Day in the Life
rapid spread of computers and information technology has generated a
need for highly trained workers to design and develop new hardware
and software systems and to incorporate new technologies. Job tasks
and occupational titles used to describe these workers evolve
rapidly, reflecting new areas of specialization or changes in
technology, as well as the preferences and practices of employers.
Computer scientists must be able to think logically and have
good communication skills. Because they often deal with a number of
tasks simultaneously, the ability to concentrate and pay close
attention to detail is important.
scientists employed in private industry may advance into managerial
or project leadership positions. Those employed in academic
institutions can become heads of research departments or published
authorities in their field. Database administrators may advance into
managerial positions, such as chief technology officer, on the basis
of their experience managing data and enforcing security. Computer
specialists with work experience and considerable expertise in a
particular subject or a certain application may find lucrative
opportunities as independent consultants or may choose to start
their own computer consulting firms.
scientists normally work in offices or laboratories in comfortable
surroundings. They usually work about 40 hours a week -- the same as
many other professional or office workers do. However, evening or
weekend work may be necessary to meet deadlines or solve specific
problems. Given the technology available today, telecommuting is
common for computer professionals. As networks expand, more work can
be done from remote locations through modems, laptops, electronic
mail, and the Internet.
Like other workers who spend long periods in front of a computer
terminal typing on a keyboard, computer systems analysts, database
administrators, and computer scientists are susceptible to
eyestrain, back discomfort, and hand and wrist problems such as
carpal tunnel syndrome or cumulative trauma disorder. Through the
adoption of good practices and modification of the workplace
environment these problems can be mitigated.
Although computer specialists sometimes work independently,
they frequently work in teams on large projects. They must be able
to communicate effectively with computer personnel, such as
programmers and managers, as well as with users or other staff who
may have no technical computer background.
Note: Some resources in this section are provided by the US Department
of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.