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Computer Operator

A Computer Operator
· Typically works with minicomputers, mainframes, and supercomputers.
· Computer operators monitor computer performance, install software patches and upgrades, perform backups, and restore data as neccessary.

· What Is This Job Like?
· How Do You Get Ready?
· How Much Does This Job Pay?
· How Many Jobs Are There?
· What About The Future?

The information below is retrieved from

What Is This Job Like?

Computer operators manage the operation of computer hardware systems. They are often required to work with most types of computers, including minicomputers, mainframes, and networks of personal computers. Computer operators must maintain the computer hardware as well as solve any problems that occur. A computer operator's duties vary depending on the computer system.

Computer operators are essential to the day-to-day operations of older mainframes and minicomputers. These computer systems consist of a network of smaller computer terminals (monitors and keyboards) hooked up to a central core that contains all the system's software and memory. Most of the older mainframes and minicomputers have a central control panel. While the computer is running, a computer operator watches closely for error lights on the console that may go on to indicate that the computer is not operating properly. If a light goes on or the computer stops, the operator must locate the problem and solve it. Operators maintain log books and operating records for the equipment and record all malfunctions and errors. If the computer system's files and programs are on discs or tapes, the operator has to see to it that the computer has been loaded with these storage media. Experienced operators may help computer programmers or systems analysts test programs.

Computer operators work for many businesses and industries, including banks, insurance companies, and manufacturers. They are also employed by government agencies, educational institutions, and companies that provide computer services.

The trend toward networking and the use of sophisticated software have enabled computers to perform tasks previously done by operators. With the advancement of technology and the move away from mainframe computers and toward personal computing networks, the jobs of computer operators are shifting from equipment maintenance to network support, user support, and database maintenance.

Computer operators generally work between thirty-five and forty hours per week. Many companies schedule computer operation twenty-four hours a day, so operators may work in shifts. Because they may work without supervision during their shift, operators must be able to work independently. Some computer operators belong to labor unions.

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How Do You Get Ready?

In the past a high school diploma, previous experi ence with an operating system, and familiarity with the latest technologies were the minimum requirements for employment. However, employers increasingly require operators to have some formal computer-related training, perhaps through a community college or technical school. Employers then train workers until they are familiar with specific equipment and routines.

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How Much Does This Job Pay?

Median Hourly Rate by City - Job: Computer Operator (United States)
Median Hourly Rate by CityPayScale Salary Calculator
Median Hourly Rate by Employer Type - Job: Computer Operator (United States)
Median Hourly Rate by Employer TypePayScale Salary Calculator
Median Hourly Rate by State or Province - Job: Computer Operator (United States)
Median Hourly Rate by State or ProvincePayScale Salary Calculator
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How Many Jobs Are There?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer operators held roughly 149,000 jobs in 2004.

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What About The Future?

Computer operators can advance to supervisory positions. With experience and further education, some operators become computer programmers and network administrators.

Employment of computer operators was expected to decline through the year 2014. Technology improvements over the past twenty years have given rise to user-friendly software that automatically controls and monitors the operations of even the largest computer networks. Computer operators are simply not needed. When a problem does arise in these complicated systems, the assistance of highly trained programmers, systems analysts, or network administrators is required.

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