How to become an IT specialist with an information technology BS or MS

Technology propels modern life. Software and hardware solutions help consumers:

  • Build relationships
  • Cultivate careers
  • Pursue their passions in a new digital world

These tools also power businesses. They give companies the ability to create data-driven processes that lead to profitability. Gartner research projected global spending of about $4 trillion on information technology in 2019.

This is good news if you’re looking to pursue an information technology career path. There is strong demand for specialists who can develop quality hardware and software. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects high job growth for many related positions between 2018 and 2028:

Pursuing these and other IT roles can help you reach a point of sustained professional success. This leads to the question of how to become an IT specialist.

There is no universal answer. But one career-development strategy has proven effective: earning an online Bachelor of Science in information technology degree or online Master of Science in information technology degree. Graduates of these programs can compete for many desirable roles. The BLS projected overall job growth in this field at 12% between 2018 and 2028. This is much faster than the 5% anticipated average increase across all job categories in the same time frame.

To follow this information technology career path: 

  • Consider the degrees and training that can help you get an IT position
  • Assess the state of the consumer and enterprise IT arenas
  • Review some of the related professions

Understanding the IT marketplace

 

Consumers

American consumers are digitally savvy. Around 90% have internet connections and smartphones. They use them to access a variety of entertainment, financial and other applications, Pew Research Center found. However, these IT products and services are quickly becoming irrelevant. People regularly look for more advanced tools that streamline and enrich everyday living.

Artificial intelligence is one of the most powerful tools making its way to consumers, Digital Trends reported. An estimated one-third of Americans now use AI-driven voice assistants weekly. Popular examples include Amazon Alexa and Google Home. These systems make common tasks like online searching and shopping easier, according to Deloitte. Many technology firms plan to follow in Amazon and Google’s footsteps. They aim to roll out new AI products that make life easier, including consumer-grade robots.

Fifth-generation wireless technology is another innovation consumers will soon enjoy. Devices with 5G capabilities allow for connection speeds faster than ever before. Users can:

  • Download feature-length films in seconds.
  • Use high-bandwidth tools, like wireless virtual reality headsets.

Telecommunications companies are working to bring blanket 5G services to market. Device makers are doing the same. Understanding these concepts is critical for many information technology career paths.

Consumers are also expected to embrace new technology on a larger scale. One key example is the self-driving vehicle. Dozens of organizations, including Tesla and Google’s Waymo, are working to perfect these cars and put them in the hands of consumers. States like California are backing extensive road testing. These environments help self-driving vehicle developers try out their creations on public streets. Approximately 28 companies tested autonomous cars in the Golden State in 2018. They covered more than 2 million miles, per the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

An IT specialist works in a data center.

Businesses

Enterprises of all sizes have embraced innovative technology along with consumers. Almost 90% of organizations worldwide either:

  • Increased their IT budgets, or
  • Maintained those spending levels in 2019, according to research from Spiceworks.

Most intend to move forward with digitization plans. They will further optimize the infrastructure already in place.

AI programs are major targets for most enterprise IT departments. These software assets lay the groundwork for seamless backend automation. They also streamline workflows. Companies can assign many operational tasks to AI. Workers can then focus on projects that directly impact revenue generation. This is why enterprises across the globe are on track to spend almost $36 billion on AI applications in 2019, according to the International Data Corporation. A strong grasp of AI can help you on your information technology career path.

Cloud computing technology is another area of focus for modern businesses. An estimated 94% of companies leverage the cloud, per RightScale. Yet, IT teams are still working to perfect their cloud infrastructure. In fact, many are pursuing innovative strategies like the no operations (NoOps) concept. This involves automating key cloud computing tasks, like server deployment. These improvements will take enterprise cloud usage to the next level. This will, in turn, improve business productivity.

Putting new technology into place is a top priority for today’s organizations. It's even more important to protect these assets and the customers, employees and business partners who use them. Cybercriminals orchestrated more than 1,200 large-scale data breaches in 2018. They made off with roughly 446 million sensitive files in the same year, the Identity Theft Research Center found. This fraught online environment makes enterprise cybersecurity investment essential. If you’re wondering how to become an IT specialist, cybersecurity plays an increasingly important role.

Understanding the career requirements

 

Understanding how to become an IT specialist starts with finding strong learning options. Before you can find your dream job in IT, you must gain the necessary knowledge and experience. How can you do so? Through online bachelor of information technology and online master of information technology programs.

Online bachelor of information technology

This degree covers the foundational concepts that underlie modern IT work. It starts with overarching issues:

  • Human system engineering
  • Information modeling
  • Storage and retrieval
  • Programming logic
  • Wireless networking

Students pursuing this degree also usually explore more specific concepts:

  • Java, the most-used programming language on Earth
  • The LINUX open-source operating system

An online bachelor of information technology degree also often covers some non-technical competencies. Learning about leadership and critical inquiry, for example, is key to success in today’s IT departments.

