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Related Occupations
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Computer Programmers

Computer programmers write code to create software programs. They turn the program designs created by software developers and engineers into instructions that a computer can follow. Programmers must debug the programsóthat is, test them to ensure that they produce the expected results. If a program does not work correctly, they check the code for mistakes and fix them. Show Details

Duties

Computer programmers typically do the following:

  • Write programs in a variety of computer languages, such as C++ and Java
  • Update and expand existing programs
  • Debug programs by testing for and fixing errors
  • Build and use computer-assisted software engineering (CASE) tools to automate the writing of some code
  • Use code libraries, which are collections of independent lines of code, to simplify the writing

Programmers work closely with software developers and, in some businesses, their work overlaps. When this happens, programmers can do the work typical of developers, such as designing the program. This entails initially planning the software, creating models and flowcharts detailing how the code is to be written, and designing an application or system interface. For more information, see the profile on software developers.

Some programs are relatively simple and usually take a few days to write, such as mobile applications for cell phones. Other programs, like computer operating systems, are more complex and can take a year or more to complete.

Software-as-a-service (SaaS), which consists of applications provided through the Internet, is a growing field. Although programmers typically need to rewrite their programs to work on different systems platforms such as Windows or OS X, applications created using SaaS work on all platforms. That is why programmers writing for software-as-a-service applications may not have to update as much code as other programmers and can instead spend more time writing new programs.

Graphic Designers

Graphic designers create visual concepts, by hand or using computer software, to communicate ideas that inspire, inform, or captivate consumers. They help to make an organization recognizable by selecting color, images, or logo designs that represent a particular idea or identity to be used in advertising and promotions. Show Details

Duties

Graphic designers typically do the following:

  • Meet with clients or the art director to determine the scope of a project
  • Advise clients on strategies to reach a particular audience
  • Determine the message the design should portray
  • Create images that identify a product or convey a message
  • Develop graphics and visual or audio images for product illustrations, logos, and websites
  • Create designs either by hand or using computer software packages
  • Select colors, images, text style, and layout
  • Present the design to clients or the art director
  • Incorporate changes recommended by the clients into the final design
  • Review designs for errors before printing or publishing them

Graphic designers combine art and technology to communicate ideas through images and the layout of web screens and printed pages. They may use a variety of design elements to achieve artistic or decorative effects. They develop the overall layout and production design for advertisements, brochures, magazines, and corporate reports.

Graphic designers work with both text and images. They often select the type, font, size, color, and line length of headlines, headings, and text. Graphic designers also decide how images and text will go together on a page or screen, including how much space each will have. When using text in layouts, graphic designers collaborate closely with writers who choose the words and decide whether the words will be put into paragraphs, lists, or tables.

Graphic design is becoming increasingly important in the sales and marketing of products. Therefore, graphic designers, also referred to as graphic artists or communication designers, often work closely with people in advertising and promotions, public relations, and marketing.

Frequently, designers specialize in a particular category or type of client. For example, some create credits for motion pictures, while others work with print media and create signs or posters.

Graphic designers also need to keep up to date with the latest software and computer technologies to remain competitive.

Some individuals with a background in graphic designers teach in design schools, colleges, and universities. For more information, see the profile on postsecondary teachers.

Information Security Analysts, Web Developers, and Computer Network Architects

Information security analysts, web developers, and computer network architects all use information technology (IT) to advance their organizationís goals. Security analysts ensure a firmís information stays safe from cyberattacks. Web developers create websites to help firms have a public face. Computer network architects create the internal networks all workers within organizations use. Show Details

Duties

Information security analysts plan and carry out security measures to protect an organization's computer networks and systems. Their responsibilities are continually expanding as the number of cyberattacks increase.

Information security analysts typically do the following:

  • Research the latest information technology security trends
  • Monitor their organizationís networks for security breaches and investigate a violation when one occurs
  • Help plan and carry out an organizationís way of handling security
  • Develop security standards and best practices for their organization
  • Install and use software, such as firewalls and data encryption programs, to protect sensitive information
  • Recommend security enhancements to management or senior IT staff
  • Help computer users when they need to install or learn about new security products and procedures

Information security analysts must continually adapt to stay a step ahead of cyberattackers. They must stay up to date on the latest methods attackers are using to infiltrate computer systems and on IT security. Analysts need to research new security technology to decide what will most effectively protect their organization. This may involve attending cybersecurity conferences to hear firsthand accounts of other professionals who have experienced new types of attacks.

IT security analysts create their organizationís disaster recovery plan, a procedure that IT employees follow in case of emergency. The plan lets an organizationís IT department continue functioning. It includes preventative measures such as regularly copying and transferring data to an offsite location. It also involves plans to restore proper IT functioning after a disaster. Analysts continually test the steps in their recovery plans.

Because information security is important, analysts usually report directly to upper management. Many information security analysts work with an organizationís Chief Technology Officer (CTO) to design security or disaster recovery systems. For more information on chief technology officers, see the profile on computer and information systems managers.

Computer network architects, or network engineers, design and build data communication networks, including local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), and intranets. These networks range from a small connection between two offices to a multinational series of globally distributed communications systems. Network architects must have thorough knowledge of an organizationís business plan to design a network that can help the organization achieve its goals.

Computer network architects typically do the following:

  • Create a plan and layout for a data communication network
  • Present the plan to management and explain why it is in the organizationís best interest to pursue it
  • Decide what hardware, such as routers or adaptors, and software, such as network drivers, will be needed to support the network
  • Determine how cables will be laid out in the building and where other hardware will go
  • Research new technology to determine what would best support their organization in the future
  • Consider information security when designing a network

Architects often work with their organizationís Chief Technology Officer (CTO) to predict the highest need for new networks. They spend most of their time planning these new networks. Some network architects work in the field, supervising engineers and workers who build the networks an architect has designed. Network architects are often experienced staff and have 5 to 10 years of experience working in network administration or with other IT systems.

Web developers design and create websites. They are responsible for the look of the site. They are also responsible for the siteís technical aspects, such as performance and capacity, which are measures of a websiteís speed and how much traffic the site can handle. They also may create content for the site.

Web developers typically do the following:

  • Meet with their clients or management to discuss the needs of the website and the expected needs of the websiteís audience and plan how it should look
  • Create and debug applications for a website
  • Write code for the site, using programming languages such as HTML or XML
  • Work with other team members to determine what information the site will contain
  • Work with graphics and other designers to determine the websiteís layout
  • Integrate graphics, audio, and video into the website
  • Monitor website traffic

When creating a website, developers have to make their clientís vision a reality. They work with clients to determine what sites should be used for, including ecommerce, news, or gaming. The developer has to decide which applications and designs will fit the site best.

The following are some types of web developers:

Web architects or programmers are responsible for the overall technical construction of the website. They create the basic framework of the site and ensure that it works as expected. Web architects also establish procedures for allowing others to add new pages to the website and meet with management to discuss major changes to the site.

Web designers are responsible for how a website looks. They create the siteís layout and integrate graphics; applications, such as a retail checkout tool; and other content into the site. They also write web-design programs in a variety of computer languages, such as HTML or JavaScript.

Webmasters maintain websites and keep them updated. They ensure that websites operate correctly and test for errors such as broken links. Many webmasters respond to user comments as well.

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