Information Technology Degrees: A Guide

An Overview Of IT Certifications

Information technology is comprised of computing systems that are used for collecting, recording, organizing and accessing data. This broad field has many different career paths that are available. Some of the specialties that professionals focus on are developing networks, computerized databases and other types of programs; these individuals are referred to as architects. There are also IT professionals who are administrators for those programs. Other job titles include computer support specialists, systems analysts, computer programmers, web developers and software developers. Some of the most attractive features of these careers include the possibility of being able to work from home, low unemployment rates and high salaries. Due to computer technology being used so widely - and the increased complexity of data-storage system - you can find IT professionals in almost every industry. The Cyberstates 2016 survey, which is published by ComTia, reports that in the US there are approximately 6.7 million individuals working in IT positions. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics projections, the industry is expected to continue to grow in future years. A majority of information technology jobs can be landed by students by earning a bachelor's degree in computer science, information technology or another tech-related field. One common degree path is to earn a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in information technology; B.S. programs focus on technical applications, skills and knowledge - in addition to strategies for applying them to solve real-world issues.

How long does it take to complete a bachelor's degree in IT?

Like most other bachelor's degree programs, an IT degree will usually take four years to complete for a student who is enrolled on a full time basis. A majority of IT bachelor's programs require 120-125 semester credit; schools following a quarterly calendar have higher credit loads, but those programs also usually take four years to finish.

How much does it cost to earn an IT certification?

The cost to earn a certification or degree in information technology can depend on the state that the student is a residence of, given that in-state students frequently pay lower tuition compared to out-of-state students. Generally, an in-state student will pay $150-$600 per credit, which makes the program cost on average $18,000 up to $68,000. However, for out-of-state students, the cost per credit ranges from $550-$700 per credit, so that the average cost for the program is at $68,000 up to $82,000. There are also many programs that charge the same rate of tuition for all of their students, no matter what their home state is. For out-of-state students those options have a tendency to be less expensive, but for in-state students they tend to be slightly more expensive.

Admissions Requirements For an IT Degree

Students usually do not need to have any previous technical experience in order to be eligible to enroll in an IT bachelor's degree program. The programs can be well-suited for students who have earned an associate degree in information technology. Each institution will have its own application criteria; some of the common requirements include a minimum of one letter of recommendation, ACT/SAT scores and a personal essay.

Accredited IT degree programs

For prospective students, one of the most critical considerations is accreditation status of the program they are considering. U.S. universities and colleges obtain accreditation from agencies that the U.S. Department of Education recognizes; the accreditation process includes an extensive review of the student services and educational programs of a school. The accreditation of a school will impact the transferability of course credits, in addition to the student's eligibility for receiving federal financial aid. Therefore, students should make sure that the school that is offering a program they are considering has earned regional or national accreditation.

Coursework for an Information Technology Program:

Core courses:

Network protocols and standards Programming foundations Information security Database management Systems design and analysis

An IT degree program follows a curriculum where foundation studies are incorporated on topics such as information security, systems analysis, network and database administration and computer programming. Many programs enable students to earn a degree concentration in a specialty area, like network architecture, project management or business technology. Some IT degree programs have a capstone experience course as the culmination, which might involve an internship, comprehensive portfolio or research project; the specific capstone requirements will depend on the specific concentration and major of the student.

IT degree specializations

Information systems management Applications and web development Network administration Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is a very popular concentration option for an IT bachelor's program. Professionals within this field work to protect sensitive systems and data from criminal threats such as information thieves and cyberterrorists. In addition, they design as well as install software that helps to protect data in situations where computer viruses, surges, power outages and other technical problems arise. A specialization in network administration is geared towards students with an interest in computer networks and centralize online hubs for linking multiple users. Students are taught in their courses who to assist users and maintain working networks. With a specialization in applications and web developments, students learn how to design mobile apps and websites through classes that cover such topics as website design and the implementation of effective mobile user interfaces. Another specialization available for students who have leadership potential is information systems management. Students are prepared by this concentration to oversee a technical department at a government agency, nonprofit organization or private company; the jobs include working with organizational leaders on long-term strategies and goals, assigning personnel to various tasks, and coordinating multiple activities.

Information Technology Industry certifications

At times courses can help to prepare students to take certain industry certification exams, like those from Cisco, Microsoft and CompTIA. Industry certification help help graduating students stand out within the competitive IT job market.

IT Professional Associations

Young professionals and students in IT can benefit greatly form joining professional associations that relate to their career fields. The organizations offer numerous opportunities and resources, including online publications such as academic journals and magazines, job listings, professional certification and development courses and networking events. The following are three of the more prominent IT organizations. Association of Information Technology Professionals: For over 60 years, the AITP has been serving IT personnel and managers. It has collegiate and regional chapters all across the U.S. Every year this association offers the Distinguished Information Science Award also provides scholarships to members who are enrolled in a college degree program in the IT field. Association of Software Professionals: This association is dedicated to software developers, computer programmers and other professionals who work to create computer apps, games and programs. Member benefits include discounts on various services and products, ASPects newsletter subscription and online discussion group invitations. Network Professional Association: This organization offers the certified network professional certification (CNP), which is an internally recognized credential for network personnel and managers. Members can attend industry events held all over the country, participate in professional development courses and join regional chapters.

Salary and Job Outlook for IT Graduates

For professionals with an IT bachelor's degree, the job outlook is expected to continue to be strong in future. It is projected by the BLS that the number of information technology and computer occupations will increase by 12 percent from 2014 to 2024; the growth should result in around 488,500 jobs being created during this period of time. IT bachelor's program graduates have the potential to earn much higher salaries than those individuals who complete an associate degree. An IT bachelor's degree graduate will out earn a holder of an associate degree by 34.5 percent over the initial five years of this career, and after 10 years or more on the job by 41.7 percent.

What jobs are you qualified for with an IT bachelor's degree?

A majority of students who graduate with an IT bachelor's degree will be prepared to directly enter the workforce - although eligibility fr certain jobs might depends on industry certifications and program specializations. They may work in various industries, including telecommunications, manufacturing, education, insurance and finance. The following positions can be filled by graduates: Computer and information systems managers: CIS managers, or IT managers, supervise their organization's technology department and oversee its daily activities and operations. They workdays often include both administrative and technical responsibilities. Computer support specialists: The professional mainly work at organizations that that personnel using computers to do their work. Specialists help co-workers with numerous technical questions and issues; some work remotely and help employees online, while other work at the same office. Software developers: These specialists are the engineering brains behind computer applications, game and programs. Developers write the code used by programmers to build software programs completely from scratch; developers in many cases also create the network controls and platforms for powering software programs. Computer network architects: These professionals develop, design, modify and evaluate various kinds of telecommunications networks. The usually work with a local area network where a limited amount of users are accommodated or with a wide area network for a larger number of users, frequently in multiple locations. Important upgrades and installations for functioning networks are also performed by architects.

Featured Information Technology (IT) Certifications, Degrees & Training

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