What Can You Do with an Information Technology Degree?

With the growth of technology in the world today, the demand for people with information technology degree is growing as well. It  is projected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics that between 2014 and 2024, this sector will grow by 12% which is about 488,000 new jobs. This is good news if you are thinking of starting a career in the information technology field. In this article, we will provide information on how to pursue a degree in information technology and what jobs are available to you once you've graduated. We will cover what degree levels are available in this field and break down the career choices based on strengths and capabilities of the individual.
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What Is an Information Technology Degree?

An information technology degree focuses on the branch of engineering that relates to the use of computers to share, store, protect and collect information.

The Levels and Kinds of Degrees You Can Earn

You can earn an associate, bachelor, masters or PhD in Information Technology. As an information technology major, you will study business, communications and computer science. While you are earning your degree, you may choose to focus on a specialty, such as web design. You may also choose to become certified in that particular specialty while you are still attending college for your degree. A Bachelor of Information Technology degree usually takes three to five years of study to complete.

Different from a Computer Science Degree

A degree in computer Science focuses on the scientific aspects of computing. A degree in Information technology focuses on business and communications applications and requires classes in management and information science.

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Other Common Courses to Be Taken Found While Pursuing a Degree in Information Technology

While pursuing an information technology degree, you will usually find these common courses:  Management and Leadership Skills, Computer Programming, Project Planning, Web Design and Development, Information Assurance and Security, Networking and Business Systems and Java Programming.

Most of the nation's top universities offer their Information Technology degrees completely online. This is a great way to maintain your current job and schedule while working toward your future career goals. Community colleges also offer many of their information technology classes online.

What Do You Have to Do to Earn an Information Technology Degree?

Before you pursue a degree in information technology, ask yourself if you have the following skills. Do you have good communication skills? Are you organized, and are you able to follow and implement a plan? Can you troubleshoot? Do you have strong analytical skills, and can you focus for long periods of time? If the answer is yes, then you are probably a great candidate for an IT degree. These skills are necessary for this type of career. Here are some of the steps you can take to get your information technology degree:

Choose Your School

Once you have chosen information technology as the path, do your research on the schools you would like to attend. There are colleges that are geared toward information technology degrees. Or, start taking classes at your local community college. An Associates Degree in Information Technology can be obtained through community college, and most classes are transferrable to a four-year college.

Apply for Financial Aid

If you live in the U.S., complete your Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) to apply for the Pell Grant, federal student loans and federal work-study opportunities. Student Services at your campus or your advisor can help you fill out the FAFSA if help is needed. If you decide to attend school at a four-year college, see what scholarships are available, and apply for those as well.

Take Remedial Classes If Necessary

If a student scores low on the SAT or ACT tests, they may have to take remedial classes in English, math, etc., before they can begin their required degree classes. Most community colleges have an entrance exam that must be taken to try to "pass out" of these remedial classes. If a student cannot pass out of these remedial classes and they must take them, they should try taking them in the first semester to get them out of the way.

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Take the Required Classes to Earn Your Degree

Required classes will be the bulk of the work for the three to five years spent earning an information technology degree. In addition to taking IT-specific courses, be prepared to take general education courses, such as Math and English. Spend time with your advisor each semester to make sure you are not missing any classes needed to graduate. If you are taking online classes, keep in touch with your advisor through email.  

Study Areas of Specialization That Interest You

There are areas of expertise that you will be more interested in, such as web design or information security. Study these advanced classes further. You may even want to get certified in one area or another while you are going to school. See your advisor for advice on certification programs.

After Graduation, Decide Whether to Pursue an Advanced Degree

Once all of  the required classes are complete and you have received your information technology degree, you will have to decide whether you want to pursue an advanced degree or start pursuing a career. There are job options available at each degree level. This is another area where your advisor can offer valuable advice and help you decide what is best for you.


What to Do with an Information Technology Degree

An information technology degree is highly versatile, and it opens up a wide variety of career opportunities. While going to school for the degree, you should decide what aspect you are most interested in and if you have an area you want to specialize in. Also look at your strengths and weaknesses realistically before deciding. Base your career choices on these things.

1) Do You Like to Create?

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Software development, computer programming, web development and network architecture all lean toward the creative aspect of an information technology degree. If you like designing network intranets, Network Architect may just be your next job title. If designing games or apps appeals to you more, then Software Developer is your career of choice. Web Developers create and manage web pages while Computer Programmers write code to create a variety of programs. Which one appeals to you more?

2) Do You Like to Do Research?

The Research Scientist, Information Security Analyst and Computer Systems Analyst all research and improve in their area of expertise. A Research Scientist finds new ways to improve technology, an Information Security Analyst improves system security and a Computer Systems Analyst improves the function of network systems.

3) Is Administration Your Forte?

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If administration is your strength, then Network Administrator or Health IT may be the jobs for you. Both of these require working with people and managing multiple levels of network systems and keeping software up to date. If you also have an interest in healthcare, you may lean more toward the Health IT job because healthcare is becoming more and more digitized.

4) Is Working with People Your Passion?

Some information technology jobs require working with people as much as computers. While this may not be for everyone, there are those who believe they get the best of both worlds with these jobs. An IT Support Specialist is the person people turn to when they have problems with their computers. This job gives you an opportunity to work directly with and help people. An IT consultant has the ability to help others understand complex systems and structures. This job requires you to be an excellent communicator as well as technically savvy. If you are highly organized and a great communicator, the job of IT Project Manager may appeal to you. In this job, you would plan and implement specific projects as well as manage a team of employees.

5) What Are Some Other Information Technology Jobs Available?

While the bulk of the jobs mentioned above require at least a bachelor degree in information technology, some companies will accept an associates degree when coupled with experience and knowledge in the field. Entry-level jobs, such as Network/Computer Support Technicians, Help desk personnel and some IT Specialist positions, usually only require an associates degree in information technology.

Conclusion

Are you enrolled yet? A degree in information technology gives you a variety of ways to show your computer skills. Again, the amount of jobs that require this degree are expected increase which makes information technology a solid choice when choosing a career path.  The need is there. With technology advancing at a rapid pace, an information technology degree can open up many opportunities for the graduate. By working hard toward your degree and then finding your niche along the way, you can choose which specialty is right for your strengths and personality. If you have a passion for computers and technology, we encourage you to follow the steps we have laid out in this article to pursue that passion and earn your information technology degree.   

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