Students in these courses often build on core knowledge by pursuing specialty tracks centered on in-demand IT subject areas:

  • Enterprise computing
  • Information systems
  • Networking and computer system security

At the end of the program, students have these competencies:

  • Harnessing the power of big data
  • Helping to protect consumers and businesses from cybercriminals.
  • Leveraging the latest connective tools to move companies forward in entry-level roles

“Students with a bachelor’s degree in IT can apply for junior positions in all areas of IT including engineering or technical positions,” said Damien Doheny, the undergraduate program chair for ASU Online.

Online master’s in information technology

This degree builds on material covered in online bachelor of information technology programs. It helps rising IT professionals build more in-depth technical knowledge. Common topics:

  • Advanced information systems security
  • The principles of computers and IT:
  • information analysis, modeling, representation and communication
  • software development for IT

Graduates can take on leadership roles and manage critical technical functions with this knowledge.

An online master of information technology normally offers focused elective courses. This facilitates building specialized IT knowledge. Common concentration tracks:

  • Computer architecture and information security
  • Information systems management
  • Systems development.

Students pursuing online master of information technology degrees can also test their knowledge in capstone courses. These classes offer a holistic experience based on projects or portfolios.

“A master's degree allows students to become subject matter expects in a particular focus area,” Doheny said. “It also allows students to achieve higher-level positions in the IT field, including senior big data engineer, senior network or security engineers.”

An IT specialist works on servers.

Mapping information technology career paths

 

Now you might be asking, “What can I do with an information technology degree?” The short answer is, a lot. Online bachelor of information technology and master of information technology programs can give you the knowledge you need to pursue a various information technology career paths.

Online bachelor of information technology careers

The careers you can pursue with a bachelor of information technology degree include:

  • Computer network administrator: The average business uses digital infrastructure that needs near-constant attention. Computer network administrators handle this work. They also oversee functions like employee training and troubleshooting. The BLS projected demand for this role to rise 5% between 2018 and 2028.
  • Computer systems analyst: Computer systems analysts keep an eye on key digital architecture. They also help their colleagues navigate enterprise IT. These professionals have a hand in system modification and expansion activities. Key tasks include using their knowledge to assess, optimize or build on existing hardware and software. The BLS estimated 9% growth in demand for this role between 2018 and 2028.
  • Database administrator: Databases underlie nearly all hardware and software. Businesses spend considerable time and resources ensuring that these caches operate as intended. Database administrators coordinate these operations. They use extensive backend knowledge to ensure information flows through key applications. Appropriately limiting user access is another key task. BLS projections show a 9% anticipated growth rate between 2018 and 2028.

Online master of information technology careers

An online master of information technology can help you pursue high-level IT careers. Options include:

  • Database architect: Databases are essential to IT operations. Database architects build these online stores. They also create the rules that govern how information moves through them. The demand for this role is projected to grow 5% between 2018 and 2028, per the BLS.
  • IT project managers: Implementing new technology comes with significant risk. Setbacks of any kind can cause budgetary havoc. IT project managers prevent such problems through careful planning and oversight. They work with colleagues across many departments to install new hardware and software.
  • Network forensics engineer: This newer IT specialty involves monitoring network activity. These professionals may look for attempts to steal data or disrupt technology. Network forensics engineers seek out clues of digital crime.

How to become an IT specialist with ASU Online

 

Technology will only grow more common on the consumer and business levels as time goes on. Online bachelor of information technology and master of information technology help graduates compete for many relevant career opportunities. Many schools can help you pursue careers with an IT degree. But few can match ASU Online when it comes to both quality and convenience.

ASU Online offers Bachelor of Science in information technology and Master of Science in information technology degrees that can help you break into IT and ultimately find career success.

The BS in information technology online covers foundational topics. It allows students to pursue concentration courses that address key IT subject areas:

  • Enterprise computing
  • Information system management
  • Security

The online MS in information technology goes into greater depth. It equips rising IT professionals with the knowledge and expertise needed to take on a variety of high-level roles:

  • Computer architecture
  • Information security
  • Information systems development and management

As you chart your IT career path, consider how the bachelor of information technology and master of information technology programs offered out of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering from ASU Online can help you get where you want to go.

Sources:

ASU Online — Online Bachelor of Science in Information Technology
ASU Online — Online Master of Science in Information Technology
Gartner Says Global IT Spending to Reach $3.8 Trillion in 2019 by Gartner
Fastest Growing Occupations by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Digest of Education Statistics by the National Center for Education Statistics
Digest of Education Statistics by the National Center for Education Statistics
Internet/Broadband Fact Sheet by Pew Research Center
CES 2019: Tech Trends to Watch For at the Consumer Electronics Show by Digital Trends
CES 2019: Voice Assistants Speak to Customers by Deloitte
Autonomous Vehicle Disengagement Reports 2018 by the California Department of Motor Vehicles
State of IT by Spiceworks
Worldwide Spending on Artificial Intelligence Systems Will Grow to Nearly $35.8 Billion in 2019 by the International Data Corporation
State of the Cloud 2019 by RightScale
End of Year Data Breach Report by the Identity Theft Research Center
Computer Network Architects by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Database Administrators by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Computer Systems Analysts by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Network and Computer Systems Administrators by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Software Developers by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Information Security Analysts by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Computer and Information Technology Occupations by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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