What I Did With My Degree: Information Technology

it jobsIt is no secret that getting a degree in information technology can make a lot of sense for those entering college or making a career change. What is maybe hidden beneath the surface are the number of doors an information technology degree can open.

I graduated with a degree in information technology (specifically in software engineering) from Apollo College. I was able to find a job programming visual basic for a company that developed hotel accounting software. I quickly realized that programming was not for me. I didn't like the long hours, alone with my computer trying to build something to fit someone else's idea. There are people out there that love this kind of work, but it wasn't for me. I wasn't sure what I was going to do and I was depressed.

I thought I had wasted my education on something I hated doing in the real world. I decided I really did like information technology and I would continue to pursue other avenues, hoping to find a fit and someone that would hire me for having a general degree in information technology, rather than for my specialty. After leaving the programming job, I accepted a position as a network technician for Graham County in Arizona. I didn't last long doing this work either, but fell into an opportunity with a company that specialized in selling and configuring electronic document management systems.

Software Engineer Overview

Job Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer software engineers held 1.3 million jobs in 2008. Employment of computer software engineers is expected to grow much faster than average through 2018, and job prospects will be excellent.

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$90,170: Average annual salary of computer software engineers according to the May 2009 BLS report.

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An inside edge

Electronic document management systems allow users to scan or upload electronic documents into software for processing and storage. In my studies I had learned the importance of process modeling and design. This knowledge gave me an advantage when it came to adding work flow and processes to documents. The knowledge of how software works is also extremely valuable in that I am able to explain to customers the inner workings of the software, thus increasing their comfort with the product. Any information technology degree would give one an advantage in securing a position working with document management systems.

I am currently working for the City of Charlotte as an account manager in the information technology division. The team I work with handles all the electronic document management needs across all city divisions. I meet with the divisions throughout the city and assist them in determining their document and records management needs. A document management project usually consists of some type of legacy paper files that are scanned into an electronic document management system and a day forward scanning process that allows the city personnel to scan new paper documents directly into the system. Scanners must be evaluated for through put and duty cycle to insure they are robust enough to handle the job. Capture software must be configured to get the documents from the scanner into the system along with indexed information or metadata associated with the documents. The electronic document management system must also be configured for proper security, adequate storage space, processes built and retention schedules set.

Building on your knowledge

I have worked with many types of electronic document management systems. One good thing about the industry is that all of the different software solutions available for document management are trying to solve the same problems, which forces them to operate in similar ways. Therefore, once you have the basic knowledge, all you have to do is learn the feature sets for the different software suites as needed.

The most challenging part of working with document management systems is gathering customer requirements. Having a fundamental knowledge of project management, business analysis and resource planning will greatly increase your chances for success. As the expert, one must listen to customers and guide them to a solution that works for them. Customers usually need help documenting their document flows, finding bottlenecks, applying security, designing a document management structure, finding state and or regulatory agency record retention schedules and calculating the return on the investment.

Achieving a degree in information technology was a career accelerator for me. I would encourage those who have similar aspirations to look beyond the usual when searching for employment, especially in today's down economy. A new graduate armed with a degree and an open mind will find opportunities. A great place to start looking are those industries that produce large volumes of paper documents such as the legal, medical and government sectors. As with many technology jobs, furthering one's education and specialty training will ensure continued success. An information technology degree is a tool that can jump-start a career in several industries.

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