Whether you're the creative or the more practical type, if you love reading and writing about science and technology or you want to create it, an education in information technology can open all kinds of doors. The careers below are just a few examples of what you can do when you commit to a career in technology.
- Multimedia/Game/Website producer
- Technical Writer/Journalist
- Artificial Intelligence Scientist
- Database Administrator
- Computer/Web Programmer
- Network/Systems Administration
Creating a multimedia project - whether it's a game, a CD, a DVD or a web site - is like making a movie. Many people are involved: artists, writers, programmers, musicians and sometimes actors. A few web sites can be completed quickly, but games often take a year or more of hard work before they can be sold to the public.
A producer needs a wide variety of skills to create a successful multimedia project. She has to supervise a team that may be located across the country, and keep them working towards the same goal. She must complete the project on schedule and for a certain amount of money. A producer may be self-employed as a freelancer, or she may be part of a larger company. This field changes quickly, so she must enjoy exploring and learning new technologies.
Whenever a company creates a new gadget, toy or software, somebody has to write the directions or user manuals. That somebody is a technical writer. She "decodes" complicated technologies and makes them simple enough for the average person to understand. She must put herself in the place of the user, and figure out how another person might be confused by the technology. Her writing guides the user step-by-step in a learning process.
Technology journalists write about the latest discoveries in technology for magazines, newspapers or television. In addition to having a fun writing style to keep her audience interested in the topic, she needs to understand what it does and the science behind it. That knowledge usually comes from having some science education.
This scientist teaches computers how to think like super-smart humans. Because computers can send, receive and examine a lot of information very quickly, they can help people like doctors make quick, life-saving decisions. Artificial Intelligence will also help machines understand human speech and obey commands.
An AI scientist goes to school for a long time - usually to earn an advanced degree. She must understand many complex technologies - both human and computer. This scientist often works in research teams for large universities, and her projects can take years to complete.
A database is a collection of information that's been organized and stored in a computer. This information can be searched and retrieved quickly. Many businesses, libraries, charities and other groups use databases everyday. A database administrator keeps the information safe and accurate. This might mean "backing up" or putting the information on another computer or device in case the main computer gets damaged. Sometimes the administrator will update the information, create new databases or help other people find what they need. Administrators usually have a college degree in computer science or a related field.
The programmer speaks the language of the computer. Whether she's creating software or a web site, a programmer uses a specific combination of letters, characters, and numbers (known as "code") to tell the computer what action to take or which screen to display.
While a programmer may specialize in a certain area, like web development, she often uses several types of code to complete a project. Some programmers are self-employed, and they work for companies anywhere in the world. Some work in teams for large companies. Programmers must have a lot of patience to type, test and revise the many pages of code required to talk to a computer or the Internet.
Big companies have a lot of computers that need to work smoothly and talk to each other safely. These computers are joined together by a "network," and often use the Internet to communicate. If the network goes down, even for a few minutes, a company can lose money or valuable information. More dangerous, however, is the possibility of a computer virus infecting the system. These viruses can delete information, destroy hardware or shut down the whole system.
A systems administrator is very important to the success of a business. She keeps the computers running so that other employees can do their work. She has to stay up-to-date on current technologies, especially in the area of software and security. This is a fast-paced job, and many systems administrators are "on call" at any time - day or night.