This is the link between software and management
the folks who know enough about computing to plan and manage large projects. Most systems analysts come from the ranks of software engineering and often hold advanced degrees in computer science or business in addition to experience in the field.
This person manages the design and management of large amounts of data. Data administrators often have some programming background as well as management roles. Much of the interesting work in data today revolves around data mining, which is about using advanced techniques to read inferences from data.
Computing is a young discipline, and there will always be a need to investigate the frontiers. Computer science researchers generally work at universities or large companies. A Ph.D. in computer science is generally necessary, and the number of such people is relatively small.
Computing seems like quite a promising career, but it does require some planning. A student who is interested in computing ought to take a few steps in high school and perhaps earlier:
Play a lot
Building the hardware and playing with the software is a good start.
However, don’t expect your CS professors to be impressed that you’ve built a
computer or played a lot of games. These things are great, but assembling
components from a computer store doesn’t really teach you much about how
computers really work. Having a consumer-level knowledge of games and applications is also a good starting point, but not enough.
—It doesn’t matter much which environment you use, but make the switch from using tools to making stuff. For example, it’s one thing to play around
. It’s quite another to build your own content and add it to the
database. You could be creating content in art, writing, or music, but eventually
you’ll end up giving detailed instructions to the computer.
Learn to program
—It’s not fashionable now to recommend computer programming, but I can’t think of a more practical seco
nd-tier skill (after the fundamentals of
reading, writing, and mathematics). You don’t need some complicated or expensive
language, but you will need to learn how to think through a problem-solving process and convert your thoughts into something a computer can follow.
Take math courses
Computer science is really a form of applied mathematics. If you like computers, you like math, but you just might not know it yet. If you want to be
a professional programmer, you’ll use basic algebra quite frequently. If you’re in certain disciplines such as security or game development, you’ll need quite a bit more math (calculus, statistics, and linear algebra are all handy). If you don’t like math, stick with computing anyway. Soon enough, you’ll see why you need the
math, and it will make more sense when you know you will be using it.
Make stuff. I give plenty of ideas about how to get started every month in TOS. Get going! Build web pages, programs, games, tools, apps, or whatever.
Can Homeschoolers Compete?
Computer science is a new and relatively challenging topic. It’s normal to wonder if a
homeschool family (especially one without technical parents) can compete with public and private schools when it comes to helping kids get prepared for these promising careers. As a freshman adviser and teacher, I can tell you that homeschool students are very welcome in computing programs. A number of my best students have come from a