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Computer Information Systems Skills

CIS professional mapping out a database

Having a strong set of computer information systems skills can set you up for a rewarding career. As big data, the Internet of Things, cloud computing and emerging technologies shape the business world, career opportunities abound for those with the right skills and knowledge. 

If you’re ready to succeed in computer information systems, skills needed include a variety of both hard and soft skills. From knowledge of hardware and operating systems to team leadership, having the right skills in your toolkit will help you find success in this growing field.

What are Computer Information Systems?

Computer information systems (CIS) are where computers and technology intersect with the business world. CIS professionals maintain, implement and use systems that drive the business world. This means that CIS professionals need different skills than computer science (CS) professionals.

CIS is a unique career choice because it requires several skills ranging from business to computer programming. There are many divergent paths that CIS professionals can take in their careers, but the fundamentals remain the same. 

What Are The Basic CIS Skills?

Computer information systems skills include both hard and soft skills. The difference between hard and soft skills is important:

  • Hard skills are teachable, technical and measurable skills. They might include mathematics, writing, reading, knowledge of a programming language and other computer skills.
  • Soft skills are more like traits. These are the skills that might make you a better employee. Communication skills, manners and leadership skills are soft skills.

Soft skills and hard skills are equally important. It’s been said that your hard skills are what stand out to employers on your resume and help you get the job, while the soft skills are what come into play when it comes to being successful on the job. Computer information systems professionals need both soft and hard skills for career success.

The hard skills you need for a computer information systems career can vary based on the tasks of a job. As an example, web developers need different hard skills than database administrators. Computer systems information skills need to match your career interests. 

While the hard skills you need for a CIS job can vary, the soft skills remain the same. Soft computer information systems skills can include:

  • Problem solving and analytical skills
  • Communication and interpersonal skills
  • Cool demeanor and ability to work under pressure
  • Attentiveness to detail
  • Ability to work on a team
  • Time management and organization
  • Management and leadership skills
  • Imagination, creative thinking
  • Recollection (verbal and logical)
  • Focus on results
  • Strong personal motivation for developing new knowledge

Computer Information Systems Skills

Computer information systems is a unique career choice because it requires several skills ranging from business to computer programming. There are many divergent paths that CIS managers can take in their careers, but the fundamentals remain the same.

Three important computer information systems skills include communication of complex ideas, management of personnel, and analytical skills. Let’s break down these three skills and how they might apply to a CIS career.

Communication of Complex Ideas

As in most tech roles, CIS professionals require a keen ability to communicate IT-related issues to other people throughout their organizations. Often positioned as managers within their respective organizations, CIS professionals must communicate these ideas to upper management, stakeholders, and lower-level employees all the same.

Management of Personnel

In most cases, the career trajectory in computer information systems puts one on a path towards managing an organization’s IT department. As a result, it is important to have a basic understanding of management. This includes a subset of the following skills: departmental time management, listening to employees and providing resources, issuing performance reviews and training new employees.

Analytical Skills

Corporate technology changes daily and CIS professionals are responsible for steering their organizations toward new trends and away from the old. This often requires several tiers of analytical ability, ranging from math in dealing with a budget, to predictive accuracy in dealing with the efficacy of a new piece of technology.

Corporate Information Technology

Perhaps the most important of all computer information systems skills, especially when starting in the industry, is a general understanding of all IT tasks performed in the corporate setting. In most cases, corporate networking and organizational structure are different than what CIS students learn in college. This is a skill that can be attained quickly with an internship.

Computer Information Skills by Job

As mentioned above, the skills required for a computer information systems career can vary based on your individual interests and job path. Learn more about how information technology and computer information systems skills can lead you to your dream job.

Software Developer Skills

You need a few specific skills to be a software developer. To be a successful software developer, you need to have a few technical CIS skills. A few skills you’ll need include:

  1. Programming, scripting and markup languages: Developers need to be strong in at least one language, good developers are skills in many. According to a survey from Stack Overflow, the most popular programming languages in 2019 were:
    • JavaScript
    • HTML CSS
    • SQL
    • Python
    • Java
    • Bash/Shell/Powershell
    • C#
    • PHP
    • C++
    • TypeScript
    • C
    • Ruby
    • Go
  2. Networking Basics:  Most developers work on a client-server model. This means understanding basic networking is essential to developing an application.
  3. Text editors: All programs start with text editors, regardless of the developer’s skill. Knowing the basics of these simple programs can help immensely. Knowing an editor and its keyboard shortcuts can make life easier.
  4. SDLC: All developers need to know the software development life cycle (SDLC). This boils down to 7 phases:
    • Requirement gathering and analysis
    • Feasibility study
    • Design
    • Implementation and Coding
    • Testing
    • Deployment
    • Maintenance

Knowing the ins and outs of the SDLC is essential.

Knowing the technical skills above, among many others, will help you become a good developer.

