By Sarah Stevenson
Job prospects are good for those who plan to enter the information technology sector, but if you're just getting started on your education, what's the best way to take advantage of the increasing opportunities in information technology? And if you're already employed in the IT sector, how can you position yourself for a better-paying job? The answer may lie in distance education.
Earning an IT bachelor degree online can qualify you to enter a number of professions in the industry, and more specialized education such as IT master's degrees and IT certification can help you advance your existing career.
Online Diplomas and Associate's Degrees in IT
If you're a recent high school graduate looking for work in information technology, an IT bachelor degree online might seem like a big step. Fortunately, there are some entry-level IT jobs available to those holding a 1-year diploma or a 2-year associate's degree, particularly in the area of technical support. Some of the online degrees and diplomas available at this level include:
- Diploma in Information Systems – Database Developer
- Diploma in Information Systems – Programming
- Associate of Applied Science in Network Administration
- Associate of Applied Science in Information Technology
Earn an IT Bachelor Degree Online
A 4-year degree is usually the minimum qualification for a range of IT jobs. Earning an IT bachelor degree online opens up job possibilities such as programmer, software engineer or network systems administrator.
Besides general education curriculum, an IT bachelor degree online usually includes courses in mathematics, computer science, statistics and programming. A bachelor's degree program will allow you to specialize in a particular area of emphasis, acquiring more in-depth knowledge than you'll get from a diploma or associate's degree. Here are a few common specialties for the IT bachelor degree online:
- Computer Engineering Technology
- Computer Science
- Database Management
- Management Information Systems
- Computer Security
- Software Development
Online Graduate Degrees in IT
Online degrees are also available at the master's level and even the doctoral level. Often, graduate-level programs concentrate on advanced applications of computer science and theory, or they grant MBA degrees in management information systems. Many of those who choose to earn a PhD degree in IT end up working in academia or pursuing research in private industry.** Online graduate degrees in IT include:
- Master of Science in IT Project Management
- Master of Science in Health Information Management
- MBA in Information Security Management
- PhD in Business Administration – Electronic Commerce Specialization
Enhance Any Degree with IT Certification Online
Part of staying employable and competitive in today's IT world is keeping up with the rapid developments in technology. Whether you hold a graduate degree, a diploma or an IT bachelor degree, online certification can keep your knowledge fresh and impart valuable new skills.
Some certification programs are more generalized, such as those administered by professional groups like the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA), which grants an entry-level certification, or the IEEE Computer Society, which grants the Certified Software Development Associate and Certified Software Development Professional certifications.
However, the most numerous of the online IT certifications are product-specific, training people to work with Microsoft, Cisco and other computer systems. Here are just a few examples:
- Cisco Certified Network Associate Certificate
- Oracle Certified Professional Database Administrator
- CompTIA Linux Certification
- Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer
With your information technology career goal strongly in mind, you'll be able to choose which level of education is best suited to getting you there, whether it's an IT bachelor degree or online certification.
Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics; IEEE Computer Society