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Comparing Careers: Network Administrator vs. Computer Programmer

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Comparing Careers Network Administrator
VS.
Computer Programmer
Prepared for
Thomas Smith
Employee

Prepared by
Marlon Rush

August 19, 2012

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGES
INTRODUCTION……………………………………………………………………………… 2
JOB DESCRIPTIONS………………………………………………………………………… 2 Network Administrator…………………………………………………………… 2 Computer Programmer…………………………………………………………… 3
EDUCATION AN IMPORTANT REQUIREMENT………………………………………….. 3 College and Information Technology……………………………………… 4 Certifications and Information Technology…………………………… 4
MARKETABILITY………………………………………………………………………………5
Network Administrator Entry Level………………………………………………6 Intermediate Level………………………………………………………….6 Advanced Level……………………………………………………………… 6 Computer Programmer Entry Level……………………………………………. 7 Intermediate Level…………………………………………………………. 7 Advanced Level……………………………………………………………… 7
SALARIES…………………………………………………………………………………………7
Network Administrator out of College…………………………………………8 After 2 to 5 Years of Experience..……………………………………8 After 10 Years of Experience…………………………………………..8 Computer Programmer out of College…………………………………………8 After 2 to 5 Years of Experience………………………………………8 After 10 Years of Experience……………………………………………9

Conclusions and Recommendations…………………………………………………………9
References………………………………………………………………………………………………11
LIST OF ILLUSTRATION
FIGURES PAGES 1.1 I.T. Growth Rate………………………………………………………………………………… 4 1.2 Employment Growth Rate………………………………………………………………… 6 1.3 Salaries…………………………………………………………………………………………….. 9

COMPARING CAREERS
NETWORK ADMINISTRATOR
VS.
COMPUTER PROGRAMMER

INTRODUCTION

Information Technology (I.T.) is a vital part of today’s business world. Immediate access to information and/or data is essential for any company to function and be productive. The Information Technology Department of a company works closely with every department within that company. They help determine the information technology goals of the company and guarantee that required data is readily available. This information or data is provided through the use of geographically connected computers called Local Area and Wide Area Networks (LAN/WAN).

The LAN/WAN networks are usually administered and maintained by highly trained employees within an I.T. department. These employees provide specific skills and implement those skills to help their company meet their information goals.

The purpose of my report is to compare, analyze, evaluate and offer my recommendations of two highly skilled positions within a company’s I.T. Department to my employee Thomas Smith. He is an entry level Computer Operator that wants to go to college and pursue a career in Information Technology. The two positions that were chosen are the Network Administrator and the Computer Programmer positions. In preparing this report, intensive research was conducted using scholarly Information Technology journals, highly credited web sites and articles written by I.T. professionals with at least 10 years of experience in their field of expertise.

Job Descriptions

Network Administrator

A Network Administrator holds the highest technical position within an organization Information Technology Department. Their job is to maintain the overall integrity of a company’s Local Area/Wide Area (LAN/WAN) computer network. This includes computer server deployment and maintenance, network security, and ensue that there is always network connectivity throughout a company’s LAN/WAN infrastructure. He is required to always be available to resolve network problems and may be required to work overtime if necessary.

A Network Administrator’s role may vary from company to company. However, their duties will commonly include such task as network address assignment to devices connected to their network, assignment of routing protocols, routing table configurations, authentication and authorization of network access and network directory protocols and maintenance.

A Network Administrator may also be technically involved and/or responsible for the occasional maintenance and administration of servers, desktop computers, routers, switches, printers, digital phones and software deployment. The Network Administrator oversees basically anything that is connected too or insulted on a LAN/WAN computer network.

Computer Programmer

A Computer Programmer creates, modifies, debugs and maintains the coded scripts that allow computer applications to run. These applications (also called programs), are specifications codes drawn up by software developers utilizing programming languages such as, C++, JAVA, UNIX and XML.

