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Earning an Online Associates Degree in Information Technology
Why Should I Pursue an Online Associates Degree in Information Technology?
Ready to pursue a career change or enhance your education? Looking to gain some of the skills and knowledge for professionals in information technology? If so, earning an online associates degree in information technology—or IT—may be a good first step! According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), computer and IT jobs are expected to rise from 3.9 million in 2014 to 4.4 million in 2014—that’s a 12% increase!i So there’s no time like the present to start exploring the ins and outs of earning an online associates degree in information technology. And you can start right now by checking out the info below.
What knowledge and skills are relevant to information technology professionals?
When it comes to IT professionals, it’s understandably important to be knowledgeable about computers and electronics. That includes components like processors, circuit boards, chips, electronic equipment—and computer software and hardware, including programming and applications. It’s also beneficial to be well-versed in broadcasting, switching, control, transmissions, and operations of telecommunications systems.ii
If you want to pursue a career in information technology, you’ll need to be comfortable:
- Interacting with computers and computers systems (a no-brainer!)i
- Making decisions and solving problemsiii
- Observing, receiving, and getting information from relevant sourcesiii
- Communicating with peers, bosses, and subordinatesiii
What courses may I take while earning an online information technology associates degree?
If you earn an online associates degree in information technology you may gain the specialized knowledge and technical skills—such as software development, data management, and web design—to help you pursue a career in information technology. Although courses will vary depending on the school and program that you choose, you can expect to take a mix of general core courses (such as English or math), plus subjects like:
- Fundamentals of information technology
- Application development
- Website design
- Network management
- Telecommunication management
- Analysis of business systems
- Intro to data and information management
- Computer platform technologies
Depending on which online associate’s degree program you enroll in, you may also be required to do a final project or exam. You might also be able to transfer the credits that you earn in your associate’s program to a bachelor’s degree in certain cases, but that’s something that you should speak to prospective schools about before you enroll.iv The most common types of associate’s degrees are the Associate of Arts (AA) and the Associate of Science (AS)—and in general, these degrees take two years to complete.iv
What industries may employ people with an associates degree in information technology?
According to the BLS, computer support specialists work in a variety of different industries including information technology, finance, education, healthcare, and telecommunication. There may also be the option to work for outside support firms on a contract basis. In 2014, the industries that employed the most computer network support specialists were:
- Computer systems design and related services (20%)v
- Wired telecommunications carriers (10%)v
- Finance and insurance (9%)v
- Educational services (8%)v
- Wholesale trade (6%)v
What careers could I pursue with an online associates degree in Information Technology?
If you earn your associates degree in information technology you could pursue a career as a computer support specialist. Although both provide help and advice on using computer software or equipment, there are two distinct types of computer support specialists.vi Computer network support specialists support IT employees within their organization—and computer user support specialists help non IT-users with computer issues.vii Here’s a further breakdown in the differences in job responsibilities between the two. . . .
Computer network support specialists typically:
- Perform regular maintenance to ensure networks are operating correctlyvii
- Test and evaluate network systemsvii
- Troubleshoot wide area networks, local area networks, and internet systemsvii
Computer user support specialists typically:
- Ask customers questions to diagnose problemsvii
- Walk customers through the solutionsvii
- Set up or repair computer equipment and devicesvii
- Train users to work with new hardware or softwarevii
According to the BLS, the median annual wage for computer user support specialists in 2015 was $48,620—while the median annual wage for computer network support specialists was $62,250.viii Between 2014 and 2014, employment of computer support specialists is projected to grow by 12%; and for those working in computer systems design and related firms that number rises to 31%!ix
Why earn your associates degree in information technology online?
The beauty of earning your degree online is the flexibility it affords. The ability to fit your studies into your busy life and family schedule—and to continue to work as you enhance your education—is a huge plus. Basically you make your schedule work for you! And if you’re currently working in an IT-related field you may even be able to apply the skills and knowledge you learn in your associate’s program to your current job. Another thing to keep in mind is that when studying online you may still have a chance to interact with—and network with—fellow students and professors. And you’ll likely have access to online support services like advising, online libraries, tutoring, IT support (ironically), and disability services. But make sure you check with your schools of interest to learn more about the exact services they provide for online students.
What are some benefits of studying online?
Should you choose to join the ranks of students studying finance online, here are some potential benefits:
- Flexibility and convenience: For busy professionals, people with families, and students living in remote areas, online programs may allow a degree of flexibility typically not offered through on-campus programs. Time once spent commuting to class can be devoted to studying, and students may be able to design their programs to fit their work and personal schedules.
- Applicability: People who earn an online associate’s in information technology may work fulltime and be able to apply what they learn to their work.
- Networking: Online programs sometimes attract people from around the world. Students in online associate’s in information technology programs may therefore expand their networks nationally and internationally.
How do you get started?
That’s the easy part! Take a look at our sponsored listings of schools that offer associate’s degrees in information technology and do some comparing and contrasting between the different programs. Then, once you’ve found some schools that you like you can request more information to answer any questions you may have and get the ball rolling. Happy hunting!
[i]bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/home.htm [ii]onetonline.org/link/summary/15-1151.00#Knowledge [iii]onetonline.org/link/summary/15-1151.00#WorkActivities [iv]ed.gov/about/offices/list/ous/international/usnei/us/associate.doc [v]bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-support-specialists.htm#tab-3 [vi]bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-support-specialists.htm#tab-4 [vii]bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-support-specialists.htm#tab-2 [viii]bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-support-specialists.htm#tab-5 [ix]bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-support-specialists.htm#tab-6