Do You Have What It Takes for a Career in Information Technology? Part 2

If you are a working adult who needs a flexible work schedule, or just someone who is looking to save significant money towards the cost of earning a college degree, you’re in luck. The math, science, computer and business courses you will need to take for a degree in IT are ideal for taking online. Online information technology courses give you the ability to study at your own pace, and take classes where and whenever you want. With online college classes, you are in control. From taking prerequisites like college algebra or calculus online , to taking online courses in English composition, business communication, and business statistics – you can take required gateway math and science courses to gain confidence before enrolling full-time in pursuit of your IT degree.

How Do You Decide Which Information Technology Field Is Right for You?

IT jobs fall within the full spectrum of computer technology and business. Because the field of information technology covers such a broad range of job roles, you’ll first need to explore the many different types of career paths you can take in IT, including the difference between a computer support specialist (which requires only a certificate or an associate degree, and sometimes a bachelor’s degree) and the various IT careers from computer programming to software development which usually require a bachelor’s degree (and sometimes an associate degree on an exception basis). Then you’ll need to take a closer look at the qualities that are essential to those considering a career in IT – and valued by those who make IT hiring decisions.

As we spotlight the essential qualities for a successful career in IT, you will be able to assess where you career goals and interests fit, and determine what level of education you should consider for the IT roles that interest you most. Through this process, you will be able to evaluate if you have what it takes to earn a degree in information technology – and determine if you are ready to take the next steps towards earning your college degree.

Spotlight: Computer Support Specialist

Computer support specialists work within the broad spectrum of information technology, assisting all types of information technology needs, including working with developers, analysts, administrators, and end-users. Alternatively, help desk technicians assist those not in the IT fields who need assistance with their computer or computer systems.

Typical Duties - Technical Support Specialist or Computer Network Support Specialist

  • Watch over existing network systems
  • Conduct required maintenance on networks
  • Troubleshoot (LAN, WAN, and Internet) systems3 

Typical Duties - Help Desk Technician or Computer User Technician

  • Actively listen to users as they describe their computer issues
  • Ask the right questions to help diagnose computer issues
  • Explain step-by-step solutions to the user
  • Install software and maintain computer equipment and related devices
  • Assist users with new computer hardware or software
  • Evaluate and record issues customers have4

Education Required 

Education credentials vary for entry into computer support positions. A bachelor’s degree is sometimes required, but an associate degree or postsecondary certification is sufficient in others.

For more technical job roles, a degree in engineering, computer science, or information science is preferred, but for less technical roles such as those at a help desk, some post secondary education (with no specific major) is important combined with a knowledge of computers as well as customer support skills.

Typically, there is quite a bit of on-the-job training. Newly hired computer support specialists are often enrolled in an organization’s support training program to learn the support process as well as any hardware and software requirements unique to that organization.5


3 Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, What Computer Support Specialists Do, 2012, p.1.
http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-support-specialists.htm#tab-2

4 IBID

5 Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, How to Become a Computer Support Specialist, 2012, p.1.
http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-support-specialists.htm#tab-4