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INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

   

Areas of Specialization

Most functions of the information industry are in specialist areas requiring expert knowledge and skills for their execution. As IT is developing more rapidly than any other industry has ever done, making computing the fastest expanding career are a today, job categories keep changing. New jobs are constantly emerging, though due to the pace of technological advancement, unskilled and semi-skilled categories may be short-lived. For professionals who are flexible and prepared to continue learning new skills to face this constant challenge, the scope is immense.

Computer Handling

Key Punch/Data Entry Operators feed data into the computer system, through a keyboard. Accuracy and speed are vital for this task. No specialist qualifications are required, though typing skills are essential. Jobs are usually with user organizations where large volumes of data have to be entered into the computer.

Console Operators' major functions is operation of the main control keyboard or console. Console operators work with programs and data to execute computing jobs on behalf of users. Computing skills are necessary. Jobs are with user organizations, data centers, or time-sharing/consultancy firms. This sector offers better employment opportunities than any other in the industry. It is a very competitive field, but remuneration and prospects are excellent. Levels of functioning include:

Programmers, who are on the lowest rung of the ladder. They are responsible for writing and testing programs and assisting users during the implementation phase.

Applications Programmers write user-friendly programs to comply with customer needs. These may be general purpose programs for a large and growing number of users, or specific programs for individual use. The job also involves testing programs, integrating them, evolving complex supporting documentation, and assisting users during the initial running of the program. Applications programmers are expected to be in a position  to write programs in any of the computer languages, to meet the specifications laid down by the systems analyst. Proficiency in mathematics is not necessary for this work, but logical, analytical reasoning is essential. Works is with software houses or consultancy firms. Entry can be direct, or through other functions.

Systems Programmers write and develop systems software. Of all computing jobs, this is the most theoretical/academic. Work is mainly with computer manufacturers, software houses, and R&D institutes. With experience, a systems programmer can move up to the post of systems software designer.

Coders convert schemes visualized by the systems analyst into working programs.

Analyst Programmers is an intermediate job title. It describes programmers with enough experience to handle small and medium-sized computerization projects in their entirely. Analyst programmers' major responsibilities include analyzing user requirements, programming, testing, and installation of software. Jobs are usually with small computer centers or-if very experienced- in user organizations with large computer networks.

Systems Analysts handle phases of analysis and design in software development. They are also responsible for final testing and advising clients on purchase and installation of appropriate computer systems. Work involves researching organizational procedures and evolving a plan for their computerization. Analysts provide overall guidance on program development. They may work alone or in teams. The minimum requirement for entry at this level is a logical bent of mind and a willingness to learn continuously.

Analysts must also have well-developed communication and interviewing abilities, as well as management skills. They are required to be knowledgeable about and critical of available systems and prevailing trends in the industry. Qualifications in the functional area of work are an asset. Those who show marked leadership qualities can rise quickly from Junior Systems Analyst to Senior Systems Analyst to a managerial post. Work is with software houses, consultancy firms or large computer users. People with advanced skills can enter the foreign software market either by developing and exporting software from India or by joining an organization based overseas.

Systems Designers take care of the design aspect of software development. This category entry exists as a separate function in large departments with a heavy workload, and usually and led by the systems analyst.

Software Engineers develop programs for computers. Work covers the design, development and maintenance of software. Software engineers also design software packages for client companies. This is a specialist area. Software engineers must be technically sound. Whereas software professionals need to understand the working of organizations, write programs and deal effectively with computer and non-computer people, the software engineer takes a more scientific approach and remains within the confines of the laboratory. Qualifications required area a degree in electronics engineering and computer science. Employment is with large computer manufacturers or R&D institutes. This is a specialist, high-technology area, requiring advanced levels of training and qualification for entry.

Hardware Technicians assist the engineer. Works mostly in the field, servicing computers. Technical training is required for this job. Employment is usually and maintenance agencies.

Service Engineers must thoroughly understand the complexities of hardware and software, to be able to diagnose and rectify trouble. Works is with end users at the site of installation. An engineering or computer science degree is necessary for this job. Employment is with computer vendors or companies with large information networks.

Design Engineers are mainly engaged in the creation and improvement of products that can be manufactured and maintained economically, perform satisfactorily, look good, and satisfy proven demand. The scope of this work also includes the designing of anew, or improvement of an established, engineering process. The aim is to find efficient and economical solutions to a set of problems. Design engineers interact professionally with other engineers and scientists. A degree in electronics engineering is essential for this work. Jobs are usually with a computer manufacturing company or at an R&D institute.

Computer Scientist/Technologist / Hardware Engineer: Major responsibilities in manufacture cover production, assembly and maintenance. In R&D, it is the development of new designs and modification of existing systems, to suit the growing needs of the computer industry. Scope of work includes provision of after-sales service and quality control. A degree in electronics engineering or computer science is essential for this work. Some hardware engineers are employed with computer manufacturers. Others become vendors themselves, or set up their own maintenance units. A typical computer team comprises hardware engineers, systems analysts and R&D specialists, who work jointly to design operating systems, write out codes and develop programs.

Management

This is the highest level of employment and requires technical qualification, ability and experience.

Managers ensure that all stages of development and production run smoothly. They are also responsible for meeting time and cost schedules. Major tasks include resource allocation and planning, as well as assuring conformance of quality with laid down standards. Besides technical qualifications in their specific functional areas, managers need to be proficient at handling people and interacting with user groups.

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