CHOOSING AN IT DEGREE: What You Need to Know for a Thriving Career

IT Degree
Credit: HerzingUniversity

You might be shocked to learn how many different tech-related degrees are offered at institutions across the country. If you are interested in technology and want to pursue a career in it, you should know what type of degree is best suited to your interests and professional ambitions.

Basically, for each field of study, you can obtain certifications or an associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree. You may even be able to obtain these in a regular classroom setting at a university or online.

I can say bodly say from expereince that these days, a four-year degree was no longer required to land a solid IT job; especially with the several online options that last for less than a year. This is as a result of the fact that there are more IT positions accessible than ever before. Employers increasingly require skill, a little expereince and a couple of well-recognized certifications to qualify.

But the question is, how do you choose an IT Degree?

In this article, I have put together the necessary information that will help you choose the best IT degree for you and scale through it.

Read Also: 11+ Technology Jobs With No Experience in 2024 (Updated)

Key Takeaway

  • Earning an IT bachelor’s degree offers a lot of opportunities because it is typically the minimal education required to qualify for many positions
  • The first step in pursuing a profession is to compare the key characteristics of various jobs, such as compensation, possibility for advancement in the industry, and worker quality of life
  • Determining which roles could match best is a smart approach for students to begin narrowing down the profession they might want to follow

What is an IT degree?

IT stands for information technology. It focuses on the use of computer programs and networks to address business problems. Because information technology understands how computers handle operations, you’ll have a good understanding of how data is converted into action. 

Many IT specialists will collaborate with industry people to overcome technology difficulties. 

So, what degree should you pursue for an IT position? With so many distinct computing degree options available, how do you determine which one to pursue? Unfortunately, I cannot answer those queries for you. Instead, I’ll go over the next seven computing degrees in depth so you can figure out the answers for yourself.

#1. Information Technology & Systems

This is the best computer degree option if you want to specialize in end-user computing, systems administration, and/or systems engineering because it covers all of those topics.

Courses include:

  • Introduction to UNIX.
  • Windows Server Networking
  • Database Concepts
  • Web Design I and II
  • Fundamentals of Business System Development

#2.  Software Engineering

Majoring in software engineering is a good choice if you want to build and develop computer programs that satisfy the demands of users and address real-world problems. 

Courses include:

  • Real-time Operating Systems
  • Software Design
  • Web Programming
  • User Interface Software
  • Database Modeling Concepts
  • Testing, analysis, and verification.

#3. Computer Engineering

Computer engineers make significant contributions to enhanced communication and network technology. Their mission is to create systems and products with a big global influence, such as manufacturing, medical, transportation, and economic sectors. 

Courses include:

  • Circuit Analysis and Lab
  • Software Design
  • AI and Machine Learning
  • Large-Scale Distributed System Design
  • Magnetic Fields and Waves
  • Calculus of many variables

#4. Computer Science

This degree is widely pursued by aspiring information technology workers. That being said, a CS degree is not for everyone because it is a challenging program that focuses on mathematics, programming, and computer science.

Courses include:

  • Programming Principles
  • Algorithms
  • Logic and Computation
  • Data Structures
  • Calculus

#5. Information Science

A degree in information science would allow you to understand (in depth) how to manage and store data. The government and commercial organizations require skilled individuals to electronically manage massive amounts of secret and high-value data. 

Courses include: 

  • Intermediate Programming.
  • Relational Database: Concepts and Applications
  • Web Database Development
  • Computer System and Architecture

#6. Cybersecurity

A cybersecurity degree teaches you how to design, run, analyze, and test the security of computer systems. It also covers topics of interest such as ethical hacking and digital forensics investigations. 

Courses include:

  • Information Assurance
  • Penetration Testing
  • Cyber-Physical Systems
  • Mathematical Cryptography

#7. Computer Animation

This subject teaches students how to employ algorithms and data structures to animate a variety of media, including online games, medical images, and movies. 

