Think web services, cloud storage and even networking. The computer and information technology field employs more than 3.9 million people, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and is expected to keep on growing in upcoming years. Computers and information technology schools may be of interest to you if you seek a short-term educational program and want to build skills in areas like computer support, networking, server or database administration, network communications or one of many other areas.
Computer and IT Education Requirements
Educational requirements do vary for the computer and information technology field, but you can find certificates or associate degrees available to help you to become a computer support technician or to help you enter fields such as computer networking, cybersecurity, web development, network infrastructure or others. Below is a closer look at specializations for some of the computer-related careers:
- Computer information technologist: Manages technology equipment and supports users in a variety of environments. Also understands software application packages and hardware to help solve technical problems at businesses and other institutions.
- Internet services technologist: Helps manage Intranet, Internet and Extranet environments, and installs and configures Web-based services. May be involved with database applications and website development.
- Network systems technologist: Installs and configures computers and networks for local area networks (LAN) and wide area networks (WAN). Electives could help you seek Microsoft MCSA Certification, Network+, Linux+ or other certifications.
Computer and Information Technology Certifications
Educational requirements for the computer and vocational school occupations vary, and with more education -- or certifications -- may come more diverse opportunities. For some entry-level careers, employers accept certificates or diplomas, while positions with a higher level of accountability and oversight may require completion of a bachelor's degree or even more advanced education. Still, a vocational school program can be the starting point for entry into many different computer or information technology fields with more education and/or certifications helping you work toward future goals.
There are many different certifications available to those interested in the computer and IT fields. Schools may offer training for specific certifications as part of the core coursework or through elective offerings that students choose from. Some of these certifications could include:
- Cisco CCNA Certification
- CompTIA A+
- Wireless networking certifications
Certification is typically obtained outside of computers and information technology schools, although the skills could be developed as part of a program. Typically after completing a school program, you need to register for a certifying exam and then take a computer-based-test, which may be multiple choice in many cases. Once certified, continuing education may be all that is necessary to stay current, as is the case with CompTIA A+ certification.
How to Become a Computer and IT Specialist
There are many different paths for entering the computer and information technology field. If you're thinking you may be interested in one of the many occupations, then take a look at the following steps.
- Obtain your high school diploma or earn a GED. This is important to enrollment in many vocational career programs and also typically necessary for most types of hiring in the professional world.
- Enroll for a vocational or community college program. Depending on your field of interest, you may be able to find a diploma, certificate or associate degree program to help you build needed skills. Programs often focus on hands-on training and may even provide the opportunity for an externship. In fact, it's estimated that 65 percent of jobs by 2020 will require some type of postsecondary education, so this can be a good way to ensure you are taking steps to be prepared.
- Seek necessary certification. Although certification may not be necessary for hiring, it may be helpful to finding a job and also highlight your skills as a dedicated professional. Some organizations may even pay for certification testing if you are hired as an employee, but certification also can prove that you have foundational skills in your area and can be industry supported.
- (Optional) Advance to a bachelor's degree. Advancement often hinges on higher levels of education, particularly in more sophisticated fields. Software development and engineering can be examples, but existing experience in the computer and IT field may help you in other ways, including how to better figure out particular areas of interest in the future and the steps you want to take to get there.
Salary and Career Outlook for Computer and IT
Salaries in the computer and IT field can vary greatly, but often can be competitive, particularly in some of the high-demand areas. Also, since the IT field is fluid and constantly changing in new and different ways, recent graduates may be readily prepared to tackle new opportunities. Take a look at some of the nationwide salaries and job availability below:
|Career||Annual Mean Wage||Projected Employment Change||Projected 2012-2022 Growth|
|Computer and Information Systems Managers||141000||53700||15.4|
|Computer Systems Analysts||90180||118600||20.9|
An education at the postsecondary level can help you to build skills relevant to the future and be important to anyone's career endeavors. Discover what computers and information technology schools could mean to you when it comes to building those skills and being prepared in the 21st century.
- Computer and Information Technology Occupations, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics, December 17, 2015. http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/home.htm
- Certification, CompTIA A+. No date. https://certification.comptia.org/certifications/a#renewal
- "New Report Reveals Greater Urgency Needed to Increase Postsecondary Attainment," The Lumina Foundation, April 9, 2015. https://www.luminafoundation.org/news-and-views/stronger-nation-2015
- One-Year or Less Certificates, Daytona College, no date. https://daytonastate.edu/admissions/1year.html#technicaltrigger
- Vocational Education Computer Science, Los Angeles Valley College, no date. https://www.lavc.edu/VocEd1/VECompScience/CSIT.html