Dear Mentor:

What computer work will I find in the US?

First of all I have really enjoyed the answers from your side for students as well as for my son's further education. Thanks a lot, your site is definitely a need of the hour for us. My question is that I am not tech. person, have worked in office jobs in past, currently housewife. I want to be re-employable in USA in some type of computer related job. I don't want retail jobs. I am computer literate and have done accounting in past, now what other small course should I take up to upgrade my skill (i.e., designing related, web related, animation related, not programming related). What kind of salary level is offered in Atlanta area, and Santa Clara Valley area for above types of job?

Kind Words, India

Dear Kind Words:

Please accept our heartfelt thanks for kind words. We must say that letters like yours make our day and encourage us to continue our efforts. You are very kind and we appreciate it.

We had answered a question from your son about doing a dual graduate degree program in the US and becoming an entrepreneur. Based on this question and your question now, we are assuming that your entire family is planning to move to the US.

Computer-related jobs range from word processing, to graphic design, to software and hardware engineering. Given today's employment situation, all these skills have significant demand in the US marketplace. From what we understand, you wish to do something that is computer/web-related, but not computer programming. That means, you are basically referring to the user-interface on the web, and specifically graphic design. Thus, gaining additional knowledge of graphic design would be relevant to your interests and future employment. In today's web environment, a graphic designer is expected to have basic knowledge of the capabilities of various computer programming languages (not necessarily the programming skills) such as HTML, so that the interface design is done within the constraints of what can be implemented.

We would encourage you to not only gain knowledge through formal instruction (i.e., courses) but also gain experience in a work environment, to appreciate more fully what additional skills you must acquire. Many additional skills, when needed, can be acquired through on-the-job learning. At a minimum, learn how to use graphics programs such as Photoshop by Adobe, or Fireworks by Macromedia. And also learn how to incorporate the images you generate into webpages. If you are feeling particularly ambitious, you could also learn how to use Shockwave by Macromedia, to create dynamic graphics for webpages.

As you know, the Santa Clara area of California is the Silicon Valley, that is, a hot-bed of technology. The skills that we have discussed above are in great demand. However, the cost of living in Santa Clara area is about the highest in the US. Accordingly, you are liable to make significantly more money through employment relative to Atlanta, but you would inevitably spend much more as well to survive. It is hard to comment on how much money you would make, without detailed knowledge of your background and experience. A good web designer would make upwards of US$50,000 annually in Santa Clara, whereas the corresponding figure would be about US$35,000 in Atlanta. But these numbers are difficult to correlate to an individual situation, since that would depend on job requirements and your skills.

We wish you the very best.

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