The technology world is still growing by leaps and bounds, and earning an online IT degree opens up a many lucrative career paths. With flexibility and interactive online classes, you can work towards earning your degree at a pace which suits your lifestyle.
Are you the type of person who is always up to date on the newest technology? Do you love working with computers and analyzing data? Then the Information Technology field could be the perfect way to live out your passion!
Online Information Technology Degrees
Information Technology is a high-demand field, and getting your foot in the door by earning a bachelor’s degree is a good starting point.
Through this course of study, you will get the foundation in IT you need to increase your potential for advancement in the business world.
Some common areas of study that you may encounter in these programs include:
- Computer programming and design
- Introduction to networking
- Database management systems
- Systems analysis
- Web design and development
- Operating systems and data management
- Scripting and programming
- Software Development
- Analysis and problem-solving skills
- Effective business leadership
Some universities also offer the option of choosing a specialization within your IT bachelor’s degree program, such as networking or security, to further enhance your skills.
Information Technology Career Outlook and Salary Information
You know that you love technology, but what type of work can you expect to do once you have earned an IT degree? The answer to that question is extensive, and the careers available through this program include everything from management of information systems to database administration and networking.
Some students are also interested in pursuing computer science work and choose to supplement their education with a software development degree. To help you get a better idea of the career paths available within the IT field, we have put together a list of some of the hottest jobs in the market today along with their average mid-career salaries:
|Senior Systems Administrator||
|Information Technology (IT) Manager||
|Information Technology (IT) Specialist||
*Job and salary data provided by Payscale.com
When it comes to careers in information technology, there are many options for high salary jobs with strong growth potential in the future. As the numbers listed represent salaries of professionals who have worked 10 years within their field, you may make more or less than the average based on your experience and educational level.
Avoid the issue of degree scams by taking the time to research the accreditation of your prospective colleges! An accredited college is one that has gone through the voluntary process of having their academic quality formally reviewed by an independent agency.
What does this mean for you? Enrolling in a university with reputable accreditation is helpful assurance that your degree is one that will be looked favorably upon in the workplace.
There are several accrediting agencies within the United States, and the U.S. Department of Education endorses six regional agencies. The following list highlights a few of the names to watch for when you are researching your IT degree options:
- North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
- Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
- Western Association of Schools and Colleges
- Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
- New England Association of Schools and Colleges
For a full list of recognized accrediting agencies, take a look at the U.S. Department of Education website.
Is an Online Degree in Information Technology Right for You?
Now that you have an idea of what the Information Technology field entails, you may be wondering whether pursing an online degree is the right choice for you! Over recent decades, online educational options have become increasingly popular and respected in the professional world. In fact, many leading universities now offer their competitive degree programs as an online option!
There are several advantages to pursuing your IT degree online, including:
- Chances for more hands-on learning with technology
- Ability to continue working while in school
- Flexibility to specialize within an IT field of your choice
- Virtual tutoring and mentoring with leading IT professionals
- Online tools that allow you to increase the leadership and communication skills that are essential in the business world
Whether you are a student straight out of high school, or a business professional looking to move up the corporate ladder, the flexible nature of online education is the perfect complement to the busy lifestyles of adult learners.
What is an IT degree?
An information technology (IT) degree combines the theoretical and practical concepts of using computers to collect, store, share, and protect information. The best online IT degree programs will cover concepts such as programming, system analysis and design, database management, network administration, and cybersecurity. They will also teach some business principles to prepare you for leadership roles in the IT field.
At some colleges, IT students are able to choose an area of specialization. These will vary from school to school, but may include:
- Application Development
- Cyber Security
- Cloud System Administration
- Infrastructure and Security
- Web and Mobile Programming
- Gaming Design
Having an IT degree with specialization will provide you with an area of expertise right out of school, which can make you even more marketable to potential employers.
What is the difference between information technology and computer science?
While information technology and computer science are quite similar, and the terms are often used interchangeably, there are important differences between the two.