Computer Programmers work in many settings, including Corporate Information Technology Departments, Software Companies, Computer Manufacturing and Service Companies or from home if allowed by his workplace. A Computer Programmers work may vary depending on the type of business that has employed their services. An example may be a programmer working for a bank may be writing programs to develop or maintain financial software. A programmer working for a company like Microsoft may write a program to store, locate and retrieve data for computer operating systems. They may work solely on individual projects or work as a team with a senior programing supervisor, who oversees the projects.

Computer Programmers are often referred to by the programming language they know are by the environment in which they work. An example is a programmer may be referred to as database programmer or JAVA programmer based on their expertise. Computer Programmers are an essential part of any Information Technology environment.

Education an Important Requirement

In today’s society and business world, having a good education is a necessity in order to advance in your career of chose. The Information Technology field is no exception to this philosophy. According to research, two-thirds of all workers in core I.T. occupations hold bachelor degrees or higher (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012). The reason for this is indicted below:

* Employers want their employees to use a broader set of skills and have higher levels of learning and knowledge than in the past to meet the increasingly complex demands they will face in the workplace. * Employers believe that college can best prepare graduates for long-term career success by helping them develop in-depth skills and knowledge in a specific field or major.

College and Information Technology

Due to the fact that employers are requiring college degrees or (at least some college) for people seeking a career in Information Technology, four year college enrollment rates are increasing in Information Technology related disciplines. In the past three years, bachelor-level enrollment in leading computer science and computer engineering programs more than doubled (Meanes and Sargents,Jr, 2009).According to research by Delta College, although there is a way to advance in the computer industry without a college degree, it is important to give careful consideration to long-term career goals. College graduates tend to do the more theoretical part of computer networking including the development of hardware and software. College graduates are also the ones who get promoted to middle and upper management jobs (Computer Network, n.d.).
There is no single path to prepare for a career in Information Technology. Most people get their education from a four year college. Other paths include two year degree-granting community colleges, special one year programs designed to upgrade the skills of current Information Technology workers and private sector certification programs.
Certifications and Information Technology
According to the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics (2012), Information Technology is the fastest growing sector in the economy with a projected 68% increase in growth rate between 2002 and 2012 (see figure 1.1).

In response to advances in computer technology, rapidly deprecating skill sets, and the slow response of traditional education, the IT industry uses certification as a way to train and accredit its own.

Research concludes that a significant and growing training infrastructure is emerging. Community colleges are responding to the need of increasing I.T. training, and proprietary training and I.T. certification programs are growing in number and popularity. Many workers are now able to qualify for low to medium-skilled I.T. jobs through such programs (Meanes and Sargents, Jr, 2009).

A certification alone won’t land you the high salary I.T. positions. According to research by the Ohio State University, The relative impact that an IT certification has on a student’s success depends largely on the educational level at which students obtain a certification. A student that has obtained a certification as an addition to a post-secondary education has a strong theoretical foundation to build on, an increased marketability, and better chances for long term career success. The impact that an IT certification will have on a high school graduate’s success in the workforce and long-term career prospects is limited. As opposed to post-secondary graduates, high school graduates lack a strong theoretical foundation and previous experience to draw from when faced with new technologies (Randall and Zirkle, 2005).

Some of the more popular certifications today are; A+ Certification, which qualifies a person to work on computer hardware. Cisco Certification, which qualifies a person to configure Cisco network routers and switches, and Microsoft Certifications, which qualifies a person to administer and manage Microsoft Windows Computer Operating Systems.

Marketability

Demand for core I.T. workers is strong and growing. According to the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics (2012), for more than 15 years, employment in core I.T. occupations – Computer Scientist and Engineers, System Analysts, and Computer Programmers has grown six times faster than the overall U.S. job growth rate. The growth for Computer Scientist and Computer Programmers has accelerated in recent years, increasing at an annual rate of 16.4%.

