Is an Information Technology Degree for You?
Featured SchoolRequest Info
With course work based in software, computing and databases, networking and Internet security, students enrolled in information technology programs learn to address organizations' technological needs. Information technology students must also hone their communication and presentation skills, as they will often be required to impart some of their knowledge of software and operations to others.
Advice for Earning Your Information Technology Degree Online
An online information technology degree program has many of the same challenges as one at a brick-and-mortar college. Students are responsible for the same course work, and must complete rigorous assignments, paper and exams. However, when pursuing online degrees, students must be self-motivated and comfortable working independently, as they will not have the structure of attending school in a physical classroom. Before selecting an online college, it's important for students to thoroughly research its credentials. By making sure a school is accredited, students can feel confident that future employers will likely view their education as credible. To check a college's accreditation, visit the U.S. Department of Education's Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs.
A wide range of knowledge and skills come with an information technology degree. Students learn Web and software development, systems administration and management, information technology fundamentals, organizational behavior, management, databases and technical writing. They take such classes as data communications and networks, foundations of Web systems, database management systems and foundations of human computer interaction. Depending on the concentrations in which they're interested, they can enroll in additional courses related to system administration, network security, wireless network, network administration, and Web design and development. Students should also be proficient in math.
Common Career Paths
A bachelor's degree in information technology opens the doors to many different technology-related careers. To enter the field of your choice, it's important to select the right specialization. Several industry-recognized certifications can be earned while pursuing your bachelor's degree to prove your proficiency in certain areas. Common career paths include (but are not limited to):
- Software Engineer
These engineers use the concepts and principles of computer science along with mathematical analysis to generate, test and assess the software applications and systems that make computers work. They are able to develop numerous types of software, including computer games and business applications. They must be extremely familiar with the theory of computing systems, the structure of software, and the nature and boundaries of hardware to make certain that the fundamental systems will function properly.
Software engineers start with analyzing a user's needs and then put together software to meet those demands. To do so they draw flowcharts and diagrams, and may construct algorithms that would specifically tell the computer how to function. Sometimes a software engineer will have to convert the instructions they develop into a computer language, which is a process known as coding. Employment of software developers is expected to increase 30 percent between 2010 and 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Their median annual salary was $90,530 in 2010.
- Network Administrator: Network administrators are responsible for designing, implementing and supporting computer systems. They work with active network equipment such as routers, adaptors and cables to connect computers to a hub that in turn connects them to the Internet. Network administrators test the reliability and security of a network. They also fix broken equipment. At some companies, a network administrator will design and set up the networks as well. Employment of network and computer systems administrators is forecast to grow 28 percent between 2010 and 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Their median annual salary was $69,160 in 2010.
- Management Analyst: Management analysts work to keep a company or business relevant in the ever-changing market. Sometimes referred to as management consultants, a management analyst examines an organization's structure and productivity, and recommends changes to increase profits. Management analysts within the information technology field explore how a company employs technology, and the ways in which it can upgrade and improve upon current software and programs. In doing so, management analysts ensure that companies remain on the cutting edge of technological innovations. Employment of management analysts is projected to expand 22 percent between 2010 and 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Their median annual salary was $78,160 in 2010.