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What is Computer Information Technology?
Kansas is one of the top agricultural states in the United States. It's also home to a thriving mining industry, with nearly every county producing helium, petroleum, natural gas, or limestone, among other resources. Thus, it has a well-deserved reputation as a home for non-urban industries. However, the Kansan economy is built from more than only these sectors.
In fact, Kansas' top industry is manufacturing, which involves manufacturing products from its agricultural and minded resources. Its second largest industry is real estate, which is ranked 31st nationally. The third largest part of the Kansas economy is business and professional services, a super-sector that includes all sorts of service pertinent to business. That can include waste management, business administration, and scientific services.
A computer information technology professional is a skilled professional who focuses their work on computer hardware and software, with knowledge of computer science. They may work at help desks where their firm's employees come to them with questions regarding connectivity issues or hardware malfunctions. IT professionals also work as database or network administrators. There are also IT professionals who specialize in cyber security.
Individual IT professionals these days can work in a variety of environments. Where they used to be tied to an office building, they can now work in the field or from home. This is especially true after the COVID-19 pandemic during which many IT workers were sent home to work remotely. Even before the pandemic, many IT workers were called digital nomads because they were able to work on databases or networks from any connected location on the globe.
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Online Information Technology Education in Kansas
Interestingly, Kansas is also home to the nation's 26th largest information industry. This sector is ranked 9th in Kansas and brings the state over $6 billion in revenues annually. The state continues to build its presence in the national and global technology sector. Since information technology and computer science are such an important part of our future, Kansas strives to foster growth in the sector. They achieve this by strengthening education in all STEM subjects, and technology in particular.
These efforts start with high schools. Secondary schooling is increasing its focus on STEM subjects in Kansas, and there may soon be charter schools that make STEM subjects their central focus. These schools often include robust training in health and medicine, engineering, and computers, on top of chemistry, biology, and physics.
Kansas also fully funds its community colleges and public universities so that they can support strong and growing information technology degree programs. A computer science student could easily start their journey in computer information technology with an associate information technology degree from a local community college. Those credentials can help them land an entry-level position and give them a jump start on their career. They can also proceed into a bachelor’s degree in information technology or a computer science program and take their careers even farther.
Associate Degree in Information Technology (AS)
A two-year computer information technology degree is a terrific choice for someone starting out in the field. Kansas is full of community colleges that offer information technology degree programs to their local area. These community colleges may also offer online associate information technology degree programs so that students from all over Kansas can attend without having to reside nearby. No matter where you attend from, you can gain a foundational education in computer science, with a focus on communication skills, operating systems, computer systems, software development, information security, etc.
An associate computer information technology degree makes sense on a number of levels. For one thing, it only takes two years to complete an associate degree. During that time, students complete not only a foundational course of study in IT, but they also complete the core college curriculum, called general education courses. They also earn these credits at a significant financial discount relative to most four-year colleges and universities. Students who start their career with an associate degree can earn valuable experience while their peers are still working on four-year degrees in expensive colleges and universities.
Bachelor's Degree in Information Technology (BS)
A bachelor’s computer information technology degree is perhaps the best launchpad for a career in IT. Students can take all of the introductory courses and make a decision as to what they want their focus to be. Some may choose database technology while others may pursue networking or cyber security, to name a few options. Kansas is home to some top bachelor’s degree in computer information technology programs available, with most schools setting up a computer science department in order to have the degrees students want.
Undergraduate information technology degree students in four-year degree programs are able to dive deep into their specialty areas. In upper-level courses, students are trained to problem-solve using sound methodology and the best technology. Thus, even if the tech changes over time, which is inevitable, they have a deep foundation they can build on to address new challenges.
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Master's Degree in Information Technology (MS)
Students can take their careers to the next level with a master’s computer information technology degree. These advanced computer information technology degree programs build on what students have learned in their undergraduate years. They can even focus their graduate work on the specific technology sectors that interest them the most. For instance, master’s degree IT students can focus on database management, network architecture, or cyber security, to name a few focus areas.
Master’s IT degree students can also enhance their career by pairing their IT studies with business courses. Many MBA degree programs offer computer information technology as a concentration for second-year students. Then, there's the option to pursue a dual-MBA, in which students complete a MS in computer information technology alongside their business degree in only three years. The dual-MBA option may disallow outside jobs while you take classes but, upon completion, the degree is sure to yield a stellar career.
PhD Degree in Information Technology (PhD)
While the business community doesn't often seek PhDs for their staffing needs, the computer information technology sector is a notable exception. Because computing is such a deep subject, and a field that is continually growing by leaps and bounds, some hiring managers may see a need for top academic minds. This means that those with PhDs in data science, artificial intelligence, cyber security, or cryptography, to name a few, are in high demand.
