As technology and computer systems continue to dominate our world, the need for highly skilled and educated information technology (IT) professionals continues to grow. With this need in mind, consider an online IT degree, which opens up careers in business, government, and nonprofits, among others. Use this guide -- along with its considerations of the field, career options, and potential salaries -- to learn more about an online IT bachelor's degree and to find the right program for you.
Students pursuing online IT degrees explore database management, cybersecurity, project management, systems analysis, systems architecture, and programming. Most programs also introduce learners to the fundamental principles of business. Additionally, top online IT programs offer specializations that allow students to concentrate on a particular area, such as applications development, web and mobile programming, or health information technology.
While information technology and information systems (IS) share similarities, they differ in several ways. For example, IT refers to technological components of broader information systems, as well as the way people design, implement, and manage computer information systems. In this way, IT is a part of the functioning of IS. It also includes the software, hardware, databases, and networks that make up computer information systems.
From public transportation systems to coffee makers, and from government defense to online learning platforms, we rely on the successful working of intricate information technology and information systems in nearly every facet of our lives. Working in this field can prove rewarding -- personally, financially, and intellectually.
Graduates of online IT programs gain the practical skills and theoretical knowledge necessary to succeed as computer network architect, IT analyst, software developer, or IT specialist. The following subsections explain these skills and expertise; they also introduce common career paths and salaries of those who pursue this line of work.
The best accredited online IT programs introduce students to the fundamental theories of computer information systems and IT, while also teaching them practical skills like leadership, management, communication, teamwork, and problem-solving.
More specifically, most IT bachelor's programs explore programming and scripting, systems and services, data management, technical communication, computer and information security, and the business of IT. Students in these programs also learn about spreadsheets, coding, business ethics, and web development. Finally, some online IT degrees require students to complete a capstone project, which lets them use the knowledge and skills gained in the program to explore solutions to a real-world problem.
Online IT programs typically identify the following learning outcomes: explain the IT implementation process; identify the fundamental components of IT systems; find solutions to typical IT-related problems; and make informed decisions about IT systems.
Graduates of online IT programs qualify for positions, such as computer network architect, IT analyst, and information technology specialist, among others. In short, an IT degree can be surprisingly versatile.
Clearly, graduates with a bachelor's degree in IT qualify for various tech industry jobs, but they also can serve in other areas. Again, since nearly every facet of modern life relies on computers, those with IT degrees will likely be in demand.
Annual Median Salary: $104,650
Computer network architects design and build networks for data communication, including wide area networks, local area networks, and intranets. They create and present plans, upgrade hardware and software, and research new technologies.
Annual Median Salary: $62,327
IT analysts design and implement information systems to help organizations operate more efficiently. They collect and analyze data to make improvements to IT infrastructure. They also troubleshoot and debug IT systems.
Annual Median Salary: $55,075
Information technology specialists work with computer systems and servers on security and performance issues. They maintain, troubleshoot, and upgrade hardware and software systems and other IT products.
Annual Median Salary: $52,810
Computer and IT support specialists help individual clients and organizations use computers and other types of IT. Sometimes they help computer users directly; other times, they support computer networks.
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