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Quick Guide to Computer Training

 By Kate Leas | Jan 2006

Computers and the Internet have come a long way since their inception. Living in the computer age means adapting to new technologies as they evolve. The ease and speed of communication that computer technology provides allows us to be more productive in every facet of our lives. That technology requires skilled computer professionals to design, maintain, and implement it.

What is it?

Computer training is divided into specialties including:
• Computer hardware
• Computer software
• Computer networking
• Web Development

Computer hardware refers to the actual physical components that comprise computers (processors, modems, keyboards, motherboards etc). Computer hardware engineers design, develop and maintain computer hardware. They may oversee the installation and manufacture of hardware. Due to the constant flux of the industry, continued education is required to keep up with trends and technology.

Computer software refers to the content that makes a computer work. Software is divided into three categories: Platform (such as operating systems i.e. Windows, Linux, and Macintosh OSX), Applications (Microsoft Office, games), and User-Written (templates, plug-ins, extensions). Computer software engineers, like their hardware counterparts, are required to continually learn new skills in conjunction with developing technology.

Computer networking refers to communication between a group or groups of computers. This includes LAN-local area network, MAN-metropolitan area network and WAN-wide area network. Computer network engineers work with software and hardware integration across a system of computers and servers. They deal with computer-to-computer interface and connect users to each other via private as well as public networks.

Web development refers to the building and implementation of websites (design, programming, server configuration) – Web page design is a subset that deals with user interface design, graphics, html and CSS (cascading style sheets). Web page designers are behooved to have good art skills as they will most likely be dealing with graphics, layout and Flash applications.

Why do it?

Other than the obvious passion for computers and technology, salary and job growth potential are excellent reasons to consider computer careers. Diversity of computer skills adds to marketability in the workforce. Many employers do not have time to train workers on basic skills and expect employees to be more than familiar with computers.

Who should do it?

If you have an aptitude or interest in math, science or art, and have strong problem solving and analytical skills you are a perfect candidate for a computer related career. Computer careers can be solitary work, but often require good communication skills. Systems administrators must know how to relay information to clients and coworkers in order to maintain order and efficiency in the system.

Education is available in many varieties; from certifications, certificate programs, associate’s degree programs, bachelor’s and even master’s degree programs. Many professionals receive degrees in computer science and related fields, but still others are required to have specific certifications (for example MCSE-Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer or MCSA-Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator). Many industries do not require these specific certifications, only knowledge and experience of computer systems. When making a decision about education, research the jobs that interest you and find out just what the employers are looking for in a candidate. Why spend four years working on a bachelor’s degree when a shorter certificate program may be all you need?

Where can I find out more?

For more information on careers, training, and working conditions see the Occupational Outlook handbook at the US Bureau of Labor Statistics site.


Kate Leas is a freelance writer from Kansas City, Missouri. Her current topics include education and the Internet. For help finding a computer school, visit: http://www.collegesearchengine.net

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