Computer Information Specialist: Salary and Career Facts

Research what it takes to become a computer information specialist. Learn about job duties, salary and education requirements to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Cloud Computing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Computer Information Specialist?

Computer information specialists repair computer systems and provide technological support. They provide technical support for the installation and utilization of computer systems belonging to individuals or organizations. These specialists connect computers to an organization's network and make sure all programs interface properly with the intranet, internet or other forms of data communication technology. These professionals can be involved in maintaining the technology and security of systems, and they also may take charge in training new users.

The following table provides an overview of this career.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Computer science, management information systems
Key Responsibilities Setup and repair computer equipment, troubleshoot technical problems, configure routers, manage software licenses
Certification Certification is voluntary
Job Growth (2014-2024) 8% (for all network and computer systems administrators)*; 12% (for all computer support specialists)*
Median Salary (2015) $77,810 (for all network and computer systems administrators)*; $51,470 (for all computer user support specialists)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Do Computer Information Specialists Do?

IT specialists repair computer hardware and software, troubleshoot networks, configure routers, manage software licenses and maintain servers. Some of these professionals also maintain websites and create training documentation. Similar job titles may include network administrator, computer systems administrator or computer support specialist.

What Type of Training Do I Need?

In most cases, you'll need a bachelor's degree in computer science or management information systems. In a computer science bachelor's program, you might learn about Java programming, advanced algorithms, wide area networks and systems administration. A bachelor's program in management information systems may include business-related topics like IT management and organizational behavior; you could also study website design and SQL programming. Employers may expect IT specialists to have 2-5 years of experience in the field in addition to a 4-year degree in order to be considered for a position.

Do I Need Certification?

Some, but not all, employers may expect job applicants to be certified. Many third-party companies offer certifications for different types of programming languages, database systems or computer software. For example, you might pursue a Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) or Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP) credential.

In order to earn CCNP certification, you'll need to take three exams that test your ability to route and troubleshoot computer networks. MCITP certifications are available in database administration, computer support and server administration. Completion of 2-3 exams is usually required in order to obtain one of these credentials.

What's the Job Outlook?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of employed network and computer systems administrators was expected to increase by 8% from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). A 12% increase in the number of employed computer support specialists was expected during the same time period. Network and computer systems administrators earned a median annual salary of $77,810 in 2015, as reported by the BLS. During the same year, computer user support specialists earned a median annual wage of $51,470.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Alternative positions for computer information specialists may be found in software or web development. A web developer will have some creative flair in planning, designing, building and animating web pages for organizations or individuals. Software developers use models and programming languages to design programs that others, including web developers, may use in their work. Another career opportunity might be as a computer systems analyst working for companies to analyze and update their technology. Analysts work to make computer systems function more effectively and efficiently, and they also train users to work with new technology. All of these alternative careers require at least a bachelor's degree.

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