A Career as an Internet Specialist

Based on job growth projections, earnings potential, and flexibility, the Internet specialist profession is one of the most promising career paths. Careers in information technology always have been able to command higher starting salaries and higher compensation than most other professions, which is a testament to the high demand that companies have for the specialized talents of an Internet specialist. In this article, we will examine the training required to enter this career path, the roles within most organizations that such professionals will fill, and what types of advanced certifications an Internet specialist can earn.


Internet specialist is a broad term and, as such, the training required to enter this exciting field depends on the type of specialization that one wishes to pursue. The following are just some of the options available for specializing in this career:

· Web site developer. There is enormous demand for experienced Web developers, and the demand increases each year.

· Research analyst. As we have learned, the Internet is the largest data repository in the world, and companies have a huge and constant need for this data.

· Marketing analyst. Entire media campaigns are launched on the Internet today, and today's marketplace creates many exciting opportunities for people with Internet marketing skills.

· Systems analyst. A systems analyst combines both computer programming and Internet skills and provides overall information technology support for companies. There is less emphasis on programming and more concentration on implementing new systems and technology for organizations.

· Computer programmers. An Internet specialist career could very easily lead to a concentration in computer programming. Much of today's programming is aimed towards Internet applications, so a combination of programming and Internet skills can open up many career options.

· Project manager. An Internet specialist also can manage projects that are related to implementing software installations and other information technology projects. Some certification often is required.

After a specialization is determined, it is time to examine the type and amount of training required for your chosen profession. Nearly all careers in information technology (IT) require a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution, although there are exceptions to this general rule. The degree does not necessarily need to be in computer science, although such a degree would command a higher salary in many instances. Many companies today just require a college degree, and some even prefer to see a well-balanced education rather than purely IT-specific training.

In addition to a college degree, some specialized training in various software packages is considered essential for a career in any IT specialization. A candidate should have experience with Internet browsers, spreadsheets, and word-processing applications, along with some basic knowledge of Web site design and a solid understanding of how to retrieve data from the Internet. Knowledge of social media is quickly becoming a necessary requirement for any Internet specialist career.

Knowledge of some HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) is considered standard training for most Internet specialist careers. HTML is the language used to write and design most Web pages. Even if someone is not interested in a career in Web design, some knowledge of HTML is required because many companies have a need to maintain their sites after they have been professionally designed.


Interested in learning more? Why not take an online Internet Specialist course?
A certification is, in many respects, a title similar to a Ph.D. designation for professors or a CPA designation for an accountant. It is proof that you have been trained and tested on very specific types of technology. There are certifications for virtually all IT concentrations. Someone who specializes in network administration, for example, might earn a certification from Microsoft that proves the person has a solid understanding of the latest network technology. Similarly, computer programmers may be certified in various languages, and systems analysts might seek certification in database management and various software packages. One of the most widely coveted certifications is in project management. These programs are rigorous and require many hours of study and experience, but they signal to a company that you are well prepared to lead a project successfully to a conclusion. Most project management positions require some sort of basic certification.

Employment Opportunities and Freelance Options

Throughout the last two decades, jobs in the IT industry have been some of the most widely coveted positions. The surge in popularity of the Internet and other technological inventions has created a high demand for skilled technicians and the supply is often limited. As such, many of these positions are not widely advertised in newspapers and the mass media. IT jobs usually are found by an online search. There are many popular companies that provide services that are essentially like newspaper classified advertisements for jobs in the IT industry. These are called job boards, and they are growing in popularity even among those people who do not have an IT background. A basic search on the Internet for job boards will return some very popular sites that offer thousands of jobs.

Many people in the IT industry choose to be employed by an organization, but freelance work is becoming more and more prevalent as the global economy demands more specialized services. Many Web designers, programmers, analysts, and Internet specialists have started their own independent companies that offer a variety of services to companies on an hourly-fee basis or for a project fee. Just as there are many job boards devoted to hiring full-time, permanent employees, there are now many sites that connect freelancers with companies that require their services. With a little preparation, it is not difficult to start a small company in the United States. In some instances, it requires little more than a few hours of paperwork, a business plan, a marketing plan, and a good Web site that advertises your services and expertise.

Technology Specialist and Virtual Assistant Career Path

Some people choose to specialize in particular career paths but many others prefer to pursue careers that combine many types of skills and do not limit them to a particular specialty. The explosive growth of virtual assistants in the last decade is a testament to the high demand companies have for people with a wide range of technological ability. A virtual assistant may, in some cases, be regarded as an executive assistant because she or he usually performs a variety of tasks for senior executives. However, virtual assistants work from their own homes, hence the name virtual. This arrangement saves a great deal on payroll costs for companies and provides them with exactly the right level of service that they require. For virtual assistants, it provides a flexible lifestyle, competitive earnings, and a great work-life balance.

A technology specialist is very similar to an Internet specialist in that he or she is employed by a company to perform a wide variety of tasks, many of them related to the Internet and some related to business functions. Training is important for a technology specialist and should include a mix of both Internet skills, including experience with browsers, HTML, and research, and business skills, such as work with spreadsheets and database management.

