Where a Master of Science in Information Technology may take you

You’d be hard-pressed to find an industry today that doesn’t employ information technology professionals. With jobs such as programmers, developers, engineers and analysts, the field is home to a diverse array of opportunities for those interested in pursuing an IT career.

Information technology occupations have been steadily increasing in availability and are projected to continue growing through 2024, according to a career planning professional at The Balance Careers. In fact, the expected job growth between 2016 and 2026 is 13 percent, which equals over 557,000 jobs, per data from the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics. With the continual evolution of technology, demand for experts who can create and implement software and information systems will be high, making this an appealing field for those looking to pursue a technology-based career.

Individuals interested in any IT profession should have a strong technical background, including familiarity with at least some of the popular programming languages, experience in the field and the right education. For those who didn’t earn an undergraduate degree in IT or computer science or for those who did but are looking to broaden their IT knowledge to stay relevant and grow their current skillset, a master’s degree can help develop the right competencies to be successful.

Saurabh Pant, a graduate of the Arizona State University Master of Science in Information Technology program shares, “my undergraduate program gave me a lot of theoretical knowledge, but I didn't feel that I was ready for the industry. I could do a college-level project, but to be able to build something that customers can actually use — something that is scalable and meets the requirements of the changing industry — I never felt ready for that.  That’s probably because undergrad was more theoretical and focused on learning a lot instead of mastering very specific things.” Conversely, of his graduate program, Pant says, “I mastered the things that I worked on. Cloud computing, networking, databases — I know the advanced things well.”

An online Master of Science in Information Technology degree can help students improve their technical skills, preparing them for opportunities in today’s cyber system infrastructure. Typically focusing on a core set of courses covering networking, cybersecurity and information systems, an MS in Information Technology may also allow students to branch out through specific elective tracks focusing on computer architecture and information security or information systems management and systems development. Specializing in these areas of IT can help prepare graduates to advance their careers in some of the most attractive IT fields where they’ll be able to seek opportunities with increased responsibility and leadership in a broad range of industries.

Several IT careers that combine management with technical skills are featured below. These positions touch on steadily growing areas of information technology, including security, databases, data management and networks. The potential for growth and the need for individuals with the right combination of education and technical competency make these opportunities ideal for candidates who are well-versed in the latest IT developments and can implement them in a business environment.

1. Database architect

Database architects work behind the scenes in IT, ensuring everything functions cohesively and collaboratively. They set the standards for operations, programming and security. They also design, implement and test database features to ensure they’re optimal for organizations, making adjustments and suggestions for updates as needed to keep a company operating at its highest capacity. These professionals focus on increasing productivity and minimizing downtime with innovative database solutions and automated processes, developing solutions for performance and scalability.

This position requires frequent collaboration. Database architects interact with other IT specialists in an organization to share information related to database concerns and constraints because their work impacts the entire company. They also coordinate with a team of their own, training and mentoring junior staff.

Opportunities for database architects are growing by 11 percent, faster than the national average for job growth, according to the BLS. PayScale noted the average database architect salary is $112,388.

2. Information Security Analyst

Focusing on implementing appropriate security measures for the protection of computer networks and data, an information security analyst is just one opportunity in the growing field of cybersecurity. A key priority in this role is to ensure appropriate security controls are in place to keep confidential information safe and protected while maintaining the integrity of an organization’s electronic infrastructure. Planning, monitoring and updating security measures are all central objectives for information security analysts who must safeguard computer files against unauthorized modification, destruction and disclosure.

The 2017 median information security analyst salary was $95,510, with over 10,000 projected job openings between 2016 and 2026, per data from O*Net OnLine. Growth in this field — at 28 percent — outpaces the national average for all jobs due to the increase in cyber attacks leading to a greater need for innovative solutions to stop hackers and protect crucial corporate information, especially in industries like finance and health care, according to the BLS.

3. Clinical Data Manager

This opportunity is more aligned within a specific industry, as clinical data managers are responsible for database management in the health care field. These professionals analyze clinical data to identify and report on trends. From receiving and entering to verifying and filing data, clinical data managers process information through specially designed databases.

Because this position also requires individuals to develop project-specific data management plans, they may also work in other areas of the process, such as coding, reporting, workflow and data transfer. Furthermore, the position typically combines collaborative, hands-on, technical and supervisory responsibilities.

The median clinical data manager salary in 2017 was $84,000, according to O*Net OnLine. It’s projected that job opportunities will increase by 15 percent from 2016 to 2026, well above the national average for all occupations, due to the increased use of IT in health care.

4. Network and Computer Systems Administrator

Computer networks are a critical component of almost every organization, and a network administrator manages their day-to-day operations. Responsible for installing, configuring and supporting local area networks, wide area networks, internet systems and network systems, these professionals often focus on keeping everything operational. This role involves performing system maintenance, analyzing equipment and performance records, researching potential new technologies and training support staff and general system users.



In addition to completing these tasks, network administrators may use their expertise to design, test or configure computer hardware, networking software or operating system software to ensure efficient coordination between networks and data communications, as well as the hardware and software in use.

Around 27,000 job openings are projected for this profession between 2016 and 2026, according to O*Net OnLine. In 2017, the median network and computer systems administrator salary was $81,000. The BLS observed the rate of growth for network administrators to be on par with the national average for all jobs.

5. Network Engineer

Networks in an organization can range from small connections between two offices to next-generation structures that serve multiple locations and clients, and network engineers know about them all. Responsible for designing and implementing computer and information networks with a variety of purposes, these individuals may develop conceptual, logical or physical network designs and related documentation.

This position frequently requires many skills necessary for successful project management. Network engineers may be in charge of creating and maintaining budgets for projects and even supervising the engineers and other team members responsible for designing and implementing the network solutions they help craft. Once they have completed a project, these engineers may need to write procedural manuals for network installation and use or develop the proper procedures to track and report on certain network elements like availability, reliability, capacity or utilization.

The median salary for network engineers in 2017 was $104,600, according to O*Net OnLine. Opportunities for this position continue to increase as companies expand their IT networks, particularly in the health care industry, the BLS noted.

Learn more about your potential career choices in IT

Demand for IT workers of all kinds is high and will continue to grow as more companies invest in and implement newer, faster technology. With each of the jobs listed above, employers are looking for individuals who offer the right combination of professional experience, technical aptitude and education, and pursuing an advanced degree can help build your skill set in all three of these areas. The ASU Online Master of Science in Information Technology aims to provide students with an in-depth understanding of IT and focuses on preparing graduates to re-enter the workforce with new abilities and potential for advancement in a number of careers.

“The good thing about ASU classes is that they gave me hands-on experience. That and the well-rounded nature of the courses I took have helped me in learning a wide variety of technologies,” says Pant. He continued, “starting at Microsoft was very smooth for me because I had knowledge in so many underlying concepts.”

Through a combination of core courses and a specialized area of study, students can develop the ability to conceptualize, organize and realize the types of IT projects that address the needs of today’s users in any organizational or social context, preparing them to meet the growing number of opportunities in IT.

Sources:
The Balance – Information Technology Jobs
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics – Computer and Information Technology Occupations
ASU Online – Master of Science in Information Technology  
O*Net OnLine - Database Architect
PayScale – Database Architect Salary
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics – Database Administrators
O*Net OnLine – Information Security Analysts
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics – Information Security Analysts
O*Net OnLine – Clinical Data Managers
O*Net OnLine – Network and Computer Systems Administrators
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics – Network and Computer Systems Administrators
O*Net OnLine – Computer Network Architects
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics – Computer Network Architects

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