Courses include:

  • Linear Programming with Convex Operations
  • Algorithmic languages and compilers
  • Lighting and Shading for 3-D Graphics
  • Video Game Production
  • Advanced Film Production

5 Tips for Choosing an IT Degree

Information technology is an industry in which technically oriented people can typically expect to earn a lot of money if they have the necessary skills and education.

For students contemplating an IT degree program as an educational option, understanding where to invest their time and money is crucial. A little planning and research might help a student identify the best IT profession for them. The following are five suggestions to help students pick the correct path to study that will help them reach their objectives.

#1. Think About Your Long-Term Ambitions

The first stage for students is to consider what they want to do after graduation. IT is a diversified profession with many various types of jobs, and there is a strong demand in the market.

Students can limit their selections by determining the type of work they want to undertake or the employment they intend to pursue in the future.

Students can use a variety of resources to figure out where they want to go. So recently I got to know that the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics has a variety of information on IT occupations, including how much they pay, what degree of education is required, and more. Three IT-related professions — software developer, computer systems analyst, and information security analyst — are in the top ten of US News & World Report’s “100 Best Jobs of 2015,” with median earnings ranging from $81,000 to $92,000 per year.

The first step in pursuing a profession is to compare the key characteristics of various jobs, such as compensation, possibility for advancement in the industry, and worker quality of life.

#2. Research What Kind of Schooling a Specific Career Demands

Determining which roles could match best is a smart approach for students to begin narrowing down the profession they might want to follow, but understanding what kind of IT degree program and/or certifications certain jobs require can sometimes have a significant impact on that decision.

Data analytics and business intelligence, cyber security, and mobile application development are three high-demand jobs. While some organizations may hire for these positions with an associate’s degree, a bachelor’s or master’s degree is frequently required for advancement within the organization. Some positions may require professional certificates, such as the Certified Information Systems Security Professional.

According to an article I stumbled on recently in my research on Western Governors University’s Night Owl Blog, there isn’t always a clear path to choose whether to pursue a degree or a certification, even for in-demand, widely applicable certifications like Microsoft’s MCSE and Cisco CCNA.

Knowing what students need for their desired job path will help them choose what type of degree they require and which colleges are best for attaining it.

#3. Find the Proper Schools

Numerous schools offer IT-related degree programs, and many of them may differ significantly from one another.

I will advise you to look for a program that provides opportunities for skill development through class projects and internships. My school then had a curriculum with strong ties to the business community, active IT-focused student clubs, and a dedicated faculty. I went ahead to see  whether the program is involved in any academic partnership projects that offer learning opportunities using specialist software.”

Resources such as OnlineDegreeReview.org can help prospective students understand what to expect from a given school’s program, which can aid in evaluating several options.

#4. Make Sure it’s the Appropriate Course

While students may have a natural affinity or talent for dealing with computers, IT, like any other field of study, contains areas that students may not have considered, such as a strong emphasis on arithmetic. Early semesters are frequently used by college students to ensure that they are satisfied with their selected majors, but I can say this method might be problematic for an IT degree program.

Because, in a four-year university, many of the specialized or IT-focused courses will be taken in the student’s junior and senior years. “This can make it difficult to determine early on whether a program is appropriate for them. As a result, freshman and sophomore students should seek out workshops, IT-focused student club activities, and self-initiated learning opportunities to begin to broaden their experience base.

#5. Maintain Flexibility and Keep Learning

I can tell you that IT is a rapidly changing sector that will look very different in five or ten years, which students should keep in mind when planning their educational paths.

I recently came across a Tech Pro Research survey of IT workers. 77 percent intend to enhance their education to keep their abilities from becoming obsolete.

However, in the IT field, things are always changing. Students should expect to learn throughout their careers. To create a solid basis, I suggest that students pursue a Bachelor of Science in Business degree with a focus on information systems.

It combines a solid mix of business courses with specialized IT-related courses. I found out that students learn how to analyze business requirements and then design and implement solutions to meet them. The trendy items are typically the tools that a student learns, such as a specific language or development environment. Those instruments will evolve throughout time, but the degree’s base will remain the same.

