Information technology professionals secure information, manage data collection, and run cloud computing software. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the field to grow 11% from 2019-2029. Computer and IT professionals earn a median annual salary of $91,250. This is much higher than the median of $41,950 for all occupations.
A degree in information technology demonstrates skills necessary for careers and further education in the field. After earning an associate-level information technology degree, graduates can pursue an entry-level position or a bachelor’s degree. Many colleges offer fully online information technology associate degrees. Distance learning allows students to continue working while in school.
Q&A: Is an Online Information Technology Associate Program Right for Me?
A: While earning an online information technology associate degree, learners gain general knowledge in computer technology and systems. Students also learn how computers propel a variety of industries. Many companies need employees with expertise in computer networking and systems administration.
Q: Does two years feel like the right timeline to earn a degree?
A: Full-time students typically earn their online associate degree in information technology in two years. However, learners can lengthen the timeline by studying part time or graduate faster by choosing an accelerated program. Part-time students usually graduate in about three years. Accelerated programs often take only one year to complete.
Q: Do you have prior credits to transfer?
A: Many high school students take AP courses to prepare for college. Students may apply credits from AP courses or dual-enrollment classes toward their information technology degree. Colleges may also award credits for life and work experience, such as military service. Admissions advisors can help prospective students explore transfer credit options.
Q: Are you interested in eventually earning a bachelor’s degree?
A: An online associate degree in information technology qualifies holders for some entry-level IT positions. However, bachelor’s degree-seekers gain a deeper understanding of IT’s business and professional applications. Bachelor’s degree-holders often secure roles with higher salaries and more responsibility. Bachelor’s programs typically accept transfer credits from associate programs, shortening degree completion time.
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What Will You Learn in an Online Associate Information Technology Program?
Students earning an associate degree in information technology complete general education and major classes. Courses explore foundation topics including system analysis and database concepts. The following section highlights five typical courses. Program requirements and student experiences vary among online information technology associate degree programs. Learners should contact their prospective school for detailed curriculum information.
Common Classes and Coursework
- Systems Analysis and Design: Degree-seekers in this class learn to build and maintain business systems. Students explore the development process, from planning to the final product. Learners also gain hands-on experience with planning tools such as Scrum, Unified Process, and Extreme Programming. Degree-seekers learn to optimize system performance.
- Introduction to Web Design and Development: This foundational course emphasizes design fundamentals, terminology, and site planning. Learners create simple websites featuring various layouts and functions. Students build on knowledge from this course to develop complex websites in intermediate and advanced classes.
- Networking and Telecommunications: Learners in this course analyze various telecommunication technologies, which allow machines to communicate. Students learn about the engineering fundamentals behind each device. Degree-seekers research the relationship between spectrum and modulation in data transmission. Learners prepare to install and maintain networking and telecommunications hardware.
- Database Concepts: In this course, information technology degree-seekers use software suites such as Microsoft Access. Students learn how to create and maintain databases, use shortcuts, and create reports for stakeholders. Learners also master database administration fundamentals. This class typically requires one or more prerequisites.
- Introduction to Programming: Degree-seekers learn to read and write simple code, apply proper syntax, and follow programming rules. Coursework may emphasize one or more programming languages, such as Python. This foundational course prepares learners for advanced IT classes.
Skills You Will Gain
Students earning a degree in information technology gain interdisciplinary skills applicable to many career paths. Learners study topics including software information systems, engineering technology, and information technology. The core curriculum emphasizes transferable skills. Some online information technology associate degrees require a final-semester project during which learners demonstrate gained skills.
Programs may offer concentration options, such as automation and electronic systems, information systems and programming, and network systems administration. Concentrations help students prepare to pursue a bachelor’s degree or entry-level position. Academic advisors help learners select the right track for their goals.
Gaining transferable skills helps students prepare for careers across industries. These skills include communication, empathy, and workplace professionalism. Learners gain these abilities during general education courses. Degree-seekers may study composition, public speaking, and ethical and legal issues. General education coursework also imparts mathematical reasoning skills.
