Computer Engineering/Programming

Chris Schmidt

Technology is a field that is growing at a rapid rate, with many new jobs created in the area of computer engineering every day. "The job outlook in this career is outstanding" according to the book The Best Jobs for the 21st Century (Krannick 178). In less than 60 years, people have gone from knowing nothing about computers to using them in much of their everyday lives. All this makes computer-related fields very appealing to people who like to work with them. However appealing this field may seem, there are other things to be considered. Everything from working conditions to schooling must be considered when choosing a job.

Computer engineering is a wide field. Because it is so new, it is not always a clearly defined career. This field can include many different kinds of jobs. Everything from computer programmer to systems analyst can be grouped under this one heading ("Search Jobs - Monster.com: computer engineer" Internet). Because of this, choosing a career such as computer engineering can mean many different things, unless a person is more specific. Many computer engineers are supervisors of projects. According to a job opening from FebJobs Northeast posted on monster.com, a computer engineer "Accomplishes complete projects or phases of projects in the areas of research, design, development, testing, maintenance of computer hardware/software products or systems ("US-NJ-Ft. Monmouth-Computer Engineer" Internet)." This kind of job requires a person to have good leadership skills, and ample training. It is a job that generally has a regular work week (Krannick 178), as opposed to a computer programmer, who often has to work late to meet deadlines (Southworth 45-46). All this means is that although a computer engineer has to go through more training, he or she will often receive rewards because of that extra training. A computer engineer can make anywhere from 27,778 dollars per year when starting out in the field ("US-NJ-Ft. Monmouth-Computer Engineer" Internet), to 100,000 dollars with experience ("US-NJ-Lawrenceville-Computer Engineer" Internet). Earning a bachelor's degree is a common way towards a career in engineering. To get into a school like this, one doesn't always need to major in a computer field. Graduate schools will often look for "graduates that majored in other fields such as physics or mathematics ("How to Become" Internet)."

It takes much work to become an engineer of any kind, and computer engineers are no exception. With many students going through four year college programs, and employers that look increasingly at credentials to determine who to hire, it is most often necessary to have some kind of degree to get a job as a computer engineer. Also, employers will almost certainly base salary on past experience, whether it be in an actual job situation or in a training program of some sort. There are many different types of engineering schools. Some prefer a solid basis in theory, which they believe will help students to understand the field far into the future. Others base their curriculum on job skills that will be necessary today. These schools argue that these skills will help you as much as theory in understanding the concepts of the future ("How to Become" Internet). It is also possible that a person does not feel the need to have a degree from a university. In this case, "many technical schools offer programs that can teach the same skills as a college" with an engineering curriculum (Southworth 47). This is especially true for computer programmers. Programmers oftentimes only need to know how the computer works. They have to know how to make the computer do what it needs to do. Much thought needs to be put into making the decision of what type of schooling you want. There are many different options for schooling.

There are many bonuses to being a computer engineer or computer programmer. If someone wants to work in a supervisory position, a computer engineering position may be the right kind of job for him or her. A computer engineer is often the head of large projects, and can succeed by using leadership skills. He or she also has a set schedule to work during, and a goal to try to accomplish. A computer engineer generally works in clean, well-lighted workspaces. The job outlook in this field is outstanding, meaning that many people can get jobs in this field with proper training and a will to succeed (Krannick 179). Computer programmers have flexibility and the ability to telecommute. This means that the worker stays at home while transferring work to the office through some kind of connection similar to an information network. The worker thus has flexible hours, and can work at his own pace, generally. A computer programmer must be willing to work hard to accomplish a deadline, but they do not generally have to supervise large projects. They can work specifically at a task without having to worry about management abilities (Southworth 46). All this and more mean that for many people, computer engineering and computer programming can be very enticing careers.

There are always some downsides to a job however. Many times, for startup positions, pay can be low. There are several strain disorders related to computers. In addition, computer professionals often have to work in cubicles. Although there are positions that can pay up to $100,000 a year, "these job opportunities are rare" (Schmidt interview). The average salary for computer engineers with a master's degree was $45,000 in 1998 (Krannick 179). This amount of money may seem large to many high school age students, but when a person is paying for college loans, it may not seem like enough. One must keep in mind that this salary is an average. If jobs like the $100,000 dollar computer engineer one are included, this means that some starting computer professionals are making very little money indeed. Another problem is that there are many different strain injuries that can be caused by using computers. One more common one is carpal-tunnel syndrome. This can be a result of using a computer for typing in some cases ("Patient's Guide" Internet). This wrist injury is just one of many related to computer use. Eyestrain I also a common symptom of computer users. Because of the distance at which a computer monitor is used, many computer users require eyeglasses to correct vision. These types of problems can occur due to improper placement of a computer screen, bad lighting, improper screen contrast, and many other factors ("Computers, Ergonomics" Internet). Lastly, many computer professionals work in cubicles. In general, cubicles are small "offices" that have walls which do not reach from floor to ceiling. These are generally clustered together, and are implemented to allow "more people to work in a smaller area ("Commentary: Cubicles" Internet)." All this means is that you get a smaller area to work in, while more and more people get packed in like sardines. All this is part of the job of a computer programmer or engineer.

This type of job fits me for many reasons. I am a person who is very self-motivated. If I think something needs to be done, it gets done. I have strong leadership skills, acquired from Boy Scouts and bossing my brothers around a lot. I like to work with technology. I have taken several computer courses, and I am currently enrolled in what is considered a college computer science course. I can get things done, and I understand the technology that is needed to get things done in a profession like computer engineering. I have experience writing code and being a leader of other people, all of which are required to work in a job as a computer engineer. All this and more show to me that I would be a perfect candidate for a job as a computer professional as a programmer or engineer.

There are many aspects that must be considered when a person wishes to choose a career. Before choosing a career, a person should consider carefully what they need to do to become a worker in that profession. Some things to consider are job opportunities, salary, and training needed. A career is an important choice, and if a person wishes to be a computer engineer or programmer, this paper describes many of the things that that person would need to know.

 

Cada, Chryss. "Commentary: Cubicles change the shape of the workplace -- to cramped, that is." 10-18-1997. Online. Detnews.com. Available: http://detnews.com/1997/accent/9710/18/10180041.htm. 1-9-1999.

"Computers, Ergonomics, and Your Vision." 11-19-1995. Online. Available: http://www.distrib.com/ergonomics/tutorial/eyes-tutorial.html. 1-10-1999.

"How to Become an Engineer." Online. Available: http://table.jps.net/~godfrey1/ch1c.htm. 1-4-1999.

Krannick, Ronald L. The Best Jobs for the 21st Century. Virginia: Impact Publications, 1998.

"A Patient's Guide to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome." Online. Available: http://www.sechrest.com/mmg/ctd/cts/cts.html. 1-10-1999.

Schmidt, Robert. Personal Interview. 1-11-00.

"Search Jobs - Monster.com Computer Engineer." Online. Available: http://jobsearch.monster.com/jobsearch.asp?cy=US&lid=&fn=&q=
computer+engineer
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Southworth, Scott. Exploring High Tech Careers. New York: Rosen Publishing Group, Inc, 1993.

"US-NJ-Lawrenceville-Computer Engineer." Online. Available: http://jobsearch.monster.com/getjob.asp?JobID=5124965. 1-9-1999.

"US-NJ-Ft. Monmouth-Computer Engineer." Online. Available: http://jobsearch.monster.com/getjob.asp?JobID=5202177. 1-9-1999.


Questions or comments? E-mail me at CRSchmidt@juno.com
Last update 1/23/2000 Copyright Chris Enterprises