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Information Technology Courses and Degrees

Training within the information technology industry can be extensive, and many programs can lead to a diverse set of career options. Information technology degree holders can obtain certification for specific skills, as well as take part in a specialized field for research or data communications. The degree allows professionals to work in the field of technology as a computer scientist, database administrator, communications analyst, web developer, and other computer or Internet-related position.

Majors and Specializations Offered at Information Technology School

An information technology degree offers many opportunities and specializations. Education requirements for can range from an associate's degree to a doctoral degree program. Some degree programs are offered through vocational schools or technical institutions that feature an information technology school. Longer education programs are offered at universities and colleges. Students may pursue Associate degree programs, Bachelor's degrees, a Doctoral program, or individual certification. The main branches of specializations can offer options as a:

  • Computer Scientist
  • Database Administrator
  • Network Systems Analyst
  • Data Communication Analysts
  • Computer Specialist
  • Computer and Information Systems Manager
  • Software Publisher
  • Computer Software Engineer

Job Description and Responsibilities of Information Technology Degree Holders

Depending on the specialization and skills, common responsibilities of graduates may include:

  • Exhibiting strong communication skills
  • Developing specialized skills with additional training and certification
  • Working and collaborating with teams, and also working independently
  • Assuming management roles and lead a team of other information technology professionals
  • Designing and implementing software, hardware, and Internet-based projects
  • Planning and developing new computer systems
  • Creating efficient systems and processes
  • Solving technical problems
  • Conducting research

Computer systems analysts are responsible for solving computer problems, and helping meet the technology needs for the organization they work for. Training and experience from an information technology education can help with a variety of career options. They may be involved with troubleshooting, design and development of new systems, and making recommendations for specific hardware and software applications. System analysts may also work in the fields of system development or as a systems architect. Programmer analysts are generally responsible for programming and system analysis.

Computer scientists focus more on the research and development fields, and often work in private industry. Computer scientists can also obtain a formal education to grow in their career. They specialize in language development, designing programming tools, knowledge-based systems, and even computer game design. Database administrators may be involved with managing software and organizing stored data, while network systems and data communications analysts are responsible for designing, testing, and developing efficient networks such as the Internet or other data communications systems.

Career Options With An Information Technology Degree

Students can choose to work in:

  • Technology firms

  • Startup ventures

  • Privately owned firms

  • Healthcare industries

  • Government offices

  • Self-employed businesses

  • Web development companies

  • System analyst management

  • Help-desk operators

  • Freelance projects

Telecommuting is also an attractive option for an information technology career, since the nature of the work allows the professional to use a standard home office to correspond and communicate with their team.

Information Technology Degree Programs

Options for Vocational Students

Associate's degree programs in Information Technology are available. These an be classified as an Associate in Arts or Associate of Science degree program, and common programs include:

  • Information Systems
  • Computer Networking and Security Technology
  • Internetworking Technology
  • Software Engineering
  • Computer Network Engineering
  • Visual Communication
  • Networking

These degree programs can train students to develop skills in telecommunications, Internet protocol and procedures, networking, help-desk operations, purchasing, decision making, Internet programming, and Internet network administration.

Options at Colleges and Universities

Information technology students enrolled in a 4-year college program at an area college, online degree program, or other university, can take part in a variety of specialized courses and programs. Most degree programs offer a laboratory-based curriculum that allows for hands-on training and application of current technologies. Students can learn the various integrated practices of their specialization, and also learn about administrative procedures for long-term management skills.

Students can gain a firm understanding of computer programming language, operating systems, systems security, computer networks, relational database systems, and other technical areas. Each course can also prepare students for certification.

Bachelor degree programs generally fall under the Bachelor of Science category, and may focus on technological information systems, computing systems, instruction in computer hardware and software principles, database management, telecommunications, algorithm design, user tactics, and human interface design. Online bachelor degrees are also available, offering the flexibility of obtaining a comprehensive course of study from a distance.

Common programs include:

  • Information Systems

  • Visual Communication

  • Health Administration/Health Information Systems

  • Information Systems Security

  • Graphics & Multimedia

  • Information Assurance and Security

  • Project Management

  • Web Application Development

  • Network Administration

  • Computer Networking

  • Database Technology

Information Technology Certification

During or after their course, students can also work towards certification. Information Technology professionals may choose to pursue certification as a:

  • Microsoft Certified Database Administrator

  • Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator

  • HP Certified IT Professional

  • IBM Certified Enterprise Developer

  • Oracle Certified Professional Java Developer

  • Sun Certified Java Programmer

  • Symantec Certified Security Engineer

  • Nortel Networks Certified Network Architect

  • Apple Certified System Administrator

  • Cisco Certified Network Professional

  • Certified Information Systems Auditor

Each vendor of the computer software or hardware program offers a range of certifications, and many degree programs offer the skills and training needed to pass the exams.

Information Technology School Accreditation

School accreditation varies by state, region, and type of study. Students who pursue an online degree program will find accreditation through regional accrediting commissions. The Higher Learning Commission of the region is responsible for accreditation of most information technology schools throughout the country.

Information Technology School Graduates Earning Potential and Employment Prospects

The information technology market is growing and expanding at a record pace. The rise in technology and business systems, along with a strong Internet economy, make an information technology career a highly attractive choice in the long-term. The demand for computer specialists, database administrators, and programmers is growing at a high rate as technology becomes more sophisticated. The field is projected to be one of the fastest growing sectors in the world, and job openings continue to rise.

Information technology school graduates made an average of $59,480 in 2004. Starting offers for computer specialists with a doctoral degree in computer science averaged $93,050 in 2005, $50,280 for bachelor's degrees in computer science, and $44,417 for a degree in management information systems. Earnings vary depending on skill level, certification, and specialization.

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