Run the Systems that Run Everything: Information Technology

Information technology studies ways to develop and create computer-based information systems like software applications and computer hardware. Students who earn a degree in Information technology are prepared to manage, distribute and process information through computers. Completing classes for an information technology degree is the first step toward a lucrative career in the technology industry.

Information Technology Degree Information

IT specialists bring information and applications to any business and personal setting by creating products that set up and maintain computer systems. The goal of IT professionals is to improve the efficiency and capabilities of information systems so that computer networks function properly without interruption. Some of this includes upgrading computer software, handling office computer networks, working with internal applications, customizing software, building websites and maintaining databases.

Information technology is an especially broad field, so the title of the job depends on the area of concentration. Many programs for IT focus on the three most sought after specialties: computer systems, programming and network administration. Website production, systems analysis and quality assurance are just some of the exciting fields someone with an information technology degree can enter. Since IT is so broad and has job potential at literally any company, it gives students the freedom to choose another topic of interest for a minor, which is a great way to get an IT job in a specialized field.

Bachelor Degree

The Bachelor of Information Technology (BIT) degree focuses on computers and technology. These programs typically deal with web design, databases, programming skills and networking, using each in a range of different fields. The main difference between a major in information technology and computer science is that students are expected to study management and information theory. Computer science focuses on the science of computers, while information technology concentrates on the business and communication aspects.

Earning A Degree Online

Online degrees in information technology teach students databases, software, systems analysis and networks, along with management techniques. Whether it is a bachelors or masters degree, a post-secondary education online allows students the freedom to work and go to school at the same time, since online courses can happen from any location. Information technology is an especially good choice for distance learning. Make sure that the school is accredited by the Computing Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). Another option is to look into a two-year associates degree that can be used to transfer to another college of university.

Master Of Science

The Master of Science in Information Technology gives a general technical overview of current technologies and progressing ones in the industry. This degree takes only about a year to complete and features an emphasis on technology into the business world, with specializations in different areas of business and technology. Managing software development projects, leading teams of IT professionals and learning design and analysis are just some of the skills and practices taught. However, this degree focuses more on theory and less on business. Students should already have advance mathematics skills in calculus and statistics, although anyone with computer-related bachelors degrees can apply for programs.

Doctorate In Information Technology

A Ph.D. in IT takes around four years to complete and involves research and developing new systems along with coursework in electronic commerce, multimedia information systems, linear programming, simulation, graph theory and more. Students will also be required to teach classes as part of the doctorate program.

Masters In Business Administration With Focus On Information Technology

A Masters in Business Administration, or MBA, with a concentration in information technology, deals with the business side of IT. The degree prepares students in developing design and information system, including computing system, as solutions for businesses in terms of communications and support. It also teaches about hardware, software, algorithms, user strategies and telecommunications for the worlds largest companies.

Certification

Support and system administration specialists, especially in information security, will most likely need to obtain certification. Check Point Certified Security Expert (CCSE), Check Point Certified Security Administrator (CCSA) and Symantec Certified Security Engineer (SCSE) are programs that anyone in this field will probably have to go through for work.

Coursework

Students will usually have some kind of required readings and lectures, as well as plenty of interactive exercises to practice and understand the subject matter. Assignments involve incorporating learning material into real-world situations.

Coursework is related to managing database systems technology, data warehousing, Internet business, information assurance, informatics, software development and engineering with web applications and understanding telecommunications requirements such as programming, electronic commerce and systems development.

Career Opportunities

Information technology is a constantly expanding field as more businesses move towards computer-based enterprises. There are generally two kinds of IT jobs. Back-end work is the supporting and maintaining of networks and databases, while front-end work focuses on improving usability and interface, like website design.

Software engineers program code to run software products, including computer programs such as word processing and financial management. Network engineers build and sustain back-end technology by implementing a local area network (LAN) for intra-communication and a wide area network (WAN) to connect to the Internet. Making sure all workstations, routers, servers and hubs work is part of the daily job duties. Programmers write custom software intended for specific company use. Computer systems specialists are in charge of installing, maintaining and upgrading hardware.

Network administrators and system supports improve the efficiency of a company by upgrading and building computers, downloading new software, setting up email accounts and backing up information. These people are also responsible for emergency services, such as a security breach from a hacker or virus threats, as well as general troubleshooting. Database administrators maintain databases with back-end support from a company's email and direct marketing campaigns. Customer preferences, demographics and purchase histories are stored, while the database is updated, tested, archived and repaired.

Web producers and developers translate what a company wants on its website into graphic design using HTML code. Producers update, quality check and post content on the site, as well as determine how the site will represent the company in the future. Developers, on the other hand, use Internet software and languages such as HTML and JavaScript to update information and create new pages that have images, text and links.

Quality assurance analysts work as a team to ensure that websites are carefully combed over so there are no mistakes before the site goes public. At hardware companies, QA teams supervise the production process, while at Internet companies, QA engineers check for the functionality of features, interface and navigation on the site.

Earning Potential

Skilled information technology specialists are in high demand as companies adopt computers and web-based business strategies. The U.S. Bureau of Labor reported that IT salaries start at $45,000 and earn up to $112,000 with a higher degree. Software engineers can start anywhere from $48,000 to $59,000, whereas senior network administrators can expect up to $81,000. Database administrators salaries range from $69,000 to $92,000. Web producers can make up to $82,000, while front-end web developers can make up to $76,000. Entry-level quality assurance analysts can start at $48,000.

Information Technology Degree FAQs

Do I Need a Degree to Work in Information Technology?

A bachelor's degree is usually required to work in information technology. Most people can start an entry-level position with a bachelor's degree, but higher-level positions may ask for a master's in information technology. Some schools also offer an MBA program with concentrations in information technology.

What Are the Requirements for Acceptance Into an Information Technology Degree Program?

Students applying to information technology degree programs, whether online or elsewhere, will need to have a high school diploma or equivalency degree. It is best to illustrate your interest in technology by offering your own programming projects or discussing prior work experience in the field. Contact the admissions office at the school you are interested in to find out more.

What Topics Are Covered in Information Technology Degree Programs?

Information technology students will have readings and lectures in addition to interactive exercises that test skill and knowledge on various computer-related subject matters. Much of the schoolwork will be about managing database systems technology, software development and computer engineering.

IT students will also learn how to improve the efficiency and capability of information systems so networks can function properly. Some online information technology degree programs focus on varying specialties, like programming and network administration.

What Are Some Careers Available in Information Technology?

IT jobs are based on back-end and front-end work. Back-end work supports and maintains networks and databases, whereas front-end work improves the interface and practicality of these systems. Possible career opportunities with a degree in information technology include software engineer, network engineer, computer programming, network administrator, database administrator, web producer, web developer and more.

What Is Required of Someone Who Works in Information Technology?

IT professionals will need to know how to create databases, design networks, manage data and administer different computer systems. Students will have to be able to work well in groups and come up with creative solutions to technical problems, as well as have a solid understanding of math and computer science.

Information Technology Student Guide

Information technology is the study, development and creation of computer-based information systems. From software applications to computer hardware, information technology, which is more commonly known as IT, uses the combination of computer and communications systems to implement, support, process, disseminate and manage information.

IT professionals perform various computer-related job duties, such as installing applications, creating databases and designing complex networks. They also deal with data management, computer engineering, networking, software design and administering various systems.

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