It should come as no surprise that employment in the field of computer and information technology is exploding. As our society becomes simultaneously intrigued by and reliant upon new technologies, job opportunities in this area will continue to grow. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, positions in computer information and technology will expand by 13% between 2016 and 2026. This is faster than average compared to other employment categories.
Computer and Information Technology Degrees: Salary Potential
The field of computer and information technology is one of the most lucrative categories of employment there is, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). As of the most recent report, the median annual wage for computer and information technology professionals was $82,860. This is more than double the median annual wage for all employment categories. A computer and information technology degree can open the door to a cutting-edge position that yields a handsome salary. Many professionals in this field earn well over six figures per year. Typically, the more advanced the degree, the higher the income potential, although there are exceptions to this rule. Below you will find a list of some of the most common job titles in computer and information technology along with their respective median annual wages:
Positions and Salaries in Computer and Information Technology
- Computer and Information Systems Managers: $135,800
- Computer and Information Research Scientists: $111,840
- Software Developers: $102,280
- Computer Network Architects: $101,210
- Information Security Analysts: $92,600
- Computer Systems Analysts: $87,220
- Database Administrators: $84,950
- Computer Programmers: $79,840
- Network and Computer Systems Administrators: $79,700
- Web Developers: $66,130
Are Computer and Information Technology Degrees Necessary?
The area of computer and information technology is a highly technical one, meaning the learning curve is relatively steep for beginners and newcomers to the field. Computer and technology degrees can provide the skills necessary to perform the required duties of an entry-level position in the field. These degrees also demonstrates to employers that applicants have received the required training to do the job properly. In most cases, bachelor’s degrees in computer information technology are necessary, even for entry-level positions. An exception to this rule can be found in the area of web development. Positions as web developers can be acquired with just an associate’s degree in computers and information technology; it is notable that the median annual wage for this position is significantly lower than that of other positions in this field at $66,130.
Furthermore, there are some positions in the field of computers and information technology that require more than a bachelor’s degree. For example, a master’s credential is necessary for the job of a computer and information research scientist. Master’s-level computer and information technology degrees may also be necessary to advance in other positions in this field.
Types of Computer and Technology Degrees
Computer and information technology degrees are available at every level, from associates degrees to doctoral offerings. In this section, we’ll discuss the details of each type of computer and technology degree, including curriculum information.
Associate’s in Computer and Information Technology Degrees
Associates degrees in computer and information technology provide students with a very basic, foundational education in computers and technology. Such degrees can prepare graduates for a few select entry-level positions in the field, including web developers, hardware and software trainers, and computer repair technicians, for example. They can also provide the groundwork for further study in pursuit of computer information technology bachelor degrees. Typically, associates degrees in computer and information technology take around a year and a half to complete, but they can be completed either more quickly or at a slower pace depending upon the specific program and the individual students’ schedules and preferences. Associates-level computer and information technology degrees are usually flexible, allowing students to earn their credentials on a part-time or full-time basis. Evening and online classes are sometimes offered as well.
Associates Computer and Technology Sample Courses
- Introduction to Networking
- Introduction to Routing
- Security Concepts
- Computer Fundamentals
- Introduction to Operating Systems
- Database Programming
Computer Information Technology Bachelor Degrees
Bachelor’s degrees in computer information technology are among the most popular types of computer and technology degrees as they provide entry into most of the careers in the field. The curriculum for these degrees is typically quite comprehensive, requiring around 120 credit hours of study. While it is possible to earn a general bachelor’s degree in computer and information technology, most programs offer concentrations for students to choose from. As the field of technology is broad and ever-expanding, these concentration options are many.
Computer Information Technology Bachelor Degrees: Concentrations
- Cyber Security
- Data Analytics
- Network Systems Administration
- Web Design and Development
- Software Development
- Robotics and Artificial Intelligence
- Geographic Information Systems
- Digital Forensics
The specific concentration chosen will shape the curriculum for computer and information technology bachelor degrees, but there are also general education requirements to be met as well as core business classes to be taken.
Computer Information Technology Bachelor Degrees: Sample Courses
- Foundations of Web Design and Development
- Introduction to Programming and Logic
- Introduction to Data Communication and Networking
- Computer Forensics
- Survey of Operating Systems
- Foundations of Virtualization and Cloud Computing
- Information Technology Project Management
- Web Architecture and Administration
Computer information technology bachelor degrees typically take four years to complete, though some accelerated programs enable students to earn their degrees in less time.
