By Elizabeth Exline
Working in IT may not evoke scenes of fame and glamour, but what information technology jobs lack in sexiness they make up for in opportunity. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor & Statistics (BLS), employment in the computer and information technology sector is projected to grow 13% between 2020 and 2030.
That translates to some 667,600 new jobs in a diverse range of fields. Add in the fact that the median annual wage was $91,250 for computer and information technology jobs in May 2020, and the field starts to look even more alluring.
But succeeding in information technology (or information systems — the two are in fact different things) requires more than a knowledge of coding or computer systems. Here, we’ll explore what an information technology degree encompasses and what kinds of jobs those IT skills can lead to.
Information technology, writes Indeed.com, includes a wide variety of roles focused on "helping organizations maintain their digital infrastructure and providing troubleshooting assistance to technology consumers. IT employees are in demand to help others keep up with technological advances and security procedures."
All that is a fancy way of saying that jobs in IT tend to leverage technology when solving problems and improving productivity or optimization.
Information technology is a big umbrella though. On its own, it refers to "computing systems used to collect, record, organize and access data," writes U.S. News & World Report.
Information systems, meanwhile, is an even bigger umbrella: It includes not just information technology but also the people and processes involved in that bigger informational context.
(And all this doesn’t even touch the difference between information technology, computer science, and cybersecurity!)
One interesting thing about information technology is that experience can count for a lot. It’s a field where curiosity (to learn new technology), troubleshooting (to see how technology can be creatively applied) and being an autodidact (to continuously learn) can all work to your advantage.
There’s no one way to begin your career in IT. Some careers, like becoming a computer support specialist, don’t necessarily require a postsecondary degree. Many others, like becoming a computer systems analyst, can hinge on a bachelor’s degree.
In a perfect world, a career in information technology would start with a passion for tech. From there, CompTIA outlines the following steps:
An information technology degree, also known as a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology, covers such skills as:
Students pursuing their IT degree can also expect to learn about subjects like network architecture and computer programming, among others. By studying a breadth of subjects inherent to information technology and systems, students build a solid foundation for a career in information technology.
Overall, notes U.S. News & World Report, bachelor’s programs "emphasize technical knowledge, skills and applications — as well as strategies for applying them in order to solve real-world problems."
What’s more, these courses offer the opportunity for students to learn more about specializations that might interest them professionally.
"A Bachelor of Science in Information Technology complements the practical knowledge many of our students have already gleaned in their day-to-day professional experience," explains Kathryn Uhles, the associate dean of IT at University of Phoenix (UOPX). "It takes those skills further as students learn how to develop databases, design networks, secure computer systems and more."
In a word, yes.
Education is always an investment in yourself, but an IT degree can provide vital support for a career in information technology. A degree can make you a more competitive candidate in the job market, and it can increase your earning potential.
U.S. News & World Report explains: "Students can land most information technology jobs with a bachelor’s degree in IT, computer science or other tech-related fields."
An information technology degree offers the opportunity to learn the theory behind the practice, so to speak, of computing systems. But graduates can also leverage that IT degree in a variety of jobs.
"An IT degree enables a graduate to confidently pursue a number of professional avenues," Uhles adds. "It is the credential that goes beyond checking the box of ‘earning a degree’ to offer real, value-added skills to a person’s knowledge base and experience."
Add to that the fact that virtually every industry needs IT specialists, and suddenly being a competitive candidate means you are prepared to pursue opportunities in a variety of industries. That might be at a cutting-edge technology firm. It might also be working in IT for a media company. The options are virtually endless.
The job market in IT is vast and varied. According to BLS, job seekers with a bachelor’s degree can pursue a range of jobs, including computer network architects, computer programmers, database administrators and architects, and information security analysts.
At University of Phoenix, the Bachelor of Science in Information Technology prepares students to pursue similar roles. Specifically, these include:
The salary ranges are not specific to students or graduates of University of Phoenix. Actual outcomes vary based on multiple factors, including prior work experience, geographic location and other factors specific to the individual. University of Phoenix does not guarantee employment, salary level or career advancement. BLS data is geographically based. Information for a specific state/city can be researched on the BLS website.
Earning your IT degree at University of Phoenix offers some distinct advantages. The online format, in which 5-week courses are offered one at a time, is ideal for students who are simultaneously working or juggling other commitments. It creates space to concentrate on the material at hand before building on that knowledge with the next course.
Beyond the convenient format, however, UOPX offers a curriculum that is aligned to skills employers want. And students can track their progress in real-time. A dashboard reveals exactly what skills they learn in each class and which they can then apply in their careers, even before they complete their degree.
Students pursuing their Bachelor of Science in Information Technology also have the opportunity to specialize their degree with a certificate in any of the following categories:
Tallying up the cost of an IT degree is like trying to decide which app is the most valuable. The assessment, or in this case the cost, depends on a number of variables.
State schools charge different rates depending on a student’s residency. According to U.S. News & World Report, "in-state students generally pay $150 to $600 per credit, which adds up to an average program cost of $18,000 to $68,000. Out-of-state students should expect to pay at least $550 to $700 per credit or $68,000 to $82,000 for the entire program."
Some online schools, meanwhile, can bypass the residency question altogether. University of Phoenix, for example, does not require any particular state residency for its tuition rate of $398 per credit. (The Bachelor of Science in Information Technology requires 120 credits for completion.) The University also offers fixed tuition, which means students lock in their tuition rate when they begin their program. It will not increase at any point during the course of completing their degree.
Bachelor’s degrees in information technology generally take four years to complete. However, some students may finish quicker at UOPX if they have transferrable college credits or alternative credits (through standardized testing or an alternative credit provider such as Study.com).
Another way to speed up the process? Undergo a Prior Learning Assessment. This UOPX feature awards college credit for eligible life or work experience.
Information technology is a field that continues to expand and evolve, but one thing is for certain: It’s becoming an increasingly prominent part of everyone’s life. With an IT degree, you can be prepared for opportunities in this exciting field.
Start your IT career today! Learn more about our Bachelor of Science in Information Technology.
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