A degree may open the door to a variety of opportunities and diverse career paths. The degree programs offered at CTU will not necessarily lead to the featured careers. This collection of articles is intended to help inform and guide you through the process of determining which level of degree and types of certifications align with your desired career path.
In today’s hyperconnected world, careers in information technology are important, as businesses rely on IT professionals to ensure information security and provide computer support to employees who depend on a functioning computer and computer network to carry out their jobs. Cloud computing and the need for increased information security and database administration services are just some of the major driving forces behind faster than average growth in IT occupations,1 and these forces don’t seem likely to abate any time soon.
With all of this in mind, let’s dive into some of the popular information technology career paths you might consider pursuing after completing an IT degree program.
1. IT Analyst
IT analysts evaluate an organization’s current computer systems, weighing the costs and benefits of implementing any upgrades or changes to determine if they make financial sense, in order to devise solutions that help the organization operate more efficiently and effectively. IT analysts are a unique breed of information systems professional because their roles generally require knowledge of both information technology and business—for example, achieving their objectives generally involves consulting with management teams, learning about emerging technologies, preparing financial analyses, and selecting and customizing the systems that are best suited to meeting an organization’s goals. Experienced IT analysts who wish to pursue more advanced roles sometimes transition into IT project management, where they can utilize their IT leadership skills and technical know-how by overseeing a group of analysts with the shared goal of completing projects on time and within budget constraints.2
2. Network Administrator
Network administration involves the regular maintenance and updating of a business’ computer networks, and it is the aptly named network and computer systems administrators who are responsible for providing this network management and computer support. These administrators wear many hats—like IT analysts, they must determine an organization’s network needs and come up with an efficient solution, whether it be installing or upgrading hardware or software or implementing stronger network security measures. Or, like the IT support specialists they supervise, network administrators may find themselves providing direct user technical support.3
3. Computer Support Specialist
Computer support specialists focus on evaluating and solving computer network problems and typically work under a network administrator. Their work in maintaining an organization’s networks is central to successful disaster recovery, and their assistance in helping users troubleshoot IT issues helps promote business productivity and efficiency. Depending on the role, candidates may be able to pursue an entry-level position with only an associate degree in information technology, though some roles might require a bachelor’s. It’s also possible that candidates who have taken some college courses in networking, server administration, and information security or who possess a high school diploma along with relevant IT certifications may qualify for certain positions. Understanding and problem-solving users’ computer issues involves a considerable degree of interpersonal interaction, so those considering this career path should possess strong written and spoken communication skills as well as strong listening skills4—in addition, of course, to a desire to actually interact with people.
4. Computer Network Architect
Also known as network engineers, computer network architects develop and construct data communication networks that can range in complexity. For example, these engineers might be responsible for ensuring connectivity between offices, or they might instead find themselves tasked with developing and maintaining cloud computing infrastructures that serve multiple users. Network maintenance and troubleshooting, along with analysis of an organization’s network needs, often also falls under their purview. In the workplace, computer network architects may work alongside or collaborate with other IT professionals specializing in computer systems and network administration, or in information systems management.5
5. IT Consultant
Information technology consultants are a type of management analyst that focuses on solving IT issues and improving efficiency. IT consultants are responsible for gathering all the preliminary information about the issue they have been contracted to solve, analyzing pertinent reports and data, and then recommending and/or developing new solutions and/or procedures to address the problem at hand. Because of the nature of consulting, these IT analysts generally do not work for the companies that hire them for their services but instead can have many different clients—a potential draw for anyone who likes the idea of working with all types of businesses.6
6. IT Project Manager
Information technology management often involves seeing a project through from beginning to end, and this is where information technology project managers come in. These individuals apply their IT leadership skills and knowledge to all stages of the project lifecycle, making sure that all stakeholders/departments are kept abreast of important developments and that deadlines, standards, and budgets are adhered to.7
7. Software Developer
Software developers, also known as systems engineers or software engineers, are the brains behind the computer operating systems used by consumers and businesses alike. Unlike applications development, which involves the creation of computer programs or complex databases, the systems built by systems engineers and software engineers make it possible for computers to function and for users to interact with their machines. Although these engineers most commonly possess a degree in computer science and strong programming skills, a degree program in software engineering or similar field could also provide the foundational knowledge necessary to pursue this career path.8
8. Computer and Information Research Scientist
If computer theory, invention, and design are your
thing, then pursuing an IT career as a computer and information research scientist might be worth considering. These professionals focus on solving complex information technology problems and may publish their work in academic journals and present it at conferences. Technological advancements in computer networking, information security, and faster computing speeds are often the result of the work that such research scientists do. Note that a bachelor’s degree in computer science plus a master’s degree in information systems or computer science is often needed to pursue this career path. A bachelor’s degree may be sufficient for some federal government jobs.9
Ready to Pursue a Career Path in Information Technology?
As we have just seen, a degree program in IT could help you prepare to pursue a number of information technology career paths. Whether you already know which is right for you or need to do more research before making up your mind, CTU has you covered with offerings at the associate, bachelor’s, and master’s levels, as well as an IT general track and multiple concentration options.
1 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, “Computer and Information Technology Occupations,” https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/home.htm (last visited 11/30/2022). This data represents national figures and is not based on school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary.
2 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, “Computer Systems Analysts,” https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-systems-analysts.htm (last visited 11/30/2022).
3 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, “Network and Computer Systems Administrators,” https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/network-and-computer-systems-administrators.htm (last visited 11/30/2022).
4 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, “Computer Support Specialists,” https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-support-specialists.htm (last visited 11/30/2022).
5 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, “Computer Network Architects,” https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-network-architects.htm (last visited 11/30/2022).
6 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, “Management Analysts,” https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/management-analysts.htm (last visited 11/30/2022).
7 National Center for O*NET Development, “15-1299.09—Information Technology Project Managers,” O*NET OnLine, https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/15-1299.09 (last visited 8/9/2021).
8 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, “Software Developers,” https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/software-developers.htm (last visited 11/30/2022).
9 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, “Computer and Information Research Scientists,” https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-and-information-research-scientists.htm (last visited 11/30/2022).
CTU cannot guarantee employment, salary, or career advancement. Not all programs are available to residents of all states.
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