Computer and Information Systems Manager Skills

You’ll need a number of CIS skills to land a job as a computer and information systems manager. Three key skills for a computer and information systems manager include:

  1. Business management skills: CIS jobs exist where business and technology interset. This means you’ll need to know basic business principles like strategic planning, resource allocation, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
  2. Technical knowledge: Computer and information systems managers need a strong understanding of technology like circuit boards, processors, chips and computer hardware and software, including basic applications and programming.
  3. Mathematics: Math is a foundational skills for many CIS careers. Systems managers need an understanding of algebra, statistics, calculus and geometry.

Information Security Analysts Skills

Information security analysts protect computer networks and have many in-demand skills. A few of the skills required to be a successful information security analyst include: 

  1. Networking: To protect networks, you’ll need to know their ins and outs and intricacies.  This is because malware and other cybersecurity threats depends on computer networks to maximize damage.
  2. Security fundamentals: When you have top security skills, you’ll be able to comb log records to recognize dangerous or atypical activity that could pose a threat These security skills could stop attacks before they happen.
  3. Communication and documentation: When a security breach or a threat occurs, information security analysts need to communicate and document the danger in a concise and thorough manner. This takes excellent communication and documentation skills.
  4. Incident handling skills: A proficient information security analyst should be able to prevent most threats before they become an incident. However, sometimes threats become real and this is where incident handling skills come into play. An information breach could be a crime scene, so it is important to know how to respond.

Database Administrator Skills

Database administrators store and organize data using specialized software, some of which they might build themselves. It takes a number of special skills to perform this work. Top skills for database administrators include:

  1. Knowledge of database design, theory and queries: It takes a lot of specific knowledge to make a database work. Knowledge of these basic database principles is essential.
  2. Structured query language: Database administrators need to know how databases talk. This includes knowledge of a structured query language (SQL) like SQL/PSM or Transact-SQL.
  3. Storage and networking skills: The database needs to live somewhere and its information needs to be accessible to users. This is where data storage and networking skills come into play.

This is just a small sampling of CIS careers and the associated computer information systems skills required. You can obtain the skills needed for these jobs and other computer information systems jobs by working toward a CIS degree or certification.

How to Develop CIS Skills

If you’re seeking to develop computer information systems skills, completing a certification or degree program can help you. There are many options fo CIS certs and degrees. Computer information systems education options include:

  1. Certification
  2. Associate’s degree
  3. Bachelor’s degree
  4. Master’s degree
  5. PhD

No matter which computer information systems degree you choose to get the skills you’ll need, it’s important that you complete a CIS internship to get the hands-on skills you need for career success. Between an education program and an internship, you should be ready for a CIS career.

Requirements for Computer Information Systems Career Success

Before pursuing a career in computer information systems, there are several requirements one must meet. Each path in the CIS career trajectory may pose different requirements, but these are ones that generally appear on all career paths.

Several Years of Work Experience

If you look at a job board for openings in computer information systems, you will find many jobs – but very few of them will be for entry-level positions. Entering the field of CIS usually requires a candidate to have several years of experience working in a computer-related position such as programming or information technology. Previous management experience also comes into play, but management experience coming from outside of the tech industry will have less weight.

Certifications and Continued Education

One of the traditional requirements for advancing in a CIS career is through certifications. These are often applied to highly-specific corporate paths such as CIS risk management, internal audit, or systems security. After gaining experience at an organization, many employers are willing to pay for your certification in a recognized certification program for specialized technical training. In addition to graduate degrees in business administration or management information systems, these certifications are a great way to traverse through the higher-paying opportunities in CIS.

Characteristics for CIS Career Success

If you have the skills and meet the requirements of a CIS professional, you may also be interested in knowing whether you display some of the main characteristics of professionals in the field. Having a career in this industry will be more rewarding if you display the following characteristics.

An Interest in Technology

If you are the person among your friends and family who enjoys helping with tech-related issues, or if you have many tech side projects of your own, then you display an obvious interest in the field. This helps to make your job more rewarding, and your coworkers, employees and managers will notice your passion for the industry.

Leadership Qualities

This is something that can be developed through courses, lectures and other professional activities, but having a natural sense of leadership and responsibility will help in advancing through the ranks of your CIS career. Especially as you work your way into management positions, it’s important to have an interest in helping people improve.

An Entrepreneurial Spirit

Often, CIS professionals are intimately involved in their organization’s budget and other business-related information. As a result, your day-to-day life in the industry will be much more rewarding if you enjoy the process of running a business. Within the bounds of corporate requirements and limitations, the most successful CIS professionals take ownership of their duties like they would a personal business.

In all, the computer information systems skills, requirements and characteristics are at the crossroads of the technology and business industries. If you are interested in starting a career in this industry, take note of the requirements, gain the skills, and ask yourself if you have the characteristics that will lead you to a rewarding career in computer information systems.

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