What Is Information Technology?
Simply put, information technology describes the use of computers and software to store and manage information or data for any business large or small. Most conventional IT departments function to manage the systems such as computers, servers, and networks. The demand for skilled professionals in the IT field continues to grow as more companies transition to digital platforms, which makes this career an exciting and flexible option for prospective students.
What is an Associate Degree in Information Technology?
An Associate Degree in Information Technology takes about two years and roughly 60 credits to complete. Courses prepare students to hold roles as IT Managers, Computer Support Specialists, Network Administrators, and Computer Technicians. Programs combine hands-on and theoretical coursework to orient their students with the software and hardware in servers, laptops, modems, and even data storage. Students should expect to learn skills like troubleshooting or computer-related problem solving to simulate real-world scenarios such as fixing a network connection, setting up a new company computer profile, and data backup.
What to Expect as an Associate in Information Technology Major
Types of Associate in IT Classes
Though there are a wide range of professional applications within the field of information technology, and students have the option of choosing specialized programs, most IT Associate Degree programs require foundational courses such as”
- Operating systems
- Network administration
Students must become familiar with a computer’s kit of parts and be proficient in both hardware and software repairs and regular maintenance.
Skills Learned in an Associate in Information Technology Degree Program
It’s important for students to be able to draw connections between tangible skills and real-world applications to illuminate a potential path forward should they pursue an Associate Degree in Information Technology. Graduates should expect to develop skills in the following areas:
- Network security and optimization
- Information storage and data management
- Server maintenance
Since there is such a high demand for professionals with Associate Degrees in Information Technology, students that master any of these skills can apply them immediately after graduation.
How Long Does it Take to Get an Associate in Information Technology?
Associate Degrees in Information Technology are often organized into two-year tracks but can vary depending on the number of courses a student enrolls in each semester or quarter.
Information Technology Degree Specializations
It’s common for students that earn a degree in information technology to select a program that is specialized, allowing them to concentrate on a specific aspect of the industry. Having a specialization can help students focus on a particular job title or career path, or demonstrate expertise in fields including:
- Digital forensics
- Data management
- Software Development
- Application Development
Information Technology Certification and Training
Depending on where you want to work and how long you spend in school, job opportunities vary. Some jobs may require students to attain a professional license or certification outside of their associate degree, and many do so through prerequisite job requirements and on-the-job training at the entry-level.
Professional designations for IT specialists may be implemented at an organizational or municipal level depending on where you work, so it’s always best to inquire before applying. Some common IT certifications include:
- Microsoft Fundamentals
- Cloud Management
What Can I Do With an Associate in Information Technology?
There are quite a few different roles that graduates with an Associate in Information Technology can pursue depending on their interests. Some roles are fully-remote, while others require in-person office hours, so it’s essential to manage what’s important in terms of work-life balance, anticipated commute, and compensation. Here are some common roles for professionals who graduated from an Information Technology Associate program:
- IT associates at the entry-level
- Computer Systems Analyst
- IT Systems Administrator at the senior level
If you’re looking for more ideas, here are a few other career paths for those studying information technology.
- Median Salary: $57,910
- Career Outlook: +6% (2020-2030)
- Required Education: Bachelor's Degree
Computer support specialists maintain computer networks and provide technical help to computer users.
- Median Salary: $80,600
- Career Outlook: +3% (2020-2030)
- Required Education: Bachelor's Degree
Network and computer systems administrators are responsible for the day-to-day operation of computer networks.
- Median Salary: $99,270
- Career Outlook: +9% (2020-2030)
- Required Education: Bachelor's Degree
Computer systems analysts study an organization’s current computer systems and design ways to improve efficiency.
Associate in Information Technology Salary and Career Information
At the entry level, graduates who hold an Associate Degree in Information Technology typically assist senior level IT managers as computer systems analysts, and perform daily tasks that are often assigned using a ticket-based system.
When an employee discovers a computer-related issue like internet connectivity or data access, they will send a note to the IT Manager describing the issue. Within the IT department, computer systems analysts will review the ticket and begin troubleshooting the problem remotely and then in person.
By gaining experience and familiarity with the software and hardware within a given organization, IT specialists can move up to higher-level roles with additional responsibilities, specializations, and compensation. Computer Support Specialists can earn almost $60,000 at the entry-level, with other IT Systems Manager roles reaching well over $150,000 annually.
Outstanding Schools With Associate in Information Technology Degrees in U.S.
Universities.com ranks schools depending on a variety of factors, though it is important to note that the ideal institution varies given the needs of a prospective applicant. Below is a list of nationally ranked programs that offer Associate Degrees in Information Technology.
In-Person Associate in Information Technology Programs
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Rensselaer Polytechnic University is a small, private university located in Troy, New York with a nationally-ranked IT department. Students enjoy intimate class sizes and opportunities to work directly with university IT staff to explore different technical roles within the department. This school has a competitive acceptance rate and has been recognized nationally for their efforts in preparing skilled professionals in the Information Technology field.
Online Associate in Information Technology Programs
Strayer University offers a variety of technical online degrees at the associate level including a degree in information technology. This institution boasts a robust online learning platform that allows students to enroll in classes, watch lectures, and take exams from home. Strayer is popular among working professionals and has been ranked nationally among the top online academic institutions for the last decade.
