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What is Computer Information Technology?

Maryland is one of the nation's most diverse economies. It’s home to many of the nation's top governmental agencies while also supporting industries such as commercial fishing and some agricultural endeavors. Given its central location in the mid-Atlantic, Maryland also has easy access to all that both the southeast and northeast have to offer.

It's no secret that Maryland's primary economic hub is found in the greater Washington, D.C. area. Agencies such as the National Institute of Health, NASA, Goddard Flight Center, and a host of DoD agencies find their home on the Maryland side of the DC Metro. With so much economic activity in the area, it may be little surprise that Maryland's economy is led by its real estate sector, which pulls in over $68 billion per year, ranking it 13th nationwide. The #2 spot in Maryland's economy is held by its professional and business services, which generate revenues in excess of $58 billion, making it the 15th largest such industry nationwide.

A computer information technology professional is a worker whose primary business is concerned with computing and computer science. CIT professionals tend to focus on specific aspects of IT. Thus, some will focus on databases and spend time building, planning, managing, or securing a firm's databases. Others work on networking solutions for their firm. Then, there is a wider divide between those who specialize in hardware and those who focus on software. Finally, there are software developers, cyber security experts, and web developers. However, this list is only partial, and it is subject to change because IT is such a rapidly growing and developing area.

IT professionals spend most of their time working on computers. Since most work on software or even networking issues, they may work in an office building or from a remote location. Government IT workers and government contractors, on the other hand, can only work remotely once stringent rules are followed. Thus, most government IT workers are found reporting to an office at least five days a week.

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Online Computer Information Technology Education in Maryland

Coming in at #9 is Maryland's information sector, which generates nearly $18 billion in annual revenues. Given the need for high technology in government, government contractors, and private industry, it's no wonder that this sector is so strong. One might also wonder what the sector would look like if the government's tech workers were to join the private sector. Regardless, computer information technology is a vital part of what makes Maryland great.

Because of the importance of their technology workers, Maryland's legislature is sure to keep the state's colleges and universities fully funded in order to grow and develop the technology degree programs. They understand that tech workers are a vital part of the contemporary economy and without computer information technology experts with top skills, Maryland's economy may well grind to a halt.

Maryland's colleges and universities then use their state budgets to recruit top academic talent in the IT field. They seek PhD level experts who have conducted the most interesting, cutting-edge research. These professors are sought for both teaching and research positions within a university. The teaching professors naturally can help develop the student body, while the researchers bring in revenue and stimulate the intellectual lives of whole IT departments.

Students interested in attending computer science programs or an information systems management program in Maryland will have plenty of options for schools to attend across the state. Those options include Johns Hopkins University, the University of Maryland - Baltimore, Baltimore City Community College, Maryland Global Campus, Anne Arundel Community College, Towson University, Strayer University of Maryland, and more.

Online Associate Degree in Information Technology (AS)

This profession is one area where even a worker with an associate computer science or computer information technology degree can get ahead. Maryland's community colleges do a terrific job of preparing students with the core courses they need to succeed in the IT field. They also require that students complete the general education requirements that nearly every liberal arts college or university requires for a bachelor’s degree.

Those who don't continue to complete a bachelor’s computer information technology degree may still land an entry-level position with an IT department with their basic knowledge of computer science. They can also build on their knowledge with one or more specialized certifications that attest to their skill in specific technical areas. For instance, some may earn an MCSE certification from Microsoft or a certificate that attests to their skill with Cisco Systems' technology. There are also certificates for Apple technology, Linux, cyber security, and more. When their resume reflects the soft skills required for a liberal arts degree on top of the technical skills of an IT degree, employers are sure to be pleased.

Online Bachelor's Degree in Information Technology (BS)

Most employers look for IT candidates who have a bachelor’s computer information technology degree from an accredited Maryland college or university. A four-year degree attests to a student's dedication to the field, as well as their in-depth knowledge of their specific field. With a four-year IT degree, students can focus on the area of IT that interests them the most. For example, some focus on database technology but there are also degrees that emphasize networking, cyber security, computer science, and more. Students can also build on the resources of a four-year institution to create a more well-rounded resume.

Students can add a minor concentration, internships, or even a double major to their coursework. Some may earn a minor or double major in related fields such as computer science, mathematics, or data science. Those who complete an internship can earn real-world experience in IT departments where they not only learn the realities of IT, but they also meet professional contacts that may help them later on.

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Online Master's Degree in Information Technology (MS)

IT experts who earn a master’s computer information technology degree are sure to take their careers to the next level. In fact, IT students in a bachelor’s degree program may want to start considering their graduate degree in their third or fourth year. Some may even be lucky enough to enroll in an accelerated MS program where they can complete their bachelor’s and master’s degrees in five years.

There are other options, as well. One great option that many IT professionals choose is an MBA with a concentration in computer information technology or a focus on software engineering. This option helps students rise into the C-suites of their firm, where they can work as a chief information officer. Others may use their MBA training to get into an IT consultancy or to simply work as an independent contractor who understands both business and technology. Yet another increasingly popular option is a dual-MBA, in which students can complete both their MBA and an MS in computer information technology in a mere three years. This way they can concentrate on a facet of business that they may be particularly interested in.

