Is An Information Technology Degree Worth It?

Author: Bambi Majumdar / Reviewed by: Melissa Anderson / Reading Level: Grade 10
First Covered: November 2021

Key Takeaways:

  • Information Technology (IT) degree is essential for various career paths in industries relying on technology and data.
  • According to PayScale, the average base pay for Information Technology Services jobs is $89,000 per year.
  • A bachelor’s degree in IT covers programming, database management, networking, web development, project management, database management, and more.
  • With a college degree, one can start in a better position, demand a higher salary, and move up in a career more rapidly.
  • Job opportunities in the IT field are projected to grow significantly, making an IT degree a valuable investment for the future.

More and more colleges are offering information technology degrees. This meets the rising demand for IT professionals.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects faster-than-average job growth in computer and information technology occupations over the next ten years. But even then, many students who are contemplating their next academic move ask – is an information technology degree worth it? Information technology is required in virtually every sector of the economy. With a degree in information technology, students can excel in an area of expertise.

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The comprehensive curriculum of an IT degree equips students with a solid foundation in programming, database management, networking, and project management, preparing them for various roles in the IT sector. Furthermore, an IT degree provides a versatile skill set that is highly sought after by employers across industries, offering professionals the flexibility to explore career paths and stay competitive in the job market.

This will further qualify them to work across various industries. These could range from healthcare, government, retail, and hospitality to non-profits and the private sector.

IT is designed for students who enjoy working with computers and technology. These are individuals who like to discover creative solutions to various computer and network-based issues through critical thinking. Many believe that they can get into the IT field without a college degree. That may be true for some jobs. Still, earning a degree will help them advance their career in information technology (IT). Most employers look for at least a bachelor’s degree. Others prefer master’s degree holders for senior positions. Also according to PayScale, senior software engineers average $126,081 per year, while software engineers average $96,407.

Example Career Paths

The IT field offers a wide range of career paths for professionals with diverse interests and skills.

  • One common career path is that of a software developer, where individuals design and create computer programs and applications.
  • Another popular option is becoming a cybersecurity analyst, responsible for protecting organizations’ data and systems from cyber threats.
  • IT project managers oversee the planning and execution of technology projects, ensuring they are completed on time and within budget.
  • Network administrators manage organizations’ computer networks, ensuring smooth operations and connectivity.
  • Data scientists analyze and interpret complex data to help organizations make informed decisions.

Hands-on job experience has great value. But without a degree, salary and growth may be limited. Long story short, an information degree may be worth it. With a college degree, one can start in a better position, demand a higher salary, and move up in their careers faster. Students who enroll in a traditional or an online information technology degree could find themselves in a diverse career path. This path may offer endless opportunities. 

Students with a passion for problem-solving, data, and logistics will find many benefits from pursuing an IT degree. An information technology bachelor degree provides hands-on instruction, lectures, and training. It also provides deep theoretical knowledge for students. Students can take electives or pursue concentrations to gain industry-specific expertise. If you are still wondering, “Is an information technology degree worth it?”, then consider this: IT jobs offer better salaries and growth potential than others. Most entry-level roles require a bachelor’s degree in information technology. Plus, most companies would expect their mid-and senior-level executives to hold an advanced degree. Therefore, holding an IT degree will definitely help candidates stand out in the crowd. 

Is An Information Technology Degree Worth It

What are the different kinds of IT degrees? 

The exact choice of an IT degree will vary depending on the specific career trajectory of each student. For instance, students can choose a degree in networking or any number of other fields like these:

  • Computer Science
  • Computer Networking
  • Information Technology
  • Cybersecurity
  • Data Science
  • Analytics
  • Geospatial Services
  • Informatics
  • Project Management (with a concentration in software development)
  • Business Information Systems
  • Computer Software Technology 
  • Cyber & Data Security Technology
  • Technology Management 

A bachelor’s degree will kickstart a journey in this lucrative field. And many students eventually go on to pursue advanced degrees as well. In fact, with the option of an online information technology degree, students can even choose accelerated programs. These programs allow them to earn both their undergraduate and graduate degrees quickly. This way, they can earn both an undergraduate and graduate degree in five years (the latter in one year instead of two) to better prepare for an IT career. They can pursue their passion for solving complex technical problems and thinking critically. This approach can be applied to every project related to computers, networks, and data. 

