What to expect from IT schools
Information technology deals with the interaction of computers and telecommunications equipment, such as phones, satellites, and radio, to transmit, store or retrieve data. The grasp of information technology is far reaching and includes the Internet, personal computers, smart phones, local networks and databases. The education taught at IT schools can include programming, network architecture, and network security as well as training in web development.
Education and training programs can be completed as an Associate in Science or a Bachelor’s of Science degree, or as a certificate with the Bachelors of Science being the most common (bls.gov/ooh, 2012). Programs can also be completed as part of a Master’s of Business Administration concentration. An MBA program with a concentration in IT can prepare students for managing IT teams, working with a company’s Chief Technology Officer (CTO) as well as interacting with a company’s management teams.
Education programs from IT schools can prepare students for both vocational – such as Telecommunication equipment installers, line workers and computer support specialists – and non-vocational employment – such as network architects and computer scientists – in the information technology sector.
The skills and tools needed for IT school success
While there are various career opportunities for IT school graduates, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the information technology careers require similar skills and talents for success (BLS.gov/ooh, 2012). These can include the following skills:
- Problem solving skills – many information technology professions can involve a number of technical issues that needs to be remedied. The issues can come in the form of physical limitations – how to setup a secure wireless network for over 2,000 people – or technological – how to make a website more secure but also profitable
- Technical skills – all information technology professions require some form of technical skills – be it comprehending the signal range of a fire optic cable or the ramifications of a misplaced “/” in HTML code.
- Analytical skills – analytics is not just about understanding numbers, it can be as simple as asking “why didn’t this work?” and having the examples to back it up.
- Teamwork skills – information technology does not occur in a vacuum, IT professions will have to work with others and being able to effectively work as a team can mean the difference between success and failure.
- Organizational skills – any IT professional may have to juggle a project’s maintenance with another project’s implementation while also evaluating another project’s conception. The ability to organize efficiently may be beneficial.
Also, the BLS suggests that IT professionals may also benefit from being logical thinkers, detail oriented and creativity as problems may not have simple solutions and minor mistakes could have large ramifications (BLS.gov/ooh, 2012).
Specific careers may require specific skills and talents beyond what is listed above, such as web developers which the BLS suggest have strong customer-service skills (BLS.gov/ooh, 2012). Depending on the level of employment, some IT professionals may need to have leadership and communication skills as they can be responsible for managing information technology teams or working with a company’s management.
Some information technology schools may require students to be familiar with software compilers, query languages, security vulnerability analyzers or installation tools. The following are some examples for each category.
- Software Compilers
- XL C/C++ for AIX – This C/C++ compiler, like all compliers, is designed to transform the instructions in a programming language into another language to create an executable program.
- Query Languages
- CQL (Contextual Query Language) – CQL aims to bridge the gap between powerful and complex languages such as SQL and intuitive yet weak languages such as CCl by being both understandable by non-experts and powerful enough to express complex queries.
- Security Vulnerability Analyzers
- Dranzer – Dranzer analyzes vulnerabilities in Microsoft’s ActiveX controls and is powerful enough to be used by companies before the latest ActiveX controls are released by Microsoft.
Career outlook for IT professionals
Some of the potential careers available to graduates of information technology schools are listed below. These careers are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Computer and Information Technology occupational group (BLS.gov/ooh, 2012) and related professions. The educational requirements for each profession can vary.
People with an associate degree in IT can find employment as a:
- Computer Systems Analyst
- Web Developer
A bachelor’s degree in IT can be the entry level degree for the following positions:
- Network Administrator
- Software developers
- Database Administrator
Those who have earned an MBA may find employment as the following:
- Information Security Analyst
- Computer Network Architect
Graduate degrees, such as a masters or a doctorate in IT, may be required for this position:
- Computer Scientist
As of May 2012, all of the listed information technology professions earned a national annual mean wage that was higher than $45,790, the total for all other occupations for that year (BLS.gov/oes, 2012). Some professions, such as computer scientists and software developers, earned more than twice the total for all other occupations.
Additionally, all the above occupations are projected to grow as fast or faster than average than all other occupation from 2010 to 2020 with some professions, such as software developers or database administrators are projected to increase much faster than average, up to 30 percent or more (BLS.gov/ooh, 2012). This industry wide grown is projected to be the result of an increased reliance upon telecommunications and information systems by the public as well as the adoption of information technology by historically lagging industries such as health care.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, Computer and Information Technology Category - http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/home.htm
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, Telecommunications Equipment Installers and Repairers Except Line Installers - http://www.bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/telecommunications-equipment-installers-and-repairers-except-line-installers.htm#tab-4
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, Line Installers and Repairers - http://www.bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/line-installers-and-repairers.htm#tab-4
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2012 – National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates - http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nat.htm#00-0000