Best Degrees for a Career in Information Technology
If computers are your passion, you may be looking for the top degree programs to enter the field of information technology. Whether you aspire to become a computer scientist, software engineer, or network administrator, choosing the best degree helps ensure that you are setting yourself up for a rewarding--and lucrative--career.
Best Degree Programs for Information Technology Professionals
Because information technology encompasses a wide range of professions, choosing the best degree for your intended occupation is important for setting yourself up as a competitive job applicant. Regardless of the field you choose, you generally need some level of college education: Most employers look for relevant training through coursework or certifications.
Entering the Field through Associate's Degrees and Certifications
If you are interested in working as a computer support specialist, network administrator, or computer programmer, associate's degrees may be the best degrees for entering those professions with the least amount of education. Alternatively, some computer support specialists acquire training through certifications, which are offered through specific vendors and which build expertise in specific systems and software packages.
Bachelor's Is Top College Degree for Many Information Technology Occupations
You can increase your chances of securing a job in computer programming, network administration, and computer support with a bachelor's degree, the best degree for obtaining most entry-level positions in information technology. A bachelor's degree in computer science or mathematics could also qualify you for an entry-level job in fields like:
- Computer software engineering
- Database administration
- Computer and information systems management
- Computer systems analysis
A bachelor's degree in engineering, on the other hand, is the top college degree for computer hardware engineers.
Graduate Degrees in Information Technology
At a master's level, your career options expand significantly, particularly for information technology jobs that involve working as part of a management team or advising management-level staff. A master's in business administration (MBA) with an emphasis in technology is often the top degree for jobs in computer and information systems management and computer systems analysis.
A variety of other master's-level degrees can make you a competitive candidate for mid- or senior-level information technology jobs. Top degrees in information technology include master's degrees in software engineering, network administration, and information technology, which could enable information technology professionals to advance to management-level jobs in computer software engineering and database or network administration.
Doctorate Is Best Degree for Computer Scientists
Creators and inventors may aspire to work as computer science researchers. A PhD is the top degree in information technology, and the best degree for those wanting to work as computer scientists. At a PhD level, computer scientists often work in research laboratories and as professors at colleges and universities.
Information Technology Job Outlook
Regardless of the degree path you choose, you may be wondering whether your education will pay off. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that most information technology occupations are expected to remain in high demand and should have strong job growth. Furthermore, as a group, information technology jobs pay nearly twice as much as the national average--$76,290 as of May 2009, nearly double the annual mean wage of $43,460 for all occupations.