Choose your educational pathway in Information Technology (IT)
Information technology represents a broad field of study encompassing a wide variety of different job roles and responsibilities.
Your best preparation for a career in IT is earning an undergraduate associate or bachelor’s degree. Education can have a major impact on your job prospects!
There are many IT degrees you can pursue to earn the specialized education you need to compete for good jobs and begin walking your new career path.
Here are some common IT degree subjects you may choose to pursue.
An undergraduate cybersecurity degree is a technical degree that offers students the knowledge needed to protect and defend internet/intranet computer networks, operating systems, and data from cyberattacks. It focuses on systems thinking, security principles, and adaptive incident response tactics.
As the world of information becomes increasingly more connected and integrated, the need for people skilled in protecting these important connections will continue to grow.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists Information Security Analyst as one of the fastest growing occupations from 2020-2030, projecting a 33% increase in employment over that timeframe. Additionally, the BLS reports these jobs usually pay an average of $107,580 per year ($51.72 per hour).*
Cybersecurity is a rapid growth field offering opportunity for high salary potential, meaning getting an undergraduate degree in this field can help you get started down an exciting new career path. Earning a bachelor’s degree can help you compete for these coveted positions.
2. Data Analytics
The exploding world of information has made data analysis a fundamental part of doing business in the 21st century.
An IT degree focusing on concepts in data analysis provides you with a strong understanding of how data is collected, organized, and maintained—along with the skills and knowledge to develop and maintain systems to collect and store data, translate that data into actionable insights and communicate it to stakeholders.
This unique skillset helps you build a strong foundation for future career possibilities. After earning a bachelor’s degree, you may consider working toward a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a concentration in data analytics to pursue higher-paying roles in operations research or management.
3. Computer Programming
Computer programmers can play a significant role in many areas, including web and software development, database development and administration, and data security. They can specialize in one area of programming, or be a generalist who writes code for many different types of software.
Programming represents an area of computer science focusing on designing, creating, and testing code for software applications and operating systems.
Earn a degree and you can potentially qualify for many types of careers in computer programming, including software developer, database developer, systems software developer, and many others.
4. Software Development
There are unique topics and skills emphasized in a software development degree program compared to computer programming, although they are close siblings.
The general difference is software developers (or software engineers) design software, while computer programmers build software. This is only a general rule—depending on the specific job role, a developer may adopt either or both responsibilities.
While a programming curriculum focuses heavily on the nuts and bolts making software work, a software development curriculum focuses on the high-level process of designing software from the ground up.
Bachelor’s degree class topics include software engineering, business systems analysis, discrete structures for computer science, software testing, and much more.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects rapid 22% growth in the employment of software developers from 2020-2030.* These skills are in very high demand.
5. Computer Networking
Learn how our online world is constructed. A bachelor’s degree in computer networking can help you build a strong foundation in the principles of IT security, network infrastructures, and discover how data is collected, organized and delivered.
As a computer networking professional, you’ll be responsible for a variety of tasks, including designing, configuring and managing complex computer networks. Careers in computer networking include network support specialist, computer systems analyst, computer systems administrator, and computer network architect.
According to 2020 BLS data, computer network architects earn an average salary of $119,230 per year ($57.32 per hour).* While this does not represent entry-level wages, with a strong undergraduate education and professional experience you can potentially compete for high salaries without having to earn a master’s degree.
6. Health Information Management (HIM)
Information technology is crucial to the delivery of modern healthcare. Coursework in health information technology provides students with a firm foundation in IT concepts with an emphasis in the health industry.
Health information systems require unique implementation specifically designed to store and process healthcare data.
An HIM degree curriculum includes study of the healthcare revenue cycle (medical billing and coding), compliance with regulation and accreditation, confidentiality and privacy procedures, and much more. You’ll learn about the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and its effect on how health information and data is managed in the U.S.
Earn an HIM degree and you’ll have excellent preparation to begin your career in this growing specialty track. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of health technologists, technicians, and information specialists is expected to rise 9% from 2020-2030, faster than the national average across all occupations.*
7. Technology Management
A technology management degree is perfect for the student who’s interested in pursuing managerial positions in an IT environment. An IT management program contains many foundational IT concepts such as networking, systems administration, and software development. However, additional core courses cover topics such as management, finance, business law, marketing, and project management.
These jobs boast a very positive job outlook and high average salaries. According to 2020 BLS data, computer and information systems managers earn an average salary of $161,370 per year ($77.76 per hour), with employment projected to rise 11% from 2020-2030.*
Interested in becoming a leader in tech? This is a great first step at the undergraduate degree level. A technology management degree can be an excellent pathway into an MBA program in the future.
8. Information Technology – General Degree
If you’re not sure about what kind of IT specialization is perfect for you, you can always choose a more general information technology degree with electives to build a program that works for you.
An IT bachelor’s degree curriculum covers many of the topics covered in categories above, including an elective component where you can add select courses of your choosing. With a broad scope of learning, you can potentially discover specialties of interest to pursue in the future.
Earning an IT degree can help you qualify for many different types of key industry certifications, and prepare for entry-level jobs in the field of information technology.