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"Degrees & Programs"

Do you need a degree in information technology?

At a glance

  • Information technology (IT) uses computer systems to store, retrieve and transmit information. IT professionals help manage these networks.
  • IT degrees aren’t always required for IT positions. Sometimes, a candidate has relevant, hands-on experience. However, IT degrees do build a solid foundation of knowledge for IT roles.
  • Learn more about the online IT degrees available at University of Phoenix.

What is information technology (IT)? At its core, information technology relies on computer systems to store, retrieve and transmit information.

Not surprisingly then, IT professionals help businesses and organizations develop, manage and support computer systems and networks. Careers in IT can range from working as computer programmers to network administrators to information security analysts. And the demand for IT professionals matches the diversity of roles available. In fact, demand has grown rapidly in recent years as businesses and organizations increasingly rely on computer systems to manage data and operations. 

IT degrees aren’t always required for IT jobs. However, they can provide individuals with the necessary skills and knowledge to be even more successful, whether at a dedicated IT company or in an IT role for another industry, such as healthcare, government, finance or retail. IT degree programs typically include computer science, information systems and math coursework.

Here, we’ll explore different IT careers available to candidates both with and without a degree in IT.

What level of schooling do you need to work in IT?

Many information technology careers don’t require a four-year degree in IT or computer science. What’s more, many companies are willing to invest in on-the-job training for their employees, so entry-level jobs may only require a two-year degree, certificates or a high school diploma. The IT field relies heavily on industry certifications to validate skills, so learning about specific certificate programs is a great start to potential careers in the industry. However, some IT jobs may require an advanced information technology degree

Jobs that involve developing new software or managing large networks of computers often require at least a bachelor’s degree in IT or computer science. Jobs requiring an advanced information technology degree also tend to involve more responsibility and higher salaries. 

The level of education required for an IT job depends on the position and company, but it’s essential to have the necessary education and training to be successful. 

Benefits of an information technology degree

Investing in your education can translate to serious advantages. Consider the following.

Demand and job growth

Information technology careers are some of the most in-demand jobs today. From computer systems analysts to information security managers, IT professionals are in high demand across various industries, including information technology, healthcare, business and government. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), IT jobs are projected to grow by 15% between 2021 and 2031, making it a good time to earn an information technology degree. 

Higher earning potential

While many IT jobs only require a postsecondary certificate or associate degree, earning a bachelor’s degree in information technology might better prepare applicants with further skills and knowledge that can empower them to pursue more responsibility and higher salaries

Career opportunities

An IT degree can help you educationally prepare for career enhancement opportunities. Those with a bachelor’s degree in information technology may have the skills required for management roles, for example.

With the continued growth of the tech industry, the demand for qualified IT professionals is projected to increase between 2021 and 2031. As a result, holding a bachelor’s degree in information technology can help job seekers when applying for IT positions.

Getting into IT without a degree

Some job seekers may choose to complete an associate degree or a specialized training program in computer science or a related field, while others may opt to teach themselves skills through online resources or hands-on experience.

Some employers value work experience and practical skills more than formal educational credentials. For job seekers without a college degree, internships, apprenticeships and on-the-job training can be just as valuable as a computer science degree. If you’re eager to gain practical skills and knowledge within IT, check out relevant certificates to include on your resumé.

One way to find a path for you is to explore your options and figure out what works best for your situation and goals. There are many ways to learn the skills you need for an IT career, and the best way to find the right fit is to explore all your options.

Computer programmer

Job description: Computer programmers write code and create software applications. They work closely with computer hardware engineers to write code that will generate specific functionality. Duties also include testing software for errors before it’s released and writing and coding programs according to a company’s or client’s specifications. 

Skills and qualifications: Individuals interested in becoming computer programmers should focus on developing skills in coding languages and software platforms as well as problem-solving. Training or certifications in specific programming languages may also be helpful. Work experience through internships or entry-level positions can provide valuable skills development too.

Computer support specialist

Job description: A computer support specialist is responsible for providing technical assistance to computer users. The duties of a computer support specialist include answering user questions, troubleshooting problems and providing training on new software and hardware. They may also be responsible for maintaining network servers and ensuring data backups are performed. They’re typically employed by large organizations and work in-house, though some may work remotely.

Skills and qualifications: Skills required for this position include strong problem-solving abilities, excellent communication, proficiency in a variety of computer applications, customer service, familiarity with computer hardware and software, and networking. Some positions may require certification from vendors or industry associations. Other roles may depend on having an associate degree or higher. Work experience is also a valuable asset when competing for positions. 

Cybersecurity analyst

Job description: As businesses increasingly rely on technology, they become more vulnerable to cyberattacks. As a result, demand is growing for people with the skills to protect data and systems from these threats. The duties of a cybersecurity analyst (also called an information security analyst) vary depending on the size and type of organization, but typically include:

Skills and qualifications: Analysts must be able to identify risks and develop solutions quickly. Strong analytical and problem-solving skills are essential. Cybersecurity analysts typically have at least a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity or a related field. Alternatively, some analysts may pursue professional certifications.

Salary ranges aren’t specific to students or graduates of University of Phoenix. Actual outcomes vary based on multiple factors, including prior work experience, geographic location and other factors specific to the individual. University of Phoenix does not guarantee employment, salary level or career advancement. BLS data is geographically based. Information for a specific state/city can be researched on the BLS website.

Earn a degree in technology at University of Phoenix

If you’re interested in expanding your technology knowledge and skill set, University of Phoenix offers online degrees and certificates. These include: