Complete Guide to an Online Information Technology Degree
|Available Degrees:||Associate, Bachelor's, Master's, Doctorate, Certificate|
|Certification:||Microsoft and Cisco|
Our list of online information technology (IT) degrees provides an overview of five different specializations within the field: database administration, network security, technical support, computer networking, and information assurance. Online IT degrees are available at the associate through doctoral levels.
Students pursuing IT degrees should be sure to verify that their programs are accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). ABET is the major accrediting body for IT programs in the United States. Thus, programs accredited by ABET meet rigorous national standards and provide high quality, relevant IT education. Program-specific accreditation exists for a variety of specialties within the IT field including the specializations on this page. Other popular IT programs include computer science, cyber security, network administration, and library science.
Specialists in computer networking may find work as computer network architects designing and building data communication networks of all sizes. They may also provide guidance and advice to users of these networks or day-to-day maintenance at organizations with networks already established. Online students aspiring to work as computer network specialists generally need to earn at least a bachelor's degree in computer networks or a related field. Coursework for online students will likely include the fundamentals of computer troubleshooting, networking and telecommunications management, open source operating systems, data networks and the internet, network administration and operations, interconnecting Cisco devices, installing and connecting Windows server, Linux system administration, and current trends and projects in computer networks and security. Additional professional certifications may also be necessary depending on the job and the network system used by the employer. Professional certifications with the highest job placement success are the Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) or the Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) for employers using the Cisco networks. Other popular certifications are the Juniper Enterprise Routing and Switching, Expert (JNCIE-ENT), CompTIA Network+, and the Wireshark Certified Network Analyst (WNCA). Job growth for computer networking is greater than average due to constantly increasing use of computer networks by all companies and organizations.
Database administrators (DBAs) apply specialized software to record, organize, and secure a company or organization's data, which might range from financial records to client information. They are responsible for ensuring that users are able to access and use data securely and as needed. In this technological age, businesses across all niches of the economy have data needs, and DBAs are in high demand. Online students looking to become DBAs should consider a bachelor's degree in a field related to information technology or computer science. Some entry-level positions will accept candidates with an online associate degree, and some students may opt to earn an associate degree first and then gain work experience prior to completing a full four-year bachelor's degree. Curriculum for database administration degree programs includes classes in data center architecture, advanced database management, database security, client server technologies and applications, data analytics, information technology management frameworks, data in the cloud, and cyber security. Database certifications are available for specific programming languages; those most commonly solicited by employers are certifications in Oracle 11g and 12c, NoSQL, and Microsoft's MCSE.
Information assurance is about protecting a business or organization's digital and analog information by using the most advanced developments in software architecture, programming, human-computer interaction, and more. The field encompasses the specializations of network and cyber security. Information assurance specialists are in high demand, as every organization has critical information that it needs to store, transport, protect, or keep confidential, whether it be a business's customer data or a healthcare facility's patient records. Competitive job candidates generally have some related work experience as well as a bachelor's degree in a computer science or information technology related field. Specialized degrees and graduate programs in information assurance are also available. Any online degree in this field will teach students to assess the risks surrounding a body of information through courses such as information systems control and auditing, principles and methods in cryptographic security, web application security strategies, global information security laws and standards, laws and ethics in digital investigations, telecommunications and network infrastructure, and more. The most reputable information assurance degree programs are recognized as National Centers of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance/Cyber Defense (CAE IA/CD) by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Online students may wish to bolster their qualifications by obtaining certificates such as the CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+, CompTIA Security+, and CompTIA Project+. Learn more about CompTIA certificates here.
Network security professionals are in high demand as organizations seek to protect their networks from hackers and technological malfunction. Network security is generally maintained by a system administrator and involves the management of user IDs and passwords, firewalls, data encryption, and online backups. Cyber security is a sub-discipline of network security which focuses on protecting data and systems on networks connected to the internet. Network security specialists generally need a bachelor's degree in computer science or information technology in order to be competitive in the workforce. Curriculum might include courses in system assurance security, cyber defense and countermeasures, cryptology and data protection, cyber attacks and ethical hacking, computer forensics, python scripting, and operating systems and application security. Some certifications are also essential for gaining entry-level positions in this field, such as CompTIA Security+ and GIAC Security Essentials; more advanced credentials include the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), and Certified Information Security Manager (CISM). Network security professionals can stay up-to-date with evolving technology and security concerns by completing continuing education courses, many of which are available online and cover topics as varied as Android or iPhone/iOS investigation forensics, SQL injection attacks and defense, hacking web apps, healthcare security tools, and more.
Technical support specialists provide guidance and advice to users of computer software and equipment. They may work with individuals, businesses, and IT workers both within and outside of their own organizations. Many support specialists are required to be available 24 hours a day and on the weekends, since computer support is now essential to the running of most organizations. Some technical support positions require a bachelor's degree, but many will accept associate and postsecondary degrees, and occasionally, a job candidate with a high school degree, training, certifications, and work experience will be hired. Moreover, employers will often require candidates for technical support positions to hold vendor-specific certifications in order to ensure that they are knowledgeable about the products they will be working with. As organizations upgrade their computer systems and hardware, computer support specialists are in high demand on the job market. Many support specialists go on to become network administrators or managers in the support department.
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Our tuition numbers reflect data collected from the National Center for Education Statistics.
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