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Master of Computer Applications
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Eligibility and Course Duration Industry Size Industry Growth Individual Growth Best Colleges
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With the boom in the computer software industry, demand for computer professionals has increased manifold. People in software tell of fabulous success stories, as firms have been poaching on each other's professionals, offering tremendous salaries. There is great demand abroad too, and many software professionals have been sent abroad, earning phenomenal amounts. This feature explains why this has happened, as well as future prospects of the career. It also explains how to get admission and which are the institutes that offer the MCA degree.

One of the careers which has gained importance in the last few years is the Master of Computer Applications (MCA) and its junior cousin, the Bachelor of Computer Applications (BCA). All over India there is a craze to get into them, the demand being fuelled by the phenomenal growth of the software industry. An fact, in these times of an economic slowdown, software is one sector which has gone against trends, registering a good growth rate.

The reasons for this growth are three: first, many foreign companies are looking at India for trained but cheap manpower. In Indian software engineer, for example, can be employed at a lower salary in dollar terms. The sums may sound huge in rupee terms, but are lower than what would have to be paid to an American or European. Second, the development of communications has made working from the country feasible. An American company just needs to e-mail its problem to its counterpart in Bangalore. Indian engineers work on it while America sleeps and when offices there open the next day, the Americans have the solution right on their desktop.

 
Aptitude

A career in computer software requires a high level of commitment and time-bound results. You must have very good analytical and reasoning skills. One must have the patience to sit for hours before a computer screen either writing lines of programs or going through them to discover bugs. This work can sometimes be very tedious. One may well forget normal working hours as one chases deadlines and one may often have to put in late hours to finish projects as per schedule.

Where to study

The MCA can be done from universities or engineering colleges spread all over the country. Private institutes offer the Post Graduate Diploma in Computer Applications (PGDCA), the most prestigious one being the one at Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Calcutta. The MCA and the PGDCA are two-year courses. Apart from these, private institutes offer two or three-year courses as the GNIIT programme, which can be done along with graduation. It is claimed that such courses are equivalent to the MCA.

Where should one study? Evidently, an aspirant should find out what kind of jobs the graduates are able to get. Going by claims could be misleading. For instance, computer education is a lucrative business and franchises of large institutes have been set up in all corners of India. The quality of training at these franchises is not uniform. In many towns, young people do the courses just as time-pass'. Such centres will not be able to provide good jobs for the students. So it is important to assess your own needs before opting for any institute. Make sure that adequate instructors are available who have full knowledge about the subject.

The Department of Electronics has an accreditation scheme for institutes, the DOEACC, but it has not been very successful in controlling the quality of computer education in the country. People who join computer courses usually have no idea whether a particular course has the accreditation or not. Even in universities, the quality of education is doubtful, as their pay scales prevent good professionals from becoming teachers.

Some of the universities offering the MCA programme are: Bhopal, Rourkela, Allahabad, Delhi, Pune, JNU, Punjab, Aligarh and Cochin. Among the engineering colleges are the regional engineering colleges, the IITs, Thapar Institute in Patiala and Birla Institute of Technology in Ranchi. There are many private institutes, among them are Institute of Management Technology, Ghaziabad and National Institute of Management, Calcutta.

Admission Procedure

The eligibility to get admission to an MCA degree is graduation with maths up to class 12. Some institutes have a minimum cut-off of 50% marks in graduation. For BCA, you have to apply after class 12. There is an admission test, which contains questions on class 12 maths and reasoning. Some amount of English is also asked, as well as computer basics.

Sometimes, the entrance test for the MCA is the same as that of MBA and the candidate has to only take an additional test in maths. This means that one must be conversant with MBA Entrance tests also. There is no group20discussion but an interview is conducted. Generally speaking, the weightage is 80% for the test score and 20% for the interview.

Prospects

For some years, there has been a boom in salaries of computer professionals. Starting salary may vary from Rs 72,000 to Rs 3,50,000 per annum. If one gets into a foreign company or goes abroad, the starting salary will be at the higher end. As one becomes experienced, the salary may get higher. This trend is expected to grow in the near future.

A word of caution may be in order, if one is getting in computers just for a high salary. Much of the demand these days is for Y2K related work. This will finish on January 1, 2000. At best, it may continue for a few months into the year. The high salaries being paid today are to solve a problem which is time bound. Will the demand stay once that work finishes?

It is almost certain that once the year 2000 dawns, work related to the Y2K problem will decrease. The size of India's software industry today is Rs 11,800 crore. The Y2K related accounts for 38% of this figure, which will vanish or is certain to be reduced to a very great extent in future.

There are two scenarios. First, they may face a situation faced by finance professionals a few years back: many found themselves jobless of downsized. Second, even if the reduction is not that severe, salaries will certainly see a tapering off.

Given the fact that computers are pervading every aspect of life, a career in software does have promise. If one takes a well-informed decision based on one's aptitude and is able to become good in the industry, the avenues are unlimited. Do not, however, get carried away by stories of high salaries and take a one-sided decision. Make a career in it only if you like computers and working with them.

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