Information technology (IT) is a fast growing field of technology within engineering concerned with computers and telecommunications and how information is stored and transmitted. People who work in IT utilize these technologies as well as manage networks and databases.
Although humans have been storing and transmitting data since writing was developed, IT usually refers to the period beginning roughly around World War II and extending to the present. During the last 70 years computers and mobile technology have increasingly become the method for maintaining and distributing data across computer networks, televisions and telephones.
With the increase in IT technologies there has also been an increase in the demand for competent IT workers. Companies rely heavily on efficient storage and distribution of data as well as maintaining information systems and other computer related activities. New degrees focused on IT and computer systems management have sprung up in traditional four year colleges, community colleges and online colleges.
Every school has slightly different requirements and there are dozens of elective classes that IT students can take, but many of the education requirements are similar. It all depends on whether you are considering an associates degree, bachelors degree or graduate work in the field, and what your career goals.
An associate’s degree in Information Technology requires general education credits in fields like composition, written communication and some general science classes. Specific classes needed include several math classes, and departments often emphasize advanced math studies, usually beyond algebra.
Technology classes emphasize understanding and mastering computer networks, problem solving and computing and virtual communication strategies as well as databases and database languages like XML and SQL and management information systems.
Bachelor’s degrees cover much of the same material, but with more depth and an increased emphasis on programming and mathematics. There are also more electives and students are able to focus more narrowly on their interests, such as gaming, web design or graphics.
Because the need for IT managers and others familiar with the field, there has been a large increase in the number of degrees offered. One of the largest growing segments in online degrees and there are several accredited schools to choose from. Several reputable accreditation associations, including ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board and CSAB, keep records of accredited degree programs.
There are a variety of jobs in the IT field, ranging from IT managers to Information Security Analysts and Computer Systems Analysts. These fields are growing quickly as society and business become more centered around electronic solutions.
Computer and Information Systems Managers should have at least a bachelor’s degree as well as some prior job experience. The average income is $115,000 per year or $55 per hour. Their main responsibilities include planning, coordinating and directing computer activities for an organization.
Computer Systems Analysts also need a bachelor’s degree although they earn slightly less than a manager at around $77,000 per year. However, the field is growing faster and there is more need for such people. Their primary duties involve analyzing and studying an organization’s computer systems and troubleshooting.
Related fields include information security, web design and network architects. Many of these occupations have overlap with more traditional IT jobs and there is also increasing demand for people who can do all three.
- American Tech Association is a leading industry professional association.
- The Association of Information Technology Professionals is another leading professional organization for IT.
- ISACA is a non profit global association developing knowledge and practices for information systems.
- BICSI is helping to advance information technology services and also offers career guidance and continuing education.
- The College of Information Technology is an accredited online college offering degress in IT.
- US News and World Reports IT program rankings