Sherri Smith

Author:

Sherri L. Smith
Business Education Teacher
R. C. Edwards Middle School
Central, South Carolina (School District of Pickens County)

There are so many lucrative opportunities in the world of computer science. The work, salary, education, and job outlook will vary by specific career. However, I believe that it is our responsibility to make our students aware of these opportunities. While career exploration is listed in many K-12 CS standards, the emphasis and enthusiasm that we provide will benefit our students. Too often, students think that a career in computer science exclusively involves programming. If a student is not aware of certain careers, he or she may miss out on an incredible career opportunity.


1. Awareness

Often, career discussions and exploration begin in middle school. IGPs (Individual Graduation Plans) are created in 8th grade in South Carolina and revised annually – other states may refer to this as ILPs (Individualized Learning Plans) or another name and start at different grade levels. If students do not know about various careers, as well as their own interests and abilities, they may miss out on opportunities. Computer Science (1 credit) is required to graduate high school in the state of SC (as well as many other states). Student interest inventories will help identify career clusters.

2. Opportunity

So many CS Careers are available. Opportunities vary by growth projections, location, education, and pay among other factors. It is important for students to understand the opportunities available in different disciplines.

3. Knowledge

Knowledge is Power! By being aware of options, students are able to have an opportunity to take additional courses and join various organizations that will help them on their journey.

4. Process

If we, as educators, are able to provide an opportunity for in class career exploration, discussion, and research, our students will be able to learn about various career options in the field of computing.

5. Overview

One option is to provide a general overview. For example, students could take a high-level look at five careers in the CS industry and use bullet points to list the key factors of the careers. After a brief review occurs, you may want to have the students select one of the five careers to take a deeper dive and provide more details. The second activity is more comprehensive. As a side note, I usually explain that I realize that this career field may not be for everyone, but it is important to be aware of the opportunities & the research process may be replicated for other career research activities.

6. Compare & Contrast Five Disciplines of CS

(One example of a possible assignment)
Computing Careers - Disciplines

a. Computer Science

b. Software Engineering

c. Information Technology

d. Information Systems

e. Computer Engineering

7) Considerations/Information for the assignment

a. Name & duties of career

b. Education required

c. Experience (do not put none, put skills, internships, and/or certifications)

i. I want the students to find something that would make them more marketable. Even if it is an entry level position, there must be some type of experience or skill set that would help them.

d. Job outlook (explain what it is and why it is important)

e. Salary range

f. Any other information of interest (optional)

g. All of the above items may be found in a concise table in the Occupational Outlook Handbook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics - OOH

h. Sample: Information Security Analyst

8) Additional Options for Career Research Projects

a. Computing Careers (5 Disciplines) as referenced above

b. Cybersecurity (specific group of careers) - Cyberseek.org

c. One Career Focus in the computing field (O-Net, Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH),and Cyberseek.org)

9) Career Path

a. For example, Cybersecurity (entry, middle, executive levels) Career Pathway

b. Include Skills (both soft and hard skills)

c. Current # of job openings

10) Scaffolding

At times, I will provide slide templates. While I want my students to create slides, I realize that I am assisting them with the content creation. In addition, the slide template may assist with completion and consistency. Furthermore, there are options to adjust the depth of the assignment. The pdf that includes details of the five disciplines of computing provides options for a more detailed assignment.

11) Points to consider

There are a variety of educational levels, pay, responsibilities, and opportunities (including growth projections). It is important for students to understand that not every career will require a four year degree, etc.

Hopefully, this article will help you with the computer science career focus. Students are truly capable and interested in options regarding their future.


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