Computer Careers—Golden Opportunity or Dead End
April 1973

“Computer Careers—Golden Opportunity or Dead End,” New Era, Apr. 1973, 38

Computer Careers—
Golden Opportunity or Dead End

Since their genesis, electronic computers and the people who run them have performed an awesome act on the stage of man. Although the far-reaching effects of the computer revolution will not be known for several years, educators are already comparing it with the impact of the industrial revolution. In the past twenty years the computer field has grown rapidly, and along with it, the demand for trained personnel.

In the early years the supply of qualified college graduates was quickly depleted, so larger companies in desperation began in-house computer training programs. Private computer vocational schools began to spring up all around the country. These charged tuition, which varied from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. To ensure applicants they often promised they would place their graduates in jobs with pay and status equal to that of college degree holders. For a while they did.

The economic recession of the 70s changed the computer market drastically. Twenty years of growth and development nearly came to a halt. While economists referred to the recession of the nation at large, the computer industry plunged into a depression. Corporations who had formerly utilized computers for impressive experimentation began to reevaluate them as possible luxuries with enormous overhead and questionable justification. New equipment orders were cancelled, some computer personnel found their salaries cut, and many were laid off. Jobs virtually became nonexistent. Computer manufacturers closed down several advance project divisions and converted the manpower to sales forces in an attempt to avoid the grave possibility of complete shutdown.

The future looks brighter, and the feeling among computer professionals is generally upbeat. In looking back and reevaluating original training procedures there is agreement that better methods are needed. Earlier methods produced an abundance of people well educated at the operations and machine-operators level where competition is stiff. But considerably fewer of these people were qualifying as programmers, systems analysts, and computer managers.

Fortunately, formal education is rising to meet this demand. Courses in computer technology are becoming commonplace in high schools. Several universities, colleges, and public vocational schools offer excellent training in computer vocations with the result that industry no longer has to provide basic in-house training. The immediate surge is toward a more rounded education—and away from the one-sided training of the past.

The rapid growth of data processing has peaked out and personnel supply has begun to meet the demand. Dependence on short-term courses as your only preparation for an entire career is on the way out. It will eventually, as some people are now discovering, lead to a dead end in the job market. However, if after sampling introductory courses you decide a computer career is for you, be prepared to make at least two years worth of financial and personal commitment. Signing up with a reputable institution and working hard can lead to golden opportunities and just quite possibly the dream career of your life.

For further information write to Association for Computing Machinery, 1133 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York 10036; Association for Systems Management, 24587 Bagley Road, Cleveland, Ohio 44138; Data Processing Management Association, 505 Busse Highway, Park Ridge, Illinois 60068; or Educational and Career Advisement Center, Brigham Young University, A-152 ASB, Provo, Utah 84601.


Description of Work

Required Training or Education and Special Abilities

Job Outlook and Advancement Opportunities

Approximate Beginning Yearly Salary


Define and write programs (detailed coded instructions) for use by electronic computers to manipulate input data into required output. Test and debug those programs from specification laid out by a systems analyst to ensure accuracy of the programs.

A college degree is often required along with one year of training on the job. A programmer should be creative and have ability to work with mathematics, logic, and extreme accuracy.

The outlook for programmers is promising. However, with continuous changes in equipment, requirements are rapidly changing and competition may be stiff. Advancement to senior programmer, supervisor, or systems analyst is possible.


Systems Analyst

Plan and develop methods for attaining maximum efficiency in use of available computer equipment Analyze systems, organizations, and supervise an implementation of reports by preparing flow charts, surveys, and work plans.

A college degree with emphasis in business, computers, engineering, or science is required. Many employers also require experience in business and computers. Special abilities in math, logic, business, human relations and communications are necessary.

There is a great demand for those with computer experience. An analyst may advance to a position as a computer manager, executive, or consultant.


Sales Representative

Represent a manufacturer to promote and sell computers, computer related equipment, or computer services.

A college degree with emphasis in business, economics, computer science, or electrical engineering. Ability is needed to examine customer systems or needs and develop computerized solutions.

The demand is great for qualified individuals. Those with experience may advance to positions as managers, executives, or president.

$9,500.00 + Commission

Operations Personnel

Convert data into computer-readable form through a keyboard such as a key punch, terminal, or a key-to-tape system. Also collects and distributes computer inputs and outputs.

Most employers require a high school education with on-the-job or business school training. Special clerical ability, accuracy, and ability to work under pressure are necessary.

Electronic data-processing equipment will continue to increase rapidly, requiring thousands of new operators. However, new equipment development may produce changes in job requirements. Advancement opportunities are good as one may become a supervisor or machine operator.


Machine Operators

Set equipment for desired process; data are fed into the machine, errors are observed, corrected, and the process completed. Simple plugboards may be wired.

A high school education is required with a few companies preferring some college training. On-the-job training may run from one to six months. Special requirements include clerical, some mathematical ability, manual dexterity, and mechanical ability.

The job outlook is good; however, competition may be stiff. As operators gain experience, they may be assigned to more complex equipment, supervisory roles, or with additional training may qualify for programmer positions.


Data Processing Equipment Service

Install electronic computers and equipment and maintain and repair equipment by diagnosing problems and replacing defective parts.

A high school diploma is required plus on-the-job training and company schooling. Mechanical and analytical abilities are required in addition to accuracy and ability to work under pressure.

Excellent opportunity as there is a shortage of qualified workers in a rapidly expanding field. Advancement to supervisory positions is possible.


Illustrated by Howard Post