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The thousand careers of the professional computer scientist

27 mayo, 2021

Actually, the term “Computing” hides a big lie. All the jobs covered by the word are really different professions, incompatible or as far apart as the driver of a vehicle can be from the spark plug supplier.

To this must be added the complexity of a technology in dizzying evolution that makes entire sectors of knowledge become obsolete, while new markets and professional needs are constantly being born.

Thus This article should be read taking into account the date of its writing and the technological moment of Information Sciences. Because, surely, in a short time part of it will be out of date.


I have good reason to maintain that under the Computer Science umbrella there is a very negative simplification of all the specializations that are included. So what still too many people confuse with the remote control of the TV, the home computer and the fax.

With the aim of clarifying the panorama a bit for those who are in a moment of having to choose, I want to detail above the main and most generic specializations that exist in the labor market today.

Hardware technician

Hardware

Assembling computers seems, in these times of manuals and connectors without the possibility of error, something simple. But is not.

First of all because of the variety of models, standards and exceptions that we still find in each case. Second because in this job too all those devices that accompany the central unit are included, such as monitors, keyboards, mice, peripherals, etc.

Next we would enter the world of technical assistance, which is the removal of heaven and earth to get a machine running older than the owner’s car, and which the manufacturer forgot too long ago. Here, services such as the physical assembly of the infrastructures would also enter, including the cabling.

As in almost everything related to computing, the evolution of the components requires constant study and practice.

For example, only in the last decade, the sockets of the two main manufacturers of microprocessors have evolved in such a way that they are incompatible with the previous versions; Y this should be known by the professional, to be able to choose the motherboard that supports this configuration.

Micro informatics technician

Possibly this is the profession where we have all started in an amateur way, until it has become a real torture (for me).

Computers, the operating systems they run, and the entire software ecosystem they support unequivocally imply that sooner or later performance, safety or operational problems will arise.

Continuous study is a hallmark of the profession.

Thus, from the configuration of the printers, the cleaning of viruses and malware, installation and configuration of all kinds of software, advice on applications, etc., all this is the daily work of these specialists.

In addition, for some reason, most users include practically all electronic devices as part of the “Computing”, and the requests for fixes of the TV, the air conditioning control or the Fax, are already legendary.

As if that were not enough, all the family members (up to the fifteenth degree of kinship), friends, acquaintances and close associates of any of the above, feel fully convinced that “how we like to be computer geek” can ask us without embarrassment that we spend hours of our free time fixing the problems of your equipment … without any remuneration of course.

Systems administration

The current infrastructure of Information Systems has become a critical value for all companies and for the life of the Information Society.

Failures in services such as email, data storage or communications are events that have a very severe impact on the existence of companies and the individuals who work in them. At the same time, these are inherently complex systems, which is why specialized professionals are needed in the configuration, management, control, maintenance and actions in the event of incidents.

Those who know the system and / or its components in depth to ensure constant operation without incidents that could interrupt or degrade the service.

They must have knowledge of hardware, operating systems, telecommunications, and advanced administration of all the software used in the infrastructure, specializing in turn in the “pieces” of the system.

DBA

The database administrator is a professional specialized in the configuration, optimization and exploitation of the databases of an information persistence infrastructure.

Not only is it capable of installing and configuring the set of applications that make up the database engine and auxiliary tools, but it is also capable of configuring and optimizing its operation.

In-depth knowledge of query language (SQL, etc.) and management and control tools is expected from DBAs associated with the “tuning” of the system to obtain the best possible performance.

Undoubtedly, the greatest complexity they face is that not only does the technology continually change, but also the structure, the data and the circumstances of each moment, having to carry out constant actions to keep the system at the optimum point.

Telecommunications

Teleco

These professionals are dedicated to everything related to the telecommunications systems of companies.

Configure, maintain, manage and solve problems in telecommunications networks with overlapping levels of complexity, strict performance and security requirements, built with all types of hardware, types of links, types of software and the mix of all of them.

A thorough knowledge of communications networks is necessary, along with experience in the software and hardware that make up the infrastructure, as well as sufficient training for the design of data networks.

Safety

Currently, security has become an obligation, as well as a necessity, for any company or individual, as they are all practically permanently connected to a communications network.

Professionals are mainly dedicated to being “defenders”Against attacks carried out against information systems. For this they must have deep knowledge such as “attackers” Y thus being able to recognize, avoid or block intrusions.

Computer science requires vocation, effort and work

They are expected to have a very deep training in the guts of operating systems, of all information transport protocols, and of those tools that are useful in either of the two positions.

But they don’t just have to be able to stop or avoid an attack. They must also detect it, which is not easy in many cases, and be able to carry out the so-called Forensic Investigation, where all the traces left by the attacker are collected to locate, identify, cancel or, in many cases, help him find his bones in jail.

Developing

If in the professions described above I am making generalities, and each of them can be subdivided into specializations that overlap one another or that have little to do with the statement, in development things get even more complicated.

Write Code

With “programmer“Very different roles and specializations have been put into the same bag that, even having the common nexus of building software applications, become incompatible in their application.

  • Developer. Specialist in one or more programming languages, with extensive knowledge of software architecture and software development methodologies. It has as many specialties as there are pieces that make up an application: User Experience, graphical interface, Services, Backend, Persistence, and much more. Here I include the former Functional Analysts and Architects, who make less and less sense in modern multidisciplinary and self-managed teams.
  • Team leader. He is a senior developer, who has acquired technical project management responsibilities. Must have leadership, team management, customer management, and decision-making skills. When the reports to the Directorate exceed the time devoted to technological matters, they are called Project Manager and include responsibilities for economic management and project reporting.

Training

A sector such as computer science, with a continuous need for study due to the constant evolution of technology, obviously requires trainers who make the information accessible to professionals or the user. What is required is the ability to express, control the training techniques and an exhaustive knowledge of the subject to be treated, to be able to answer all the doubts and questions of the students.

Also, in many cases (just like airplane pilots), You must be certified in each and every one of the subjects to be taught and even by the manufacturer itself.

Others

Even though it seems a long way from Computer Science, in the following jobs technical professionals are highly valued for the value that experience and training provide.

  • Presale. Aimed at supporting sales, he is in charge of documenting technical offers, assisting salespeople in meetings and managing the start-up of projects. They are commonly positions that are nurtured by Project Managers or Team Leaders.
  • Commercial. Pure seller. But if you have a technical background, you offer a more coherent discourse and can take advantage of opportunities not related to the tender, but with the technology that the company manages. Also avoiding deadlines or cost traps derived from lack of personal experience.
  • Disseminator. Whether oral or written, disclosure is a fundamental part of the Information Society. They are people, who carry out the work of disseminating “Informatics” in different communication media, and who are increasingly required to be familiar with the information they issue.

Conclusions.

Computer science is a group of professions with a great future and a huge demand.

As you may have seen, under “Computing”Hide a myriad of professions and specializations that deserve their own definition for each of them. And I have only scratched the surface, and many of the readers will point out that the division has been too crude in its resolution.

But I have to point out that the entire industry as a whole is surviving the current crisis with a very low level of unemployed, both relatively and absolutely, and wages are above average compared to most job sectors.

In return, social recognition is practically non-existent (even negative in …