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Career and Education Opportunities for Computer Systems Support Specialists in Columbia, Maryland

If you want to be a computer systems support specialist, the Columbia, Maryland area offers many opportunities both for education and employment. About 3,560 people are currently employed as computer systems support specialists in Maryland. By 2016, this is expected to shrink by 24% to 2,710 people employed. This is not quite as good as the nation as a whole, where employment opportunities for computer systems support specialists are expected to shrink by about 18.6%. Computer systems support specialists generally monitor and control electronic computer and peripheral electronic data processing equipment to process business, scientific, and other data according to operating instructions.

Computer systems support specialists earn about $18 per hour or $39,170 yearly on average in Maryland and about $17 hourly or $35,600 per year on average nationally. Compared with people working in the overall category of Computer Operation, people working as computer systems support specialists in Maryland earn more. They earn more than people working in the overall category of Computer Operation nationally.

There are two schools within twenty-five miles of Columbia where you can study to be a computer systems support specialist, among 109 schools of higher education total in the Columbia area. Given that the most common education level for computer systems support specialists is an Associate's, or other 2-year degree, you can expect to spend about two years training to become a computer systems support specialist if you already have a high school diploma.

CAREER DESCRIPTION: Computer Systems Support Specialist

Computer Systems Support Specialist video from the State of New Jersey Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development

In general, computer systems support specialists monitor and control electronic computer and peripheral electronic data processing equipment to process business, scientific, and other data according to operating instructions. They also may enter commands at a computer terminal and set controls on computer and peripheral devices.

Computer systems support specialists monitor systems for equipment failure or errors in performance. They also operate spreadsheet programs and other types of software to load and manipulate data and to produce reports. Equally important, computer systems support specialists have to respond to program error messages by finding and correcting problems or terminating the program. They are often called upon to notify supervisor or computer maintenance technicians of equipment malfunctions. They are expected to enter commands, using computer terminal, and activate controls on computer and peripheral equipment to integrate and operate equipment. Finally, computer systems support specialists answer telephone calls to help computer users encountering problems.

Every day, computer systems support specialists are expected to be able to articulate ideas and problems. They need to listen to and understand others in meetings. It is also important that they focus attention on specific tasks without being distracted.

It is important for computer systems support specialists to retrieve, separate and sort program output as needed, and send data to specified users. They are often called upon to read job set-up instructions to establish apparatus to be used, order of use, material such as disks and paper to be loaded, and control settings. They also record data such as computer operating time, problems that occurred, and actions taken. They are sometimes expected to oversee the operation of computer hardware systems, including coordinating and scheduling the use of computer terminals and networks to insure efficient use. Somewhat less frequently, computer systems support specialists are also expected to type command on keyboard to transfer encoded data from memory unit to magnetic tape and help in labeling, classifying, cataloging and maintaining tapes.

They also have to be able to clear equipment at end of operating run and review schedule to establish next assignment And finally, they sometimes have to respond to program error messages by finding and correcting problems or terminating the program.

Like many other jobs, computer systems support specialists must be thorough and dependable and be reliable.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Columbia include:

  • Computer Clerk. Operate data entry device.
  • Online Publisher. Format typescript and graphic elements using computer software to produce publication-ready material.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Computer Systems Support Specialist Training

University of Baltimore - Baltimore, MD

University of Baltimore, Charles at Mount Royal, Baltimore, MD 21201-208. University of Baltimore is a medium sized university located in Baltimore, Maryland. It is a public school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 5,844 students and an admission rate of 50%. University of Baltimore has a two to four year program in Data Processing and Data Processing Technology/Technician.

Montgomery College - Rockville, MD

Montgomery College, 40 W. Gude Drive, Suite 220, Rockville, MD 20850. Montgomery College is a large college located in Rockville, Maryland. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 24,452 students. Montgomery College has a one to two year program in Data Processing and Data Processing Technology/Technician which graduated nine students in 2008.

CERTIFICATIONS

Internet and Computing Core Certification: IC is the ideal starting point for anyone interested in learning computer and Internet basics.

For more information, see the Certiport, Inc website.

LOCATION INFORMATION: Columbia, Maryland

Columbia, Maryland
Columbia, Maryland photo by Jeff Kubina

Columbia is located in Howard County, Maryland. It has a population of over 96,421. The cost of living index in Columbia, 100, is near the national average.

The three most popular industries for women in Columbia are educational services, health care, and professional, scientific, and technical services. For men, it is professional, scientific, and technical services, public administration, and educational services. The average travel time to work is about 30 minutes. More than 59.0% of Columbia residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 28.7%, is higher than the state average.

The percentage of Columbia residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 49.3%, is less than the national average but more than the state average. Abiding Savior Lutheran Church, Atholton Seventh Day Adventist Church and Long Reach Interfaith Center are all churches located in Columbia. The most prominent religious groups are the Catholic Church, the United Methodist Church and the Southern Baptist Convention.

Columbia is home to the Symphony Woods Office Center and the Rivers Corporate Park as well as Middle Patuxent Environmental Area and Clarksville Environmental Area. Shopping centers in the area include Governor Century Plaza Shopping Center, Atholton Shopping Center and Owen Brown Village Shopping Center. Visitors to Columbia can choose from PFMG, Courtyard by Marriott and Hilton Inn Columbia for temporary stays in the area.