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Rapid employment growth is expected in web search portals and data processing, hosting, and related services, while employment in internet service providers is expected to decline. About a third of all jobs are in computer occupations; another third are in office and administrative support occupations. About 46 percent of jobs are in California, Texas, Florida, Virginia, New York, and Georgia.

Internet service providers, Web search portals, and data processing services are the backbone of the Internet and provide the infrastructure for it to operate smoothly. By processing and storing data, and allowing people to access and sort these data, they facilitate the flow of information that has become vital to the economy.

 
 
 

 

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Internet service providers (ISPs) directly connect people, businesses, and organizations to the Internet by routing data from one location to another. ISPs develop and maintain the physical, technical, and contractual connections and agreements needed for the internet to function. In order to maintain the necessary flow of data, ISPs use peering points—physical connections to the computer equipment of other ISPs—to share networks. These connections provide a nearly unlimited number of potential pathways through which information can travel.

In addition to forming the infrastructure of the Internet, service providers must also connect with clients. These clients may range from individual homes to large office buildings. To allow end users to access their networks, establishments in the industry may provide them with proprietary software, user identification names, e-mail addresses, or equipment. Like telephone or electric service, ISPs offer access to customers on a subscription basis. They may also provide related services beyond Internet access, such as Web hosting, Web page design, and consulting services related to networking software and hardware.

While ISPs connect clients to the Internet by routing data, the physical connections that carry the information to end users are often the wires or cables of telecommunications establishments.

Web search portals canvas the Web to create databases of web pages and their corresponding Internet addresses. These databases can then be searched by typing key words into a prompt on the search portal’s Web site. These sites, commonly called “search engines,” enable users to sort through the huge amount of information on the Internet quickly. In order to find as much information as possible, search engines automatically follow every link on a Web page, catalogue each new page found, and store their location along with text that can be searched at a later point. Because the Internet offers such a vast array of sites, advanced algorithms must be developed to rank the results of a search according to their relevance. Some Web search portals also offer additional services, such as news, e-mail, maps, and local business directories. The key distinction of Web search portals is that the information is gathered automatically from across the Web, rather than manually edited and entered into a predetermined directory.

Data processing, hosting, and related services are involved primarily in handling large amounts of data for businesses, organizations, and individuals. Data hosting often takes the form of Web hosting, in which Web site content is placed on a server that allows it to be accessed by users over the Internet. While establishments in this industry host Web sites, the content is typically produced by someone else and then made accessible through the Web hosting service. Other data hosting services allow clients to place electronic data, such as streaming music and video or company databases, onto servers that can be accessed directly through specialized computer programs. An additional service provided by this industry is to store old data for archival purposes with no Internet access to it.

Data processing covers a broad range of data services, including data entry, conversion, and analysis. Organizations with large quantities of data on paper may turn to data processing services to enter the data, either by hand or with optical scanners, into a computer database. Similarly, clients may want old data files or several databases converted to a single, more easily accessible format. Aside from converting data to another format, data processing services also produce reports that summarize the data for better analysis by their clients. While most data hosting companies sell subscription services, data processing services companies often work on projects of defined scope.
[ Excerpted from Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Career Guide to Industries, 2008-09 Edition - Internet ]