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Master’s Degrees in Computer and Information Technology
Master’s-level computer and technology degrees usually require two years of study beyond the bachelor’s degree, but this investment of time and effort is rewarded by advanced positions in the field of computer science and technology as well as the higher wages associated with such positions. The curriculum for the master’s in computer and information technology will vary based on the sub-field each student choose to specialize in:
Sample Specialty Tracks for Masters Computer and Information Technology Degrees
- Databases and Data Mining
- Cybersecurity and Network Security
- Computational Perception and Robotics
- Human-Centered Computing
- Computer Graphics
- Computing Systems
- Human-Computer Interaction
- Cyber Learning and Computational Thinking
- Bioinformatics and Healthcare Computing
Sample Courses for Masters Computer and Information Technology Degrees
- Innovations in Information Technology
- Object-Oriented Application Development
- Introduction to Machine Learning
- Mathematical Foundations of Computer Science
- Information Technology Project and Team Management
- Programming for the Web
- Computer Systems Programming
- Data Structures and Software Design
Doctoral Degrees in Computer and Information Technology
The highest of computer and information technology degrees is the doctoral degree. This terminal degree in computers and technology is designed for those students who wish to take on the uppermost leadership positions in the field as well as for those who desire to teach and conduct research as their primary roles.
Ph.D. in Computer and Information Technology Sample Courses
- Advancing Research in Information Technology Management
- Enterprise Database Design
- Data Science and Big Data Analytics
- Management Theory Creation
- Qualitative and Case Study Research for Strategic Analysis
- Information Technology in a Global Economy
- Seminar in Cloud and Grid Computing
In addition to high-level coursework, the requirements for computer and information technology degrees include a significant amount of active research in the field as well as extensive case study analysis. More often than not, a doctoral dissertation is required. This project requires many hours of research and a presentation in front of the department’s faculty members.
Traditional vs. Online Computer and Technology Degrees
Thanks to advancements in their very own field, computer and information technology students can now earn degrees online that are very similar in both content and delivery as traditional on-campus programs. Teleconferencing, virtual classrooms, high-tech learning platforms, and web-based simulations all make online learning a rich and dynamic experience for students who choose to participate in this form of distance education. These technologies have also transformed online degrees from their previous status as poor substitutes for “real” degrees to their current position—one in which they are given as much, or in a few cases more, credence than traditional credentials.
Nowadays, computer technology degrees online differ as much from each other than they do from their on-campus counterparts. Not only do they offer different specialization tracks and areas of emphasis, but they also vary regarding the formatting and scheduling options they offer their distance education students. While some schools offer their computer information technology online programs entirely online, others offer hybrid options, which enable students to combine online learning with traditional classroom experiences. Furthermore, some colleges and universities require their computer technology degree online students to attend classes full-time, others allow students to study part-time and complete their coursework at a pace that suits them.
One of the most important distinctions amongst computer information technology online programs is the matter of synchronous versus asynchronous content delivery. Schools that deliver their course content synchronously hold their classes in real-time via teleconference and require students to log in at a set time. On the other hand, those colleges and universities that deliver content asynchronously use web-based modules and recorded lectures to enable their students to complete their coursework on their own schedules, foregoing real-time classroom instruction. Some computer information technology online programs offer a blend of synchronous and asynchronous courses.
Some online computer and technology degrees require on-campus visits, particularly at the postgraduate level. These visits are coordinated for the purposes of orientations, review sessions, and residencies, for example. They can vary in duration from a period of one or two days, or for a week or more. While these on-campus components have the benefit of providing enriching face-to-face interactions with classmates and professors, they can pose a significant inconvenience for some students. Those students who require a purely online experience should take care to choose a program with no campus attendance required.
Paying for Computer and Information Technology Degrees
Even the most affordable computer and technology degrees can put a strain on one’s finances. Although the return on investment for these degrees is often worth the sacrifice, paying for school can still be a struggle. Luckily, there are several different types of financial aid available to help computer and information technology degree students foot the bill for their educations. Among the most coveted of these are scholarships, since these types of financial aid awards do not have to be repaid.
Featured Scholarships for Computer and Technology Degree Students
- IBM Corporation Scholarship
- AT&T Labs Scholarship Program
- Microsoft Scholarship Program
- Texas Instruments Scholarship
- Gates Millennial Scholars Program
- Adobe Research Women in Technology Scholarship
The criteria for scholarship awards will vary depending on the individual scholarship program. Although all scholarships have academic requirements for eligibility, other criteria may include financial need, gender, ethnicity, and subject area specialization. In addition to corporate scholarship programs like the ones we’ve featured above, students may also apply for scholarships from their respective universities. These awards can vary from a few hundred dollars per semester to a full tuition award.
Not everyone is fortunate enough to receive a scholarship to fund their computer and technology degrees, though, and even those who are may need additional financial assistance to pay their entire tuition bill. Another source of financial assistance for students is student loans. These loans can be a life-saver for many students, but they should not be pursued without caution. Unlike scholarships, student loans must be repaid, so it’s important to borrow only what is needed and to pay close attention to repayment terms. There are several different types of student loans to look into, including private loans, federal loans, subsidized loans, and unsubsidized loans, for example. Students interested in taking out loans to fund their computer and information technology degrees should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA.
Besides scholarships and student loans, there are other types of financial aid to help with funding computer and technology degrees. Those with significant financial need may be eligible for need-based grants like the Pell Grant, for instance. Work-study programs may also be available from individual colleges and universities, offering students a way to earn tuition through labor. Finally, full-time employees of some corporations may be eligible for tuition reimbursement programs, which allow them to earn their computer and information technology degrees on their employer’s dime.
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