Computer Operator

Computer operators have specialized knowledge of computer systems, networks, mainframes, and hardware. One of their main objectives is to make sure their company's computers are secure and operating properly. These specialists must be prepared for potential problems and resolve issues when they arise.

Computer operators' responsibilities depend on the amount and type of computer equipment they maintain, as well as the instructions received from their companies. Operators usually control an entire mainframe with a single computer. Relying on programming instructions, operators program a computer to perform a specific task.

When necessary, operators load machines with documents, disks, and tapes. Computer operators monitor a computer's control center and reply to incoming messages. People detail the specific information for a project or program through these incoming messages. When an error indicator pops up on the screen, computer operators must determine the problem and terminate it or resolve the issue. They also keep records of all computer problems and other important events occurring during their work day. Some operators have simple duties such as backing up files, checking for viruses or other malicious malware, updating software, and performing routine repairs while assisting other computer operators with system tests and debugging.

More operators now use personal computers (PCs) or minicomputers often interlinked with other networks in offices known as multi-user systems or local area networks (LANs). Even though some employees supervise the networks, operators usually maintain networks. They specialize in network security and perform comparable functions on PCs as the larger computer systems.

Since companies want to save money and improve productivity, they are using more automated software that performs the job of a computer operator. Automated software can run software checks, forward messages, download new software, and mount tapes. More operators now maintain databases and networks or answer user questions.

Work Environment
Computer operators usually perform their work in comfortable offices. Since many companies leaving their computer systems running 24 hours a day, operators sometimes work nights and weekends. Computer operators with more seniority usually choose the shifts they work. New technology is decreasing the demand for operators to work night and weekend shifts. Operators are increasingly using database and telecommunication technology to maintain computer systems and document problems other operators will monitor when their shifts begin.

Since computer operators sit in front of computers all day, they can experience back pain, eye problems, and joint problems such as carpel tunnel syndrome.

Industry/sector Annual Wage
Management, supervisory, etc. $35,000
Computer systems design $32,000
Higher education $29,000
Data processing $29,000
Depository credit intermediation $26,000
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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