Career Opportunities

A ComputorEdge Column

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What does it take?: Part 1

© Douglas E. Welch 1997

Every profession offers its own unique challenges and rewards. It is important for anyone considering a computer career to be well aware of the skills required to be a success. This includes not only technical skills but also the people skills that allow us to use our technical skills effectively.

More than programmers...

When most non-technical people think of computer professionals, they think of programmers huddled over their computers, cranking out miles and miles of code for the next great word processor or game. In reality though, there are more people working in other computer areas than ever work as programmers. These other computer workers are the people who keep companies running by providing support, network and microcomputer management, training and a host of other computer-related services that have nothing to do with programming.

Unfortunately, the continued focus on programming by colleges has led many people to discard any idea of a computer career, mainly because they do not like programming. I, myself, dropped my computer science minor because I am one of these people. It wasn't until I found my niche in computer support, network management and Internet consulting that I developed my, very lucrative and satisfying, computer career.

Where should you work?

One of the major benefits of a computer career is that you can pursue it at nearly any company, not just computer companies. Every business has some need for computers and most are highly dependent on them. If you are not planning on working for a company dedicated to the computer industry it is important to find a company that produces a product that you interests you.

If you have an interest in finance or the stock market, it might be worthwhile to look for positions with stock brokers or mutual fund companies. If you are interested in flying, an aerospace or aviation company might suit you. It is very important to acknowledge the other interests in your life and find some way to integrate them into your career.

This month's focus

This month I am going to be discussing the various computer careers that are available and what skills are required to become a success in each. This discussion will include the technical skills required. It will also touch on the "softer" issues of teamwork, creative problem-solving and deciding which career might be best for you.

Not everyone is cut out for every career, so if you are contemplating a computer career, stay tuned. My next three columns might help you make the right decision.

Douglas E. Welch is a freelance writer and computer consultant in Van Nuys, California. While he cannot answer every letter directly, he welcomes questions and suggestions. Douglas can reached via email at or

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