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Information Sciences Careers

Nontraditional IS Careers

All Employers Benefit from Hiring Information Savvy Individuals

Information sciences (IS) careers offer hundreds of different ways to apply the skills learned from the University of Tennessee Master of Science in Information Sciences or Bachelor of Science in Information Sciences programs in a diverse range of organizations. In fact, the ways you can use your IS skills in various settings is so broad that in many cases you’re only limited by your imagination and your willingness to try out a new role and/or setting. There are career opportunities in organizations of all sizes and sectors, such as –

  • Corporations
  • Government Agencies
  • Legal Firms
  • Tech Industries
  • Nonprofits
  • Community Organizations
  • Startups
  • Academic Institutions 

“You’re only limited by your imagination and your willingness to try out a new role.” 


Common Information Sciences Job Titles

As an information professional integrated within a specific department, your title will likely reflect the specialized information skills you provide, such as –

  • Data Analyst
  • Business Intelligence Analyst
  • Data Visualization Developer
  • Director of Competitive Intelligence
  • IT Analyst
  • Research Specialist
  • Corporate Taxonomist
  • Web Content Analyst
  • User Experience (UX) Designer
  • Metadata Specialist

These can simply be starting points for you depending on where you’d like to take your information sciences career next.

Information Sciences Career Examples

Your strong market research skills learned during your UT information sciences program may cause the product development department to request you for their team. The business development group might ask you to bring your competitive intelligence and industry analysis skills to their department. You might end up as an embedded patent searcher for the engineering department, or share your skills in information architecture with the information systems and technology team.

Other examples of roles applicable to a strong information sciences background include:

  • Working with the training and development team to develop online tutorials, best-practices research, and best-in-class topic resources.
  • Supporting the communications/public relations department with background research, statistics and quotes for speeches, press releases and white papers.
  • Providing executive decision support directly to the company leadership via environmental scanning, trends monitoring, and similar types of information services.
  • Bringing data management and analysis skills to numerous departments within large organizations.

Leading IS Career Pathways

Data Analysis on Tablet Information resources are increasingly seen as a strategic asset by more and more companies. Because of that, job opportunities related to all aspects of gathering, managing, analyzing, and creating value from information continue to grow. Four of the most exciting career paths:


Data Curation and Data Management

Data curation and management is what enables companies to turn numbers into information and strategic insights. Those numbers may come from the sales department, from customers, from research and development, or any of the other departments within a given organization.

An aspect of the broader term digital curation, data curation and data management can be found in virtually any type of organization activity, but is often a major part of scientific research and those companies involved in it. Think of all the research going on in the fields of demographics, climate change, pharmaceutical development, healthcare management, genetic engineering, financial forecasting, space exploration, or renewable energy studies, among others. Each of these undertakings generates massive amounts of data – and job opportunities for data-savvy information professionals.

What kind of work would you do?

Broadly, data curation and management encompasses creating, implementing, and maintaining data management plans and processes; establishing cataloging/metadata structures to support data access and retrieval; setting and monitoring data governance policies and compliance; vetting data quality (and that the appropriate data has been chosen to answer the relevant questions); and often turning raw data into more easily-understood visual presentations.

In addition, you may also be responsible for developing data preservation standards and processes; identifying or extracting meaningful data patterns, and finding other ways to help suss out, synthesize, and present insights from the data that support strategic decision-making.

Often the data sets you’re dealing with may be massive, and if involving a new initiative you can assume that little thought may have been given to its optimum organization for management, preservation, access and retrieval. (Which is actually great news, because that’s where you’ll get to shine!)

What are these jobs called?

Data jobs for information professionals may go by a number of different titles depending on the organization, but some of the most common are:

  • Data Analyst
  • Data Curation Librarian
  • Data Librarian
  • Data Manager
  • Data Quality Engineer
  • Data Specialist
  • Digital Curation
  • Director, Data Services
  • eScience Specialist

What kinds of organizations hire data information professionals?

