Quiz: Is An Online Information Technology Associate Program Right for Me?
A: Graduates of online associate degree programs in information technology gain a generalist education in computer technology and systems, understanding how computers propel a variety of industries.
Companies increasingly look for employees with expertise in computer networking and systems administration. The BLS projects computer and information technology jobs to grow 12% through 2028.
Q: Does a two-year degree program feel like the right study timeline?
A: Full-time students typically complete the required credits for an online associate degree program in information technology in two years. However, students can lengthen or shorten the degree timeline depending on whether they study part time or pursue an accelerated program. Part-time students may take around three years to graduate, while students in accelerated programs may graduate within one year.
Q: Do you have prior credits to transfer?
A: Many students take AP courses in high school to prepare for college. Credits earned from AP courses or in general education courses at other accredited colleges or universities may transfer to an online associate in information technology program.
Students may also gain credits for life and work experience, such as military service. Students should speak with an admissions advisor to explore their credit transfer options.
Q: Are you interested in eventually earning a bachelor's degree?
A: An online associate degree in information technology is the entry-level requirement for some careers in the industry. A bachelor's degree gives students a deeper understanding of the business and professional applications of information technology, preparing graduates for roles with higher salaries and more responsibilities. Many programs allow students to transfer credits from an associate degree to a bachelor's degree, shortening the time it takes to graduate.
What Will You Learn in an Online Associate Information Technology Program?
Through introductory IT classes, students learn about the general role of the IT department in organizations. Through more specialized coursework, students examine popular operating systems, database tools, and programming languages. In addition, associate in IT programs explore the fundamentals of computer hardware, networking, cybersecurity, and telecommunications. Courses in computer architecture and organization teach students how modern computers function.
IT associate programs also include coursework in areas not directly related to IT, such as calculus, business law, project management, and accounting. Curricula vary by program, but the following list outlines common associate in information technology courses.
Common Classes and Coursework
Systems Analysis and Design: This course teaches students how to design and build computer systems. Students learn how to analyze a business case, determine system requirements, and implement a system that meets particular specifications. Course topics include systems architecture, user interface design, and physical systems design.
Introduction to Web Design and Development: Through web design and development classes, students learn the basics of how websites are constructed. They may use HTML to populate a site with text, graphics, links, and other elements. Students may also examine current research and discuss trends in web design and development.
Networking and Telecommunications: This course offers an overview of the data communication and network technologies that organizations use. The class may also cover computer network theory and design. Students learn about signal modulation, digital packet switching and routing, and systems integration.
Database Concepts: In database courses, students learn about the basic principles and structures of database management systems. Learners examine basic database terminology and explore data modeling and database design. Students may also learn to use the Structured Query Language and popular database applications.
Introduction to Programming: Learners study the basic concepts of structured and object-oriented programming languages. The course may introduce several common programming languages and explain their applications in business. Students gain experience solving problems, processing information, and developing applications with languages such as C++ and Java.
Skills You Will Gain
Students who pursue an information technology degree online build the skills they need to fill a variety of roles in IT firms and departments. The top IT associate programs foster skills in one or several programming languages. Through Java courses, students build basic skills in object-oriented programming, learning to create web-based applications, and applets. IT learners may also gain experience using C++ to solve problems and process data. While some programs only cover web design on a theoretical level, others teach students to build webpages using HTML and XML.
IT programs also teach students how to analyze, evaluate, and repair systems. Graduates can troubleshoot problems and perform general network maintenance. Additionally, graduates gain database and cybersecurity skills that they can use to manage data and protect information systems.
In addition to technology-focused courses, information technology degrees include classes that build soft skills. For example, many schools include general education classes on public speaking and oral presentation. Students also learn how to produce effective reports and other documents through coursework in business and technical writing.
Average Degree Length
While most associate in IT programs require 60 credits and take around two years for full-time students to complete, some online IT programs feature an asynchronous format that lets learners move through coursework at their own pace. Students with busy schedules can opt for a slower pace, while others can take a fuller course load to expedite graduation. Students can also choose to study part time, which may add years to the degree, or they can enroll in accelerated programs that they complete in one year. At schools that charge a flat tuition rate every semester, finishing a degree faster can save students money on tuition.
Career Opportunities with an Associate Degree in Information Technology
An associate degree in information technology prepares graduates for a variety of entry-level jobs in the field. The following sections cover potential career paths and popular industries for information technology grads. We also include average salaries for popular entry-level IT positions.
Potential Careers and Salaries
Since nearly all industries rely on information technology for their daily operations, professionals with information technology degrees can find work in many different types of organizations. Some IT grads secure jobs in the computer systems design industry, while others may work in finance, insurance, or telecommunications. The following table outlines several popular career paths and average salaries for graduates with an associate degree in information technology.
- Computer Support Specialist
Sometimes called technical support specialists, these professionals analyze and solve problems with individual computers or computer networks. They maintain IT systems and assist users with technical issues.
Median Annual Salary: $53,470
- Network and Computer Systems Administrator
Systems administrators install, repair, and maintain an organization's IT systems, including local area networks and wide area networks. They install hardware and software, ensure system security, and improve system performance when needed.