An entry-level technology specialist job will, in most instances, lead to promotions later to analyst and programming positions. Ultimately, such a career path will lead to project management for those who show exceptional talent.
Communication on the Internet

It would be a remarkable understatement to claim that people's ability to communicate has vastly improved because of the Internet. Today, people form friendships and lifelong relationships with others who live thousands of miles away by using a myriad communication tools on the Internet. In this article, we will discuss how people are communicating via telephone over the Internet, Webcam conferencing, text messaging via the Internet, and more. The technology of communication is changing rapidly, so we also will discuss some recent technological inventions that are expected to become the communication tools of the not-so-distant future.

Internet specialists are expected to be familiar with all the latest communication tools because companies always are trying to improve their communication, especially by making it more cost-effective.

Privacy Concerns
Before we begin a discussion on communication tools, it would be appropriate to have a brief overview of privacy concerns. For many years, there have been people who feared the use of computers and the Internet principally because of privacy concerns. The pioneers who created the Internet and invented all of the most technologically advanced Internet tools are apt to remind people that privacy always has been a concern, regardless of the generation. When the telephone was invented and was in its early days of implementation, it was actually rather easy for an operator or anyone else to listen in on a conversation. Many of the same concerns that people discuss today about the Internet were expressed over a century ago with the invention of technology that would seem very primitive to us today.

Privacy always will be a concern, but it is generally accepted that most consumers have more protections today than any other generation in history. Companies are now required by law to protect the privacy of their customers, and consumers have become much more comfortable in the last decade, thanks to advancements in technology that make it more difficult to access private information.

Communication Tools

It is the most widely used communication tool. So we do not need to elaborate on e-mail here, but we will discuss some advanced communication tools later in this article that make use of e-mail programs.

Faxing Via the Internet The ability to send a fax via the Internet is a relatively new practice, but the technology to enable this to happen has been in existence for many years. A fax, which is short for facsimile, is the term used to describe a document that is sent from one location to another, usually by the use of a fax machine. But, a fax machine is no longer required to send or receive a fax because one can now send and receive faxes over the Internet using a scanner and a printer. A scanner is a piece of hardware that is used to scan and convert a document into an electronic image. Once the document is in an electronic format, the document can be e-mailed to anyone in the world. A scanner, then, replaces the work of an old-fashioned fax machine. Furthermore, the electronic image can be stored on a company's computer network, replacing the need to store a copy of the paper faxes.

Receiving a fax over the Internet is just as simple. It is accomplished either with a fax modem or by using a Virtual Private Branch Exchange (PBX) System. That sounds like a complicated term, but it really is simple and we will discuss it in the next section. First, a company may use a fax modem, which works just like a regular computer modem. The modem is connected to a computer and also to a phone line. In this instance, the phone line might be a regular land line or the company may choose to receive their phone service over the Internet as well. In either case, the fax modem will detect when a fax is incoming and it will pick up the call and download the fax. The fax is stored as a file on the computer, giving the company the flexibility of printing it later or simply storing the file on its network.

Virtual PBX System

We just mentioned that an incoming fax might also be captured by a Virtual PBX System. This system might easily be described as an electronic, automated answering service. When you call a very large company, you are sometimes greeted by a receptionist who handles your call and routes it to the appropriate person or department in the company. Increasingly, however, the role of a receptionist is being handled electronically by technology called a Virtual PBX System, which can be set up and maintained on the Internet.

When a company uses a Virtual PBX System, their callers will be greeted by an automated message that instructs the caller to press a button on the phone that corresponds to their desired action. When the automated system receives the response, the call is automatically rerouted to the appropriate phone number that you have established for that option. All of the settings, administration, and control of a Virtual PBX System is done on a Web site.

When someone tries to fax a document to your company, the Virtual PBX system automatically recognizes that the incoming call is a fax. In these instances, the automated message that normally would be read for a human caller is shut off and the fax is automatically received. Once the fax is received, the fax is stored electronically on the company's computer network and, if you choose, it is also e-mailed to you at the address you specify.

Virtual PBX Systems are especially useful for very small companies. Let us assume a company just has two employees: a Web designer and a marketing specialist. The company cannot afford to hire a receptionist, so it signs up for a Virtual PBX System that handles all incoming calls and faxes, and all calls can be routed to the Web designer or marketing specialist, depending on the option the caller has chosen.

Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP)

In almost all of the previous examples, we have referred to telephones using the old-fashioned method: having telephone service via a telephone company. It is also possible today to have your phone service entirely over the Internet. In fact, with some services, calls over the Internet are free of charge except for your Internet access costs.
The technology to provide telephone service over the Internet is called Voice Over Internet Protocol, usually abbreviated and referred to as VOIP. With VOIP technology, a telephone is connected to a VOIP modem and the phone works exactly as it would if it were connected to a phone jack. The only difference is that the call is being transmitted via the Internet rather than telephone lines.

The use of VOIP technology makes it possible to avoid using telephones entirely when placing calls. With the use of a Webcam, which is short for Web camera, a user can be sitting in front of a computer in view of the camera and speaking into a microphone connected to the computer. In such a scenario, the person receiving the call would be able to hear and see the caller by using his or her computer.

Instant Messaging

The use of cell phones today has made text messaging a popular way of communicating, but sending quick messages to people has been popular for many years using instant messaging. In this case, the instant messages are sent via computer rather than a cell phone.