Computer technology has changed over the years and so too have computer and information technology jobs. It's a diverse field that provides the opportunity to do everything from code programs to build hardware to develop mobile apps. Big data, cloud computing and information security are all central to many technology jobs.
Students will be happy to hear that computer and information technology job growth is expected to be strong in the coming years. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates more than a half million jobs in the field will be added from 2016 to 2026. Not only are many IT occupations growing faster than those in other industries, but they typically offer salaries that far exceed the median annual wages of all occupations.
Computer and Information Technology Specializations
Since the computer and information technology field is so diverse, workers often specialize. To do that, they may focus their education and career on one of the following areas.
- Computer Science: Computer science is the logical specialization for those who want to become computer scientists. These workers help create new computer languages, work on artificial intelligence and develop robotics. While the average computer scientist salary is high, not everyone wants to get the master's degree needed for this job. Fortunately, you can use an undergraduate computer science degree for a number of other occupations as well. Explore computer science programs to get the ball rolling on a career today.
- Computer Networking: Those who specialize in computer networking are masters of IT systems. They help computers and other devices communicate with one another. Depending on their position, they may design computer networks, build them or maintain them. Network engineers, computer support network specialists and network system administrators are all occupations within this specialty. A bachelor's degree is often standard for these jobs but two-year options can be available. Read more about computer networking programs.
- Programming: Programming is a fundamental computing skill that lets workers build -- or code -- software using special languages. Even if you don't want to pursue a career exclusively as a computer programmer, it's a good field to study since it is used in many technology occupations. Plus, some computer programming degree programs can be completed in two years or less.
- Web Design Management: As someone who uses the internet on a regular basis, you are undoubtedly familiar with the work of web design management specialists. They are the ones who make sure a website is user-friendly, attractive and functional. Within this specialization, you'll find webmasters, web designers and web architects. An associate degree is the standard education for many web design jobs.
- Electronics: Although sometimes overshadowed by the other computer and information technology specializations, electronics is an integral part of this industry. An electronics degree program can provide the hands-on skills needed to create, maintain and repair computer hardware. Education requirements can vary in this field with electronic engineers needing a four-year degree while repair and maintenance jobs may only require some post-secondary training. Check out more info on campus-based or online electronics programs today.
Educational Requirements for Computer and Information Technology Jobs
Computer and information technology degree programs are just as diverse as IT jobs themselves. While positions like computer scientists need an advanced degree, others are open to those with the following levels of education:
- Certificates: These short-term programs often teach computer languages, coding and web design. Graduates may be able to use their skills in programming and technical support positions.
- Associate degrees: An associate degree can be earned in two years or less, and online computer and information technology degrees are available at this level. In addition to general programs, specialized associate degrees in web design, information technology and computer science are offered.
- Bachelor's degrees: A four-year degree can open the door to more advanced positions such as that of network engineers and computer systems analysts. Online computer and information technology degrees can make it convenient to study for a bachelor's degree while still working.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Accessed September 2018, https://www.bls.gov/ooh