Career Paths in Information Systems
These job descriptions do not represent all possible jobs within an information-systems organization. Larger organizations will have more specialized roles; smaller organizations may combine some of these roles. Many of these roles may exist outside of a traditional information-systems organization, as we will discuss below.
Working with information systems can be a rewarding career choice. Whether you want to be involved in very technical jobs (programmer, database administrator), or you want to be involved in working with people (systems analyst, trainer), there are many different career paths available.
Many times, those in technical jobs who want career advancement find themselves in a dilemma: do they want to continue doing technical work, where sometimes their advancement options are limited, or do they want to become a manager of other employees and put themselves on a management career track? In many cases, those proficient in technical skills are not gifted with managerial skills. Some organizations, especially those that highly value their technically skilled employees, will create a technical track that exists in parallel to the management track so that they can retain employees who are contributing to the organization with their technical skills.
Sidebar: Are Certifications Worth Pursuing?
As technology is becoming more and more important to businesses, hiring employees with technical skills is becoming critical. But how can an organization ensure that the person they are hiring has the necessary skills? These days, many organizations are including technical certifications as a prerequisite for getting hired.
Certifications are designations given by a certifying body that someone has a specific level of knowledge in a specific technology. This certifying body is often the vendor of the product itself, though independent certifying organizations, such as CompTIA, also exist. Many of these organizations offer certification tracks, allowing a beginning certificate as a prerequisite to getting more advanced certificates. To get a certificate, you generally attend one or more training classes and then take one or more certification exams. Passing the exams with a certain score will qualify you for a certificate. In most cases, these classes and certificates are not free and, in fact, can run into the thousands of dollars. Some examples of the certifications in highest demand include Microsoft (software certifications), Cisco (networking), and SANS (security).
For many working in IT (or thinking about an IT career), determining whether to pursue one or more of these certifications is an important question. For many jobs, such as those involving networking or security, a certificate will be required by the employer as a way to determine which potential employees have a basic level of skill. For those who are already in an IT career, a more advanced certificate may lead to a promotion. There are other cases, however, when experience with a certain technology will negate the need for certification. For those wondering about the importance of certification, the best solution is to talk to potential employers and those already working in the field to determine the best choice.