What Can I Do with a Degree in Information Technology?

Learn more about what you can do with a degree in information technology. Find information on information technology careers, job outlook, salary, and recommended schools. View popular schools that prepare students for careers in information technology.

Overview

Information technology (IT) has become an integral and essential component of modern life. From individual personal computers (PCs) to the computers used to support large companies, IT is an important component of modern social and economic development. Given the importance of information technology in modern society, it is not surprising to find that jobs in IT and technology are expanding at a significant pace. Individuals employed in IT and technology professions are responsible for helping individuals and organizations use computer and internet technology to store, access and review information.

In general, information technology is a broad field that encompasses a number of different activities related to the management and processing of information. The scope of activities for IT professionals can include: system design and development, linking of computer hardware and software, development of information networks and strategic use of the internet to support business operations. In practical terms, the work of IT and technology professionals can be seen everywhere. For instance, IT and technology professionals are responsible for the systems that support online shopping and the delivery of cable services to individual homes. Every time the internet is used for keyword searching through sites such as Google or Yahoo! IT professionals have played some role in the development of these tools. Interestingly, 30 years ago many of these technologies that business and individuals have become reliant on did not exist. As such, the IT and technology industry has witnessed extensive growth and development over the course of the last two decades.

Careers

Overall, there are a number of different careers that individuals interested in IT and technology can pursue. While each of these careers involves different levels of education, skill and expertise, all require the professional to have computer experience and knowledge. Generally speaking, IT and technology professionals work in offices or computer laboratories and are provided with full-time positions. In recent years, the expansion of wireless technologies has enabled some IT and technology professionals to work from remote locations. Advances in wireless technologies have created a new arena for IT professionals that allows many to work on a contract or freelance basis. In 2008, IT and technology professionals held more than 961,200 jobs. More specific classifications for these professionals demonstrate that 35 percent of those working in the field were employed as network and systems administrators, 17 percent were employed as database administrators and 30 percent were employed as network and communications analysts. The remainder of professionals working in the field (18 percent) were employed in a residual category known as computer specialists. Many careers in IT and technology require a Bachelors Degree. Additionally, career advancement in the field can be facilitated through certification to acquire additional skills and improved understanding of evolving technology.

Salary

Salaries and wages for IT and technology professionals vary based on the specific area and industry in which these individuals are employed. For instance, median annual income for a network or computer systems administrator was $66,310 in 2008 with a salary range between $41,000 and $104,070. Network or computer systems administrators can be employed in a number of different settings, which will also impact median salaries and wages. For instance, a network system administrator working in a large organization will earn, on average, $70,680 annually. A similar position in a telecommunications company will provide an average annual salary of $66,950.

Similar trends in wages and salaries can be seen for network systems and data communications analysts. Median annual incomes for these professionals was $71,100 in 2008 with a range of $41,660 to $110,920. The industry in which these professionals were employed plays a significant role in determining median annual salary. Network systems and data communications analysts working in large companies earn average annual salaries of $73,720 while those working in telecommunications carriers earn, on average, $75,930. Thus, individuals selecting a career in the IT and technology field need to consider the specific environment in which they will be employed to evaluate salary prospects.

Job Outlook

Data regarding the job outlook for the IT and technology industry indicates that the number of job openings in this field is expected to grow faster than average, when compared with other professions. Overall, job opportunities for qualified individuals seeking employment in this field will be excellent. In terms of the overall size of growth in the industry, data indicates that the IT and technology industry will grow by a rate of 30 percent by 2018. However, this growth will not be uniform across all professions in the industry. Network and computer systems administrators are expected to see significant growth in the number of job opportunities, increasing by 23 percent by 2018. Job growth for network systems and data communications analysts is expected to be the most substantial with an increase of 53 percent by 2018. Even though significant growth in the industry is predicted, many of the current jobs in the industry will be lost due to outsourcing and changes in technology. Professionals in the field will need to continually augment education and skills as technology evolves. Advanced degrees and certifications will be helpful in providing professionals with the additional supports needed to remain competitive in the IT and technology industry.

Recommended Schools

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Programs:

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