Online Associate Degree in Information Technology

What You'll Learn & What's Next

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects information technology occupations to increase 13% by 2026, a rate faster than the average for most other jobs. The BLS also reports information technology professionals earn an average annual mean salary of $86,320. However, keep in mind an individual's earning potential can vary based on education and experience level.

Earning an online associate degree in information technology develops in graduates the knowledge and skills they need to launch information technology careers or pursue a bachelor's degree. Individuals interested in pursuing a career in information technology should read on to learn more about how an associate degree can help them achieve their goals.

What Will You Learn in an Online Information Technology Associate Degree Program?

Components of an online information technology associate degree program varies by school. Typical courses include networking and telecommunications, web design and development, computer systems, cybersecurity, and database management. The following list details a few common information technology courses.

An associate degree may qualify individuals for entry-level positions in information technology or for admission into a four-year program. That said, a bachelor's degree generally opens more career opportunities and increases one's earning potential.

Common Courses

Web Design and Development

This course emphasizes training in HTML5, cascading style sheets, accessibility, and responsive web design. Coursework challenges students to apply web design skills and create websites as they consider the significance of text, images, and color. The course includes an overview of web design for a variety of computing devices and operating systems.

Computer Systems

Students develop a proficiency in microcomputer operating systems. Coursework explores disk and file management, system configurations, menu driven processing, and graphical user interfaces. The curriculum may include an overview of the communication process between software applications and databases, providing a holistic view of computer operating systems and enhancing students' skills to identify and troubleshoot computing issues.

Networking and Telecommunications

This course offers students an introduction to data communication and network technologies. Students explore digital networking topics like transmission media, digital packet switching and routing, signal modulation, systems integration, communication management, and network security. They develop skills in identifying network issues, troubleshooting, and general network support principles.

Database Management

This course emphasizes database modeling and design, the languages of common database management systems, and techniques for implementing and maintaining databases. Understanding these concepts is essential to designing and administering efficient database management systems. Organizations rely on effective data management to make key business decisions.

Cybersecurity

Keeping data secure is essential to protecting an organization and its customer's private information. When security breaks down, business processes and profitability may be negatively impacted. This course provides a comprehensive overview of potential malicious attacks, threats, common vulnerabilities, and effective methods to identify and mitigate their impact on a system.

Core Skills

The core curriculum of an online information technology associate degree program provides an introduction to key industry topics. Coursework develops students' analytical, problem-solving, and management skills. An information technologist implements and maintains network and operating systems, so possessing strong skills in identifying issues and troubleshooting them are essential to a successful career.

Associate programs also develop competencies in coding and common operating systems. Understanding the basics of common coding languages is critical to most positions in information technology. Possessing a strong knowledge of various operating systems ensures students qualify for positions across multiple industries.

Programs aim to establish a foundation of the essential skills and knowledge students need to launch their career in information technology. Many online associate programs also prepare students to transfer to a four-year program. Students may tailor programs to specialize in a certain field so they may align a degree with their interests and career goals.

What Can You Do With an Associate Degree in Information Technology?

Most organizations rely on technology to run their business, so employers often seek the help of IT professionals. Earning an online associate degree in information technology is the first step to launching a career. It also prepares students for four-year programs, which may lead to career advancement opportunities and increased earning potential. The following section details possible industries and career paths for graduates of an online associate program.

Potential Careers and Salaries

The BLS reports information technology jobs may increase 13% by 2026. Due to the prevalence of technology today, information technology spans multiple industries like healthcare, education, entertainment, and retail, to name a few. Individuals should research positions in these industries to determine the availability of jobs and earning potential.

A growing number of employers may prefer candidates with a bachelor's degree in information technology. However, an associate degree may still qualify individuals for some entry-level positions, such as those in the table below.

Computer Support Specialist

Annual Average Salary: $53,470

A computer support specialist tests and evaluates network systems, conducts routine maintenance, troubleshoots issues, and trains users. An associate degree may qualify individuals for this position, but some employers prefer candidates with a bachelor's degree.

Web Developer

Annual Average Salary: $69,430

A web developer's primary tasks include creating, testing, and executing websites for clients. Possessing a proficiency in coding languages, such as HTML or XL, is essential. Web developers may also monitor website activity and track metrics.

Help Desk Specialist

Annual Average Salary: $43,487

A help desk specialist's primary tasks include answering client questions and providing solutions to technical issues. Essential skills include a basic understanding of software programs and communication skills to work effectively with clients.

Network Systems Administrator

Annual Average Salary: $82,050

A system administrator organizes, installs, and supports networks. Other duties may include training users and troubleshooting network problems. An associate degree is typically the minimum requirement; some employers prefer candidates with a bachelor's degree.

Network Support Specialist

Annual Average Salary: $45,736

A network support specialist's primary tasks include system maintenance and troubleshooting technical issues. They also work with organizations to maintain the overall network. Many employers require workers to possess a certificate in networking.

Source: BLS; PayScale

What's Next After an Online Associate Degree in Information Technology?

An online associate degree in information technology may prepare students for some entry-level positions. However, a growing number of employers require a bachelor's degree. Therefore, graduatesin this field should consider continuing their education after they have earned their associate degree.

The following section looks at common four-year degree programs individuals may consider pursuing in information technology. It also provides tips for ensuring credits earned in an associate degree program transfer to a four-year program.

Transferring to a Four-Year Degree Program

To increase their competitive advantage and increase earning potential, individuals should consider transferring to a four-year degree program after earning an associate degree.

While researching programs, students should determine if a school holds transfer agreements with other schools. They should also research various bachelor's programs to determine common transfer requirements. Finally, to save time and money, students should work with a program advisor early in the process to ensure the transferability of their credits.

What Degrees Can You Pursue After Earning an Associate in Information Technology?

After earning an online associate degree in information technology, students may pursue a variety of bachelor's degrees: information technology, information systems, and web development, for example. Students should consider their career goals or interests to determine which program best suits them.

Bachelor's in Information Technology

This bachelor's degree builds on basic concepts taught in an associate program. By earning this degree, individuals hone their skills in database management, network security, and troubleshooting programming or network issues.

Bachelor's Degree in Information Systems

This bachelor's program builds on the basic concepts of how information systems work. It trains students to design, develop, and support complex systems.

Bachelor's in Web Development

This field is projected to increase 15% by 2026. By earning a bachelor's degree, individuals develop advanced skills in coding and web design. They may also gain a competitive advantage over other candidates.