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What is Information Technology?
Information technology refers to the area of employment and study that deals with the transfer of information across internal and external systems, the security of such information, and its storage. Individuals in this field are tasked with ensuring that networks remain functional, stress free, and are able to perform the functions required by the individual, business, corporation or organization. The technical prowess necessary to setup and maintain large networks can be extremely high, requiring an in depth understanding of the various facets of such systems to ensure continued proper usage, safety, security and more. As an industry, information technology is constantly changing, growing and expanding, with new technologies constantly being developed that require the need for implementation and explanation.
Educational Requirements in IT
A degree in information technology prepares individuals with the skills and knowledge necessary to establish and maintain network and information systems. Students will study various subjects relating to computers, learning how they connect with one another and the protocols used to secure such connections. As with most technology based degrees, a foundation of mathematics and science will be established through various courses. Degrees are available from the associate level onward, with most jobs requiring a bachelor's degree to be considered.
A curriculum in information technology may include:
- Data Structures and Algorithms
- Computer Programming
- Database Management
- Systems Organization Theory
In addition, individuals pursuing education in this field should consider continuing education courses regularly to familiarize themselves with changes in the field and to better understand burgeoning technologies. Such education may also be available from software and hardware vendors who seek to illuminate information technology specialists to the advantages of their products.
Top Information Technology Degrees
The information technology degree programs are offered from both onsite and online accredited colleges and universities and range from associate degrees up through doctorate degree programs. Each type of program has its nuances and emphasis in information technology along with time and resource commitments. Below you will find an overview of each type of program.
Associate Degree in Information Technology
An associate’s degree in information technology (ADIT) are two-year programs or about 60 credit hours constructed to help students understand foundational elements of information technology and computer information systems. The associate degree program will incorporate general education courses such as English composition, communications, and philosophy coupled with technology core curriculum to help students think differently about the world around them. The core courses in information technology for associate degrees may include a combination of 100, 200, and 300 level courses in:
- Management Principles
- System Analysis and Design
- Business Law
- Application Programming
- Web Architecture and Programming
- Business Data Communication Systems
- Information Sciences and Systems
- Database Management
Bachelor Degree in Information Technology
A bachelor’s degree track in information technology will go deeper and broader than the certificate and associate degree programs by design. Students will be in a bachelor’s degree program for around four years with about 120 credit hours required in many programs. Bachelor degree tracks may include the option to specialize or generalize in information technology. A general degree covers more topics in a broad sense while specializations go deeper into specific topics within that discipline. Examples of degree specialization within information technology may include application development, database management, data networking, gaming design, network security, web programming, and mobile programming. A sample of classes required for a Data Networking and Security degree in information technology include 200, 300, and 400 level classes like:
- Computing Sciences
- Object-Oriented Programming
- Business Data Communication
- Information Technology
- Network Security
- Information Security Planning
- Integrated Programming and Technology
- Enterprise Systems
- Information Security
- System Administration
- Database Management Systems
- Web Programming & Architecture
- Information Security Hardware and Software
Master Degree in Information Technology
A master’s degree in information technology offer the ability to allow students to specialize in any number of emerging IT fields like internet marketing, web architecture, e-commerce, system administration, cybersecurity, network design, and software design. The above specialty areas of study will provide students with a number of 500 and 600 level core information technology classes like software development, computer security, data mining, database design, software engineering, and systems analysis. In a master’s degree program, students will explore emerging technologies while developing deep, integrative problem solving skills to help meet the ever-evolving demands of today’s marketplace. These graduate level college degree programs will take two to three years beyond a bachelor’s degree depending on the number of credits taken at any given time.
Doctorate Degree in Information Technology
The doctorate degree track in information technology is an additional three years of study from a master’s degree program and around 100 credit hours for most accredited colleges and universities. Most students will pass through a year of foundational courses followed by in-depth knowledge in an area of specialty followed by a year of professional advancement including research and dissertation requirements. Upper level courses in this information technology terminal degree program may include:
- Business Intelligence
- Innovation and Design
- Strategy Management
- Managing EIS
- Enterprise Management
- Governance and Ethics
- Principles of Research Methods and Design
- Qualitative and Quantitative Research Methods
- Enterprise Tools and Processes
What is the Difference Between Information Technology, Computer Science, and Computer Information Systems?
Information technology – As a subset of ICT, information technology is the proper application and utilization of computers to transmit, shape, store, and retrieve data within the constructs of a business need or enterprise demand. The parameters of information technology include software, hardware, operating systems, databases, storage devices, servers, applications, and devices.