Median Annual Salary: $82,050
- Web Developer
Web developers build websites in a variety of organizations. Some developers design the outward appearance of a site, while others build a website's backend.
Median Annual Salary: $69,430
- Computer Systems Analyst
These professionals analyze IT systems and suggest improvements. They typically specialize in a particular type of computer system. Many systems analysts work in the computer systems and finance sectors.
Median Annual Salary: $88,740
- Database Administrator
Often called DBAs, these workers maintain, secure, and back up databases. They also regulate access to databases and make sure that authorized users can access information when needed.
Median Annual Salary: $90,070
5 Information Technology Scholarships to Apply For
Aspiring IT students can take advantage of financial aid opportunities, like work-study programs, loans, grants, and scholarships. Students should prioritize scholarships and grants because, unlike loans, students do not need to repay them. The list below outlines several scholarships for information technology students.
- Lance Stafford Larson Student Award
Who Can Apply: The IEEE Computer Society awards this scholarship to two IEEE student members each year. Applicants must submit a paper on a computer-related topic for consideration.
- Kevin Jetton Scholarship
Who Can Apply: This scholarship recognizes students majoring in IT, computer science, or a related field with a commitment to service and leadership. Candidates must hold a minimum 3.0 GPA.
- National Society of High School Scholars Foundation STEM Scholarship
Who Can Apply: High school seniors with at least a 3.0 GPA may apply for this opportunity. Applicants must come from an underrepresented group and pursue a degree in an approved STEM subject.
- Upsilon Pi Epsilon ACM Student Chapter Scholarship Award
Who Can Apply: Undergraduate members of the Association for Computing Machinery may apply. ACM judges applicants based on their academic record, recommendation letters, and involvement in the organization.
- William R. Reaugh Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Undergraduates majoring in computer science, IT, or information systems with at least a 3.0 major GPA qualify for this award. Applicants must study full time and must have completed at least one semester of college.
Educational Advancement in Information Technology
While an associate degree prepares graduates for entry-level opportunities, a bachelor's degree typically provides more long-term career opportunities and higher salary potential. The next sections cover how to transfer to a four-year program and some common bachelor's degree choices for graduates with an IT associate degree.
Should You Transfer to a Four-Year Degree Program?
Students should research any transfer agreements that their school maintains with four-year universities. These agreements facilitate the seamless transfer of credits between schools. Each school features different transfer policies, so students should consult with an advisor to explore their transfer opportunities.
What Degree Paths Should You Consider?
The following list outlines common bachelor's majors for graduates with an associate degree in information technology, but students enjoy many options beyond those covered below.
- Information Technology Management: Students looking to oversee information technology departments might consider a bachelor's in IT management. These programs include business and technology coursework. Some universities let business students concentrate on IT management.
- Computer Science: Computer science degrees teach students how computers and computer systems operate. Topics include computer architecture, computer programming, and operating systems. Graduates may pursue jobs in software development, programming, IT, or engineering.
- Cybersecurity: Bachelor's programs in cybersecurity and information assurance equip students with the skills they need to protect information systems. Graduates may find jobs as general IT workers or security specialists.
Professional Organizations and Resources
Information technology students and graduates benefit from professional organizations and resources. The following organizations and websites include helpful information and resources, such as financial aid, professional development, and networking opportunities.
- Association for Computing Machinery: ACM represents close to 100,000 members across fields like project management, software development, and IT. Members gain access to numerous publications, IT skills courses, and a job center.
- Association for Women in Computing: AWC advances women in computing-related fields like systems analysis, programming, and information technology. Members benefit from professional development events, mentorship opportunities, and monthly networking meetings.
- CompTIA Association of IT Professionals: CompTIA AITP has represented technology professionals since the 1950s. The organization provides resources including job advice, IT research, local networking events, and soft skills webinars.
- Foundation for IT Education: This nonprofit organization promotes IT education and research. The foundation encourages students to enter the information technology field through several scholarship opportunities.
- InfoSec Institute: InfoSec Institute offers a variety of educational resources on information security. Students and professionals can take advantage of boot camps, skill development courses, webinars, podcasts, and other services.
- International Association of Computer Science and Information Technology: IACSIT is a scientific association dedicated to advancing computer science and IT research. IT students and professionals can join the organization to learn about the latest technology research through journals and conferences.
- ISACA: ISACA serves information systems professionals through industry research, networking opportunities, training sessions, and an annual conference. The organization also offers several certifications in fields like information systems auditing and information security management.
- Journal of Information Technology: This scholarly journal publishes research on technology and management issues related to IT. The publication covers topics like IT strategy, human resource management, system implementation, and technology trends.
- MIT OpenCourseWare: MIT publishes material from most of its courses online through OpenCourseWare. Through the site, IT professionals and students can learn about topics like operating systems, computer networks, computer design, and programming.
- Network Professional Association: This international association of IT professionals hosts a job board, IT newsletters, and local networking meetings. The association also offers a certified network professional credential.