Online Technology & IT Degrees
Online degrees in technology and IT can help prepare students for a number of careers involving work with computer systems. Coursework typically covers topics such as programming, setting up network systems, backing up and securing systems, or maintaining databases. Although programs and specific concentrations vary greatly, online IT degrees may qualify graduates to become computer support specialists, network systems analysts, software developers or database administrators, among other professions.
Online Degrees in Technology and IT
Online schools for technology can give students the benefit of flexibility in terms of location and schedule. Programs can be found from the certificate to the graduate degree level, with majors in a variety of tech-related fields. For example, online colleges might offer technology degrees in computer science, software design, engineering, or information management, to name a few.
Students may also find online schools feature a number of concentrations at each degree level. For example, a college offering a bachelor's of science in information technology might allow students to specialize in network administration, network design and management, security, or software development. When considering an online technology degree, students should talk with an enrollment counselor to find out more about the focus and classes offered as part of their program of interest.
IT Degree Specializations
Students interested in pursuing a degree in technology or IT can find a wide range of degree paths available online. Examples of online IT degrees include:
- Associate Degree in IT - Geared towards students who want to gain a basic understanding of IT concepts and technologies, an associate degree generally requires two years of full-time study. As well, students may be expected to take course work in other core subject areas, such as math and language arts, as part of an associate program. With an online associate degree in IT, graduates may qualify to work in computer support, software development, or even network administration, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov).
- Bachelor's Degree in IT - This degree typically requires four years of full-time study to complete. Alternatively, students may be able to transfer into a bachelor's program after they have completed an associate degree. The BLS reports that a bachelor's degree is the standard for employment in many IT professions, including computer and information systems manager, computer programmer, or computer hardware engineer.
- Master's Degree in IT - Potentially helpful to students seeking more advanced IT knowledge or looking for more challenging work, a master's degree typically entails two years of work following completion of a bachelor's program. Degree concentrations at this level may include software engineering, information security, or project management. According to the BLS, some companies require network and computer systems administrators, particularly those in senior positions, to possess a master's degree in the field.
- Doctoral Degree in IT - Length of a doctoral degree can vary, but a Ph.D. in computer science or information technology generally takes four to five years of study beyond a bachelor's degree. A doctoral degree can allow students to pursue research-oriented positions as computer and information research scientists, or postsecondary teaching positions in information technology. Online schools may offer multiple degrees at this level, including doctorates in information systems management or data security.
Related Careers in Information Technology
A degree in IT can prepare students for many different careers, whether at technology-oriented companies or in the IT or technology departments of other businesses. Some positions may require certification in specific network components or programming languages. With an online degree in IT or technology, graduates could potentially find employment as:
- Computer Systems Analysts - Job responsibilities for these workers typically includes evaluating current computer systems and procedures and recommending how an organization could operate more efficiently. An understanding of both business and computers could be an asset on the job, and the BLS notes that training in management information systems, or MIS, is often be helpful.
- Database Administrators - An understanding of software and how to track and organize a company's data, like financial information and shipping records, can be one focus of a database administrator's work. They may also help maintain existing databases, do system back-ups, and make modifications or upgrades to programs. The BLS notes that a bachelor's degree in MIS could also be beneficial to this profession.
- Network and Computer Systems Administrators - These professionals oversee the day-to-day operations of a company's computer networks. Responsibilities might include installing and monitoring computer systems for local area networks, or LANs, wide area networks, or WANs, intranets, and other data communication systems. The BLS notes that a bachelor's degree is commonly required to be employed as a network and computer systems administrator.
Technology Industry Trends
As companies across industries rely increasingly on technology and computers to operate smoothly, demand for IT positions may continue to grow. Data from the BLS (2012) shows that employment opportunities for the following types of workers will likely increase over the next decade:
- Computer Systems Analysts - 22 percent nationwide from 2010 to 2020
- Database Administrators - 31 percent nationwide from 2010 to 2020
- Network and Computer Systems Administrators - 28 percent nationwide from 2010 to 2020
"Best Online Info Tech Graduate Programs," U.S. News and World Report, http://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/computer-information-technology, 2013
"Computer Systems Analysts," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-systems-analysts.htm, 2012-13
"Database Administrators," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/database-administrators.htm, 2012-13
"Network and Computer Systems Administrators," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/network-and-computer-systems-administrators.htm, 2012-13
"IT Occupations," O-NET Online, http://www.onetonline.org/find/quick?s=IT
"Online IT Degrees", Western Governors University, http://www.wgu.edu/online_it_degrees/programs, 2013