When considering the kind of money you can earn in a career, it is easy for you to get lost fixating on expected income. However, this could be a costly mistake.
There’s more to a career than mere income. There’s job satisfaction, and the question of how easy it is to earn the qualifications to get you onto the career path.
Information Technology is no different from other careers in this respect.
Table of Contents
- What is Information Technology (I.T)?
- Is Information Technology (IT) a Hard Degree to Earn?
- Explaining IT Degrees
- Sub-categories of IT
- What an IT Major can do for you
- Jobs for IT Degree Holders
- Earning an Information Technology Degree–is the juice worth the squeeze?
What is Information Technology (I.T)?
I.T uses computer technology to capture, process, analyze and transmit information. Input pathways are nearly always the real-world capture points, just as output pathways are nearly always human consciousness.
I.T is a significant part of modern life. Students use I.T to aid their studies. Young and old alike use I.T to entertain and educate themselves.
Scientists and technologists use I.T to boost computational resources and achieve in a fraction of the time what would take the human mind hours, if not days, weeks, months, or even years, to complete.
Pursuing a career in IT makes plenty of sense and is as sure a bet as any other for the right person.
Is Information Technology (IT) a Hard Degree to Earn?
Of all the computer-related or engineering degrees universities offer, IT is the least mathematical and, therefore, the easiest (relatively).
That said, there is no escaping some level of math, so the better your math, the easier you will find this course.
Regarding difficulty, IT sits between a software engineering degree, which is more challenging, and a straightforward business degree.
Explaining IT Degrees
I believe many prospective students are bound to misunderstand what an IT degree entails because the common idea is that software developers, cybersecurity specialists, network administrators, system administrators and so forth all study something called “Information Technology”. In fact, that’s utterly wrong.
The best way to understand it is to think about general and specialist subjects. Information Technology is a broad subject, the generalist course to pursue to learn a little of everything for which we use computers.
Students undertaking this course can reasonably expect to end up in business on a managerial, rather than a programming-only or deeply computer technology-development, track.
Contrasting this general approach are the specialist subjects like computer software programming, computer security, computer science, etc.
These are courses designed to produce graduates who will enter a specific technology space and add to the country’s cadre of technologists and scientists.
Graduates of any of these specialist programs expect to contribute to the development of computer technology and the science behind it.
Some–maybe even many–may end up writing business applications, but that’s like buying a sports car for school runs. It’s possible, but it is somehow “misapplied.”
These specialist, science-oriented courses are very mathematical. Students must be able to take advanced college-level math in their stride.
Science- and math-heavy course units like “Practical Engineering,” “Structures and mechanics,” and “Pure and Applied Mathematics” are all meat-and-potatoes in these courses, and anyone for whom math is not a handy second language will definitely find such programs a struggle.
While the math component in IT courses is considerably easier than in specialist computer courses, I’d hate to give the impression that math doesn’t form an essential part of the curriculum, because it does.
However, IT course designers target the math toward business applications, subjects like statistical forecasting and extensive data analytics.
If it were up to me, I’d rename Information Technology to Business Computer Studies because it is the more apt term for this learning area.
Sub-categories of IT
Here is a look at some IT sub-categories to give you a clear idea of what topics IT students grapple with.
Academically speaking, software development studies the production of robust computer-directing instructions.
There are various levels of computer code. The lowest level occupies itself with electronic signals. At this depth, things can get pretty intense quickly, with mind-bending complexities such as quantum fluctuations to worry about in the research phase of higher programs.
The next level is the machine-level, more or less dealing with ones and zeros and extremely sparse language constructs. Believe me, looking for a bug (error) at any level of computer code is no barrel of laughs, but looking for a bug in assembly or machine language is a stint in hell for all but the most talented of folks.
Most students find software development exciting and enjoyable. Anyone passionate about seeing the fruits of their labor blossom before their eyes will take to this field like a duck to water.
Getting computers to “talk” to one another is easier said than done. Getting lots of different types of computers running different kinds of software and not necessarily even speaking the same computer languages to talk to one another across the planet, and maybe even in deep space, is even more difficult.
To manage these difficulties, organizations turn to network engineers, who do the actual, physical “laying of hands on wires,” and network administrators.
Network administration is to network engineering as architecture is to construction. Architects draw up plans and figure out “the big picture.” Construction engineers bring the plans to life. I will discuss what a career in network administration entails further on.
Users use computer applications, developers create those applications, and network engineers and administrators hook up all the computers, but who designs and builds computers? Well, that’d be your computer engineer.
