Information technology is a field that works with the inner machinations of various computer systems. Often, those in information technology jobs either devise advancements for the field or provide technical support for their organization. With this being such a mechanical industry, you might be wondering about the educational requirements to work within the field, and ask yourself questions like, “what is an information technology degree?”
You can get an in-person or online information technology degree from the associate to master’s level, learning increasingly specific and in-depth information as you go along the educational path. While you can get a job after completing an associate information technology program, if you pursue a further degree you can become a more competitive applicant and negotiate higher salaries for prospective jobs.
If you want to enter the field of information technology but don’t know where to start, below we’ve extensively discussed the different degrees within the discipline. We’ve also provided a list of the best schools in the country offering information technology programs.
What Is Information Technology?
Information technology (IT) is the use of electronic devices to create, store, and protect different types of data. IT isn’t really used for entertainment or personal use, rather, it is implemented at the corporate, medical, or governmental level.
It is a broad field, and those within it choose a specialization, such as software engineering, project management, cyber security, technical support, data management or science, or systems administration.
Information Technology Quick Facts: Job Outlook and Average Salaries
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that employment in information technology occupations is projected to grow 13 percent from 2020 to 2030, which is much higher than the national average of eight-percent. The field is also projected to add 667,600 new jobs over the course of the decade.
- The median annual wage for those working in information technology was $97,430 in May 2021, also according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- According to PayScale, the average salary for an information technology bachelor’s degree holder is $73,000 per year.
Is Information Technology Hard?
No, information technology is not hard to learn if you are tech-savvy. The discipline is interdisciplinary and involves learning advanced mathematics, statistics, project management, programming, data management, software engineering, accounting, and more.
While those classes can be challenging for some, degree programs start you with the basics and build up your skills from there, meaning you never get left behind. So long as you can work at a computer full-time, you can work in information technology. Building your technical and critical-thinking skills can help you get started in an entry-level role.
Is Information Technology a Good Major?
Yes, information technology is a good major because the degree will give you the upper hand while searching for a wide variety of jobs in the field. In most cases, this major will make it easy for you to get a job with a good starting pay and yield fast promotions.
Getting a Bachelor’s Degree in Information Technology is a great option, as the average salary for those with that level of education is $73,000, per PayScale. Graduates with this bachelor’s degree can become network administrators, project managers, computer systems specialists, and more.
Why Should You Get a Degree in Information Technology?
You should get a degree in information technology if you want to pursue a career in this ever-evolving field. With the practical skills you’ll acquire studying the discipline, you’ll be able to reach many opportunities within that field and beyond in the wider job market. Below, we’ll discuss some of the benefits of getting a degree in information technology in detail.
- High job growth rate. Employment in the information technology job sector is projected to grow 13 percent from 2020 to 2030, according to the BLS. During this time, it is expected that more than 650,000 jobs will become available.
- High Pay. Experts in the information technology field are paid very well. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that computer and information research scientists earn an average annual wage of $131,490, while those working in computer network architecture earn a median annual wage of $120,520. Nearly all of those with a degree in this job sector earn much higher than the national average salary of $58,260.
- Flexible working opportunities. Being that the primary mode of working in information technology is through a computer, these professionals can work from anywhere in the world. One of the exceptions to this may involve working with companies that need IT specialists to help other employees troubleshoot tech issues in person, but in general, those in this industry can often work remotely.
- Less restrictive. The information technology field is very accessible when it comes to entering the workforce or even advancing. You may not need an advanced degree like a master’s to secure a well-paying job, as even those with an associate degree earn $64,000 per year, per PayScale. Advancing in your career is also much easier because you have a lot of career opportunities available to you.
- An opportunity to innovate. Information technology is a wonderful field for those with a creative mind that can come up with new ways to optimize their work. Whether that’s troubleshooting or coming up with new software developments, those proficient in critical thinking will rise quickly in this tech field that prizes those that are both curious and analytical.
Information Technology Major: What Degree Can You Get in Information Technology?
The degrees you can get in information technology include an associate degree, bachelor’s degree, and master’s degree. In each of those degrees, you would be an information technology major. However, you would likely choose a specialty within a master’s degree, and occasionally in a bachelor’s degree.
Types of Associate Degrees in Information Technology
The types of associate degrees in information technology include an Associate of Science in Information Technology, Associate of Arts in Information Technology, and Associate of Applied Science in Information Technology. Below, we’ll discuss the different types of courses and degrees so you can find the best information technology associate degree program for you.
