Computer systems technology programs prepare students to help people who use computer systems. Students learn to design, program, and install computer systems. They also learn to solve computer hardware and software problems.
When your computer keeps crashing, or you can't get on the Internet, or you can't print anything - "Who you gonna call"? Forget Ghostbusters. You need someone who really understands computer systems. If you're lucky, you have a friend you can always call when you have computer trouble.
Most businesses deal with these problems by keeping one or several experts on staff: computer systems technicians. And remember that these business computer systems don't work alone. They're networked, so an administrator is needed to run the network. Together, these are expected to be among the fastest-growing jobs over the next decade.
One way to enter these jobs is to major in computer systems technology. Two years of full-time study beyond high school should earn you the associate degree. About 65 community and technical colleges offer this program.
You learn how to troubleshoot computer problems. Sometimes this means running diagnostic programs. Sometimes you need to find the answer in a manual or online help system. You may even have to turn to someone with more expertise than you, such as a technician who works for the software publisher or hardware manufacturer.
You also learn how to run a network. You study how the software and hardware components work together. You learn how to monitor the performance of the network and detect signs that it is not running right. You learn about security measures you must take to keep out viruses and hackers.
It's possible to get into one of these jobs by taking a few weeks of course work. Some manufacturers - for example, network software companies - offer such certification programs. But what you learn quickly can go out of date quickly. In a degree program you'll learn more about the theory behind the software. That way, in the future you'll find it easier to learn each new technology that comes along. And you'd better be sure you do just that. The way to stay employed in this field is to keep taking classes at regular intervals. Employers often will pay and sometimes will even give you time away from work to attend classes.