Which Type of IT Degree Should I Pursue?

There are several various sorts of IT degrees you might pursue, each with its own set of advantages:

Once you’ve determined whatever subject of study interests you the most, you must decide the type of degree to pursue. Can you just get a certificate? Is an associate’s degree sufficient to get you in the door? Do most employers demand a bachelor’s degree? How much more useful is a master’s degree? Is there any reason to consider having a doctorate?

Let’s break down each type so you may get a better understanding of what you desire.

#1. IT Associate Degrees

An associate’s degree in information technology qualifies graduates for entry-level computer occupations such as desktop publishing. Learning even the fundamentals can help you get into some firms and gain significant work experience in your chosen field.

Jobs available to persons with an associate degree are frequently in the gaming or graphic design industries. There are numerous online associate degrees in computer technology, therefore it is critical to select an accredited and respected college in the area.

#2. IT Bachelor’s Degrees

Earning an IT bachelor’s degree offers a lot of opportunities because it is typically the minimal education required to qualify for many positions. Whether you have a general or specialized computer science degree, you will be able to find work at a competitive salary. 

There are numerous majors available in information technology and computers. There is a degree for almost any field you wish to pursue.

#3. IT Master’s Degree

There are fewer IT master’s degree programs than bachelor’s degree programs, but having a master’s degree in technology demonstrates to present and potential employers that you are committed to taking on advanced projects and managing positions. Of course, with increased responsibility comes a bigger salary. 

IT master’s degree programs often take two to three years to finish, but the investment pays off.

#4. IT Doctoral Degree

A Ph.D. degree in computer science and technology qualifies you for high-level research positions in education, government, and data-driven corporations. Earning this degree is not quick, easy, or cheap, but it will prepare you to be a professor or executive in the subject.

#5. IT Certifications

IT certifications can help anyone, at any stage of their career, advance existing abilities or learn completely new ones. Certificate programs often take weeks to complete and have low related costs. The negative is that certifications are rarely sufficient to qualify for a given work role.

Examples of certificates in computers and technology include: 

  • CompTIA A+ 
  • Ethical hacking
  • Additional certifications include Google Cloud Certified Professional Cloud Architect, AWS Certified Solutions Architect, and Program Management Professional.

6 Important Factors to Consider When Choosing a Major

Choosing a major is an important stage in the college journey and should not be taken lightly. Here are six points to consider before deciding on a major.

#1. What are Your Top Priorities?

Some students choose specific majors based primarily on salary potential and job demand. Other students choose majors that interest them or in which they excel.

Before deciding on a major, consider which of these three factors—economic advantage, interest level, and ability—is most significant and relevant to you and your ambitions.

#2. How Rigorous Will the Coursework be?

Some majors may feel more difficult than others due to factors such as the amount of homework required, course expectations, and exam frequency. Classes in your major will account for a considerable amount of your college course load. Before you declare a major, ensure that you understand how demanding your weekly workload will be.

The most demanding majors were determined by Indiana University Bloomington’s 2016 National Survey of Student Engagement, which looked at the average amount of time students spent preparing for classes each week. The most difficult majors were architecture, chemical engineering, and aeronautical engineering.

Criminal justice, communication, and public relations were among the easier majors, requiring less preparation.

#3. What are You Good at?

Understanding your natural skills and talents can help you make an informed and confident decision about your major.

Your parents may want you to be an artist, but what if you prefer business or science? Just because someone else has a degree path in mind does not imply it is appropriate for you.

Examining your high school grades, as well as your ACT or SAT scores, will help you discover which academic subjects are appropriate for you. This allows you to highlight your academic skills in specific areas.

#4. What are You Interested in?

According to studies, students perform better in school when they pursue their interests. Unfortunately, it is not always straightforward for people to determine their hobbies.

