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Computer and Information Research Scientists

Computer and information research scientists invent and design new technology and find new uses for existing technology. They study and solve complex problems in computing for business, science, medicine, and other uses. Show Details

Duties

Computer and information research scientists typically do the following:

  • Explore fundamental issues in computation and develop theories and models to address those issues
  • Help scientists and engineers solve complex computing problems
  • Invent new computing languages, tools, and methods to improve the way in which people work with computers
  • Develop and improve the software systems that form the basis of the modern computing experience
  • Design experiments to test the operation of these software systems 
  • Analyze the results of their experiments
  • Publish their findings in academic journals

Computer and information research scientists create and improve computer algorithms, which are sets of instructions that tell a computer what to do. Some computer tasks are very difficult and require complex algorithms. Computer and information research scientists try to simplify these instructions to make the computer system as efficient as possible. These algorithms become the foundation for advancements in many types of technology, such as machine learning systems and cloud computing.

Computer and information research scientists’ work often leads to advancement and increased efficiency in many areas, such as better networking technology, faster computing speeds, and improved information security. In general, computer and information research scientists work on a more theoretical level than other computer professionals.  

Many people with a computer and information research science background become professors and teachers. For more information on computer science professors, see the profile on postsecondary teachers. In general, researchers in an academic setting focus on computer theory, although those working for businesses or scientific organizations usually focus on projects that have the possibility of producing profits.

Some computer scientists collaborate with electrical engineers, computer hardware engineers, and other specialists to work on multidisciplinary projects. The following are examples of some specialties for computer and information research scientists:

Hardware. Computer and information research scientists who study hardware architecture discover new ways to process and send information. They design computer chips and processors using new materials and technology to make chips and processors work faster and to give them more computing power.

Robotics. Some computer and information research scientists study how to improve robots. Robotics explores how a machine can interact with the physical world as effectively as humans and other living creatures. Computer and information research scientists create the programs that control the robots. They work closely with engineers who focus on the hardware design of robots. Together, these workers test how well the robots do the tasks they were created to do – such as assemble cars and collect data on other planets.

Software. Computer and information research scientists write the software that controls the electronic components in cars and other advanced machines. The embedded software written by computer scientists is complex and requires a high degree of accuracy because of the consequences of failure of the electronic components within such products, such as a car’s braking system or an ultrasound machine. 

Information Clerks

Information clerks provide administrative and clerical support in a variety of settings. They help maintain records, collect data and information, and respond to customers’ questions or concerns. Show Details

Duties

Information clerks typically do the following:

  • Keep records and information
  • Help colleagues and customers with routine administrative work
  • Prepare and locate records and information that colleagues and customers need
  • Ensure that colleagues and customers follow proper procedures

Information clerks generally manage a particular kind of information or record. Some clerks work in a particular setting.

Correspondence clerks review and respond to inquiries from the public, other businesses, or other departments. They gather information and data so that they can give accurate answers to questions and requests. Correspondence clerks write letters or email in reply to requests for merchandise, damage claims, credit and other information, delinquent accounts, incorrect billings, or unsatisfactory services. They may have to gather data before replying.

Court clerks organize and maintain the records of the court for which they work. They prepare the calendar of cases, also known as a docket, and tell attorneys and witnesses when they need to appear in court. Court clerks put together materials for court proceedings and prepare, file, and forward case files. They also keep records of, and answer inquiries about, court proceedings.

Eligibility interviewers do interviews both in person and over the phone to determine if applicants qualify for government assistance and resources. They answer applicants’ questions about benefits and programs and refer them to other agencies or programs when their own agency cannot help.

File clerks keep companies’ and organizations’ paper or electronic records. They enter data into, organize, and retrieve files. In organizations with electronic filing systems, file clerks scan and upload documents.

Hotel, motel, and resort desk clerks provide customer service to guests, often at the facility’s front desk. They check guests in and out, assign rooms, and verify guests’ method of payment. They also keep records about which rooms are occupied and take reservations. These clerks answer guests’ questions and respond to their concerns. For example, they may give guests directions or send housekeeping staff to their room if it is not clean.

Human resources assistants provide administrative support to human resource departments. They keep personnel records, collecting information about employees, such as their addresses, employment history, and performance evaluations. They post information about job openings and review the resumes and applications of candidates for employment to ensure that they are eligible for the positions for which they have applied.

Interviewers do interviews over the phone, in person, through the mail, or electronically. They use the information they get to complete forms, applications, or questionnaires for market research surveys, Census forms, and medical histories. Interviewers are usually given specific instructions about what questions to ask and what information to collect. They compile and record information from their interviews.

License clerks help the public with applications for licenses and permits. They process applications and collect application fees. They determine if applicants are qualified to receive the particular license or permit. They keep records of applications received and licenses issued. License clerks keep applicants informed about the status of their application and notify them if they need to provide additional information.

Municipal clerks provide administrative support to town and city governments. They keep minutes of town and city council meetings and then distribute the minutes to local officials and staff. Municipal clerks help prepare for elections by creating ballots and training election officials. They respond to requests for information from the public, local and state officials, and state and federal legislators. Municipal clerks also maintain town and city records.

Order clerks receive orders from customers and enter the information into their company’s order entry system. They also answer customers’ questions about prices and shipping. Order clerks collect information about customers, such as their address and method of payment, to put into the order entry system.

Reservation and transportation ticket agents and travel clerks take and confirm passengers’ reservations for hotels and transportation. They also sell and issue tickets and answer questions about itineraries, rates, and package tours. These clerks prepare invoices outlining rates and fees and accept payment from passengers. They may check baggage and assign boarding passes to passengers.

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