The typical vision of computer use may be a desktop PC or laptop in an office. But in actuality, any industry that requires fast communication, number crunching, data storage, high-speed graphics, or data analysis is bound to use computers and is therefore a likely source for computer careers. Computer careers are available in a wide range of industry sectors, including the military, criminal justice, education, communications, media, space exploration, construction, meteorology, medical research, and many more.
Here are a few details about computer careers in some of these areas.
- Military: A computer career with the military offers many areas of specialty, because computers are at the heart of almost everything the armed forces do. Personnel and financial records are stored on computers. Computer models help military personnel track weather and how it might affect maneuvers. Powerful computer networks, both wired and wireless, aid communication between commanders, staff, and troops. From fighter jets to cargo planes, the safety and efficiency of military air traffic control relies on computers as well, not to mention the computers that help guide the planes themselves. In addition, much of the military’s advanced equipment, such as reconnaissance drones and tracking devices, are operated using computers. An advantage of a military computer career is that the skills learned in the military transfer easily to the civilian sector.
- Criminal Justice: If catching the bad guys appeals to you, there are plenty of opportunities for a computer career in criminal justice. A significantly growing area is computer forensics. In this field, computers are used to investigate and solve computer security breaches and analyze data stored on computers as it pertains to criminal investigations. Computer databases are also used to store and analyze fingerprint data, blood and DNA samples, conviction records, mug shots, and other types of criminal data. Programming and integrating these sorts of databases for organizations such as the FBI and the National Crime Information Center can be a rewarding computer career.
- Education: Some experts estimate that at least 60 percent of jobs currently require computer skills; in reality, that number is probably closer to 80 percent, as the Internet and reliance on online communication grow. As a result, schools at all levels are increasing their use of computers in the classroom, creating great opportunities for those interested in a computer career that combines an interest in computers with education. There are approximately 82,000 elementary and secondary schools in the United States, and many more colleges and universities. These learning institutions need educators with computer skills. They also need quality software that can support students’ use of computers for self-directed learning, research, and collaborative projects.
- Communications: Smoke signals, Morse code, the telephone — humans have always devised ways to communicate at a distance. Computers take this ability to new heights, enabling instant global communication. Companies use the Internet, local area networks (LANs), wireless LANs, wide area networks (WANs), video-conferencing applications, information security and cryptography programs, communication protocols, and new computer-driven communication devices such as smart phones to increase their ability to communicate securely with personnel and partners. Companies’ desire to send data, messages, and even visual content to anywhere at any time provides a wide array of computer career opportunities.
- Media: The printed word is no longer the dominant media form. Instead, consumers and corporations are focusing more on digital media, including TV, movies, and social media on the Internet. Instead of mailing out brochures, for example, many companies now produce their own videos to publish on the Web. Blogs and social media Web sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are proliferating. You can now watch TV on your computer and run computer video games on your TV. Special effects and advanced computer-assisted animation techniques have made movies more exciting and lifelike; animation is also often used to make Web sites more interesting. Even books are now being published in digital form as eBooks. In other words, computers are becoming the foundation upon which almost all media rests.