Consider taking a personality quiz to get some assistance. For example, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator questionnaire can assist you in identifying topics that are closely related to your personality and interests.

This popular test uses your behaviours and attitudes to assign one of 16 personality types, each represented by a four-letter combination. Examples are ISFJ (introverted, sensing, feeling, and judging) and ENTP (extroverted, intuitive, thinking, and perceiving).

Joining student clubs, volunteering, holding a part-time job on campus, running a side hustle, or doing an internship can all help you explore potential areas of study and future pathways.

#5. What Did Your Academic Advisor Say?

Checking in with your academic advisor is a vital step in selecting a major. I could remember my days in school. I had an academic advisor. He actually helped me walk through the part of choosing.

Your advisor has likely had similar conversations with hundreds of students and can offer advice on choosing a major. They may even suggest a major you had not previously considered that suits your academic and professional objectives.

When dealing with an academic adviser, realize that their time is valuable and limited. Arrive at the meeting prepared with a list of meaningful questions.

#6. Which Are the Highest-Paying Fields?

When deciding on a major, evaluate how significant pay and salary potential are to you. If you’re motivated by high pay, seeking a degree in a STEM-related job can be appealing to you.

However, some students are more concerned with the importance of their work than the compensation offered; they do not desire a job solely for the money. Human services, education, and visual or performing arts are among popular non-STEM majors.

Lately, I discovered that the Bureau of Labor Statistics updates its list of the highest-paying jobs regularly. Psychiatrists, as well as oral and maxillofacial surgeons, obstetricians and gynecologists, and general internal medicine specialists, are among the highest-ranked healthcare professions.

If you wish to work outside of health and medical, high-paying occupations include CEO, physicist, computer and information systems manager, and architectural and engineering manager.

#7. Evaluate Career Prospects

Your major should be compatible with future work chances, so evaluate what it will be like to pursue a career in the fields you are interested in. In addition to earning potential, career growth, educational requirements, and abilities are all essential aspects in assessing what could be a suitable fit for you. How competitive will it be to find work? Will your degree make you a desirable job candidate?

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook and the US Department of Labor’s CareerOneStop are both good resources for answering these issues. You can obtain information on job responsibilities, outlooks, educational requirements, and in-demand talents.

#8. Research Earning Potential

Some majors have higher starting salaries than others, which can have a long-term impact. 

What comes out on top? According to the centre, the most paid degrees are health, business, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), with average yearly incomes of $37,000 or more at the entry level and an average of $65,000 or more across a recipient’s whole career.

Money isn’t everything, but it’s important to consider the return on investment for your undergraduate degree, especially if you’re taking out student loans to pay for it. The Net Price Calculator, for example, is one of many tools available from the United States Department of Education’s College Affordability and Transparency Center to calculate college prices.

Which is Better Computer Science or IT?

Computer science occupations typically pay more than information technology professions, notably in software development, artificial intelligence, and data science. However, information technology occupations can offer competitive pay, particularly in cybersecurity and network administration.

What Can You Study with IT?

  • Study options include 
  • Computer science
  • Software engineering
  •  Information science
  • Database Management and Web Development

What is the Difference Between IT and Tec?

In the information technology industry, the term “tech” refers to “technology” or “technical.” It is frequently used as a shorthand for the broader IT industry or the field of technology.

Is IT Still What Going into Computer Science?

Yes, particularly in cybersecurity and data science. Coding, programming, and almost any other type of technical profession you can think of are still in high demand and will be for the foreseeable future. “The pandemic has hastened our reliance on technology, and this reliance will not go away.

Are Information Technology Degrees Worth it?

Individuals interested in information technology may find that pursuing a degree in the industry is an excellent career route. With the growing demand for technology workers in a variety of industries, an IT degree can lead to solid and profitable employment prospects.

Conclusion

Once you’ve graduated from college with an environmental science degree, you’ll (ideally) find work in some element of environmental science and base your career around it.  This means you can dedicate a significant portion of your life to this field. So, choose your major prudently.

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