Types of Bachelor’s Degrees in Information Technology
There are three main types of bachelor’s degrees in information technology, which include a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology, a Bachelor of Applied Science in Information Technology, and a Bachelor of Arts in Information Technology.
As opposed to an associate degree that takes two years, an in-person or online bachelor’s degree spans four years across 120 credit hours. Upon completion of this undergraduate degree, alumni are prepared for many of the top careers in the information technology industry.
Types of Master’s Degrees in Information Technology
The types of Master’s Degrees in Information Technology include a Master of Arts in Information Technology, a Master of Science in Information Technology, and Master of Applied Science in Information Technology. A common requirement for a master’s degree is a bachelor’s degree in a related field and the entire program usually takes around two years to complete.
Though people with a baccalaureate degree can get great jobs within the industry, graduates wanting to specialize further within the discipline and earn higher salaries will pursue a graduate degree. They do this either in-person or through some of the best online Information Technology Master’s Degrees.
What Will You Learn in an Information Technology Degree Program?
In an information technology degree program, you will learn about different aspects of computing systems. The curriculum often covers the programming languages, software, and hardware of computers.
As you progress further along the different degrees, from associate, to bachelor’s, to master’s, the curriculum becomes more in-depth and specialized. Though some do pursue a job upon completion of an associate degree, most entry-level education programs are designed to dovetail into further baccalaureate studies.
This process allows for a student to complete general education and introductory courses at a more inexpensive college for their associate degree before transferring to a more expensive university for the last two years of their studies.
Those studying a bachelor’s degree will learn a wide variety of skills, making for well-rounded graduates that are able to land a wide variety of great jobs in the information technology industry. For those that want to learn more and specialize within an aspect of information technology, they’ll go on to pursue a master’s degree within a desired concentration. A master’s degree makes you a desirable candidate in your chosen field.
Popular Specializations for Information Technology Degrees
There are a variety of popular specializations within information technology degrees, including information systems management, cyber security, data analytics, project management, network administration, and software development.
By choosing a specialization, you’d be able to hone your educational courses to your interests to learn relevant technical skills. Since information technology is a broad, interdisciplinary field, it’s ideal that you choose a specialization if you know the type of job you want upon graduation.
The 5 Most Popular Information Technology Concentrations
- Information systems management
- Cyber security
- Data analytics
- Network administration
- Software development
Common Information Technology Courses Across All Specializations
Even if you pursue a specialization within information technology, you’ll need to first complete a university’s core curriculum. Those courses, such as the ones listed below, give students foundational knowledge that they can later build upon in their desired specialization.
- Database Management. Data only has utility if it can actually be located for use. Through this class, you’ll learn the best practices for storing and organizing information so that it is in an easily-accessible system.
- Business Intelligence. In this course, students learn how to apply descriptive data models in informing the decision-making process of a business. As most IT careers are in the corporate world, it’s essential for all specialists to learn good business acumen for determining ways to optimize technologies in the workplace.
- Information Security. This class covers system vulnerabilities, threats, risks, and how to counteract those as a security specialist. Students will learn about ethical hacking in order to better understand how others can infiltrate systems. Degree students will also learn other ethics regarding computers, studying civil liberties and privacy, intellectual property, and how to craft compliant security frameworks.
Best Minors for Information Technology Students
The best information technology minors add an interdisciplinary perspective to degrees. Depending on your career dreams, well-fitting minors can range from social sciences and humanities to mathematics and biology, as IT graduates can work everywhere from businesses to medicine. Below are some of the best minors for information technology students.
The 5 Best Information Technology Minors
- Business Management
Best Major for Your Chosen Career Path
How to Choose the Right Information Technology Degree Program for You
The right information technology degree program can help you to achieve your career goals in the long term. It should have certain elements to ensure that you get the best training for the IT workforce or an advanced degree. Some factors to look out for include accelerated options, accreditation, flexibility, student support, and cost, which we will discuss further below.
Best Information Technology Colleges and Universities: Where to Find the Top Information Technology Degree Programs
The best information technology colleges and universities can be difficult to find on your own, which is why we’ve compiled a list of the premier schools offering associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees. Below you’ll find the top five universities hosting those degree programs.