If you are interested in installing computer systems, using software, and maintaining networks and databases, IT would likely be the best choice for you. Examples of career prospects include information security, database administration, and computer support, and you can expect to work in a business setting. Your exact qualifications, and what jobs are a good fit, will depend largely on your specialization or the elective courses you take.
Computer Science, on the other hand, is a more niche degree, appropriate for those who are interested in mathematics, software design, and programming. In this major, you will become proficient in programming languages such as C++, Java, and Python. You may work in a corporate setting, but could also work in a university, software, or video design company, for example.
With some additional courses and/or certifications, your IT degree could land you a position designed for a Computer Science graduate, and vice versa. But if you know your career goals ahead of time you can choose the program most suited for that position and save yourself some time and money.
How long does it take to get an IT degree?
Earning a bachelor’s degree in IT, as with other bachelor’s programs, generally takes about four years of full-time study. You can earn your degree faster by enrolling in an online program. Many online programs offer accelerated courses, which may make it possible to graduate in as little as two to three years.
Are IT jobs in demand?
For the past 20 years, the information technology field has been booming and that is expected to continue. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of computer and information technology occupations is projected to grow 12% from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations. Altogether, these occupations are projected to add about 546,200 new jobs.
The BLS cites cloud computing, data storage, and cybersecurity as the biggest contributors to growth in the IT industry, but also notes increased demand for professionals in healthcare IT, mobile networking, and data management. If you are looking for the most in-demand jobs, these are the areas of IT you should be considering.
What can I do with an IT degree?
Most IT graduates are prepared to enter the workforce immediately and have little trouble securing jobs. Nearly every area of IT is showing faster than average growth, and the reported median salaries are impressive across the board.
IT graduates with a specialization, area of expertise, or certifications to add to their resumes will stand out from other applicants and be especially marketable.
Do I need an IT degree or is a certificate enough?
There is a lot of debate around the level or type of education necessary to succeed in the IT field. “Do I really need a degree, or is a certificate enough?”
In short, it depends on a few things. How much experience do you already have? What type of IT are you interested in? Are you looking for a job or a long-term career?
Generally speaking, a certificate can provide you with the technical know-how to land a well-paying job in the IT field. A degree, on the other hand, will give you a more rounded education, including the soft skills needed for a long-term career in IT.
Many argue that both are necessary.
- Online Information Technology Certificate Programs – With an online IT certificate program, you can develop advanced, marketable skills in a particular area. For example, Microsoft and Cisco certifications are popular options that can demonstrate to employers that you are an expert on these specific platforms.
- Bachelors in Information Technology – A bachelor’s degree is the most common degree choice for IT professionals. Most employers who are looking to hire for in-demand, well-paying positions are looking for candidates with a bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience.
- Masters in Information Technology – A master’s level program will prepare you for management positions as well as advanced roles in business and technology. You will likely be eligible to earn higher salaries than those with just an undergraduate education.
A degree will give you a solid foundation and get you started in the field, and adding certifications, later on, will ensure you are up-to-date on changing technologies.
How do I choose an IT degree program?
As you compare IT schools online, it’s important to select a program that is accredited. This means that the online IT courses are recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and that the program has undergone an extensive review to ensure its validity. You can find out if a school is accredited by visiting the Council for Higher Education Accreditation website.
If you choose to enroll in an unaccredited program, you will not be eligible for federal financial aid, you could have trouble transferring your credits, and ultimately, your degree may not be of much value in the eyes of potential employers.
In addition to accreditation, you will want to look for an IT program that:
- Offer the specialization or concentration you are interested in
- Includes certification opportunities during degree study (if that interests you)
- Offers internships, practicums, field experience or research opportunities (if those interest you)
- Is within your budget
Don’t just choose the first accredited IT program you come across. Do some research and comparison to find the one that offers the best opportunities and seems most in line with your goals!
What is the best online college for IT?
The best online IT degree program is one that is accredited, works with your schedule, is within your budget, and provides the education you need to achieve your career goals.
These are excellent programs at top schools, but this is just a starting point. Be sure to do your research to find the online IT degree program that is best for you and your future!