Online Information Technology Degree Overview & Career Information
Associate degrees in areas such as mobile device applications, software development, or database management provide students with an introduction to IT concepts. These degrees are often designed to prepare students for further study at the bachelor's or master's level. Bachelor's degrees build upon introductory concepts and allow students to explore different electives to pinpoint the area of IT they would like to specialize in. After completing general education requirements, the course content will depend largely on the type of IT program you're attending.
Master's-level IT programs nearly always include a focus or specialization relevant to a certain career path and may also require students to conduct research. Examples of master's degrees in information technology include network administration, information security, modeling and simulation, or project management. Doctoral degrees in information technology disciplines are designed for professionals who wish to expand their skills into leadership or research areas; they often include advanced concepts in IT business management, consultation, or education.
Undergraduate and graduate IT certificates are available in a wide range of areas such as information science, web design, IT management, and software development. Certificates can help current professionals update their skills in order to advance in their career, or they can introduce less experienced students to new technical concepts and help prepare them for further education.
Online Bachelor's Degrees in Information Technology
The bachelor’s degree in information technology trains students in a blend of computer science and practical technology management topics, which is useful for professional roles in IT. Students also gain critical thinking skills and cultural understanding, from the humanities and sciences requirements of the degree. These four-year programs require 40 to 50 courses. Applicants need a high school diploma or GED.
The major curriculum in the IT bachelor’s degree investigates a variety of topics related to business-level information systems. Core classes include information security, UNIX administration, telecommunications and networking, information systems architecture, and IT project management. Along with didactic courses, students are typically required to complete design and project-based labs. Along with the major core, many IT programs require that students specialize in a particular area within this wide field. Possible focuses include systems administration, information security, web development, and infrastructure management. Many programs also require the completion of a capstone course during the student’s senior year, in which students take on a large project within their IT interest area.
The information technology bachelor’s is a highly flexible program and can lead to a number of roles in private industry, non-profits, or the public sector, since nearly all organizations utilize IT. The bachelor’s degree is the entry-level requirement for computer programmer, database administrator, network administrator, web developer, and information security specialist positions. After gaining some professional experience, bachelor’s graduates may move into supervisory or advanced roles, such as IT project manager, systems analyst, or network architect.
Job and Salary Information
What is the job outlook for the information technology field?
As the importance of technology increases rapidly, information technology (IT) professions continue to experience rapid growth. Unlike computer science, which is focused on programming and innovation, IT primarily concerns itself with building and maintaining networks, databases and computer systems, using existing technologies. With the focus on new system software, big data, cloud computing, and information security threats, more and more companies are hiring qualified candidates who understand how to implement and run new software solutions.In today's technology and information driven world, IT is an absolutely necessity for businesses and organizations of all sizes. Due to the rising demand, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics projects the IT field to grow at a rate of 13% to 19% through 2026. This means that over a half million new jobs are projected to open up in this industry in the next 8 years.
What jobs can you get with a bachelor's in IT?
The list of popular jobs that people can get with a bachelor's degree in IT is quite long and varied, depending on one's specific skill sets, interests, certifications and prior experience. Here are several common jobs for bachelor's in IT graduates:
- Network and computer systems administrators are responsible for the daily operation of computer systems and networks in organizations of all types. Specifically, they are responsible for the installation and maintenance of intranets, local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs) and other information systems. They also provide support for the professionals using these systems. The average annual salary for a network and computer systems administrator is $68,467.
- Information security analysts are responsible for protecting computer networks. They protect these networks by analyzing data to detect and mitigate threats, typically posed by viruses and hackers, to commercial and government computer systems and networks. With cyber-attacks on the rise, this profession continues to evolve and become more sophisticated. Information security analysts average $72,576 per year.
- Computer systems analysts, also known as systems architects, serve as a link between business and information technology, studying existing computer networks, and designing more efficient ones. They earn an average salary of $66,273.
- Database administrators are responsible for storing and organizing data. Their duties include troubleshooting, designing, building, and maintaining databases, and insuring their security. The average salary for database administrators is $74,207 a year.
- Web developers design and create websites. They are responsible for the visual representation of the website as well as the technical aspects, such as it's performance and capacity. The average salary for a web developer is $59,832.
What kind of salary should I expect with a bachelor's in IT?
Information technology is a high-paying profession, with an average salary of $80,000. Recent graduates can expect to enter the industry at the lower end of the pay scale, with an average salary of $58,646. However, after 10-20 years in the field, information technology graduates can expect an average salary of $95,582.
The Importance of Accreditation
The US Department of Education recognizes several independent agencies that accredit IT degree programs or institutions that offer IT programs. Before they can become accredited, schools and degree programs go through a rigorous evaluation process to prove to the accrediting agency that they meet established academic standards. Attending a school or program that has earned accreditation can help students feel confident that they are receiving a high-quality education that implements current research and is taught by competent instructors. It will also enable students to transfer credits to other accredited schools and apply for scholarships and financial aid, as these financial benefits are typically only awarded to students who are enrolled at an accredited school or program.
ABET, or the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, grants accreditation to information technology and information systems degree programs and is recognized by the US Department of Education and the Council of Higher Education Accreditation. Colleges and universities can also be accredited, and IT programs that are offered at these institutions are also considered to be accredited. Current lists of accrediting agencies, schools, and programs can be found via ABET, USDE, or CHEA.
Types of Online IT Certification
A popular kind of certification for IT professionals is offered by Microsoft. To maximize their chances of earning this credential, students are encouraged to enroll in preparatory classes at various distance learning colleges and universities. Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) certifications are available in the following information technology categories: server, desktop, applications, database, and developer. The stages of certification that are currently available for these IT categories are Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS), Technology Associate (MTA), Solutions Associate (MCSA), Solutions Expert (MCSE), and Solutions Developer (MCSD).
Cisco also offers private online classes that enable students to become certified IT professionals. Topics that are discussed include routing, network security, switching, and wireless. Individuals may opt to become certified on five different levels: entry, associate, expert, professional, and architect.
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