Online PhD Degree in Computer Information Technology (PhD)

A PhD in computer information technology is a great way to succeed. Though businesses don't typically seek a PhD for most of their positions, IT is unique. This is because a doctorate in an IT related field can be immensely valuable from a business perspective. For instance, a PhD in data science can be applied to investment banking, marketing, and economics. A PhD in cryptography may also be sought since firms are scrambling to stay one step ahead of the hackers who would love to compromise their databases.

On the other hand, a PhD in IT can help with a career in academia. Maryland information technology degree departments are constantly seeking the best PhDs they can find. With a PhD, it's possible to land a tenure track profession which virtually guarantees employment for life. PhDs can also land a research position where they can continue the research they began in their dissertation work.

Become an Information Technologist in Maryland

Technology is everywhere these days. Some have said that the average person has multiple computers on their person on any given day. Our smartphones alone are more powerful than most computers were in the 1990s. With all this technology at our fingertips, students may be inspired to learn what makes it all work. Not only that, but they can turn their love of technology into a career that can help them succeed for a lifetime.

For starters, Maryland students should start their path to a career in computer information technology with curiosity. These days they can focus their interest with online courses or other resources that provide a deeper view of the tech they use every day. There are many free or very affordable courses that students can use to start building websites, video games, or other feats of computer coding. Those who are interested in computer hardware can also learn plenty by watching YouTube videos or dissecting old laptops that are increasingly available.

Many of these online learning resources offer students the ability to earn a certificate that attests to their knowledge. Those who are particularly enterprising might even use their credentials to make extra money working on websites for individuals or small businesses in their community. In the meantime, budding computer experts should look into taking as many computer courses as their high school offers. They should also strive to complete as many mathematics courses as possible. Ideally, they should strive to at least complete Calculus I before they graduate from high school.

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When they reach their third year of high school, students should start looking for a college degree program that best suits their technology interests. Maryland offers many great computer information technology degree programs in community colleges, four-year colleges, and universities. Students should always ensure that the programs they consider hold at least a CHEA-approved regional accreditation. They should also investigate programs that hold ABET credentials. ABET exclusively accredits programs in STEM subjects including engineering, computer science, and physics.

Once in a bachelor’s IT degree program, students should look for ways to improve their resumes with experience. A part-time job or work-study position with their college's IT department might be ideal but it's also possible to work as an independent contractor on short-term projects. For instance, knowledge of a specific coding language may result in part-time work editing and debugging computer code.

Potential Careers for CIT (IT) Graduates

  • Data Entry Keyers
    This is a great entry-level position for students or those who are entering the computer information technology field. Data entry keyers enter data into a database as directed by their supervisors. They must be able to enter data at a very high rate and usually need high typing and 10-key speeds.
  • Graphic Designers
    Graphic designers are responsible for most every image you see. They create the menus we order from in restaurants, movie posters for your favorite film, and even license plates for cars. Graphic designers must have a mastery of software packages such as Photoshop, Illustrator, and Blender, to name a few. Graphic designers should also have strong technical skills including coding languages such as HTML, JavaScript, and CSS.
  • Special Effects Artists and Animators
    The film and television industry increasingly rely on computer generated effects and animations. Artists and animators in this field might find work on the biggest blockbusters but also working on art and animation for local news stations. These creatives must have both strong artistic talents and technical skill.
  • Computer Science Teachers, Postsecondary
    College students are increasingly seeking computer science courses to help them get ahead in the working world. Even humanities majors are taking introductory programming courses so they can gain greater tech literacy. At the postsecondary level, computer science teachers must have a master’s degree as a minimum requirement.
  • Computer Hardware Engineers
    If software can be compared to our thoughts and ideas, then computer hardware is the brain on which it lives. Computer hardware engineers are a vital part of any IT department as they make sure everything is properly connected and working to its ideal capacity.
  • Data Scientists
    This is a growing field that is of great importance. Data scientists must have strong mathematical skills, with a heavy emphasis on statistical analysis. They must also have strong coding skills in languages such as Python and R, which are considered the best languages for handling large troves of data. Data scientists may work for a variety of industries including public health, finance, and marketing.
  • Wed and Digital Interface Designers
    Every business, and many individuals, choose to have a website so that they are taken seriously. Web designers are primarily concerned with how users interface with a website. They create aesthetically pleasing sites that make great use of the user's browser or mobile device. To excel in this field, digital designers need to know HTML, CSS, and JavaScript while also mastering image creation tools such as Photoshop, Illustrator, and Blender.
  • Web Developers
    Where website designers are concerned with the look and interactivity of a website, web developers are usually more concerned with the back end of things. They may program the cookies and other trackers for a website. They also optimize each page so that search engines find them first. Web developers need to master the languages of the web such as PHP, Python, Java, JavaScript, Ruby, and more.

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