In a world that only continues to become more technologically advanced, careers in information technology are growing in demand and becoming even more important. Businesses across industries need IT professionals to ensure all of their endeavors run smoothly. Let’s take a closer look at why you might consider an IT career path.
What Does an Information Technology Career Path Look Like?
IT professionals work in many areas of computer science. Not only are they the experts who help individuals with computer problems and software security, but some of them write code and create computer programs from scratch. Programmers need to learn coding languages, including how they work together (or don’t), how to use frameworks, and which coding languages are best suited for different types of programs. Computer support specialists, on the other hand, work with customers, so they also need to be strong at customer service, including communications. With increasing global connectivity and growing dependence on technology in various aspects of our lives, there's never been a better time to pursue an IT career path. The demand for IT professionals has become more critical than ever before. Additional bonus for you: 74% of all IT professionals are happy they chose a career in IT. It’s hard to put a price on that level of job satisfaction.
Things to Consider When Mapping Out IT Career Paths
You might be ready to jump in, put your skills to the test, and start learning programming languages. But make sure to keep these things in mind as you start planning your IT career path:
What's the Job Outlook for IT Career Paths?
Employment of IT professionals is projected to grow 6% by 2031, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. About 75,000 openings for computer support specialists are projected each year, on average, over the next decade. Job growth is expected across most types of IT settings, including computer systems design and related services, telecommunications, and educational services. Computer programmers can expect about 9,600 openings each year, on average, over the next decade. Job growth is expected across all areas of computer programming as programmers retire and companies require more analysts and strategists. The median annual wage for IT professionals in computer support services is around $62,760. The lowest 10% of IT pros earn less than $38,560, and the highest 10% earn more than $102,410. For computer programmers, the median annual wage is around $93,000, with the lowest 10% earning less than $47,560 and the highest 10% earning more than $155,240.
IT Professional Career Job Settings
IT professionals work pretty much anywhere people have computers:
- In-house tech support for major companies
- Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) companies
- Tech support providers
- Brand-specific customer support for personal computers and devices
- IT-specific companies
- Computer systems design and related services
Where Will an IT Career Path Take Me?
What are the IT career paths available to you? There are so many directions you can go based on the degree you pursue and your chosen area of expertise.
An IT technician supports, fixes, and maintains the hardware and software of an organization’s computer systems. Becoming an IT technician requires at least an associate degree in computer science or a related field.
- Set up computer workstations
- Diagnose and repair computer issues
- Install and maintain new software
- Provide training and instruction on new systems
- Design computer software for new programs
- Update old programs with new code
- Troubleshoot programming problems
IT Security Specialist
An IT security specialist understands information security including the ever-changing variety of cyber threats and other vulnerabilities that computer systems might face. They work to guard computer and software systems against attacks. This position requires at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science. Job Duties:
- Make sure security systems are up to date
- Create contingency plans in case of hacking
- Make sure all company departments are meeting security standards
- Run network security tests
Those working in cloud computing help deliver IT solutions over the internet. Having a college degree is not required to start your career in cloud computing, but it will make you more marketable to potential employers. This job requires in-depth knowledge of cloud-based systems, such as Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and Microsoft Azure.
- Cloud-based programming
- Cloud design architect
- Cloud administrator
A database administrator maintains, secures, and operates databases, making sure the data is correctly stored and retrieved. This position requires a bachelor’s degree or higher in IT or a related field.
- Install and configure database software
- Identify user needs and create solutions
- Diagnose and fix database issues
- Backup and restore data
Quality Assurance Tester
A quality assurance tester tests software — whether new or existing — to find and fix any bugs before the software is launched. They work closely with developers to provide feedback on areas for improvement. To become a quality assurance tester, you usually need at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field.
- Create quality assurance guidelines
- Test products and software for issues or problems
- Train new quality assurance testers
Network Support Specialist
A network support specialist analyzes, troubleshoots, and maintains computer networks. Network support specialists usually need a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field or an associate degree with relevant experience.
- Test and troubleshoot computer networks within a company or organization
- Record and track users’ computer problems
- Keep networks in good working order by performing regular maintenance
Advanced IT Certifications
Once you become an IT professional and gain experience in your chosen area, you’ll be eligible to train and apply for various IT certifications. These certifications can help you advance in your career and increase your earning potential. Here are a few of the most popular and lucrative certifications for IT professionals.
The Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) offers certifications and membership for IT professionals. Membership includes networking and collaboration opportunities, access to industry research, business tools, events, and more. StraighterLine offers a program to train you in the skills you need for the CompTIA Network+ certification:
- CompTIA Network+ Certification Training: prepares you for the CompTIA Network+ exam and includes all training associated with computer networks, including architecture, operations, security, and more.
Amazon Web Service (AWS) Certified Solutions Architect
With this highly sought-after credential, certified individuals demonstrate advanced knowledge and skills in solving complex problems, optimizing security, cost, and performance, and automating manual processes. Those with this additional certification earn an average of $162,320 per year.
Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)
The CISM® certificate shows you’re prepared to assess risks, apply effective governance, and proactively respond to incidents. Those with this credential earn an average of $130,112 per year.
Professional Google Cloud Architect
Architects with expertise in Google Cloud help organizations utilize Google technologies effectively to create, maintain, and manage powerful, secure, scalable, and dynamic solutions that align with business goals. Those with this additional expertise earn an average of $166,057 per year.
What Classes Can I Take to Pursue an IT Career Path?
That depends on where you are in your IT career. The classes you may need to take to prepare to work in IT will depend on whether you’re just starting out or you’re finishing up more specific requirements. If you’re just starting on your degree, focus first on general education classes, like Information Technology Fundamentals, English Composition, or College Algebra. These courses are often prerequisites for Associate of Applied Science in Information Technology degree programs. If you already have your AAS in IT and want to advance your career or earn your Bachelor of Science in IT, you might be looking to take more specialized courses. Earn credits and boost your skills in areas like Introduction to Programming in Python, Introduction to Programming in C++, and Introduction to Programming in Java. StraighterLine has a wide range of courses that can help you fulfill both general education and core curriculum requirements for your IT career path.
Fast Track Your IT Career Path Today
Most computer science and IT degrees require a set list of prerequisite and general education courses. So take the first step in your IT career path toward a rewarding job as a computer support specialist! StraighterLine's self-paced, affordable online courses easily transfer to any of our partner schools or through the ACE CREDIT service to over 2,000 colleges and universities worldwide.