- Austin Community College
- Brunswick Community College
- Colorado Christian University
- DeVry University
- Gateway Community and Technical College
- Bellevue University
- Brigham Young University
- Florida State University
- Kennesaw State University
- Purdue University
- Carnegie Mellon University
- Florida International University
- Princeton University
- University of California, Berkeley
- University of Michigan
Best College and University Information Technology Schools
How Can I Pay for an Information Technology Degree Program?
You can pay for an information technology degree program in a variety of ways. The most common methods of making a program more affordable are through work-study programs, Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), loans, grants, and scholarships.
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
This application through the federal government determines how much financial aid students are eligible for through government-subsidized student loans. FAFSA applications contain a series of questions for students covering their parent’s income, number of children in the family, other assets they own, and more to determine the financial standing of their families and their levels of need.
Work-study programs are state- or federally-funded programs that assist students with financial needs by having students work part-time, with the money earned going towards their tuition. Funds earned from this program do not cover the entire cost of college, as students may still need to get scholarships, student loans, or grants to cover the bulk of tuition.
A scholarship is financial aid offered on the basis of academic merit, origin, race, field of study, or even gender. These awards may cover full or partial tuition and are often paid as either a lump sum or annual payment. Scholarships can also take the form of fellowships, tuition waivers, and grants.
Loans can be acquired either through the federal government or private companies and help students cover the cost of educational supplies such as tuition, supplies, and various living expenses.
These loans should be considered a last resort if grants and scholarships have failed, as repaying them carries a hefty financial burden for many years after graduation. Federal student loans are often recommended over private loans because they are cheaper to repay with lower interest rates.
Grants are financial aid that are not repaid, just like scholarships. There are different types of federal grants, such as those based on merit and won competitively, those gained through a prior award, those granted through renewal, and those issued by the federal government. Some students and professionals will also apply for grants to fund their research.
Information Technology Scholarships
While there are a wide variety of information technology degree program scholarships, only a few occur on a rolling basis. Below, we’ve listed partial scholarships that you might be eligible for.
Most Popular Scholarships by Specialization
Student Loans for Information Technology Majors
Student loans for information technology majors cover tuition and often other expenses. There are two main types, namely private and federal loans. Private loans are non-governmental loans offered by credit unions, banks, state agencies, or even schools. Federal student loans are provided through the government.
What Is the Average Student Loan for Information Technology Associate Degrees?
According to the NCES, the average student loan for an information technology associate degree is $20,030. On average, students in the US that take out federal loans get $19,500, while the average amount for those that get non-federal loans is $10,740.
What Is the Average Student Loan for Information Technology Bachelor’s Degrees?
Reports from the NCES also show that the average student loan for an information technology bachelor’s degree is $32,290. Those that get federal loans take out about $29,210, and those that take out non-federal loans get about $20,180.
What Is the Average Student Loan for Information Technology Master’s Degrees?
For information technology master’s degrees, the average loan a student gets is $54,290. Those that attended public schools took out $45,700 in loans, private nonprofit students took out $60,840 in loans, and those at private for-profit schools took out $66,940 in loans.
How to Get Into the Best Schools for Information Technology
To get into the best schools for information technology, you’ll have to meet institutional admissions requirements, which will vary between degrees and even between universities offering the same programs.
Typically, you’ll need to have a satisfactory GPA from your prior education. Often, you will need to have taken a form of standardized test, either the SAT or ACT for associate and bachelor’s degrees, and the GRE for master’s degrees.
Bachelor’s programs often require students to submit a short essay, while master’s programs require applicants to write a personal statement in addition to getting letters of recommendation and submitting a resume.
Be sure to thoroughly research each prospective program to ensure you meet the qualifications of other admitted students and have the supplemental materials needed. Below, we’ll go over more tips on how to get into some of the best colleges and universities for information technology.
Top 5 Tips to Get Into the Best Programs at Information Technology Schools
- Maintain an impressive GPA across all academic programs.
- Write a compelling admissions essay or statement of purpose.
- Score highly on standardized tests.
- Ensure you submit all necessary supplemental materials.
- Submit the application on time and prep for any possible admissions interviews.
How to Get Into the Best Colleges and Universities
How Can You Get an Information Technology Internship While in College?
You can get an information technology internship by attending career fairs, speaking with your professors, and mating strong grades. Internships are invaluable opportunities that give you real-world work experience even before getting your diploma, so here are a few resources to use to help you find a program.
What Jobs Can You Get With an Information Technology Degree?
The jobs you can get with an information technology degree involve working in software development, software applications, computer programming, cybersecurity, and data or systems analysis. Since information technology degrees are interdisciplinary, you can get jobs within that industry and beyond.
