Is an Information Systems Degree for You?
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An information systems degree is designed with computer-savvy individuals in mind, preparing them for a vast array of careers pertaining to computers and technology. Studies in this field will center on various aspects of information systems, including analysis, design, testing, implementation, assessment and improvement. Students become familiar with the basics of software and the new and growing technologies that seemingly change by the minute.
Advice for Earning Your Information Systems Degree Online
The flexibility that comes with pursuing a degree online enables students to manage other responsibilities, such as jobs or families. Online students can complete degree requirements on their own time, which allows for flexibility in scheduling. Because students are required to gain hands-on experience with different computer programs, they may prefer to attend certain classes in person, which is an option offered by some online colleges. Otherwise, they may need to invest money in software to use at home. Before selecting an online school, it’s important to check whether the institution is accredited by visiting the U.S. Department of Education's Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs. Accreditation is key to ensuring that your college of choice adheres to a high standard of education.
Information systems majors enroll in such courses as introduction to data communications and networking, survey of operating systems, network and operating systems, computer systems technology, introduction to programming and logic, and business presentation graphics. Students pursuing careers in information systems management also take classes that focus on management, such as business ethics, principles of management and supervision, project management and strategic planning for information systems management. It helps to be proficient in mathematics, so algebra and statistical analysis may be included in a degree plan. In addition, students learn to use basic programs that are essential for their careers, including Microsoft Office, Excel and SQL.
Common Career Paths
An information systems degree is valuable because it enables you to pursue a number of different career paths. Common positions include (but are not limited to):
- Computer and Information Systems Managers
Computer and information systems managers direct and coordinate the work of the information technology professionals who work for them. They also research the computer needs of a company or organization and come up with solutions to fit those demands. Computer and information system managers are often in charge of all aspects of the technical side of an organization including Internet capabilities and implementing software. Managers are responsible for making recommendations and implementing upgrades to the software and hardware at a company.
Employment of computer and information services managers is projected to increase 18 percent between 2010 and 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Their median annual salary was $115,780 in 2010.
- Computer Systems Analysts
Computer systems analysts are in charge of making sure technology is operating as efficiently as possible. Most computer systems analysts specialize in a particular area, such as business or accounting and financial systems, depending on the type of company or organization for which they work. These analysts recommend computer systems to the management team and draft reports on the benefits each could bring. If the system is approved, analysts are responsible for implementing it. Sometimes they work alongside computer programmers to identify any problems and debug a computer system. After all the kinks have been worked out of a computer system, these analysts conduct trainings to teach employees how to use it.
Employment of computer systems analysts is expected to grow 22 percent between 2010 and 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Their median salary was $77,740 in 2010.
- Network and Computer Systems Administrators
These administrators are responsible for designing, installing and supporting computer systems. They handle LANS, WANS and network segments, as well as Internet and intranet capabilities. Everyday tasks include installing, updating and troubleshooting hardware and software. They keep a sharp eye on networks, making sure they are available to staffers and other users. These administrators often must take note on the system's performance and make recommendations on how it might be improved. They must make sure networks and computer systems are efficient and eliminate obstacles that are slowing them down.
Employment of network and computer systems administrators is forecast to expand 28 percent between 2010 and 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Their median annual salary was $69,160 in 2010.