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Computer Design

Wondering what's so special about the computer design field? "What's special about being able to view HBO on your iPad? What's special about being able to browse the internet, access your computer from home, possibly control your lights in your home and start your car, all done from a phone? What's special about not having to stand in lines at banks to pay bills? What's special about being able to earn a degree without ever having to physically attend a class?" asks Flavia Andrade, associate professor in the College of Media Arts and Technology at DeVry University. In other words, she says, the field of multimedia or computer design has exciting real world applications that we can see everyday.

If you're interested in a computer design career, you need to be prepared to work hard, be self-motivated, and commit to lifelong learning to keep up with all of the changing technology. Ready to get started? Here's what you need to know about computer design degrees

Computer Design Degrees
Computer design degrees are as varied as the number of web apps you use each day. Depending on what area of concentration you want to focus your degree on, you'll have a variety of coursework to explore. Among the fundamentals that most computer design students have to learn include Web architecture, Internet protocols, web application development, e-commerce, JavaScript, database management systems, and more.

Nowadays, it's tough to break into computer design careers without at least a bachelor's degree in a related computer major, just because there is so much knowledge you'll be expected to know. Of course, if you've been working in the field and have on-the-job training and experience, there are a number of certificate programs that can enhance your skill set and bump up your credentials should you want to make a move to another position.

Spotlight on Computer Design Careers
The key to success in computer design careers is self-motivation. "There are times when a designer needs to remind oneself why they chose this field in the first place. Being creative and possibly enduring lines of code 40+ hours a week can be, at times, overwhelming," says Andrade. "It's important to be able to self-motivate, otherwise, instead of an exciting career, it can become an extremely stressful one."

Of course, your career path doesn't necessarily have to involve coding marathons, says Andrade. "The obvious paths are indeed the web designers, front-end developers, and so forth. However, in multimedia, there are some extra skills taught, other than code and design, such as film and video editing and creation, and 3D skills." Even though, the multimedia degree is not specific to these areas, students can find some jobs in fields like video editing and streaming, where they'd be assisting in the final preparation and editing of TV commercials, presentation videos, or even work with the film industry. They can also get jobs utilizing their 3D skills by creating and/or animating models, adds Andrade.

So which computer design career is right for you? Here's a look at two of the most popular directions

Web Development
Behind every snazzy homepage and cool online user experience is a web developer how tirelessly creates the technical framework of the site. Web developers create applications fro the web using software, tools, and a dose of their own creativity. Often, they are tasked with incorporating huge databases of information into a site, and sometimes, they have input into how the front end of a site looks and feels.

Web developers generally need a bachelor's degree in a computer-related field, and a lot of experience to qualify for the best job opportunities. Hours are usually long, but the good news is that jobs should be plentiful through 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with growth nearing 50 percent during the 2008-2018 decade. Growth should continue thanks to the increasing number of Internet services and users.

If you feel at home with data, codes, and logic, then computer programming may be the career for you. Whether it's a mainframe computer system or a personal computer at home, computer programmers are needed to write the software that makes tech tick. Using a variety of codes and programming languages, computer programmers design and write programs big and small. Though long hours may be required on this career path, many computer programmers are able to telecommute from home.

If you're interested in getting started as a computer programmer, you'll generally need a bachelor's degree although some companies will hire prospective employees who only have a two-year certificate or degree. (Some computer programmers may even be self-employed.) Depending on what kind of computer programmer you want to be, and what school you attend, you may study computer science, computer programming, information systems, or mathematics.

Fun Computer Design Facts

  • Masi Oka, currently starring on Hawaii 5-0 and formerly on Heroes, was a double math and computer science major at at Brown University and after graduation went to work at George Lucas' Industrial Light & Magic.
  • Nine Inch Nails' front man, Trent Reznor, pursued a computer engineering degree from Pennsylvania's Allegheny College before shaking up the industrial rock music scene.