Overview of an Associates in Information Technology
Information technology is pervasive in our culture and it is here to stay. Thankfully, academia has been expanding information technology degree offerings to ensure that our computers and networks have professionals who are capable of maintaining them. Prior to the information revolution in the 1990s, students primarily studied computer science if they were interested in technology. Now, you needn't delve that deep to learn a lot about IT and land a job that is well-compensated and in near-constant demand. In fact, students can earn an Associate in Information Technology and launch a career in approximately two years. It will also count as up to two years of a four-year education if students decide to move on and earn a bachelor's degree. A two-year college degree includes general education and major courses for whichever degree students choose. In IT, this might include a variety of the following:
- Computer Systems
- Operating Systems
- Computer Networks
- Hardware and Software Development
- And More
After students graduate from a two-year program, they can move into entry-level career opportunities such as a computer support specialist or web developer. Computer support specialist is the most common job for those at this level, but support specialists gain vital hands-on experience and have plenty of opportunity for job growth, especially if they are willing to return to being students and earn a bachelor's degree.
Earning an Associate's in IT is a fantastic way to launch a career. Your two-year degree will prepare you for an entry-level job and provide a basis of knowledge that can perhaps support further non-academic certifications. On top of the purely technical knowledge you'll gain, you will also be educated in broader subjects, especially writing, communication, and critical thinking skills that will help polish your professional standing and provide career opportunities.
Further, once you have your AA degree, it will be easier to complete a full four-year degree. Chances are that you'll need a bachelor's degree to advance into management. Another advantage to starting work with an AA degree is that you can take time in the working world to determine exactly which next step is best for you. You can move on to a four-year school to study healthcare informatics, management information systems, or perhaps you want to write code and study computer systems, programming, information security, or hardware and software engineering.
Starting a career with a two-year Associate's in IT may seem like the perfect plan, but there are drawbacks. One of the chief drawbacks is that you'll still likely need to return to school for a bachelor's degree if you wish to advance in your career. That means you'll either need to quit work for at least two years to complete a bachelor’s or you could spend 2+ years juggling both school and work. Even if you choose to earn your degree online, it can take precious time and online students have just as many major courses to complete as in-person students.
Furthermore, if you only have a two-year degree, you may not qualify for certain certifications. You will almost certainly be excluded from consideration when managerial jobs open up. While many students graduate to have fruitful, enjoyable careers that do not involve management, be aware that only having a two-year degree will limit your long-term options.
Certificate vs. Associates
In the IT world, there are many certificates you can earn that do not require a degree. If you are motivated and are a self-starter, you can learn IT skills online for a low cost. If you are able to attain verifiable, recognized credentials in an in-demand specialty area, you can quickly pick up work. In fact, there are many recognized academies online that provide low-cost training that can result in reputable certifications. Linux Academy, for instance, is not only affordable, but it is highly thought of in the world of technology.
What Information Technology Associate Degrees are Available?
- Associate of Science in Information Technology:
An AS in IT will focus on the strictly analytical and mathematical side of IT. Though each program is different and will have its own specialty focus, when you see AS, consider that the degree has more of a STEM focus. It will spend less time on communication and more time on the nitty gritty of computer systems, operating systems, and information security. However, it is equally simple for students to complete this degree online for just this reason.
- Associate of Applied Science in Information Technology:
An AAS in IT is a good degree if you are certain that you won't want a four-year degree. These programs focus on practical job-related skills that don't necessarily translate to other academic programs. You will still have credits you can use for a later application, but you may need to re-take some courses to meet the learning outcomes expected in a baccalaureate program.
- Associate of Arts in Information Technology:
Your AA in IT will certainly support a brilliant career for you. Though each AA program is different, in general an AA will focus more on learning outcomes that fall outside of STEM areas, but which will help with how you provide service and communicate in the business world.
- Associate of Applied Business in Information Technology:
The AAB in IT is a degree that sits somewhere between a professional certificate and an academic degree. You will receive academic credits, but it's likely that some of your courses will not transfer if you decide to return for your baccalaureate degree. However, the program will prepare you for a fruitful career with learning in computer systems and programming you can fall back on.
Generally speaking, if you wish to enter a two-year degree IT program, you should at least have a high school diploma or a GED. You should also have taken the SAT or ACT and have satisfactory scores. Most programs will allow you to enter their IT department without any special qualifications, but there are programs that require that you pass certain tests or have some other way to demonstrate your skill and aptitude for IT. If this is your chosen field, it will behoove you to do some independent study in the field prior to enrolling in a program and becoming a student.
How long does it take to earn an Information Technology Associates?
Most associate degree programs are designed to take two years. That assumes a full-time load and often includes a summer break. However, if you take a full load and forgo summer break, there's a good chance that you can finish in a year and a half.
When you decide to pursue an Associate's in IT, make sure that you have ample time to study and attend classes. Even if you are in an online program, consider working part-time so that you can complete your degree in a timely fashion. After all, it won't help much to tell a recruiter that you were only able to complete half of a degree program. When you prioritize your education, you will reap great rewards.
Potential Careers in Information Technology with an Associates
- Database Administrator:
Your IT degree will prepare you to work with SQL and other database languages so that you can maintain databases for your employer or freelance clients. Since businesses increasingly rely on their databases, so your job is likely to be highly valued.
