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Is an Information Technology Degree Right for Me?
For many, many IT professionals, the road to an IT career is more often than not paved with motherboards, memory cards and hard drives.
Why, there’s nary a self-professed techno-geek around that hasn’t cut his teeth on tearing down and rebuilding a computer, or troubleshooting the laptop of a friend, family member (or even foe).
But even if tearing apart or piecing together computers is not your style, there’s probably something about technology---and its place in the world---that fascinates you.
From infrastructure management, to database administration, to network and systems administration, an information technology (IT) degree can prepare you for one of the most in-demand and fast-paced careers.
Now, imagine working in IT.
What do you see yourself doing after you earn your degree in information technology? Where would you like to work? Do you want to specialize in a particular area of IT? Do you have a specific job title in mind?
Here are 6 steps you can take now to help you imagine more clearly how earning your degree and working in information technology could look and feel to the future you.
Step 1: Find and follow someone who has the job you think you want.
There’s nothing like a good dose of reality to tell you if you’re on the right track or not. Seeing the day-to-day workings of a real professional in a real-world work environment can help you tap into, or hone in on, your true interests.
If you’re already a working professional, it’s always a good idea to experience the “next level up” within your current field. To do that, simply conduct an informational interview with someone in a different sector of the information technology field.
Be sure to prepare for your encounter by researching the person’s role ahead of time. Bring along a list of questions, too, such as, “What’s the most demanding thing about this job?” or “Why did you choose this particular area of the field over another within the IT industry?”
Step 2: Honestly examine your skills and interests.
Are you strong in abstract thinking skills? Stoked about nitty-gritty details? Able to make a connection between how something tangible like a software application can enable business objectives?
IT is a very broad-based field and requires a variety of skill sets. Use your skills and interests to help point you to a specific area within IT in which you’ll thrive.
For example, if you’re research-minded and analytical, you may gravitate more towards cyber security.
However, if you’re very organized and more of a multi-tasking planner, perhaps IT project management would be a better fit.
The point is, aligning your skills and interests with your chosen degree can help set you up for success.
Heading back to school? Make sure you max out your Financial Aid with the help of this free FAFSA report.
Step 3: Consider your career options.
Information technology as a career field is experiencing what some would call “explosive growth.”
In fact, the employment outlook is mega-watt bright. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts an astonishing (and way above average) double-digit, 26% increase in information technology jobs in the 10-year period ranging from 2012 to 2022.
That means that the ratio of IT degree program graduates to job openings is an astounding 1:5.
Here are just a few of the hundreds (and hundreds …) of potential careers available to online and traditional information technology graduates:
- Application Deployment Administrator
- Applied Technology Specialist
- Business Analyst
- Computer Systems Analyst
- Customer Technical Support Specialist
- Database Administrator
- Director of Information Technology
- Help Desk Technical Specialist
- Information Technologist
- Network Administrator
- Network Support Engineer
- Program Delivery Director
- Project Manager
- Project Planner
- Software Developer
- Support Generalist
- Systems Administrator
- Web Developer
- Web Security Administrator
Step 4: Look for a degree program that suits your interests---and fits your lifestyle.
You want to be employable, but you also want to love the work you do, right? A degree program from an accredited nonprofit university like Franklin can connect you to a curriculum that showcases your aptitudes.
In addition to equipping you for an IT career, some programs, like ours, offers flexible course schedules that let you further your education and still have reasonable work-family life balance. (Believe it or not, not every degree program does that!)
Step 5: Determine if previously earned credit or specialized certifications can apply directly to your degree program.
IT is hot and fast growing---so you’ve gotta keep up.
Online degree programs can help you can earn your bachelor’s faster while you learn state-of-the-art IT principles and practices.
Some programs, like ours, let you apply eligible earned course credits, associate degree program credits or specialized certifications, including:
- CISSP for security
- MSCA/MCSE for Windows
- Network+ and CCNA for networking
- PMI for project management
- RHCA/RHCE for Linux
Step 6: Customize your degree program to add depth to your existing knowledge and experience.
One of the most exciting and rewarding things about going back to school as an adult and earning your IT degree is that you can round out your current skills.
Look for an information technology curriculum that covers a wide range of in-demand systems, programming languages and platforms, including:
- Cisco switches and routers
- IP addressing
- Oracle 10g
- Windows Server
- Wireless LAN
Are you ready to take the steps? Is an IT degree right for you?
Only you can decide what’s right for you. These six steps, however, should give you the inspiration and information you need to feel confident in your decision.
If you’re ready to prepare yourself for a rewarding career in one of the nation’s fastest-growing fields, apply now.