Computer engineering is a meld of computer science and electronics, and honestly, electronics is one of the more difficult majors.
Fortunately, although IT students will have to gain some understanding of what lies beneath the hood of a computer, they need only do so to a level where they can understand hardware implementations and limitations.
Cybersecurity and IT Security
Cybersecurity is a subset of the larger field of IT security. Taken as an ecosystem, computers today hold an incredible number of secrets; passwords, bank accounts, airline reservations, nuclear launch codes… the list is almost endless. Bad actors spend night and day trying to get to these valuable nuggets, and it’s up to good actors to stop them.
Cybersecurity and IT security courses give students the wherewithal to enter the fray with a head start. It’s a fascinating field that requires extra math.
This field is also better suited for individuals who naturally think outside the box, as many threats, exploits, and solutions depend on doing things that wouldn’t cross most people’s minds.
What an IT Major can do for you
The good thing about pursuing an IT degree is that you gain exposure to virtually all computer-related endeavors.
This provides you with the broadest possible scope for branching out in any of several directions. You can go into business or pursue a further specialization with a better understanding of what will be expected of you.
Jobs for IT Degree Holders
Earning an IT degree is, of course, just the prerequisite for a career in computing. With a wealth of options for specialization, it isn’t peculiar that, even in their final year, many IT students still have not decided which field to enter.
“Spoilt for choice” is the phrase that comes to mind, and although it is a good problem to have compared to its opposite, it can be a little daunting.
Here is a brief guide to some computing careers open to IT degree holders.
IT Cybersecurity Specialist
Cybersecurity specialists protect devices and data from cyberattacks, a particular–though widespread–attack vector used by computer criminals.
Remember that sometimes, criminals attack computers directly by gaining access to the actual devices, which does not count as a cyber attack. A cyber attack must come over a network.
Income: $80,000 – $100,000
Prospects: good. It is unlikely that the human race will suddenly acquire better morals and cast off illegal pursuits of wealth. No one ever went broke overestimating human larceny.
Software developers “cut” code (the actual term used by developers themselves, whereas others on the periphery might talk about “writing” code). There are all sorts of developers cutting all kinds of code.
For example, database developers write scripts that manipulate data for easy storage and retrieval. They are also highly concerned with providing proper data analyses to interested parties, as this is usually the point of the exercise.
Other developers create computer games or write banking or other apps that make your cell phone an integral part of your life.
Income: $65,000 – $150,000
Prospects: Outstanding. Not much is possible with computing devices without developers’ code, so this is certainly a huge industry that will always require competent individuals.
There are a host of computer languages. From the point of view of earning potential, some are more lucrative than others.
In 2022, I’d say the hands-down leaders (caveat: in America) are Scala, Go, and Objective-C. However, although top earners who use these languages can expect top-dollar incomes of around $150,000 per annum, you wouldn’t catch me touching any of these with a barge pole.
Using its earning potential to choose a programming language could trap you in a horrible cul-de-sac.
Rather than worry about how much you could make using a language, learn a few of them and stick with the one (or ones) you enjoy. In the long run, the more you enjoy your work, the harder you’ll work at it and the more successful you’ll be.
Although ranked only the 9th most lucrative computer language in America, I can’t help but think that Python is the easiest and possibly most fun language to learn.
Top Python earners pull in nearly $130,000, and the language grows increasingly popular year after year.
Computer Networks/Cloud Administrator
Network/Cloud administrators design, configure and deploy network topologies and solutions. By the way, a “cloud” is a federation of computer networks, sort of a network of networks, inside a logical boundary that may or may not match a physical boundary. The cloud offers infrastructure and/or services to users only through the Internet or online access points.
Network administrators wield a lot of power and have tremendous responsibilities, which is why it is puzzling that they aren’t paid much more.
The glamour of holding the fate of millions in the palm of your hand is seldom matched by the sheen of your bank account. Network administration is an ego trip, there’s no doubt about that, but compared to other computer tech fields, the financial reward is less appealing.
Income: $55,000 – $90,000
Prospects: Fair. Network administrators don’t tend to move around a lot. Turnover in the industry is low. On the other hand, job security is extremely high, far surpassing other computer jobs.
Earning an Information Technology Degree–is the juice worth the squeeze?
With a facility for some college-level math and a curious and passionate nature, an IT degree is easily within the grasp of most individuals.
Given that the rewards of earning such a degree are consistently high, I’d say, “Heck yeah. The juice is definitely worth the squeeze.”