While the higher the degree you obtain, the more jobs at a higher salary become available, even those with an Associate Degree in Information Technology earn $64,000 on average, according to PayScale.
For an associate degree, you can expect to get a job as a computer support specialist, systems administrator, programmer, or web developer. With a bachelor’s degree, you can be a software developer, network architect, or systems analyst, to name a few. With a master’s degree, you can get high-ranking leadership roles like being a chief technology or information officer or even an IT director.
Information Technology Degree Salary Outlook
The information technology degree salary outlook is very positive, as those in its related industries earn much more than the national average salary. According to BLS, professionals in the field earn a median annual salary of $97,430 across all degree levels. Below, we’ll discuss the average salaries for those with each degree type.
|Degree Level||Average Salary|
|Information Technology Associate Degree||$64,000|
|Information Technology Bachelor’s Degree||$73,000|
|Information Technology Master’s Degree||$115,000|
Information Technology Degree Jobs and Career Outlook: What Can You Do With an Information Technology Degree?
With an in-person or online information technology degree, you can work in a wide range of industries and fields, as the program of study is interdisciplinary and prepares students for various careers. Here are some of the top jobs you can expect to land with each degree.
Top Information Technology Associate Degree Jobs
- Web Developer
- Systems Administrator
- Computer Support Specialist
- Computer Programmer
- Billing Manager
Top Information Technology Bachelor’s Degree Jobs
- Computer Network Architect
- Software Developer
- Information Systems Manager
- Database Administrator
- Computer Systems Analyst
Top Information Technology Master’s Degree Jobs
- Cloud Computing Architect
- Chief Information Officer
- Information Security Analyst
- Information Research Scientist
- Computer Hardware Engineer
Highest-Paying Information Technology Jobs
|Highest-Paying Information Technology Jobs||Entry-Level Salary (0-12 Months)||Early-Career Salary(1-4 Years)||Mid-Career Salary (5-9 Years)||Experienced Salary (10-19 Years)|
|Software Engineering Manager||$123,368||$130,014||$138,435||$147,084|
|Software Development Manager||$101,844||$103,005||$119,192||$131,005|
|Data Warehouse Architect||$90,000||$90,000||$121,344||$130,725|
Professional Information Technology Organizations and Resources
As a professional in the information technology industry, it is important to keep up with trends in your field, and organizations can help you stay up-to-date. Organization events and networks help brief professionals on the latest developments in tech. Read below for a list of groups that can integrate you into the IT field.
Information Technology in 10 Years: Is Getting an Information Technology Degree Worth It?
Yes, getting an information technology degree is worth it in any program level of your choosing. The field is incredibly broad, allowing students to pursue a wide range of careers upon graduation.
One particular benefit of studying information technology is that you can get an excellent-paying job even with an associate degree, with PayScale reporting that graduates earn an average of $64,000 annually. That median salary only increases with each degree obtained, with bachelor’s graduates earning $73,000 and master’s graduates earning $115,000 yearly.
This large salary is due to information technology jobs being in high demand, with many careers having a job outlook far above the average job in the country. For example, BLS reports that software developers will see a 22 percent increase in growth from 2020 to 2030, and information security analysts will see a 33 percent growth rate in their field.
With a degree at any level in information technology, graduates will be able to join the workforce in countless high-paying and -demand jobs. The educational programs are well worth the investment for the financial return and freedom of career choices.
Additional Reading About Information Technology
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Information Technology Degree FAQ
The IT degree that makes the most money is a master’s degree. PayScale reports that those with a graduate degree earn an average salary of $115,000. An example of an IT job requiring a master’s degree is a computer and information research scientist, with professionals earning $131,490 annually, according to BLS.
In-person or online IT degrees can open up a range of roles and career opportunities in a high-paying and in-demand field. Information technology programs are interdisciplinary, meaning that graduates have a well-rounded education enabling them to work everywhere from the corporate world to medicine.
IT is better than computer science if you want to manage and update the technologies in your workplace. Computer science is better if you want to be the one to build those electronic programs yourself. Both IT and computer science are beneficial disciplines to study and can help you get a job in a fast-growing field.
It takes between two to six years to study IT. If you want to be a student for only two years, you can pursue an associate degree and still get a great job upon graduation. If you want to earn an even higher salary, you can study for four years through a bachelor’s degree, or study for a total of six years if you complete a two-year graduate program after your four-year bachelor’s degree.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.