Students at University of Phoenix can specialize their IT degrees with certificates in subjects that range from cloud computing to advanced cybersecurity.
Information technology careers, tips and more
Working in IT may not evoke scenes of fame and glamour, but what information technology jobs lack in sexiness they make up for in opportunity. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor & Statistics (BLS), employment in the computer and information technology sector is projected to grow 13% between 2020 and 2030.
That translates to some 667,600 new jobs in a diverse range of fields. Add in the fact that the median annual wage was $91,250 for computer and information technology jobs in May 2020, and the field starts to look even more alluring.
But succeeding in information technology (or information systems — the two are in fact different things) requires more than a knowledge of coding or computer systems. Here, we’ll explore what an information technology degree encompasses and what kinds of jobs those IT skills can lead to.
How do I start a career in information technology?
Information technology, writes Indeed.com, includes a wide variety of roles focused on “helping organizations maintain their digital infrastructure and providing troubleshooting assistance to technology consumers. IT employees are in demand to help others keep up with technological advances and security procedures.”
All that is a fancy way of saying that jobs in IT tend to leverage technology when solving problems and improving productivity or optimization.
Information technology is a big umbrella though. On its own, it refers to “computing systems used to collect, record, organize and access data,” writes U.S. News & World Report.
Information systems, meanwhile, is an even bigger umbrella: It includes not just information technology but also the people and processes involved in that bigger informational context.
One interesting thing about information technology is that experience can count for a lot. It’s a field where curiosity (to learn new technology), troubleshooting (to see how technology can be creatively applied) and being an autodidact (to continuously learn) can all work to your advantage.
Steps to starting a career in information technology
In a perfect world, a career in information technology would start with a passion for tech. From there, CompTIA outlines the following steps:
Research the roles: Match your passion to relevant jobs by learning about what kinds of jobs are out there, talking to people who work in roles that interest you and deciding where you’d fit best.
Find a mentor: Whether you formally request mentorship from someone working in your ideal job or you simply join a professional organization to learn more about the ins and outs of the field, mentorship lets you absorb vital information over time. It might be tempting to skip this step. Don’t. Gradual observation is a process that enables you to decide for yourself whether the field is right for you.
Get educated: This step will depend on your experience and education as well as your prospective career. You might benefit from a certification or two, or you might need to pursue an information technology degree.
Students pursuing their IT degree can also expect to learn about subjects like network architecture and computer programming, among others. By studying a breadth of subjects inherent to information technology and systems, students build a solid foundation for a career in information technology.
Overall, notes U.S. News & World Report, bachelor’s programs “emphasize technical knowledge, skills and applications — as well as strategies for applying them in order to solve real-world problems.”
What’s more, these courses offer the opportunity for students to learn more about specializations that might interest them professionally.
Education is always an investment in yourself, but an IT degree can provide vital support for a career in information technology. A degree can make you a more competitive candidate in the job market, and it can increase your earning potential.
U.S. News & World Report explains: “Students can land most information technology jobs with a bachelor’s degree in IT, computer science or other tech-related fields.”
What can you do with an information technology degree?
An information technology degree offers the opportunity to learn the theory behind the practice, so to speak, of computing systems. But graduates can also leverage that IT degree in a variety of jobs.
“An IT degree enables a graduate to confidently pursue a number of professional avenues,” Uhles adds. “It is the credential that goes beyond checking the box of ‘earning a degree’ to offer real, value-added skills to a person’s knowledge base and experience.”
Add to that the fact that virtually every industry needs IT specialists, and suddenly being a competitive candidate means you are prepared to pursue opportunities in a variety of industries. That might be at a cutting-edge technology firm. It might also be working in IT for a media company. The options are virtually endless.
What jobs can I get with an information technology degree?
The job market in IT is vast and varied. According to BLS, job seekers with a bachelor’s degree can pursue a range of jobs, including computer network architects, computer programmers, database administrators and architects, and information security analysts.
Overview: Not to be confused with an IT support specialist, which generally provides IT assistance to end users, computer consultants assist organizations in implementing and optimizing computer systems and networks.
The salary ranges are not 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.
Where to get an online bachelor’s degree in information technology
Earning your IT degree at University of Phoenix offers some distinct advantages. The online format, in which 5-week courses are offered one at a time, is ideal for students who are simultaneously working or juggling other commitments. It creates space to concentrate on the material at hand before building on that knowledge with the next course.
Beyond the convenient format, however, UOPX offers a curriculum that is aligned to skills employers want. And students can track their progress in real-time. A dashboard reveals exactly what skills they learn in each class and which they can then apply in their careers, even before they complete their degree.
Cyber and network defense: The best defense against a data breach? Prevention. Learn how to spot vulnerabilities before a hacker does.
Advanced cybersecurity: Everyone’s looking to strengthen defenses against bad actors. This certificate program offers hands-on IT lab and simulation experience to bolster your knowledge of how to keep IT safe.
Advanced networking: If you like puzzling out how things work, this certificate program is for you. Skills include learning network protocols, operating systems and architecture design.
Advanced software development: Get familiar with multiple programming languages and software architecture principles as you fine-tune your software application development skills.
How much does an IT degree cost?
Tallying up the cost of an IT degree is like trying to decide which app is the most valuable. The assessment, or in this case the cost, depends on a number of variables.
State schools charge different rates depending on a student’s residency. According to U.S. News & World Report, “in-state students generally pay $150 to $600 per credit, which adds up to an average program cost of $18,000 to $68,000. Out-of-state students should expect to pay at least $550 to $700 per credit or $68,000 to $82,000 for the entire program.”
Some online schools, meanwhile, can bypass the residency question altogether. University of Phoenix, for example, does not require any particular state residency for its tuition rate of $398 per credit. (The Bachelor of Science in Information Technology requires 120 credits for completion.) The University also offers fixed tuition, which means students lock in their tuition rate when they begin their program. It will not increase at any point during the course of completing their degree.
How many years does it take to get an IT degree?
Bachelor’s degrees in information technology generally take four years to complete. However, some students may finish quicker at UOPX if they have transferrable college credits or alternative credits (through standardized testing or an alternative credit provider such as Study.com).
Another way to speed up the process? Undergo a Prior Learning Assessment. This UOPX feature awards college credit for eligible life or work experience.
Information technology is a field that continues to expand and evolve, but one thing is for certain: It’s becoming an increasingly prominent part of everyone’s life. With an IT degree, you can be prepared for opportunities in this exciting field.