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The universal acceptance of computers into our daily lives, both at work and at home, has decreased the image of computer users as being “geeks.” The word geek itself has evolved a bit - going from meaning a socially inept person who gets along better with computers than people, to someone who is an expert with computers, a guru even. In fact, many computer service companies utilize the name geek in their nomenclature because of this new meaning. Not everyone who is proficient in using a computer is a geek, but there are people out there who are so interested in computers and so well versed in them, they wear the title geek with pride. Many of these people may not have had formal training. They’ve been playing with computer hardware, or software since they were ten years old. So what should you do if you have this kind of computer knowledge? A few years ago, it was very easy to get a well paying computer job, without any post secondary education. Advances in technology, the dot-com implosion and wider acceptance of technology doesn’t make it so easy any more. The good news is, you don’t need a four year degree to secure a well paying job in the computer field. Even if you’re not a self professed computer geek, if you have an interest in a computer career, here are some good fields to study.
Computer networking jobs entail designing, repairing and maintaining PC networks, usually in a business setting. There is no industry standard for software, but Microsoft dominates, with Novell taking a distant second place. Cisco dominates the category in hardware routers. Courses of study available include A+ (basic computer hardware), MCSE (Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer), MCSA (Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator), Novell Netware and Cisco Certification.
Career positions in this category include network design, network administration and network security. Depending on the employer, a computer networking professional may do all, or some of these duties.
Computer security is another growing field. Many businesses have created networks, websites and become reliant on computer technology, without employing safeguards to protect their data. There are many malevolent computer geeks out there who attack systems, or software for fun, curiosity or profit. Data extortion is now a common organized crime method for the Russian mafia!
Security violations have created new careers in network security and software development. Courses of study are mainly in Microsoft products and software development languages like Visual Basic, C++, .net, compiler and assembly languages.
Career positions in this category include network security, software programming, web design, web development and website administration (server side).
The acceptance of computers into business has created a great demand for databases. Almost every industry has a need for databases for marketing, client retention and daily operations. Industries such as banking, insurance, hospitals and utilities absolutely rely on them. Terrorism threats have created new laws, like the Patriot Act, that require a database of all foreign nationals who enter the country.
Creation of these databases relies on software, mainly developed by Oracle for large scale databases, Microsoft SQL for web based applications and Microsoft Access for smaller scale and custom applications.
Jobs in the database category include data architects, database administrators and information systems managers.
The information age has created a wealth of career opportunities for computer geeks, elevating their status as knowledgeable professionals and compensating them well financially. If you’re a computer geek, or would like to become one, a career in any of these professions can be obtained in less than two years of study.