What Do Computer Operators Do?
The main task of computer operators is to oversee large computers as well as networks of machines. They are responsible for efficient, fast communication and troubleshooting any problems that may arise. They often must manipulate physical computer components and use technical manuals to learn more about the parts and programs they need to work with. As computers and networks have become smaller and faster, jobs in this industry have begun to decrease. Nationally, there is a 17% average annual decrease in these positions. Those with skills in this particular field are often able to find jobs in related areas.
Computer Operators Skills and Abilities
Operating huge electronic devices and computers requires an understanding of all of their components large and small. As a computer operator, you need to know about:
- Circuit boards
- ApplicationsYou will need to accurately monitor gauges and dials, as well as understand and use the information provided by these indicators. You will often be called upon to solve problems or help troubleshoot situations, so the ability to think critically and suggest several possible solutions will help you succeed in this field. Computer operators are regularly found on their feet, physically observing large equipment. Consequently, you will need to be comfortable moving around and capable of managing your time as you move from task to task.
Computer Operators Duties
You will be responsible for the setup, maintenance and analysis of a great deal of information, data and equipment. On a daily basis, you can expect to:
- Compile data and documentation
- Develop online or computer applications
- Format digital data
- Schedule maintenance and operational activities
- Maintain equipment and keep records of services performed
Moving between digital devices and teams of human co-workers is an essential part of your everyday work. Clear oral and written communication ensures efficiency and success in this position.
Computer Operators Tools and Technology
You will have the opportunity to work with everything from huge mainframes to minicomputers during your employment. You will also use printers, disk drives and storage units, computer tape drives and paper cutting accessories. Computer operators work with a vast array of technology, including:
- Operating system software, such as BMC Software and CA Automation Point
- Network monitoring software, such as Hewlett-Packard HP OpenView Software
- Electronic mail software, such as Microsoft Outlook
- Backup or archival software, such as EMC NetWorker
- User interface software, such as Microsoft Access or Oracle DBMS
Education and Training for Computer Operators
To become a computer operator, you will need a high school diploma. Most of your practical knowledge and experience comes from on the job training. Many technicians take some college or vocational courses to learn more about the field and to gain practical skills. Community colleges, applied technical centers and the armed forces all offer training for computer operators.
Computer Operators Salary
The annual median salary for computer operators across the nation is $39,600. The highest ten percent of earners bring home around $60,000, while the lower ten percent make an annual wage of $23,200. Alaska, the District of Columbia, Maine and other east coast states offer the highest wages for computer operators.
Computer Operators Jobs by Geography
As the trend for automation in the workplace and the computer field persists, demand for these positions continues to decline. There are a few states that still see an increase in the need for computer operators, including Indiana, Washington, Alaska and Maryland. Some other states will continue to have decreased demand in the 15-20% range. Those with skills in this area will often find other related careers and make the jump as positions become automated. Many find success in the fields of computer programming or other data-driven technological careers.