Is An Information Technology Degree Worth It

What will you learn in an IT degree program?

An information technology degree covers a wide range of topics. These range from technical theory, programming, networking, and computer hardware. Depending on the specific major, students may also learn about database management, computer circuitry, website development, systems analysis, and IT management. Specific topics may include: 

  • Computer Technical Support
  • Hardware and Software
  • Introduction to Networking
  • Networking Security
  • Information Technology Business Management
  • Management of Information Systems
  • Organizational Policy.

Other topics covered in these degrees include:

  • the foundations of web design and development
  • introduction to data communication and networking
  • introduction to programming and logic
  • survey of operating systems
  • computer forensics
  • foundations of virtualization and cloud computing

Specialization options in an information technology bachelor degree may include:

  • Network Administration
  • IT Security
  • System Administration
  • Enterprise Systems
  • International Biometrics
  • IT Management
  • IT Strategy and Innovation
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Computer Science specializations
  • Machine Learning
  • Data Science
  • Human-Computer Interaction (HIC)
  • Cyber Security
  • Video Game Development
  • Cloud Computing

Some of the master’s level specializations include:

  • Data Science
  • Big Data Engineering
  • Data Analyst
  • Big Data Analysis
  • Web Designing
  • Software Development
  • Computer Hardware Engineering And Networking

The above programs help students build their knowledge. These programs help them learn the principles of programming, computer networking, database design, and operating systems. They learn to develop, collaborate, communicate and practice real-world technical skills. Graduates become experts in executing cybersecurity measures. They learn to protect an organization’s information and data. Students also plan information technology structures for organizations. They support end-users in troubleshooting software issues.

Is An Information Technology Degree Worth It

What are the career prospects for IT degree holders?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, IT jobs are on the rise. It’s one of the fastest-growing occupations with high demand for degree holders, leading to an average annual wage of around $100k.

Yes, a degree in information technology is worth it for many students. Common information technology careers in this field include:

  • Information security analyst
  • Computer programmer
  • Network and computer system administrator
  • Computer support specialist
  • Computer and information systems manager

Careers in the field of information technology offer opportunities for advancement. With a bachelor’s degree in IT, you may be qualified for management positions. These could include:

  • Chief information officer
  • Chief technology officer
  • IT director
  • IT security manager

As far as the type of jobs available, roles like web development, cybersecurity, software development, mobile app development, and help desk support are all possibilities. Average salaries for these positions can reach $83,000 per year. These positions are usually reserved for someone with skills or experience in their background. Professional certifications can also be helpful. A good job in IT can be had without a college degree. But it will take much longer to achieve career goals and to reach a higher pay grade.

That means an employee may start work as a Help Desk Technician (typically considered an entry-level position that doesn’t require prior knowledge or experience). They might receive less pay with a salary that tops out at $30,000 per year, and experience high levels of stress. With experience and certifications, a Help Desk Technician might be able to move to a different job and earn a higher salary. With a college degree, on the other hand, employees can start in a position more in line with their skills and education. They can then earn a much higher salary with lots of growth potential during the course of their career.

A number of careers in the field of information technology are expected to see growth in terms of job outlook over the next several years. These include:

  • Computer network architect
  • Computer systems analyst
  • Computer support specialist
  • Database administrator

Some careers are predicted to grow significantly. This includes positions in software development and information security analysis, for example.

IT degree salaries may offer above-average earning potential. The average salary for information technology positions is more than $100,000. With a degree in information technology, you may be qualified to gain regular employment within an organization or work as an independent information technology consultant for a range of clients. As an IT consultant, you may be responsible for helping clients plan, implement, maintain, and update technology, computers, and information systems within their business.