Average Degree Length
The time necessary to earn an information technology degree varies by program and student. Full-time students typically graduate in 18-24 months. Learners with transfer credit may need only one year to earn the degree. To graduate faster, degree-seekers can choose self-paced programs. Students in these programs move through the curriculum as they master material.
Individuals who work or raise children may consider studying part time. These learners take fewer courses each semester. However, part-time students may need up to three years to earn an associate degree in information technology.
Career Paths for Associate Degree in Information Technology
A degree in information technology can qualify holders for well-paying positions. These include computer support specialist, web developer, and database administrator. However, more advanced positions may require a bachelor’s or master’s degree.
|Career||Description||Median Annual Salary||Projected Growth Rate (2019-2029)|
|Computer Support Specialist||Computer support specialists test network systems and perform maintenance. They fix problems affecting their employer’s business. Most of these professionals work for computer systems or telecommunications companies.||$55,510||8%|
|Network and Computer Systems Administrator||These administrators train employees to use hardware and software. They add new networks and collaborate with senior managers on long-term information technology needs.||$84,810||4%|
|Web Developer||Web developers design and maintain websites. These professionals monitor website traffic and develop code. They specialize in back-end or front-end development.||$77,200||8%|
|Computer Systems Analyst||Computer systems analysts upgrade existing networks and recommend systems to upper management. They also train employees on new hardware and software.||$93,730||7%|
|Database Administrator||Database administrators ensure their employer’s information remains secure. They maintain lists of authorized users, troubleshoot problems, and develop new databases.||$98,860||10%|
Advancing Beyond the Associate Degree in Information Technology
An online information technology associate degree qualifies graduates for many positions. However, higher-paying careers often require a bachelor’s. Professionals can earn a bachelor’s degree to advance their career.
Should You Transfer to a Four-Year Degree Program?
Associate degree-seekers planning to transfer to a bachelor’s program should speak with a transfer advisor. These advisors help students research schools’ transfer credit requirements, such as GPA requirements. Some community colleges maintain transfer agreements with in-state universities to ensure seamless transfers.
Prospective associate degree-seekers can find this information on school websites or contact an admissions officer.
What Degree Paths Should You Consider?
Four-year schools offer many majors for individuals with an associate degree in information technology. The list below highlights three common bachelor’s degrees for graduates of associate-level IT programs.
- Information Technology Management: IT management programs train students in network security, quantitative analysis for business, and data management. Graduates often become project managers and computer systems engineers.
- Computer Science: A bachelor’s degree in computer science qualifies graduates for roles as software engineers, mobile app developers, and technology project managers. Learners complete coursework in internet programming and software engineering.
- Cybersecurity: Cybersecurity degree-seekers take courses in data communications, network security, and intrusion detection and vulnerability management. Competitive applicants typically have a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA.
How Will You Pay for College?
Many students earn bachelor’s in information technology degree without accruing debt. Learners with financial need may qualify for federal grants. Students submit the FAFSA form to determine their eligibility for federal financial aid. Most colleges and universities also use FAFSA results to award need-based institutional aid. Students may also receive merit-based institutional scholarships.
Many private organizations award scholarships to students pursuing a degree in information technology. Application deadlines vary, and candidates typically need a minimum GPA and must submit an essay. Some scholarships renew annually as long as learners remain in good academic standing.
Online students often save money on housing, commuting costs, and meal plans. Distance learners may also save on childcare costs. Additionally, online learning allows students to earn an income while in school.
Professional Organizations for Information Technology Majors
Students earning a degree in information technology can join professional associations. Learners in these organizations can network with professionals in their field and prepare for IT careers. Organizations such as those below charge degree-seekers affordable membership fees.
Thomas Broderick is a freelance writer and the owner of Broderick Writer LLC. He creates study guides, informational websites, and blog posts for clients in the education field. Thomas is also a published author of over 20 short stories and a member of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America.
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