Government agencies whose mandates involve collecting or creating data are prime targets, such as:

  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • UT Library (Both Hodges and Agriculture)
  • US Geological Survey (USGS)
  • National Center for Atmospheric Research
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • U.S. Department of State

In addition, private industry is another target-rich environment for data specialist jobs. Industries like pharmaceuticals, healthcare, genetics and DNA research, bioengineering, data and text mining, financial engineering, demographic forecasting, and similar types of numbers-rich businesses all rely on data to support their business goals.


Data AnalysisInformation Organization

Information now exists in so many formats and media (think text, data, audio and visual), the ability to organize and catalog all of these different materials is increasingly critical to maintaining meaningful access and retrieval for organizations. That information may be text-based, digital assets, data, visual resources, technical standards, or any other type of “information” that businesses may have.

What kind of work would you do?

The steps and activities involved in managing organization are both strategic and tactical: the strategic part is creating a logical structure or taxonomy for organizing the information, the tactical is the actual cataloging of the individual materials. This is where concepts such as metadata and Resource Description and Access (RDA) standards come into play.

What are these jobs called?

Some of the most common titles for information organization specialists and catalogers include:

  • Cataloger
  • Digital Initiatives librarian
  • Head of Metadata and Resource Descriptions Services
  • Indexer
  • Information Architect
  • Metadata Librarian
  • Metadata Service Manager
  • Special Collections Librarian/Archivist
  • Taxonomist
  • Technical Information Specialist
  • Technical Services Librarian

What kinds of organizations hire information organization professionals?

Essentially any company that values its information resources, in whatever format they exist, as strategic assets is a potential employer. A representative sampling of companies who would be likely candidates would include:

  • Energy Companies
  • Engineering Companies
  • Government Agencies
  • Healthcare, Pharmaceutical, and Bioengineering Firms
  • Hospitals and Large Clinics
  • Media Companies
  • Research Centers and Institutes
  • Science and Technology Companies

Or, to put it more broadly, pretty much any company engaged in virtually any type of research and information gathering and/or creation. 


Science Information

The importance of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) literacy to the future of our economy has now been accepted and integrated into multiple aspects of our education system, from kindergarten through college, and from military disciplines through corporate boardrooms. Science literacy plus information skills is already a sought-after skill set, and demand is likely to grow exponentially as we increasingly rely on STEM solutions to future challenges.

What kind of work would you do?

The exact type of work you might do would be determined by the type of organization or government agency for whom you were an employee. In general, however, your job would likely involve some aspect of key information skills, including gathering, organizing, preserving, managing, synthesizing, and presenting information. That might include working with :

  • Research data for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
  • Competitive intelligence within the biomechanics industry.
  • Pharma clinical trial results.
  • Merger and acquisitions (M&A) due diligence research for a healthcare company.
  • Technology trends analysis for a start-up cloud-based tech platform.
  • Taxonomies for constantly changing fields, such as materials science.
  • Patent searches for engineering and product development departments.
  • Government standards for a contract solar energy firm.
  • Digital assets such as concept drawings and blueprints.

As you can see, the common thread among these activities is the employer’s focus on work that involves science, technology, engineering, and/or mathematics. Because these industries are heavily research-driven, they need professionals who understand the STEM disciplines well enough to organize the relevant information into actionable insights.

What are these jobs called?

With tremendous diversity among STEM jobs for information professionals, it’s easiest to categorize potential job titles by the broad type of work being done. So, for example, these categories of information work might include:

Research 

  • Pharmaceutical Intelligence
  • Researcher Clinical Data Analyst
  • Healthcare M&A Researcher
  • Legislative Analyst, Renewable Energy
  • Bioengineering Research Service Team Leader
  • Information Organization
  • Public Health data Services Specialist
  • Digital Assets Manager or Technical Documentalist
  • Information Architect, GIS Specialization
  • Health Informatics Analyst
  • Science Information Officer

Content Roles 

  • Chief Content Officer
  • Social Media Manager
  • Electronic Content Manager
  • Agency Intranet
  • Intellectual Property Analyst
  • Online K-12 Science Publisher
  • Digital Acquisitions Coordinator
  • Bioengineering Education Firm

Other titles might include information strategist, copyright specialist, manager of vendor relations, information project manager, and dozens of other titles. It just depends on what STEM area appeals to you, the type of work you choose, and which of hundreds of STEM employers you want to work for.

