Technology Professions

Computers and Technology Professions

Chief Technology Officer
The CTO executes operational objectives through development and deployment of information and technological resources and strategies. That individual is tasked with maintaining web-based operations, system security and application integrity, data and information analysis, and company IT structure.

Computer/Network Security
Security specialists are responsible for both IT and so-called “social” information security. In IT security, you will install and maintain hardware/software combinations for protecting passwords, encrypting corporate data, and securing the network (along with the network engineers) from both internal and external unauthorized users. You’ll also make sure all of the company’s software has the latest security updates from the vendors. In physical/social security, you’ll make sure the company’s employees have the proper identification badges, keep track of any electronic or biometric security technology your company may use, such as closed-circuit cameras and fingerprint scanners, and keep employees aware of issues like how to choose the best passwords and what to say or do if intruders appear on-site or even via telephone or e-mail. As with storage/backup managers, you may not know there is a problem until the problem is already exploited.Example: First Bank and Savings of Texas recently had some customer accounts compromised by a security breach, so the CIO quickly hired Kevin, an IT security expert. Kevin, in his first week on the job, found all kinds of problems to fix. There were passwords taped to monitors, wildly inconsistent authentication policies at the bank’s branches, and a six-year-old web site that any teenager could break in to. His solutions included making every employee pick a new and harder to guess password, establishing a very strict set of security guidelines for the branches, with a punitive system in place for those who disobey it, and a total online makeover with the latest security protection. Every employee also was directed to participate in a security seminar, and all customer data was encrypted.

Database Development/Administration
Every company has a database, and the bigger it is, the harder it is to maintain. The database is the software used for keeping track of customers, parts, sales, partners, inventory, suppliers, and the like. Every entry in a database is called a field (such as a phone number); every group of fields is called a record (such as a customer’s full history); every group of records is a table (such as all of the customers in Florida). Because a company’s database contains such important information, you will probably have (at least) two copies of everything, mainly a “production” server and a “test” server. When you make important changes to the database, first you’ll put them on the test server, and then if all is well you’ll update them to the production server.As a database administrator, or DBA, you will also spend much time running data queries on behalf of other company employees – after all, the ability to get intelligent information out of it is why your company uses a software database instead of old-fashioned paper and file cabinets in the first place. To run these queries you will need to master a special kind of programming, such as Structured Query Language. Another task you’ll have is making sure the database management software is working properly with your company’s other software. For example, every time a customer buys something from your company’s Web site, that data needs togo into the database. Your company might even have different databases for different tasks, which means you’ll have to master different commands and interfaces as well. People who want to be DBAs should understand relational database concepts. They should also learn to anticipate users’ needs to logically plan data architecture. DBAs must have good multi-tasking and communication skills, and experienced DBAs may eventually become managers or chief technology officers.Example: The University of Central Idaho administers all of its academic and tuition records on a massive database management system, known in the industry as a DBMS. Adam is UCI’s database administrator. His typical day involves three overlapping tasks. One is to make the database as efficient as possible. Large databases are organized in sections called tables, and he has special software for making sure the hundreds of tables are stored in the smartest possible way, but without sacrificing speed or security. Another big part of his job is to process information queries from professors and from UCI’s office workers. For example, if the history department assistant needs to know how many of the upperclassmen from Pennsylvania have a certain grade point average, she’ll e-mail the query to Adam, who will likely use a tool called SQL (structured query language) to extract the answer. Adam’s third task is to ensure that the database communicates properly with UCI’s other IT, such as the storage system and web site.

Desktop Service and Support
Your job is to fix day-to-day IT problems. This is considered an entry-level position, and can be challenging, fun, and a pain in the neck all in the same day. From “How do I double-space?” to “Why won’t my screen turn on?” (usually because the user kicked the cord loose!), support technicians – who go by other names as well, such as desktop support, help desk, etc. – need to be patient and true lovers of technology.

IT Consulting
IT consulting engagements that cover the strategic side of the client's business or high-level technology decisions are referred to simply as "consulting" or "strategy" projects, and often involve using IT to support a company’s overall business strategy. Most of the large, brand-name management consulting firms have technology strategy practices, such as McKinsey's Business Technology Office, HP’s IT strategy and architecture group, and Accenture's strategic IT effectiveness (SITE) group. These units are often managed by industry specialists (e.g., financial services, pharmaceuticals) who are deeply familiar with the specific IT challenges that clients face. Other categories that fall under the IT consulting umbrella include business process management, service-oriented architecture and cloud computing.

Network and Server Administration
Network and server administrators are responsible for maintaining and operating data networks and file server systems. They provide maintenance and troubleshooting to sustain stability and connectivity. Regular implementation of analysis and upgrades are necessary, to ensure performance standards for the network and equipment.

Network Systems Analyst
Network systems analysts are responsible for evaluating, testing and maintaining computer and data networks. This may include LAN (local area network) and WAN (wireless area network), internet and intranet portals, voice networks and wireless access points. Analysts may be tasked with constructing of networks through modeling, analysis and ROI benefit studies.

Operating Systems Programming
Operating systems programming refers to the development of system programs to maintain and operate computer software and hardware, as well as networked and database systems. Operating software is designed and coded according to mapped features and interface design for compatibility with peripheral programs and devices.

Programmers code, implement and evaluate programs and applications for computers, servers and/or databases. Programs may be conceived and designed by the programmer, or written according to specifications by engineers, analysts or project managers. Programmers may also be called to update, repair or modify existing programs.

Quality Assurance - Software Development
Those involved with quality assurance in software development will verify the stability and uniform quality of software in development. They conceive and deploy methodologies and systems for testing in both manual and automated analysis, as well as document and communicate resulting data to project managers and software/programming development teams.

Systems Administration
Systems administration involves systems analysis, implementation and maintenance to computer and program operations. Responsibilities may be limited to one system platform, or span multiple platforms. Specific tasks may include installation, repairs and upgrades for internal or external clients.

Systems Architect
Systems architects are responsible for organizing and implementing database infrastructure, intranet and file servers. They devise the layout, navigation, structure and accessibility of a network according to the objectives of the client or organization. Similarly, systems architects will implement changes to databases as necessary.

Technical Writer
Technical writers compose written materials, including articles, reports, pamphlets and manuals for documentation of products and services. They employ understanding of technology-related subjects and rigid verbiage to communicate operational instruction and/or analysis. Technical writers also may be responsible for providing graphic and illustrated content.


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