Purdue University Global
Purdue University Global is the online arm of Purdue University that provides synchronous and asynchronous academic learning opportunities for over 100,000 enrolled online students worldwide. This institution also prepares students with professional internship opportunities that impart the foundational skills needed to pass industry-recognized certifications.
Online Associate Degree in Information Technology Programs
Students who pursue an online degree in information technology can expect to watch live and recorded lectures, access course information via web-based textbooks and study guides, and take quizzes and tests from the comfort of their homes. Given the digital nature of the profession, there are quite a few online degree options available for prospective students to explore.
How Long do Online Courses Take to Complete?
An Associate in Information Technology, whether taken in person or online, often takes two years to complete. However, earning your degree can sometimes decrease the time it takes if you’re able to take accelerated classes or take more than a full courseload each semester.
Classes are often structured depending on whether the lectures and lessons are conducted synchronously or asynchronously. While some professors prefer students to attend live, synchronous lectures and participate, others record lectures for students to access on their own time. While there are many fully online associate degree programs, some schools do offer hybrid learning which allows students to combine online coursework with in-person labs with hands-on IT exercises.
For working professionals and students who want to increase the speed with which they achieve their degree, there are accelerated programs around that condense lesson plans and testing calendars to meet the needs of their student body.
Most online course timelines are dependent on whether a program is organized into semesters or quarters. It’s always important for students to be aware of the start and end dates for a program so that they can better prepare their schedules and plan accordingly.
Next Steps to Get Started in an Associate in Information Technology Programs
- Research information technology programs based on your interests and what you find important in a program
- Identify admissions requirements (prior education, GPA, essay requirements, application fees)
- Assess financial implications and scholarship opportunities
- Apply to programs (it’s always smart to apply to more than one program to give yourself a better chance at acceptance)
- Enroll in classes and begin the next step to an information technology degree and career
Admissions Requirements for Associate in Information Technology Programs
Most Information Technology Associate Degree programs require applicants to apply having completed high school with their diploma and a respectable GPA, and some programs also require students to submit their SAT scores. Other programs may only require students to apply having completed their GED, which opens the door for many prospective students that haven’t been able to graduate from high school.
Information Technology Scholarships
Earning a degree is a big financial commitment, and it’s always important to assess the potential cost of school before applying to a particular program. Depending on whether an applicant is in or out of state or if they qualify for scholarships and financial assistance, fees can vary. Schools can cost anywhere from $3,000 per year to $15,000 or more per year which can sometimes depend on whether it is public or private. Here are three examples of information technology scholarships that you can find with our scholarship search tool.
NANOG Scholarship Program
Sponsor: North American Network Operators Group (NANOG)
Description: NANOG awards up to four scholarships every year to eligible undergrad and graduate students in network, electrical, or computer engineering; computer science; and telecommunications.
Application Requirements: Application Form, EssaySponsor Details: The North American Network Operators’ Group (NANOG) has been committed to the ongoing advancement of an open, secure, and robust internet, by providing a platform that inspires, educates, and empowers our community to meet the ever-changing demands of a global network, in service of building the Internet of tomorrow.
Sponsor: National Security Agency
Description: The Stokes Educational Scholarship Program is a tremendous opportunity to gain valuable experience in your field while attending college and earning a degree. Tuition and mandatory fees are up to $30,000 per year. The Stokes Program is open to high school seniors, particularly minority students, planning to major in computer science or computer/electrical engineering.
Application Requirements: Application Form, Transcript, Test scores, Essay, Recommendations or references, Must currently be in high school, ResumeSponsor Details: A federal intelligence agency involved in monitoring and gathering foreign Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) from around the world, and to prevent the adversaries from gaining access to U.S. communications.
Sponsor: East Tennessee Foundation
Description: Established in 2006 by the family of James K. Goldston to assist students from Tennessee in pursuing undergraduate programs of study in computer engineering, computer science, cyber science, or information security. Special consideration is given to non-traditional students and applicants planning to attend or currently attending Tennessee schools. Preference is given to applicants who are the first in their family to attend college and to those enrolled in an NSA National Center for Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity program at Jackson State Community College, Lemoyne-Owen College, Roane State Community College, Tennessee Technological University, University of Memphis, or the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
Application Requirements: Application Form, Financial need analysis, Recommendations or referencesSponsor Details: East Tennessee Foundation (ETF) is a public charity and community foundation created by and for the people of East Tennessee, where many donors join together to make the region they love a better place, today and for future generations.
Associate in Information Technology FAQ
How much can I make with an Associate Degree in Information Technology?
- Earning for a professional with an Associate’s in Information Technology can vary, but starting salaries range anywhere from $35.000 - $75,000 nationally. Compensation is dependent on work experience, and the need for professional certifications that a particular job may require.
Is the field of information technology growing?
- According to Forbes, the IT field is growing at a rate of 33% for the next decade, making it a lucrative lot with opportunities for professional growth across industries. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also shows that applicable careers like Computer Support Specialists and Computer Systems Analyst are expected to grow by 6% and 9% respectively, which is equal to and higher than the average among all careers.
How much does it cost to get an Associate Degree in Information Technology?
- Depending on whether a school is public or private and if there are scholarships and financial aid opportunities available for students, the cost of an Associate Degree in Information Technology can vary dramatically. National averages are anywhere between $20,000 - $70,000.
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