What kinds of organizations hire science information professionals?

Building on the core disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, you can imagine how many different types of companies and government agencies fit the bill. For example:

  • In the life sciences, companies like Boston Scientific, Johnson & Johnson, Proctor and Gamble, and Celgene
  • In technology, such firms as Apple, Cisco, Oracle, and First Solar
  • In engineering, not only private industry but also government agencies such as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Mint, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Federal Highway Administration
  • In mathematics, companies as diverse as State Farm Insurance, Qualcomm, Boeing, and Google

This is only a small sampling of the organizations you’ll find in the STEM disciplines. Assume that their numbers will increase as STEM solutions and the number of start-ups who create them grow in the coming years. 



UX Design WireframesUser Experience and UX Design

As defined by the User Experience Professionals Association (UXPA), “User experience (UX)  is an approach to product development that incorporates direct user feedback throughout the development cycle (human-centered design)  in order to reduce costs and create products and tools that meet user needs and have a high level of usability (are easy to use).”

UX applies not only to products but also to services and processes. In fact, UX probably had a role in designing the most recent website you used, the navigation process for that online research you just did, or the tech support experience you had when your most recent purchase failed to boot up!

Essentially, UX has as its goal the creation of friction-free, user-centered outcomes (that is, products, services, or processes) that provide a positive and successful experience for the user. UX is often used to help design human-computer interaction processes to ensure maximum usability (and minimum frustration).

What kind of work would you do?

As a UX designer, your work would most likely fall into one or more of three main areas:

  • Research, or learning about the potential users of a given product, services, and/or process and how they might use it.
  • Evaluation, which involves working with and observing potential users of a product, service, or process in the design and development phases.
  • Design, based on the results of the research and evaluation phases, the design phase creates the interface between the product, service, or process and the user (for example, the experience you’ve had navigating this website).

As part of these development areas, you might be involved in:

  • Analytics Analysis
  • Experience Design (A Type of “Branding” or Perception-Building)
  • Human-Computer Interaction Observation
  • Information Architecture Design
  • Project Management
  • Software Design and/or Testing
  • User Research
  • Web Design

What are these jobs called?

Many of these activities are subsumed under the broad title of UX designer. But more specialized titles might include:

  • Customer Experience Specialist
  • Front-end Engineer
  • Graphic Designer
  • Information Architect
  • Information Experience Designer
  • Information Visualization Specialist
  • Interface Designer
  • Market or User Researcher
  • Usability
  • User Experience Analyst
  • User Interface (UI) Specialist
  • UX Manager
  • Web Designer

What kinds of organizations hire UX designers and other UX professionals?

A quick check of job sites for the term UX designer indicates the wide range of organizations seeking UX skills. These include, among others:

  • Art Museums
  • Brand Management Consultants
  • Computer Software Firms
  • Digital Platform Creators
  • Educational Institutions
  • Law Firms
  • Libraries
  • Media Companies
  • Online App Development Start-ups

Essentially, any organization creating an interface between users and technology needs the skills of a user experience professional if they want that interface to work effectively.



Oh, the places you’ll go

The types of information sciences career paths are, in fact, only limited by your imagination. You might be any of the following, or you might create an entirely new role whose career path hasn’t emerged yet!

  • Data Analyst for an industry research center.
  • Digital archivist for a regional newspaper.
  • Director of corporate competitive intelligence.
  • Director of member research services for a botanic gardens.
  • Information resources specialist for a Native American rights foundation.
  • Manager of a hospital consumer health information center.
  • Researcher for an alternative magazine.
  • Technical documentalist for a performing arts group.

Request More Information

Not sure which information sciences career path is right for you? Our goal is to help you find the right fit for your information career (or careers!). Complete the form below, and we’ll follow up to schedule a call with a member of our faculty.