Decoding Emerging College Majors

Dawn Papandrea | September 2, 2009

I love reading articles about college major trends because that’s a good way to gauge which career fields are up-and-coming and eager to hire. Lucky for us, writers at The Chronicle of Higher Education did some legwork in yesterday’s story, “5 College Majors on the Rise.”

Not surprisingly, all of the majors they list have something to do with making ourselves and/or the environment a little healthier, and finding new ways to solve problems. In fact, each field can be classified as “higher” education in some way, since they each have a higher purpose than just simply memorizing facts, performing calculations, or appreciating some type of art.

Take a look…

Sustainability — A few weeks ago, I actually had to look this up — no joke! That’s how new an idea this is when it comes to education and business. If you’re wondering what it is (which is nothing to be ashamed of), I’ll tell you. It’s the concept of making something more “green” or ecofriendly. Many businesses today are sustainable businesses. So college students, be sure to at least take a class on this because it’s the hottest buzzword in the workplace today!

Service Science — This is another buzzword that may not be what you think it is. The article describes it as cultivating “‘deep problem solvers’ who understand the economic, human, and technical dimensions of complex systems.” Yikes! That’s a mouthful, isn’t it? The idea is to improve productivity and encourage innovation in various service industries. In other words, these grads will help find more efficient ways of doing things. That sure is a good skill set to have.

Health informatics — The idea is to take each person’s tons of health data and digitalize it. The Feds are totally behind this initiative, and so a new field has emerged that will demand lots of technological know-how with a health care twist.

Computational science — Math meet science. Science meet math. Together, you’ll solve problems. At least that’s the gist of what computational science is all about. I’m not a techie or a number cruncher so it’s a bit beyond me, honestly, but the article says this: “Companies have used computational analysis to increase the absorbency of disposable diapers and to tweak the shape of potato chips so they drop into packages rather than fly off the conveyor belt.” OK then, moving on…

Public health – If the swine flu epidemic has taught us anything, it’s that public health is an expansive field. Students who merge the biology stuff with the public policy stuff will be huge commodities in our society.

Intrigued by any of these up-and-coming fields? They are definitely worth paying attention to for anyone interested in entering a viable industry. One day, they may even be as commonplace as English literature or psychology, so get studying!

-Dawn Papandrea

How To Become A Computer Engineer

Gina L | July 29, 2009

If you haven’t already figured it out, computers are a pretty big deal. So if you are looking for a career in an industry that’s in it for the long haul, think about becoming a computer engineer.

How do I become a computer engineer?
Computer engineers work in the design, development, evaluation, and testing of computer software and systems. Since computer technology changes at such a rapid pace, it is important to stay at the forefront of computer science by remaining up to date with new programs and systems.

Although hands-on experience is the best way to find employment in most industries, many of those looking to remain competitive in the computer world attend school for a degree in computer science. Many liberal arts colleges and universities offer four-year degree programs in computer science or management information systems, while a great number of community colleges and vocational schools also offer two-year associate’s degree programs in computer science and other related disciplines. Many employers are enticed by applicants with college experience because it shows not only that they have the skills necessary to excel in computers, but that they are also committed to learning and growing in the field.

Another way to prove your skills as a computer engineer is to become certified in computer systems. A+ certification is one way to prove your mettle with Microsoft, while other vendors and applications also offer certification in their areas of specialization.

What will I learn in computer engineering school?
If you are enrolling in a computer engineering school, chances are you already know a thing or two about computers. But computer technology advances so quickly that it’s very easy to fall behind on all the new systems and applications. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 80 percent of computer software engineers had at least a bachelor’s degree, so you will be in great company if you enroll in a four-year program.

In a computer engineering school, you will learn the ins and outs of how a computer works and all the applications and programs that can be used on various platforms and computer systems. From C++ to COBOL to Java, you will become fluent in many programming languages, any of which will add value to your resume.

In addition to learning computer hardware, software, and systems from the ground up, many programs also have classes in communications. This is an especially good part to any computer science program, as most computer engineers work as part of a team and will have to maintain excellent interpersonal skills in order to get a job done. As in any vocation, a high degree of professionalism goes a long way, and so there will be a higher chance of employment for those computer engineers who are easy to work with and can give and receive feedback well.

