INFORMATION AND DECISION SYSTEMS CAREERS
San Diego State University has over twenty thousand students. Some have declared majors and others go through a few years undecided. In today’s work force, it is not always weather or not you have a degree, but what type of field you choose could make a difference of up to $20,000 in your salary. I am currently pursuing a degree in Information and Decision Systems. In this report, I will begin with explaining various aspects of this field: what it is; and why I chose it. Followed by different types of careers, education and salary and last, a conclusion.
What is Information and Decision Systems?
Information and Decision Systems (IDS), also known as Computer Information Systems, is the study of ways to use computer equipment to analyze and transform information. In other words, it makes work and lives easier for people and/or organizations by simplifying their duties and needs. It is expected to be among the top three fastest growing occupations according to an occupational handbook found in the Career Center at San Diego State University . As an internet website states, “The U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), predicts that employment in the IT segment of the workforce will double by year 2005, and will create about 130,000 jobs per year. The Department of Commerce estimates that there will be 1.3 million new high-tech jobs by 2006.” Another prediction by a web site foresees a systems analysts and electronic data processing to increase by 103% as shown in Table 1. Employees in the field learn to direct computer operations by writing detailed instructions in computer languages to solve a variety of problems.
Why an IDS Major?
Besides the increase in demand for IS majors and one of the highest average salary among others in the business department, there are other reasons I chose to pursue this field. Computers have fascinated me since childhood. What started with video games has evolved to creating video and audio clips, fliers, graphics/pictures, art, and various programs. I would have to thank my father for exposing me to all of this at an early age.
During my high school years while working at the United Parcel Service for six months, I decided that I do not want career in the labor force. I would rather use my intellect, which gives me more satisfaction, than muscle.
I would not worry too much about job security in the computer industry. In fact, at the rate of which technology is growing, other people might want to reconsider their occupation as robots and computers move into businesses and industries.
Types of Work
Almost every type of job in today’s society requires some level of computer experience and/or use. This is just one of the reasons why the demand for IS majors keeps rising. With a BA in IDS, a graduate student could choose from a wide variety of work ranging from accounting and finance to artificial intelligence and computer science with more titles to come as new technology arise. I will be discussing on two areas in the following sections, network specialist and systems analyst, and other possible professions that I would seek a career in once I have graduated.
A web site uses a definition of networks: “Networks refer to the hardware and software operating systems that connect microcomputers and minicomputers to each other for the purposes of sharing data and communication between users.”
Network Specialists/Administrators analyze, design, develop, test and evaluate LAN (Local Area Network) and WAN (Wide Area Network) systems for linking microcomputers and minicomputers with each other to share data and communications. Attached to these computers could be a variety of peripheral devices ranging from as simple as user terminals and printers to as complex as telecommunications switching systems and analog sensing devices. These people may diagnose, maintain, monitor, and troubleshoot problems or work with systems users to examine their particular network requirements. They may make recommendations and/or watch over the installation of systems. They also may work on the largest known WAN in the world - the Internet or other data communications systems.
More common in the work place, systems analysts plan and put together activities to create and develop systems that process data to solve business, scientific, or engineering problems. Analysts in a business environment are usually part of a team in charge of developing computer solutions to meet business problems. They go through a set of application development steps: feasibility, requirement definition with managers and other system users, external design, and internal design . They may also consult with hardware specialists. They prepare documentation of systems that they have designed, flow charts, and sets of specifications for programmers. “They work to help an organization realize the maximum benefit from its investment in equipment, personnel, and business processes.”
One field that would let me express my artistic creativity would be Computer Graphics Specialists. These people use a computer to design, redesign, and produce visual images and present and display data.
Other subsidiaries of IDS I will consider are Security Administrator and Project Leader. Between the two I would choose the one with the better benefits and higher salary.
Education and Preparation
Universities have different IS curriculums to follow. Here at San Diego State University, this major falls under the College of Business Administration. No matter where a student decides to attend school, they all have the same basic training. Classes a student might expect to take include Business Systems Analysis and Design, Computer Programming, Computer Systems Analysis, Computer and Information Sciences (General), and Management Information Systems and Business Data Processing (General) just to name a few.
Not everything can be learned in a classroom. Top executives and CEO’s usually understands what a business needs and figures out ways computers can meet those needs on top of having excellent leadership, communication skills, etc. A good way to develop such skills is to take part in campus and/or community clubs or run for a high position in one.
Anyone with the right determination can finish the courses and obtain a degree, but it takes certain personalities to become successful - as with all fields. Appendix A is an excerpt from America’s Career InfoNet’s website defining types of knowledge, skills and abilities for an IS major.
Pay and Benefits
I am sure everyone would like a job that pays well. But there are other things to look for that can be as important as the salary. Douglas Hoyt defines this term in his book, Intangible Job Satisfaction . Here are a few examples of these rewards he lists:
· A good feeling at being part of a field that is in the forefront of innovation and change in business, government, and our individual daily lives
· Gratification at being part of a team, working with people you like
· Satisfaction gained from being part of projects with a beginning and end, so that beneficial results can be seen regularly
With firms and companies demanding more than grad students supplied, salaries are usually negotiated with the possible-future-employee having a little more leverage. As I stated earlier, Information Systems majors remain the highest amongst the business department. According to America’s Career InfoNet’s website again, a systems analysts or electronic data processing position with a BA could make from $39,200 to $71,500, and in higher in California; $42,000 to $75,000. The salaries increase even more with an MBA.
Important ways companies lure potential employees are in the benefits. These can vary from different types of coverage and plans. Typical options include 401K’s, profit sharing, cash bonuses, and stock options.
In some area’s of study, people are often stuck in the same position for years and years until either finally getting promoted or finding another similar, slightly higher paying job. Information Systems on the other hand, offers a wide range of career paths. Normally, people move upward in the hierarchy of career progressions. In this area, it is possible to move horizontally, gaining more experience in different areas.
If all the things I have stated throughout this report sound too good to be true, IS does have their downsides. The fact that technology is constantly changing, in certain areas, employees need constant training to stay on top of the game. Also, not everyone is fortunate enough to get the job they want. Some people are in situations where their work is not appreciated as much as it should be. For others, they have a boss they cannot stand (I’m sure we’ve all been through this one).
As we enter a new millenium, a bright and exciting future in awaits. The technological advancements to come will change the way people do business and affect everyday life. If you enjoy working with computers but do not think you can handle the workload in Computer Science, IDS offers great pay and a secure, great paying future.
1. Henry, Alexis M. “Occupational Outlook Handbook”. Computer Scientists, Computer Engineers, and Systems Analysts. U.S. Department of Labor. January 1998.
2. Hoyt, Douglas B. “Opportunities in Information Systems Careers”. Organization Charts and Job Descriptions. NTC Publishing Group. 1991
3. n.n. “Fastest growing Occupations”. America’s Career InfoNet. 16 August 1999
4. n.n., “Network Administration Incorporated”. Network Administration. 18 August 1999
5. n.n., “CDI Corp”. Room at the Top A Guide To IT. 16 August 1999
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