Further research by the U.S. Department of labor Statistics (2012) concludes that employment of Computer Programmers and Network Administrators is expected to grow by 22% from 2010 to 2020, faster than average of all occupations (see figure 1.2). A greater reliance on computer systems in organizations throughout the economy will lead to an increase demand of these occupations.

Network Administrators – Entry Level

Landing a position as a Network Administrator coming out of college is next to impossible, because most employers require 3 to 5 years of experience. The best strategy is to seek internship experience. According to research by Howell (n.d.), while in college, apply for internships that allow you exposure to working as a network administrator. To find these types of internships, check out Intern Search, a company that provides a nationwide directory of internships. Also, check with your college career department for local opportunities.

Network Administrator – Intermediate Level

Having 3 to 5 years of experience will make you more marketable. According to research by the U.S. Department of labor Statistics (2012) Network and computer systems administrators held about 347,200 jobs in 2010. They work with the physical computer networks of a variety of organizations and therefore are employed in many industries, including educational institutions, hospitals, banks, large corporations, and government agencies. Many also work for information technology (IT) firms.

Network Administrator – Advanced Level

Having over 10 years of experience, your marketability is very good. According to research by the U.S. Department of labor Statistics (2012) prospects should be favorable for this occupation. Many companies note that it is difficult to find qualified applicants for positions. Innovation is fast paced in IT, opportunities should be best for those who have knowledge of the newest technology.

Computer Programmers – Entry Level

Landing a position as a Computer Programmer coming out of college is better than a Network Administrator. According to research by the U.S. Department of labor Statistics (2012) Job prospects will be best for programmers who have a bachelor’s degree or higher and knowledge of a variety of programming languages. An increase in computer systems that are built into electronics and into other non-computer products should result in some job growth for computer programmers and software developers.

Computer Programmers – Intermediate Level

The possibility of advancement increases with 3 to 5 years of experience as a Computer Programmer. Research conducted by I.T. Careers indicated, there are abundant advancement opportunities for programmers and software engineers. While an entry-level employee may be responsible for testing and verifying the design of an application, with experience, he or she will begin to design and develop software by themselves. With experience, software engineers can advance to positions including project manager or manager of information systems (Employment Outlook, n.d.).

Computer Programmers – Advanced Level

A Computer Programmer with 10 years of experience has even greater opportunities for advancement. According to research conducted by I.T. Careers, a Computer Programmer with 10 years or more experience can become independent, working as a consultant. The ability to work as a self-employed programmer is especially strong for individuals with specialized skills who can be brought in to solve a specific business problem for a company without the company having to train their existing workforce to do the job (Employment Outlook, n.d.).

Salaries

Research indicates that with computers, peripherals, and networks being used by an increasing larger number people, the demand for Network Administrators and Computer Programmers, who can solve computer software problems and keep computer systems running properly has risen, which means salaries have increased as well. According to research the average salary for a Network Administrator in 1996 with 5 years of experience was in the lower $50,000.00 range, now It’s in the mid $80,000.00 range, (Client-Tech, 2012).

Network Administrator – Out of College

Salaries for a Network Administrator position depends on many factors, such as the hiring organization, the job market, the economy, the applicant’s level of experience and skill level. According to data compiled by Client-Tech (2012), the annual base salaries of entry-level computer network administrators with 0-2 years' experience ranged from $39,089-$64,579 (see figure 1.3).

After 2 to 5 years of experience

According to Client-Tech (2012), Salary average for a Network Administrator with 2 to 5 years of experience is $72,548.00 to $84,386.00 per year (see figure 1.3). The higher end of this salary scale depends on the applicant’s experience and skill level.

After 10 years of experience

According to Client-Tech (2012), Salaries of Network Administrators with 10 years or more experience is projected to grow 16% from 2010 to 2020. Network Administrators with more than 10 years of experience are considered to be the top 10% within their occupation and will earn an average of $115,600.00 or more depending on skill levels (see figure 1.3).

