CAREER GUIDE FOR COMPUTER OPERATOR

SOC Code: 43-9011

Pay Band(s): 3 and 4     (Salary Structure)

Standard Occupational Description: Monitor and control electronic computer and peripheral electronic data processing equipment to process business, scientific, engineering, and other data according to operating instructions. May enter commands at a computer terminal and set controls on computer and peripheral devices. Monitor and respond to operating and error messages.

Computer Operator positions in the Commonwealth are assigned to the following Roles in the Computer Operations Career Group:

Computer Operations Tech I

Computer Operations Tech II

While Computer Operators within the Commonwealth are all located within the Computer Operations Career Group, individuals may want to pursue other opportunities within the Commonwealth depending upon individual training, education, knowledge, skills, abilities, and interests.   

Other Career Group(s) that may be of interest are:

Information Technology

Administration and Office Support

General Administration

Electronics

Engineering Technology

SKILLS, KNOWLEDGE, ABILITIES AND TASKS

(Technical and Functional Expertise)

Skills
Note: The technical and functional skills listed below are based on general occupational qualifications for Computer Operators commonly recognized by most employers.  Typically, you will not be required to have all of the skills listed to be a successful performer.  Recruitment and selection standards for an individual state job must be based on the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities for that job as indicated in the job announcement and job description in the Employee Work Profile.

  1. Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  2. Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  3. Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
  4. Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  5. Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
  6. Determining the kind of tools and equipment needed to do a job.
  7. Determining causes of operating errors and deciding what to do about it.
  8. Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

Knowledge

Note: The technical and functional knowledge statements listed below are based on general occupational qualifications for Computer Operators commonly recognized by most employers. Typically, you will not be required to have all of the knowledge listed to be a successful performer. Recruitment and selection standards for an individual state job must be based on the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities for that job as indicated in the job announcement and job description in the Employee Work Profile.

The Knowledge of:

  1. Circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
  2. Administrative and clerical procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office procedures and terminology.
  3. Structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  4. Principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  5. Transmission, broadcasting, switching, control, and operation of telecommunications systems.

Abilities
Note: The technical and functional abilities listed below are based on general occupational qualifications for Computer Operators commonly recognized by most employers. Typically, you will not be required to have all of the abilities listed to be a successful performer. Recruitment and selection standards for an individual state job must be based on the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities for that job as indicated in the job announcement and job description in the Employee Work Profile.

The Ability to:

  1. See details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
  2. Read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  3. Arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
  4. Listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  5. Communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  6. Tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
  7. Make fast, simple, repeated movements of the fingers, hands, and wrists.
  8. Communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
  9. Apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  10. Quickly make sense of, combine, and organize information into meaningful patterns.

Tasks

Note:  The following is a list of sample tasks typically performed by Computer Operators.  Employees in this occupation will not necessarily perform all of the tasks listed. 

Tasks

  1. Clear equipment at end of operating run and review schedule to determine next assignment.
  2. Enter commands, using computer terminal, and activate controls on computer and peripheral equipment to integrate and operate equipment.
  3. Load peripheral equipment with selected materials for operating runs, or oversee loading of peripheral equipment by peripheral equipment operators.
  4. Monitor the system for equipment failure or errors in performance.
  5. Notify supervisor or computer maintenance technicians of equipment malfunctions.
  6. Read job set-up instructions to determine equipment to be used, order of use, material such as disks and paper to be loaded, and control settings.
  7. Record information such as computer operating time, problems that occurred, and actions taken.
  8. Respond to program error messages by finding and correcting problems or terminating the program.
  9. Retrieve, separate and sort program output as needed, and send data to specified users.
  10. Type command on keyboard to transfer encoded data from memory unit to magnetic tape and assist in labeling, classifying, cataloging and maintaining tapes.

INTERESTED?

Like people, occupations have traits or characteristics.  These characteristics give important clues about the nature of the work and work environment, and give you an opportunity to match your own personal interests to a specific occupation.  When you choose a job in an occupation that matches your own interests you have taken an important step in planning a successful and rewarding career.

The occupation of Computer Operator has Realistic and Conventional characteristics as described below:

Realistic — Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Conventional — Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.

LICENSURE, REGISTRATION, OR CERTIFICATION REQUIREMENTS

Generally this is not required for Computer Operator positions in state government.

EDUCATIONAL, TRAINING, AND LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES 

The Department of Labor provides the following information:

Computer operators oversee the operation of computer hardware systems, ensuring that these machines are used as efficiently as possible. They may work with mainframes, minicomputers, or networks of personal computers. Computer operators must anticipate problems and take preventive action, as well as solve problems that occur during operations.