A PhD can lead to an exciting and diverse career. Many choose to stay in academia as faculty members in Kansas colleges and universities. A doctoral degree can lead to a tenured position as an undergraduate or graduate professor. PhDs can also yield a career as a research faculty member. On the other hand, many firms hire PhDs to conduct research that will result in cutting-edge products and services.
Become an Information Technologist in Kansas
Kansans are always eager to help expand their economy, as well as their individual careers. Many see the computer information technology sector as offering terrific career opportunities. Given Kansas' strong presence in this area, it's clear that many students in the state have already launched successful careers, including independent ventures in computer information technology. However, many of you who are still looking forward to becoming college students in Kansas may be interested to learn how you might start your own career in computer information technology.
The good and bad news for future IT executives is that there is no one way to become a computer information technology professional in Kansas. There is no licensure requirement for working on computers, nor is there any set-in-stone degree requirement. In fact, there have been many IT professionals that became very successful without any degree whatsoever, though this was mostly at the beginning of the internet era. Still, all that most employers really want to see is a candidate who can demonstrate expertise that's appropriate to the job on offer.
There are many ways to prepare oneself for a career in computer information technology. This preparation can even begin in high school. Students who have a burning curiosity about computers can start learning with free and affordable online classes. Many of these courses can even result in certifications from either a college or university or a reputable professional trainer. Many students begin this path with courses that help them build new video games for themselves and their friends to play. Those skills are inherently valuable, however, and can be the seeds for great things.
High school students are further urged to take any and all computer courses their high schools offer. Many high schools also offer the option of taking courses at a local community college. If not, their local community college may offer non-credit community education courses in programming or general computing. Students are urged to investigate these affordable options as they might provide valuable knowledge and skills. Thus, when it comes time to search for the best computer information technology degree program, students will have a strong idea of what they really want out of a college degree.
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Students should seek out the information technology degree program that best suits them, but which also carries the strongest academic credentials. At a minimum, their information technology degree program should boast a CHEA-approved regional accreditation. Those programs will certainly prepare any student well. However, a degree program with a nationally recognized accreditation will be even better. In particular, an IT degree program with an ABET accreditation will surely turn any employer's head. ABET focuses its accreditation standards on STEM programs, including IT and computer science.
After earning one's bachelor’s degree in computer information technology, students can launch a successful career. From there they should pursue relevant certifications and other non-academic credentials. Naturally, all professionals should keep their sights set on a master’s computer information technology degree, which will help them reach the c-suites or some other dream job.
Potential Careers for IT Graduates
- Data Entry Keyers
This position is available for entry-level workers who may still be working on their IT degree. Data entry keyers must have expert facility with a 10 key numeric keypad and exhibit very high speeds as well as accuracy. This position is typically lower paid but can provide a worker a great "foot in the door" with a firm. Since the position is not intellectually taxing, many students work as data entry keyers while they complete a college degree program.
- Graphic Designers
This field has evolved into the technology sphere. Most graphic designers must have a mastery of various graphic design software packages such as Photoshop, Illustrator, and Blender. In fact, the Adobe Creative Suite is a de facto requirement for many graphic design positions. Graphic designers should also have a working knowledge of website design since so many designs are aimed at online materials.
- Special Effects Artists and Animators
The film and television industry rely on special effects artists and animators for a wide range of products. Even local television advertisements need specialists who can create simple animations for the small screen. The field starts there and goes all the way to the artists and animators at Pixar, Marvel, and other high-tech film production studios.
- Computer Science Teachers, Postsecondary
Colleges are constantly looking for top talent to teach their students. To land a position as a postsecondary computer science teacher, professionals need at least a master’s degree in computer science. It will be very helpful to also have a strong resume that reflects professional experience in the field. While a master’s is a minimum requirement, most computer science departments want a PhD for their tenure-track positions. Further, a PhD can teach at the master’s and doctoral levels.
- Computer Hardware Engineers
Computer software is nothing without hardware to support it. Computer hardware engineers design, create, and maintain computer hardware. Some work as hardware technicians who repair systems, but others apply high level knowledge of electronic engineering to create ever-faster chips and processors for the phones and laptops we all need.
- Data Scientists
Essentially every scientist works with data to prove or disprove their hypotheses. However, a data scientist is specifically skilled at working with any sort of data and parsing it for its best uses. Data scientists work in fields such as finance and public health but also in marketing or social sciences. To thrive in data science, most need expertise in the coding languages Python or R.
- Web Developers
These high-tech workers focus their efforts on internet technologies to help websites function better. Web developers can also include designers who use HTML and CSS to create good-looking websites that attract users. However, most developers are concerned with the back-end code that drives a site's internal searches, database connectivity, and even email functionality.
- Database Administrators
Every firm relies on its database. Database administrators oversee their firm's information storehouse. They may update the data or devise new ways to present how it's displayed. Database administrators also oversee who can access what information. These IT experts need to know the programming language SQL as well as its variants.