Computer Programmer – Out of College

Like Network Administrators, the salaries for Computer Programmers depend on such factors as the hiring organization, the job market, the economy, the applicant’s level of experience and skill level. According to research conducted by Pepitone (2009), College graduates with computer science majors, who specialize in programming and software, the average salary was $61,407. Graduates with degrees in actuarial science took home about $56,320; and jobs for students in construction management paid about $53,199. Each of these fields has paid well throughout the years (see figure 1.3).

After 2 to 5 years of experience

According to research conducted by Client-Tech (2012), the median salary for a Computer Programmer with 2 to 5 years of experience is $68,874.00 to $83,546.00. Again, the higher end of this salary scale depends on the applicant’s experience and skill level (see figure 1.3).

After 10 years of experience

Computer Programmer with 10 years or more experience and the right skill set is in high demand. According to research by Client-tech (2012), the median salary for a Computer Programmer with 10 or more years of experience is $114,180.00. Salaries for this occupation are expected to grow 16.4% between 2010 to2020 (see figure 1.3).

Conclusions and Recommendations

There are many reasons to pursue a career as a Network Administrator or a Computer Programmer. We are all aware that Information Technology is here to stay and technology is always changing and advancing. In saying that, we can assume that a career as a Network Administrator or Computer Programmer will offer job security and advancement opportunities.

These assumptions are correct, but a career as a Computer Programmer offers more career opportunities and growth because of the following reasons:

1. According to research by the U.S. Department of labor Statistics (2012), there is a 5 to 1 hiring ratio favoring Computer Programmers over Network Administrators, because a company only hirers one Network Administrator compared to 5 Computer Programmers on average.

2. The salary scale of a Computer Programmer is comparable to a Network Administrator in every level of education and experience.

3. A Computer Programmer may have the advantage of working from home, if desired and allowed by his workplace. A Network Administrator on average has to be physically at his work place to ensure physical connectivity and for hardware and software administration and maintenance. There may be the occasional exception of remotely connecting to his network when applicable.

4. The advanced level Computer Programmer, with specialized skills, has the ability to work as a self-employed programmer, who can be hired by a company to solve specific business problems. A Network Administrator on average does not have that option.

A career in Information Technology can be rewarding, exciting and challenging, but of course a person should find a position in I.T. that is suitable to him. Considering the research findings stated above and my observation of your current technical skills, my recommendation to you is to obtain a bachelor’s degree in computer programming from a four year college and while in college, obtain certifications in specialized programming languages, such as JAVA, C++, UNIX and XML to prepare yourself for a successful Information Technology career as a Computer Programmer.

References

Bureau of labor statistics. (2012). Occupational outlook handbook. Retrieved from http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes151131.htm

Client-technologies-manager-salary. (2012). Retrieved from http://www1.salary.com/Client-Technologies-Manager-Salary.html

Computer network specialist. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.delta.edu/PDFFiles/Career-Employment%20Services/Computernetworkspecialist07.pdf

Employment outlook for computer programmers and software engineers. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.it-careers.org/software-engineer-employment.htm

Howell, N. (n.d.). How to be a network administrator. Retrieved from http://www.ehow.com/how_4812562_become-network-administrator.html

Meares, C.A., Sargent, Jr., (2009). The digital workforce: building infotech skills at the speed of innovation. U.S. Department of Commerce Technology Administration, 23, 5627-5633.

Pepitone, J. (2009). Most lucrative college degrees. Retrieved from http://money.cnn.com/2009/07/24/news/economy/highest_starting_salaries/index.htm

Randall, M. H., Zirkle, C. J. (2005). Information technology student-based certification in formal education setting: who benefits and what is needed. Journal of information technology education., vol. 4. Ohio state university, Columbus, U.S.A. Retrieved from http://ocio.osu.edu/it.

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