what makes money tomorrow. Figure out what you love, and you'll be happier in the long run -- plus it's easier to make money off of something you love rather than something you do just because you have to. :)

    There are lots of different careers that a computer science degree can lead to, and not all of them involve writing code. And there are lots of people who write code who don't have computer science degrees. Creating software isn't just about writing code -- there's the people who test it, there's people who design it (both in terms of the architecture of the code and in terms of how the user interacts with it), there's the people who write about it (the text on the screen, the text in the help), there's people who define the strategy of your software and where you're going over the next five years. And that's totally ignoring other things like selling your software, supporting your software, and lots more. And there's stuff that is in computing but isn't related to writing software at all -- network administration, tech support, making hardware work, and on and on and on.

    Personally, I'm a user experience researcher. I've got a BS in CS, another in maths (this doesn't directly have anything to do with my job, but I'm very good at it, so I got another degree), and a MS in human-computer interaction. My employer pays me to have a deep understanding of our users, what makes them tick, and how to make them happier. I don't tend to code a lot anymore, but I am quite comfortable in Xcode and Interface Builder if I want to throw together a prototype quickly. I absolutely adore my job, but if you'd asked me what I was going to do when I graduated from high school, I wouldn't've come anywhere close to describing anything like what I currently do.
     
  20. steve2112 macrumors 68040

    steve2112

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    Location:
    East of Lyra, Northwest of Pegasus
    #20
    I've always liked the Sybex books. They usually have pretty good authors. I especially like the Sybex CCNA book.
     
  21. nomar383 macrumors 65816

    nomar383

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2008
    Location:
    Rexburg, ID
    #21
    Is a degree in CIT or CE better for network administration?
     
  22. anjinha macrumors 604

    anjinha

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2006
    Location:
    San Francisco, CA
    #22
    I just want to point out that for me this thread said "(Steve) Jobs in computer field... Maybe you could change it to Jobs (not Steve) in computer field. :D
     
  23. steve2112 macrumors 68040

    steve2112

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    Location:
    East of Lyra, Northwest of Pegasus
    #23
    Probably CIT. I'm not saying Comp. Engineering people don't do sys admin stuff, but it is more common for engineer types to do more design and programming. I originally started majoring in engineering, and had several friends who were various types of engineering majors. I have seen them do everything from circuit board level design to programming BIOS code for a major PC manufacturer. I have seen more CIT/BIS/MIS majors in sysadmin roles.

    One more thing to consider: You can pick up used Cisco routers fairly cheap from eBay and other sources. You can get the 2500/2600 models fairly cheap now. If you are going to go this direction, hands on training can be very helpful. CCNA level knowledge is tough to pick up just from reading books.
     
  24. sanPietro98 macrumors 6502a

    sanPietro98

    Joined:
    May 30, 2008
    Location:
    28.416834,-81.581214
    #24
    If you're willing to work in the Defense industry, there are lots of good paying computer science / software engineering positions. The type of work varies from programming to R&D with robots rolling through the office. It all depends on what you're looking for.

    Also, the defense jobs are all over the country, not just in silicon valley.

    Just remember that IT, computer engineering, computer science, and software engineering are all VERY different fields. Make sure you research all of them and pick one that fits your talents and interests. It always scares me when I interview people who want a job in the "computer field" because that can mean almost anything.
     
  25. steve2112 macrumors 68040

    steve2112

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    Location:
    East of Lyra, Northwest of Pegasus
    #25
    As an IT professional in the defense industry, I'm getting a kick out of this reply. :)

    Seriously, though, if you can ever get on in the industry, it is very nice. Having a clearance opens up career paths not available to other people. It makes addition to the old resume.
     

Share This Page