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What does a Network Engineer do?

Information is one of the most valuable assets of a modern business. This is why virtually all businesses today rely on computer systems to one degree or another. As a result, a network engineer, the individual responsible for designing, installing, and upgrading computer systems, has a wide variety of employment opportunities in today’s economy.

Becoming a network engineer can be a lucrative career with good, long-term prospects, but in order to pursue this career you must start with some specialized training, and then expect to update your knowledge throughout your career.

network engineer

Job requirements for network engineers

Since network engineers are often dealing with both hardware and software across entire information technology systems, they need a broad range of knowledge that includes electronics, programming, data storage and retrieval, and security. They need to have strong enough analytical skills to match an organization’s needs with the appropriate network capabilities, and they must be good enough problem-solvers to identify and address any system shortcomings. Communication skills are also helpful, since network engineers may have to meet the needs of several different department managers.

A network engineer is generally required to have a bachelor’s degree in information science or a related field, and some employers favor a master’s degree. In addition to making you eligible for a wider range of jobs, a master’s degree may also help improve your advancement potential.

Career opportunities for network engineers

Network engineers may play a variety of roles within an organization. Some may specialize in the design and set-up of new systems, while others may take ongoing responsibility for the administration of a system. Network engineers may have system-wide responsibilities, or might focus on a particular aspect of computing, such as telecommunications or database management.

In addition to being able to play a few different roles within an organization, network engineers have plenty of variety when it comes to types of potential employers. Besides computer equipment and service providers, network engineers might work for organizations as diverse as investment companies, schools, manufacturers, and telecommunications firms. The highest-paying jobs in the profession tend to be in companies that make computer and peripheral equipment.

The employment outlook is excellent, with job growth expected to be much faster than the overall national average for employment growth. Wages for this profession are especially high in New Jersey, Maryland, the District of Columbia, California, and New York.

With variety, high wages, and a strong employment forecast, network engineering is a career path that can offer you an excellent return on the investment in education necessary to qualify for this profession.

What does a Quality Assurance Specialist do?

A quality assurance specialist, often called a quality control inspector, works across a broad range of industries. They monitor the quality standards of nearly every product manufactured in the U.S, including foods, cars, textiles, electronics, building materials and clothing. They guarantee the products a company produces.

Testing procedures vary greatly by industry. Some work with materials or mechanical items, while others weigh and measure liquids or gasses. “QAs” might test electrical flows, or ensure that product materials have the same color, size and texture.

As a quality assurance specialist, you can expect to be involved in most aspects of the manufacturing process. Quality control and assurance are essential to the pharmaceutical and food manufacturing industries, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports. These fields employ many QAs.

quality assurance specialist

Educational requirements, training and certification for quality assurance specialists

The amount of education needed to work as a quality assurance specialist varies by industry. For some jobs, a high school diploma is sufficient, the BLS reports. Other jobs require more experience and education. For example, workers in the semiconductor industry, who perform simple pass/fail testing on computer chips or similar products, typically don’t need post-secondary education. Quality assurance specialists who operate more sophisticated testing machinery may need to complete a training program and certification.

There are several organizations dedicated to the field:

  • Society of Quality Assurance
  • National Committee for Quality Assurance
  • American Society for Quality

These organizations provide many different types of training programs for workers in quality assurance. Completion of these programs and obtaining certification may help you advance your career in the field of quality assurance, the BLS reports.

Employment and salary outlook for a quality assurance specialist

More than two-thirds work in manufacturing industries. Employment is expected to decline by four percent, however, due to heavy investment in automated equipment that reduces the need for manual quality assurance methods. The continued migration of manufacturing firms overseas is expected to reduce demand for QAs. Job prospects will be best for those with experience, who have completed appropriate training and certification programs.

Salaries vary greatly by industry and technical requirements. States with a strong manufacturing presence–California, Texas, Pennsylvania–employ the largest number of quality control inspectors.

What does a Rocket Scientist do?

If that easy, simple task you’re doing isn’t rocket science, then what is? What exactly does a rocket scientist do, and why has this field become so widely used as the common cliche?

Take your career to new, educational heights

The term “rocket scientist” is actually earthling-speak for “aerospace engineer.” These highly specialized scientists are responsible for the design, construction of, and science behind air crafts and spacecrafts. To become an aerospace engineer, you must complete a high level of education, undergoing a rigorous roster of coursework along the way that may include any of the following classes:

  • Mathematics
  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Computer science
  • Mechanical engineering

In order to be hired as an aerospace engineer, you’ll be expected to have earned at least a bachelor’s degree, though people with higher-level degrees such as a master’s or a doctorate might have an advantage in this field.

rocket scientist

Up, up, and away: where the rocket scientists are

Since this field is so specialized, you might have to relocate for a position in aerospace engineering. The highest concentration of available work in the aerospace engineering field is in the following U.S. states:

  • Washington
  • Kansas
  • Alabama
  • Connecticut
  • Maryland
  • California

As a “rocket scientist,” you may find yourself working for a university, a government agency, or a private company. Some aerospace engineers get to live out their childhood dreams and work for a NASA research center, though competition for those jobs can be fierce. The salary of an aeronautical engineer can vary, depending upon location and position.

Mission quest

NASA’s educational website NASA Quest features profiles of people who work as aerospace engineers, and it’s a great resource for down-to-earth information that’s straight from the rocket scientist’s mouth. For example, RubĂ©n Ramos, an aerospace engineer who designs communications systems, writes that a background in math in science is incredibly useful in his field.

With all of the hard work it takes to achieve your career goals, why would you want to become an aerospace engineer? Ramos writes: “I like knowing that we, at NASA, are doing some things that have never been done before, and that have the potential to benefit humanity.” Sounds like a pretty good reason to shoot for the stars.