Computer Information Systems

Computer and information systems specialists and managers play a key role in the research, applications and administration of technology within the organization they work for. Those in managerial positions help determine the goals of an organization and then oversee how technology is applied to meet those goals. They are involved in every technical aspect of an organization, including computing and system needs, software development, security of network and electronic documents, hardware installations and upgrades.

In medium and large firms, this work is divided among various types of computer and information systems managers, including chief information officers, chief technology officers, IT directors, and IT security managers. Each of these roles carry different responsibilities but they work together to ensure the efficient and effective integration of technology into an organization.

What makes it unique?

Click on the blue tabs to explore the field in more detail and learn about preparation and employment, the green tabs to be inspired by people working in computer information systems and how they impact the world, and the orange tabs for ideas on how to learn more and you can get involved with activities, camps, and competitions!

Degree Connections

The following are examples of some accredited degrees leading to a career in computer information systems:

Search our global database of accredited engineering programs.

Want to learn more?

Click on the blue tabs to explore the field in more detail and learn about preparation and employment, the green tabs to be inspired by people working in computer information systems and how they impact the world, and the orange tabs for ideas on how to learn more and you can get involved with activities, camps, and competitions!

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On a day-to-day basis, computer and information systems managers plan, coordinate, and direct computer-related activities for their company. This might involve meetings, both in person and virtual, as well as visiting other locations within larger companies to gauge computing and information system needs. They generally work a 40 hour work week, but could be called upon to work more hours during a crisis or when new systems or equipment is being rolled out.

Most people working in this area, whether specialists or managers, are focused on a specific area of the technology infrastructure of their company. These individual parts all work together in the global sense, but daily efforts will likely be focused in one area, such as data security, intranet efficiency, new hardware or software installations, building or central computing access, equipment upgrades, or negotiating with new technology vendors. It really depends on how large a company is whether these tasks are all handled by a few people, or whether it is a diverse group of professionals working on the task. Tatomm

Logon and Entry Systems:

Information and computer systems specialists continually look to improve access control for their companies or clients. Access control essentially is making sure that only those authorized can access a building, a computer network, a reporting system, or the back end of a web portal, as examples.

These systems generally are integrated with employee databases or vendor listings which can validate the person’s access rights.

Because access levels may vary within a system for different employees, the system must be able to be flexible, accurate and accommodate changes as needed.  For example, the entry to an office building might need to be open to all full time employees, but restrict part time employees to enter via a different method. The building may be closed between certain hours with access only to senior staff at night. And, of course, in an emergency, police and fire departments might need immediate entry. Similar issues of access apply to internal computing systems, such as human resources, where most employees should not have access to personal information of their cohorts such as salary level, age, personnel reviews, etc.

Some computing systems, such as a company’s web presences or salary database might have different levels of access for different people. Perhaps the web designer needs full access to be able to make broad website changes, but the director of the warehouse need only be able to log on and view content – and not be able to make changes.

There are many different requirements for access systems. Some are password based, but also might need to store identifying information from the computer attempting access. Other systems, such as building entrances, might use a card reader or biometric identification using fingerprints or iris recognition. Some of these systems might also require advanced data gathering, such as clock-in/clock-out for attendance or payment systems, or an intercom system for voice contact.

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Computer information systems specialists work in most industries…from healthcare or insurance firms where protection of data is critical, to transportation where information systems drives ticketing and baggage tracking, to education where access to data such as online courses, exams, and grading systems are important, to governments tracking taxes, finances, and infrastructure.

Even smaller businesses these days require employees who can manage technology system needs. From building access, to employee records, to managing a shared computing network, computer information systems specialists are needed!

Employment in various industries is also resulting from the need to bolster cybersecurity in computer and information systems used by businesses. Industries such as transportation and retail continually need to implement more robust security policies. As information technology becomes a more pressing issue, some industries such as schools or financial firms are looking to consultants or other firms specializing in computer systems design and related services to handle their data processing, hosting, and related services.

The following is just a sample of some companies, in addition to government agencies, which employ computer information systems specialists and managers: peshkov

Computer and information systems specialists normally must have a bachelor’s degree in a computer- or information science–related field, but some may enter this field with an associate’s degree, or certificate programs along with work experience. Those working as managers in this area generally also have a graduate degree either in a computing field, specifically in information or computer systems, or in business. Coursework might include computer programming, software development, and mathematics. Management information systems (MIS) programs usually include business classes as well as computer-related ones.

Most jobs for computer and information systems managers require several years of experience in a related information technology (IT) job. The number of years of experience required varies with the organization. Generally, smaller or newer companies do not require as much experience as larger or more established ones.

