Several types of positions are available in the computer industry.
This fast-growing branch of the working world includes several jobs specific to it, such as programmers and hardware engineers. Because of the growing use of computers in business, education, communication and entertainment, demand for workers with credentials for these careers was expected to increase from 9 to 30 percent, depending on the specific job, from 2010 to 2020. All information is from the U.S. Department of Labor as of May 2011.
Computer Hardware Engineers
Hardware engineers design, develop and test the physical components of computers, such as circuits, hard drives, keyboards and routers. They can also oversee the production of their creations. The minimum education for the profession is a bachelor’s degree in computer or electrical engineering, both of which require a strong background in math and science. In 2011, they earned a median $47.41 per hour, or $98, 610 per year, with the bottom 10 percent getting $30 per hour, or $62, 400 per year, and the top 10 percent making $70.97 per hour, or $147, 610 per year.
Software developers plan and create computer programs. They specialize in operating systems, which are needed so that the computer hardware can run, or in applications, which perform tasks such as word processing or creating art. They must have a minimum bachelor’s degree in computer science, software engineering or mathematics. Some have advanced degrees for management or research positions. Systems developers in 2011 made a median $46.44 per hour, or $96, 600 per year, with a low of $30.03 per hour, or $62, 470 per year, and a high of $70.69 per hour, or $147, 030 per year. Applications developers made a median $42.92 per hour, or $89, 280 per year. Their low was $26.43 per hour, or $54, 980 per year, and their high was $65.62 per hour, or $136, 490 per year.
Computer programmers write the code that makes software run. They typically receive specifications for their work from software developers and must be fluent in one or more computer languages. Most receive their education through bachelor’s degrees in programming, though training is also available from two-year associate’s degrees or programming certificates. Certificates that demonstrate proficiency are available from product vendors. Programmers in 2011 got a median $34.92 per hour, or $72, 630 per year, with a low of $20.06 per hour, or $41, 710 per year, and a high of $55.58 per hour, or $115, 610 per year.
Systems administrators ensure that computer systems operate correctly and with minimal downtime in organizations. They plan, install, manage and support both hardware and software as well as networks such as intranets, local area networks and wide area networks. They need a bachelor’s degree in information or computer science, though some also have degrees in computer or electrical engineering. A few employers accept associate’s degrees or certificates with relevant work experience. Administrators in 2011 received a median $31.88 per hour, or $66, 310 per year, with a low of $19.71 per hour, or $41, 000 per year, and a high of $50.03 per hour, or $104, 070 per year.