With the Texas economy growing and companies struggling to stay ahead of global competition, these are the “good ol’ days” for computer information technology (IT) professionals.

And, there’s still room for more. The need for network administrators, programmers, software developers and database professionals is expected to grow significantly in the foreseeable future (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

So, if you like computers and have been thinking about a career in IT, now’s the time to take a hard look at four very promising career options.

Computer Network Administrators

A computer network is essential to every office, business, school or institution. Computer network administrators help “link together” a company’s computers and software so computers can share data and communicate with others in the company.

Network administrators, or systems administrators, are responsible for keeping the computer network up-to-date and running smoothly.

A network administrator installs network and computer systems; maintain, repair and upgrade network and computer systems; diagnose and correct problems with the network, its computers or software. The administrator monitors network and systems and takes steps to improve performance.

The median salary for network administrators in 2017 was $81,000 (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Computer Programmers

In an environment similar to network administrators, computer programmers design, code, test and maintain software applications in industries that include health care, gaming, education, government, robotics, insurance, transportation, productivity applications, finance and energy. They implement solutions for business needs by developing code for programs, apps and devices. Usually they work in small groups, sometimes alone, and collaborate with different parts of the organization in which they are employed.

Often they program applications for super computers or mobile devices.

Most employers hire programmers with bachelor’s degrees; some hire those with associate degrees. The median salary is $82,240 (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Software Developers

Software developers (software engineers or computer analysts) design, implement, test and integrate software applications and systems.

Their work covers the entire software lifecycle. Developers work closely with other members of the organization and with customers to define requirements, construct and test a new software, and see it into production.

Software developer’s usually have bachelor’s degrees, and the median salary is $102,280. This field is growing much faster than average (Bureau of Labor Statistics). Most developers have a bachelor’s degree, but some employers are now hiring graduates with associate degrees.

Database Professionals

Database professionals wear many hats. They can design, implement and maintain centralized databases. They can also update and retrieve data from PCs and from application programs for reports and analysis. They make sure the data is secure and backed up.

A database administrator with a bachelor’s degree will earn $84,950 nationwide (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Computer Technologies at COM

COM offers an associate degree in Computer Science which can be completed in four semesters.

As with other degrees at COM, credits will transfer into a complimentary bachelor’s level program at most accredited four-year colleges and universities across the country.

COM offers two certificates in computer networking. The Networking Fundamentals Occupations Skills Award prepares students for entry level IT positions including help desk, desktop support and IT systems analyst. Students learn about computer hardware, operating systems, and entry level networking, allowing you to repair and support these business-critical systems.

The level one Networking Certificate expands on this knowledge with advanced courses in Windows Server, security, network hardware and the Linux operating system. Students who complete this certification are prepared for IT positions in Network and Systems Administration.

The COM Programming Certificate is an introduction to the field through labs and classes taught by industry-certified instructors. Students earn the certificate in 28 credit hours, which includes a co-op job for one semester with a local business.

This certificate teaches skills in three different areas: programming, database and web implementation. All three programming courses in this certificate are also a part of the Associate of Science in Computer Science. Graduates have a broad background of knowledge, an industry certification, some job experience, and skills for either going to work or continuing their education towards a bachelor’s degree.

The certificate is designed to introduce students to a broad range of software areas. This certificate is ideal for those just beginning their studies, as well as those re-entering the college to update their skills. Students will learn the Python and Java programming languages, the Microsoft SQL Server Database Management System, the Oracle Database Management System, as well as beginning and intermediate web programming.

With SQL Server, students have the opportunity to gain a Microsoft Technology Associate Certification in COM’s Testing Center.

Completion of three courses (COSC 1301 (Introduction to Computers), COSC 1336 (Python programming, and ITSW 1307 (Introduction to Database) in this certificate will earn the student a COM Occupational Skills Award in SQL Server.

Microsoft Certification Opportunity

One course, ITSW 1307 Introduction to Database, includes a Microsoft certification. Students receive practice exams and test vouchers, both free of charge. This certification is recognized worldwide.

For more information about COM’s Computer Information Systems and Networking programs, contact the department at 409-933-8311.