Is An Information Technology Degree Worth It

What are the various jobs available for IT degree holders?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the demand for IT professionals will continue to rise. Information technology and its related fields are the fastest-growing fields. Plus, they have some of the highest average salaries.

A degree in information technology will help students stand out in the competition, give them that added edge and help them grow in their careers. That would answer the question many students have, “Is an information technology degree worth it?” 

Students can specialize and work in various areas. These could range from web development, software development, cybersecurity, mobile app development, and help desk support. Average salaries for these positions can be around $83,000 per year. The pay may be higher based on region, industry, or company size.  A professional with specialized skills or hands-on and some certifications under their belts would fare even better. 

A lot of on-campus and online IT degrees offer these additional certifications as a part of the programs. An IT degree can definitely be worth it. These degrees can help you achieve career goals faster and reach a higher pay grade. With a college degree, employees can start working in positions that are better aligned with their skills and education. With additional credentials, they can earn higher salaries with lots of growth potential during the course of their career.

Common information technology careers include:

  • information security analyst
  • network and computer system administrator
  • computer programmer
  • computer support specialist
  • cybersecurity expert
  • computer and information systems manager

All these fields have immense opportunities for advancement. 

With a bachelor’s degree in IT, students can get into entry-level roles with the potential for high growth. Students who pursue advanced studies in the field gain a master’s or post-graduate degree. They may be qualified for management positions. Some of these may include chief information officer, IT director, chief technology officer, and IT security manager. Careers like computer network architects, computer systems analysts, computer support specialists, and database administrators will also see growth. Some other fields will see a higher than average growth such as software development and information security analysis. Students with IT degrees and specializing in the above will enjoy above-average earning potential. 

With a degree in information technology, you may be qualified to gain regular employment within an organization. Or, you could work as an independent information technology consultant for a range of clients. As an IT consultant, you may be responsible for helping clients plan, implement, maintain, and update technology, computers, and information systems within their business.

A quick overview of careers and related annual median salaries: 

  • Computer and Information Systems Manager – $164,070
  • Software Developers – $127,260
  • Computer Network Architect – $126,900
  • Information Security Analyst – $112,000
  • Computer Systems Analyst- $102,240
  • Database Administrator – $98,890
  • Computer Programmer – $97,800
  • Web Developer -$78,580
  • Network and Computer Systems Administrator – $90,520
  • Computer Support Specialist – $57,890
  • Information Research Scientist-$136,620
  • Data Scientist-$103,500
Is An Information Technology Degree Worth It

Highlighting Areas of Emerging Demand 

Two emerging areas of job demand in the IT field where having an IT degree can be beneficial are:

  1. Cybersecurity: With the increasing frequency and sophistication of cyber threats, the demand for cybersecurity professionals is on the rise. Individuals with an IT degree specializing in cybersecurity can be well-positioned to secure roles such as cybersecurity analysts, ethical hackers, security architects, and incident responders to protect organizations’ systems and data from cyber attacks.
  2. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning: The field of AI and machine learning is rapidly expanding across industries, driving the demand for professionals with expertise in these areas. Individuals with an IT degree focusing on AI and machine learning can pursue roles such as AI engineers, data scientists, machine learning specialists, and AI software developers to design and implement intelligent systems and algorithms for various applications.

Conclusion: Is an information technology degree worth it? 

Clearly, majoring in information technology offers several promising career pathways. The typical information technology salary is well above the average for all occupations. Thus, a career in information technology will provide students with good earning potential. Moreover, earning your bachelor’s degree in information technology is a great choice if you love technology. Potential above-average annual salaries and a high rate of job growth over the next decade are additional motivations. 

Tech talent is currently in short supply and increasing demand. This is a great time to consider a career in the information technology industry. Companies are competitive in their pursuit of the best talent. Thus, they offer the best salaries and benefits they can. At the same time, they place a premium on workers with a fundamental understanding of information technology. Students with a degree in information technology really stand out.

Sources: 

  • U.S. News & World Report
  • U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • Coursera