Professionals in this field earn a median salary of $71,900.
- Network Administrator:
In any medium to large sized business, the network keeps everyone connected with each other, and the database. In this position, you will set up and maintain networks, train users, and assign permissions to workers.
The median salary for Network Administrators is $58,000.
- LAN Manager:
The local-area network (LAN) is what keeps teams and departments in constant contact. As a LAN manager, you can integrate that smaller network into the larger wide-area network (WAN.)
IT professionals with this focus area earn a median salary of $56,000.
- Web Developer:
You will need to know a good deal of computer code for this position. Thus, you may need additional coding courses on top of your AA coursework. You will work with the UI developers, content providers, and other managers to develop the widgets and full web applications needed by the organization.
The median salary for this position is $58,500.
- Technical Support:
With an Associate Degree in Information Technology you'll be primed to work in Tech Support. On top of simple troubleshooting for end-users, you might assist with functions such as setting up user accounts for new employees or clients, ordering new hardware to replace something that has broken, or submitting reports to your IT manager that detail items your company may need in order to maximize IT efficiency.
Tech Support professionals earn a median salary of $49,700.
Options to Advance
After working in your first IT job for a few years, you might wish to advance to a new position or simply be paid more. To get ahead, you will need either another degree or a new certification. With an associate degree from an accredited college, plus your experience, you can apply to a four-year degree program. A bachelor degree in IT will certainly open doors.
On the other hand, you can consider any number of professional certifications. After some time in the field, there will surely be areas that interest you, or for which you have a special aptitude. There are many certificate programs online and in your community that will train you to have the specialized knowledge and skills needed to take your career to the next level. As you develop your purely technical skills, you might also consider taking courses in areas such as business communications, management, or leadership.
Best Associate of Science in Information Technology (AIT) Programs
Kent State University
Kent State is one of the premier universities in the nation and they offer several Associate Degrees in Information Technology. Since this is such a large and well-established university, they offer a wide range of concentrations, including: Networking, Healthcare Information Technology, Forensics, and other specialties.
- Associate of Applied Business in Information Technology
- Associate of Applied Business in Business Management Technology
- Associate of Applied Science in Human Services Technology
Tidewater Community College
This community college can train you with the IT skills you need to thrive in this ever-changing technological landscape. Since they are located near to many military bases, and Washington, DC as well, you could transition from graduation to government contractor overnight.
- Associate of Applied Science in Information Technology
- Associate of Science in Computer Science
- Associate of Applied Science in Health Information Management
Sullivan's College of Technology and Design will prepare you to be a well-rounded, desirable employment candidate upon graduation. You can study programming, system design, website design, and even take some accounting courses as part of your degree.
- Associate of Science in Computer Information Technology
- Associate of Science in Cybersecurity
- Associate of Science in Health Information Management
Fort Lauderdale, FL
Broward offers a wide range of courses for those interested in IT or other STEM subjects. Not only can you study IT and other computer-related subjects, but BC offers many engineering, mathematics, and even clinical healthcare related degree programs.
- Associate of Arts in Information Sciences and Systems
- Associate of Arts in Computer and Information Science/Engineering
- Associate of Arts in Computer Engineering
Northern Virginia Community College
Alexandria, Annandale, and Loudoun, Virginia
NVCC has the resources to provide a top-notch IT education to both online and traditional campus students. They offer a wide range of degrees and certificates through their three campuses and online classrooms. Once you graduate, you will be prepared to thrive in the economy of Northern Virginia.
- Associate of Science in Information Technology
- Associate of Applied Science in Cybersecurity
- Associate of Applied Science in Information Systems Technology
Traditional Schools Offering an AS in Information Technology
University of Phoenix
University of Phoenix is one of the premier purveyors of online education. Their accredited IT degree will help you launch a dynamite career without ever having to step foot in a traditional classroom. Your degree will be informed with knowledge of security, algorithms, and networking, among other vital topics.
- Associate of Arts in Information Technology
- Advanced Networking Certificate
- Advanced Cybersecurity Certificate
Purdue University, in Indiana, has long been an outstanding university. Now they offer a wide range of degrees online through their Purdue Global platform. Their IT degree program allows you to emerge as an IT generalist, software developer, or networking expert.
- Associate of Applied Science in Information Technology
- Associate of Applied Science in Business Administration
Southern New Hampshire University
SNHU offers a strong education in Information Technology. Upon graduation, you can consider jobs as a systems administrator, IT specialist, security engineer, or technical support professional, among other options. Their program is accredited, which means that you can later return to school for a bachelor's degree.
- Associate of Science in Information Technology
- Associate of Science in Business Administration
This North Carolina school has campuses located close to Camp Lejune, Fort Bragg, and Raleigh, but they also offer an Associate of Arts in Information Technology Security that you can earn online. This field is in high demand as we learn about security breaches and what they mean for our business and politics.
- Associate of Arts in Information Technology Security
- Associate of Arts in Business Administration
DeVry has been training professionals in a wide range of career-oriented fields for decades. Their IT department will train you for career excellence as you can focus your studies in areas such as network administration, electronic systems, information systems, or programming.
- Associate in Information Technology
- Associate in Health Information Technology
- Associate in Media Arts and Technology
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