Computer science is a discipline involving both information and computation. A computer scientist will provide granular solutions to effectively solve issues through coding and have an intimate understanding of operating systems. In other words, a computer science major asks how a problem or issue can be resolved programmatically. On the other hand, computer information systems professionals ask what type of technology needs to be utilized to solve a business problem or how to best resolve a business impediment with technology. Given the nature of CIS and emphasis on technology to solve business critical issues, as such these professionals are tasked with different responsibilities with varying expectations. Computer information systems college degree holders are often involved in strategic planning and higher level management meetings whereas computer scientists are deep into data and programming. While interrelated, computer science is different from computer information systems and vice versa.
Online Degrees in Information Technology
Distance learning, or more commonly called online learning, are college degree programs that are the quickest growing segment within the entire postsecondary education industry. Given this fact, colleges and universities around the country strive to match the ever-evolving demands of the workplace and while keeping up with a student’s academic proclivities and learning styles. Distance or online learning provides a platform for students to earn a college degree with a varying degree of independence, flexibility, and autonomy to fit into the busy schedule and learning styles of students everywhere. Earning a college degree online in information technology has never been easier to get started.
Below you will find myriad options to choose from and begin collecting information. Programs range from certificate programs in information technology through doctorate level degree programs. Degree programs of all stripes have both pros and cons associated with them in terms of time commitments, resources, and qualifications that need to be understood by students and working professionals before committing to a program. We strongly recommend you create a working priority list and spend time to read our Complete Guide to the College Admissions Process prior to making any final decisions for your career and academic future.
What Jobs Can You Get with an IT Degree?
The myriad jobs in differing sectors within the umbrella of information technology is truly astounding. The list below is simply a primer to the vast number of job titles within information technology. We have conveniently linked the associated job titles with other pages within MatchCollege to help you quickly navigate from each option and explore the various options at hand. From software application companies to cloud computing titans, the job titles below are jobs worthy of consideration with a college degree in information technology.
- Systems Analyst
- Multimedia Programmer
- Network Engineer
- Application Developer
- Systems Designer
- Information Systems Manager
- Database Administrator
- Information Technology Technical Support
- Systems Engineer
- Software Development Manager
- Artificial Intelligence
- Software Engineer
- ERP Administrator
- Application Analyst
- Actuarial Analyst
- Data Analyst
- Business Analyst
- Information Technology Consultant
- Project Manager
- Management Consultant
- Cybersecurity and Information Security Analyst
- Web Designer
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Employment Opportunities in Information Technology
A career in information technology typically involves working with firms or corporation to establish and maintain computer and network systems in locations such as offices. Individuals will be charged with identifying problems and providing solutions with such systems. Information technologists must be up to date and proficient in the use of various systems, providing updates and upgrades as needed. This may be augmented by obtaining various certifications offered by various hardware and software companies. Continuing education is also important as technology continues to develop.
Managerial position in information technology may require individuals to pursue a master degree, often in business administration. The role of managers is to identify system wide upgrades, conceive and administer programs, conduct cost/benefit analyses, and to report to superiors in regards to needs and changes.
Top States for Computer Information Systems Analysts Jobs
- California 75,750
- Texas 58,680
- New York 38,220
- Illinois 29,390
- Ohio 27,200
Top Paying States for a Computer Software Developer
- Washington $129,440
- California $120,710
- Alaska $119,120
- New York $113,120
- District of Columbia $112,040
Top 10 Employers for Information Technology Professionals
- Software and Technology Companies
- Data Processing and Website Hosting Organizations
- Business Management & Consulting Firms
- Colleges and Universities
- Information Services Companies
- Insurance Carriers
- Science & Technology Organizations
- State Government Agencies
- Securities and Commodity Exchanges
- Computer and Peripheral Equipment Manufacturers
Job Growth & Career Outlook in IT
Careers in information technology are expected to grow at a whopping 21% over the next decade as the need for knowledgeable professionals will increase and technology becomes more complex. The primary drivers of growth in information technology will come from software development, customer service, freelancing, mobile networks, cyber-security, and cloud computing. Job opportunities should be available to qualified individuals who can demonstrate skill, flexibility and growth within the field. As the field expands so will the need for individuals who are current in regards to systems operation and maintenance. The average salary in the United States for information technologists is approximately $82,860 per year, but can vary greatly based on location, education, experience and employer.
Individuals interested in information technology may also be interested computer science, robotics technology, computer forensics, or computer engineering. Likewise, students may find organizations such as the AITP and the CompTIA as valuable resources in IT outside academia.