Studying In the field
Technology is becoming a bigger part of modern society every day. Corporate America is seeing large amounts of its business being conducted electronically. More and more processes are becoming automated--like databases maintained by the IRS, the records of your purchases at supermarkets and the information doctors keep about your health. Computers have become the single essential tie that binds these - and really the entire world - together. It therefore should come as no surprise that a degree in information technology is more marketable now than it ever has been in the past. Simply put, new technologies come along every day, and people will be needed to understand and maintain them. Therefore, someone with a degree in this field will also be highly sought-after.
Towson University's graduate school defines information technology as "the study, design, development, implementation, and support of computer-based information systems to address real-world problems." In other words, it is the science (and, indeed, some might even say the art) of working with computers in order to facilitate the easier and more efficient use of them by non-professionals and professionals alike.
As has been noted already, a variety of specific IT areas exist for you to focus. They include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Graphics and Imaging
- Operating Systems
- Personal Information Management
- Document Management
- Statistical Analysis & Mathematical Modeling
- Document Integration
- Administrative Systems
In recent years, colleges and universities have been significantly adding and expanding programs in information technology. This is because of the ever-increasing importance of the skill-sets IT practitioners possess. Most in IT have at least an associate degree and many also have a bachelor's as well. However, there are several important factors for choosing to go into a graduate program. Graduate degrees in IT are helpful for those who wish to pursue collegiate teaching or go into research for future technology. Additionally, those who wish eventually to work in the highest levels of the technology world will find it a must to earn a graduate degree. Examples of these would include jobs in government, computer development and computer and software design.
Higher levels of education in the IT field bring with them competition that can become rather stiff. Due to the high skill level of many applicants, and the popularity of the field in general, many people with high levels of ability wind up vying for a small number of spots. This should not discourage you, however. If you are highly motivated you must be persistent. Even if you don't get admitted to graduate study the first time you apply, don't give up. Some of the country's best lawyers did not pass the law bar exam the first time and likewise in this highly competitive field, you have no reason not to try again. Additionally, gaining more work experience with hands-on learning may prove to be just what you need.
Job opportunities In the field
Because of the many and wide-ranging applications of computers and software, graduates of IT programs will find a nearly infinite variety of career options. They include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Computer Software Engineer, Systems Software
- Computer Systems Analysts
- Computer Support Specialists
- Computer Programmers
- Computer and Information Systems Managers
- Computer Software Engineers, Applications
- Database Administrators
- Computer Security Specialists
- Computer and Information Scientists, Research
Because of the wide variety of careers available to those possessing degrees in IT, it is difficult to narrow down how much they stand to make. A government employee, for example, may make less money than an IT expert working with, say, a publicly held financial institution on Wall Street. Also affecting the amount of money you stand eventually to make is the specific area of IT on which you choose to focus. Therefore, in order to gauge more fully and accurately what you'll eventually earn, it is best to do research on as specific an area as possible in the IT field.
It is tough to gauge exactly what the future holds, specifically, for such an ever-evolving field. However, one thing is certain, information and technology are not going to disappear any time soon. The outlook for it is likely indicative of larger trends in the field. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics:
"Employment of computer and information systems managers is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations through the year 2014. Technological advancements will boost the employment of computer-related workers; as a result, the demand for managers to direct these workers also will increase. In addition, job openings will result from the need to replace managers who retire or move into other occupations."
The Bureau also believes that those with computer-related experience will gain a better chance at landing management positions. Helpful fields for this include MBAs with a core technology component or a management information systems degree.
Additionally, "to remain competitive, firms will continue to install sophisticated computer networks and set up more complex Internet and intranet sites. Large firms and organizations will look to the best qualified and highest educated to institute and maintain these systems. The importance companies put on not only keeping their systems running but also private and secure will remain at the forefront of the expansion in this industry. Keeping a computer network running smoothly is essential [in] every wired organization. Firms will be more willing to hire managers who can accomplish that," (Bureau of Labor Statistics).
This field creates more than just managers, however. As the Internet reaches into every crevice of the business world, IT graduates will have a near infinite amount of jobs from which to choose.