In an industry where C++ is just as good as A+, you can really make the grade as a computer engineer.

Computer Engineer: Duties & Salary

Gina L | July 29, 2009

If you’ve ever been called a computer geek, good for you! A career as a computer engineer can be a fulfilling and lucrative career for those with a knack for computer science.

What does a computer engineer do?
Computer engineers work to design, build, test, and implement hardware and software applications for computer networks in a variety of settings, from home office to big business. Since even the smallest businesses rely on some type of computer system for their daily tasks, computer engineers are known to work all over the map in both the private and public sectors.

Computer engineers specializing in software need to be fluent in a variety of programming languages, like Java, C++, and COBOL. Being well-versed in the Internet is an absolute must, as many businesses have or want to establish a website or web applications in order to grow their client bases.

Computer engineers who specialize in computer hardware work in research, design, development, testing, and supervision of all aspects of the manufacturing and installing of computer hardware. The hardware of a computer includes chips, circuit boards, systems, keyboards, modems, printers, and other related equipment. Some computer hardware engineers have a background in electronics because the two fields are related, because computer hardware involves circuitry.

How much do computer engineers get paid and what kinds of computer engineer jobs can I get?
Computer engineers will be in hot demand as computer networks grow in importance for companies both large and small. As a computer engineer, you can find employment in a variety of industries in both the public and private sectors, such as business, telecommunications, government, and health care. Computer engineers specializing in the Internet will be successful in finding employment for businesses that rely on a Web presence for interacting with clients.

According to a 2006 report of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary of computer software engineers was close to $80,000.

Computer technology grows at a rapid pace, and therefore the demand for skilled professionals in computer engineering will also grow quickly. The demand for computer software engineers will be especially high as businesses look to acquire more sophisticated technology in order to keep up with or exceed the competition.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for computer software engineers is expected to grow by nearly 38 percent by the year 2016. This amounts to approximately 324,000 new jobs and one of the biggest increases among all industries.

If you are looking for a career in an industry that will continue to flourish despite whatever bad news hits Wall Street, network your way into a job as a computer engineer.



Audio Engineer Duties & Salary

Gina L | July 23, 2009

Over the years, audio engineering and sound engineering have come to refer to two distinctly different career tracks in the audio industry. Audio engineers on the production side of the industry work in audio rooms, mixing, dubbing, and creating the sound effects and fine touches that create a memorable movie or CD. Audio engineers on the tech side, meanwhile, work on the production and care of the audio equipment that makes audio production and recording possible. However, the majority of the time the term “audio engineer” refers to the former not the latter, and that’s why audio engineering schools focus primarily on teaching students how to create the best audio tracks possible.

What does an audio engineer do?
Because of their diverse abilities and the vital part they play in the media, audio engineers are needed in nearly every industry. From TV and movies, to CD and radio, audio engineers make the transmission and translation of sound, atmosphere, and music possible. They’re a vital part of any production and tend to work in groups, especially on larger productions such as movies.

In order to handle all of the tasks required of them, as well as the sensitive, hi-tech equipment used to make it all possible, audio engineers must first receive the right education and training from an audio engineering school. There they’ll learn all about the equipment — patch bays, mixing consoles, dynamic processors, audio cable connectors, audio monitors, mics, and samplers — and how to mix and redub audio to perfection.

How much do audio engineers get paid and what kinds of audio engineering jobs can I get?
Naturally, you’re curious as to how much audio engineers get paid for all their hard work. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that as of May 2006, the median annual earnings for sound engineering technicians was $43,010, with the top 10 percent in the field raking in more than $90,770 and the bottom 10 percent earning less than $21,050.

Though the audio engineering field is not the biggest — the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that somewhere in the range of 100,000 to 200,000 people are currently employed in it — the potential for growth is there. In fact, the government projects that employment within audio engineering and related occupations is expected to increase by 17 percent between 2006 and 2016. Sound engineering technicians in particular, will see a nine percent increase in employment during the same period.

Audio engineers are needed in practically every media industry — whether it’s to dub a television show, mix a movie soundtrack, or help create the latest hit CD — so you’ll find quite a few options when it comes to finding a job. However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics does warn that job competition for audio engineers in urban areas can be very fierce since salaries are higher and the applicants are highly qualified.