It’s a Living: Computer Scientist for the FAA

Love it or hate it, we all have to go to work. Some of us are better with people than we are with computers and some of us are better with numbers than we are with words. With as many goods, services, and industries as there are, each of us is responsible for contributing to the bottom line somehow. Here’s how some of us do it.

Clarke has been programming computers since he was nine

Name: Matthew Clarke

Age: 30

Company: ASRC Research and Technology Solutions

Location: Pomona, New Jersey

Title: Computer Scientist

What do you get paid to do?
I design Web and software applications for the Federal Aviation Administration.

What are the chief skills someone in your position needs to have?
To be a good programmer one needs a strong mathematical background and acute attention to detail. You need to be a self-starter and be able to learn new programming languages on your own and frequently. Unix administration skills are a big plus.

How did you get this job?
After serving in the U.S. Army and later in the public sector, I wanted to see what working in a corporate environment would be like. Good skills and a good resume will get you anywhere you want to go.

What kind of educational background do you have?
I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from Kean University, but I have been programming computers since I was 9 years old. I hear there is a large community of hobbyist programmers still using QuickBasic, which is where I started.

How long have you been in this industry?
I have been working as a Federal contractor for three years.

How long have you been doing this kind of work?
I have been developing software and freelance programming for 10 years.

What do you love most about your job?
I get to spend most of my day doing what I have always loved to do—program computers and find new unique solutions to complex problems.

What’s the most challenging aspect of your job?
The biggest challenge in my job is simplifying extremely technical terms into a language that can be understood and that is valuable to management.

What’s an entry-level position that might lead to the job you have?
Most tech jobs nowadays have a lot of crossover between them, but the best base one could have is shell scripting and system administration in Unix.

What would be the next professional step up for someone in your position?

The next phase for someone like me would be to serve as a technical team manager.