Computer operators usually receive on-the-job training in order to become acquainted with their employer's equipment and routines. The length of training varies with the job and the experience of the worker. However, previous work experience is the key to obtaining an operator job in many large establishments. Employers generally look for specific, hands-on experience with the type of equipment and related operating systems they use. Additionally, formal computer-related training, perhaps through a community college or technical school, is recommended. Related training also can be obtained through the U.S. Armed Forces and from some computer manufacturers. As computer technology changes and data processing centers become more automated, employers will increasingly require candidates to have formal training and experience for operator jobs. And, although not required, a bachelor's degree in a computer-related field can be helpful when one is seeking employment as a computer operator or advancement to a managerial position.

A few computer operators may advance to supervisory jobs, although most management positions within data processing or computer operations centers require advanced formal education, such as a bachelor's or higher degree. Through on-the-job experience and additional formal education, some computer operators may advance to jobs in areas such as network operations or support. As they gain experience in programming, some operators may advance to jobs as programmers or analysts. A move into these types of jobs is becoming much more difficult, as employers increasingly require candidates for more skilled computer jobs to possess at least a bachelor's degree.

The State Council of Higher Education lists many Virginia educational institutions offering programs in computer science on their web site: http://research.schev.edu/degreeinventory/inventory_

Association of Computer Operations Management (AFCOM):  http://www.afcom.com/afcomnew/index.asp provides information on computer operations professions.

COMMONWEALTH COMPETENCIES

Competencies are a set of identified behaviors, knowledge, skills, and abilities that directly and positively impact the success of employees and the organization. Competencies can be observed and measured.  When consistently demonstrated, competencies make employees particularly effective in their work. Competencies help lay out a road map to career success.  You can use the Commonwealth Competencies to help improve your individual performance by adopting behaviors that make high performing employees successful in their jobs. In this way, you can use the Commonwealth Competencies for your further professional development.

The Commonwealth Competencies are:

  1. Technical and Functional Expertise
  2. Understanding the Business
  3. Achieving Results
  4. Serving the Customer
  5. Teamwork
  6. Interpersonal and Communication Skills
  7. Leadership and Personal Effectiveness

The above competencies may be applied to employees throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia.  They can be rank-ordered by agencies and hiring managers to represent the needs of a specific job.  The rank ordering will change depending upon the occupation, an organization's priorities, the actual job requirements, and the supervisor's preferences. 

Career success is both about what you do (applying your technical knowledge, skills, and ability) and how you do it (the consistent behaviors you demonstrate and choose to use) while interacting and communicating with others.  Hopefully, by studying the Commonwealth competencies, identifying your developmental opportunities, and working to refine your own competence, you can take charge of your career!

For additional information about the Commonwealth Competencies go to: http://jobs.state.va.us/cc_planningctr.htm. For the competencies, we first list the competencies and then define each.  Finally, we list competency indicators; to describe what successful performance looks like. 

COMMONWEALTH CAREER PATH

Career opportunities in the Commonwealth are not limited to moving “up” to the next highest role and pay band, changing positions, or to becoming a supervisor.  That's because most roles describe a broad group of occupationally related positions that perform a range of work that requires increased knowledge and skills.  For that reason, Commonwealth roles describe the career paths within the same or higher-level role for the same or different Career Group.  The broad salary range and the Commonwealth's pay practices provide flexibility in recognizing career development and advancement. (Salary Structure)

For example: Computer Operator

PAY BAND

PRACTITIONER ROLES

PAY BAND

MANAGER ROLES

3

Computer Operations Tech I

   

4

Computer Operations Tech II

5

Computer Operations Manager I

   

6

Computer Operations Manager II

Sample Career Path

Computer Operations Technician I

This role provides a career track for computer operators that involve work ranging from performing the most basic entry-level skills to working independently as a technician on smaller projects or segments of larger projects.

Computer Operations Technician II

This role provides career tracks for computer operators that perform senior technicians responsibilities. The first career track is for positions that serve as a consultant and provide technical leadership and advice to address problems encountered, data analysis, and technical issues. The second track is for positions that have lead responsibilities to include instructing, directing and monitoring the work of project staff.

Computer Operations Manager I

This role provides a career track for supervisor and managers that manage and coordinate all activities of a unit with multiple projects to meet project deadlines and budgets.

Computer Operations Manager II

This role provides a career track for managers that supervise two or more functional areas or shift operations.

ADDITIONAL OCCUPATIONAL INFORMATION CAN BE FOUND AT: 

O*NET (Occupational Information Network) 

http://online.onetcenter.org/gen_search_page

Virginia Employment Commission 

http://www.alex.vec.state.va.us/

Career One Stop

http://www.careeronestop.org/

Virginia Career Resource Network 

http://www.vacrn.net/