It is important to select an engineering or computing degree that has been accredited to meet basic standards.  Find out more and browse TryEngineering’s global database of accredited engineering and computing programs.

Be Inspired

One of the best ways to explore what it might be like to work in computer information systems is to learn about people currently working in the field.

  • Cyber Security Expert Paula Januszkiewicz advises companies on their IT security strategy.  In the video to the right, she talks about how she protects companies through penetration testing.
  • Elisa Bertino is a Professor of Computer Science at Purdue University, where she also heads the Cyber Space Security Lab. Her most high-profile contributions center around developing technologies that allow people to access secure systems based on factors including their role, time of day, and location
  • Josiah Dykstra is a Technical Fellow in the Cybersecurity Collaboration Center at the US National Security Agency (NSA). His research focus areas have included cloud forensics, human resilience, network security, cybersecurity science, and augmented reality. blackboard

To some extent, most companies around the world have to be on guard to protect their information, customers, employees, and profits from cyber criminals. Computer information systems managers look to experts to protect their company assets in an ever morphing technological world.

Cyber security reflects all the efforts information experts use to defending computers, servers, internal networks, and other data from external or internal malicious attacks. Attacks can be broad, such as stealing all the financial information stored from customers, or narrow, such as an ex-employee gathering documents illegally.

A recent report from McAfee indicated that cybercrime costs the world economy more than $1 trillion. In addition to the obvious issues of having customer’s personal information at risk, other risks to business include the cost of system downtime while a fix is implemented, and brand reputation damage.

Some industries are more exposed to cyber-attacks than others, including businesses more reliant on technology to conduct business, such as transportation, utilities, consumer goods, and financial institutions. These firms generally have large departments continually working to protect data and stay aware of global threats that might target their business. Smaller businesses also have to have a cyber security plan, be aware of emerging trends, keep hardware and software up to date, use firewalls, secure WiFi networks, and educate employees about keeping passwords and access procedures private. All these tasks fall under the management of computer information systems specialists.

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Get Involved

Dig deeper into topics related to computer information systems that interest you! Sashkin



  • University of Tulsa: What is Computer Information Systems
  • Commonwealth Cyber Initiative seminar on Security, Privacy, and Safety in the IoT. The Internet of Things (IoT) paradigm refers to the network of physical objects or “things” embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and connectivity to enable objects to exchange data with servers, centralized systems, and/or other connected devices based on a variety of communication infrastructures.

Try it Out: Khakimullin

Clubs, competitions, and camps are some of the best ways to explore a career path and put your skills to the test in a friendly-competitive environment.


  • Many schools have coding clubs or opportunities for students to get together and work on coding challenges.


  • Google CTF Competition consist of a set of computer security puzzles (or challenges) involving reverse-engineering, memory corruption, cryptography, web technologies, and more.
  • Global Cyberlympics is an online cyber security competition. It pits teams from all over the world to compete in a series of challenges in the areas of digital forensics, web application exploitation, malware analysis, and reverse engineering.


  • TryEngineering Summer Institute, US: Attend the TryEngineering Summer Institute to further your core engineering skills.
  • Google Computer Science Institute  is a 3-week intro to coding for high school seniors. The program aims to train emerging tech leaders and innovators, held in multiple states each summer, with an inside look into Google operations. Participation is free.

Many universities offer summer engineering experiences. Reach out to your local university’s engineering department to see what they offer.

Did you know you can explore computer information systems in your community? Consider the role computer information systems plays in your school system:

  • Have you taken any remote classes? A range of computer equipment and software is required to make this possible, and keeping it up and running is the job of computer information systems specialists.
  • Does your school have a computer lab?  Who makes sure the software and hardware are up to date? How often are software updates implemented?  At what hour of the school day is this work done and tested, so it doesn’t interfere with classroom instruction?
  • Are your grades and records stored electronically at your school?  How are they secured?  Who has access to your grades?  Who sets up the system to ensure that only appropriate staff, students, and parents have access to your grades?
  • Are there any computer systems in your school that control who is allowed to enter the building? Some buildings have a photo or id card computer system so staff and students can enter…does yours?  How does it work? Does it check your fingerprint? Scan your eyes?
  • Does your school have a website? Who manages the site and is responsible for making updates? What happens if the site or server is down?
  • Does your school have an information technology department that supports the administration on technical issues? How do you think the role of this person or group has changed in the past 10 years?  What different skills must they have to support the school effectively?

Find out more: Rido81

Be sure to reach out to professional societies focused on computer information systems where you live. Not all will offer membership to pre-university students, but most offer groups for university students, and certainly offer online resources to help you explore the field.

Some examples of groups focusing on computer information systems:

Some resources on this page are provided or adapted from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Career Cornerstone Center.