Students who graduate with a bachelor’s degree in information technology (IT) make an average of $75,000 per year1. IT programs offer many options for concentrations, and nearly every industry needs IT specialists in some capacity. Students might concentrate in cybersecurity, data science, networking and administration, or one of many other choices.
This guide explores everything students need to know about online information technology degrees, as well as the career options available to graduates.
What Is an Online IT Degree?
IT degrees cover the different computing systems organizations use to collect and analyze data. It’s a broad field that offers many different paths for students to explore. Professionals in the IT field build and maintain frameworks and architectures, troubleshoot IT systems for organizations and/or individuals, and perform IT administration tasks.
People sometimes use information technology and computer science interchangeably. While these two related fields belong in the same sphere, they possess some minor differences. Information technology concerns the application of technology to business challenges and interests. Computer science teaches students to create applications and programs, as well as the theories behind the process.
A bachelor’s degree — especially a bachelor of science — focuses on the practical application of these technologies. Students can apply for many IT jobs with a bachelor’s degree alone. In some cases, IT professionals may even be self-taught.
Master’s level IT degrees offer deep dives into areas such as network administration, data and AI engineering, and cybersecurity. Doctoral degrees serve those looking to work in the boardroom or in administration.
How Can I Use an IT Degree?
Information technology can be a lucrative degree for students looking for career growth and reliability. Nearly every industry needs IT specialists to help keep data safe and customer experiences positive and engaging.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that these five fields will offer the highest-paid positions in computer and information technology.
Computer and Information Research Scientists Average Annual Salary: $126,830
Computer and information research scientists make over $126,000 per year2 exploring and developing new technologies in the realm of data science and other computing technology. The field is expected to grow much faster than average2, adding about 3,200 new positions per year. Because the field is research-heavy, many positions may require a master’s level degree2.
Computer Network Architects Average Annual Salary: $116,780
Computer network architects make well over six figures per year3 on average building the frameworks required to run applications and data communication networks. They troubleshoot issues and ensure local area networks, wide area networks, and intranets remain in optimized working order. BLS predicts the field to grow slightly slower than average3, but the field remains so large that it should still add at least 11,000 new jobs per year3.
Software Developers, Quality Assurance Analysts, and Testers Average Annual Salary: $110,140
Job seekers in this field look forward to an average annual salary of over $110,000 per year4 managing quality assurance and testing for software products and networks. The field should grow much faster than average at 22%4. Job seekers can find one of the 189,200 open positions that will become available each year over the next 10 years4.
Information Security Analysts Average Annual Salary: $103,590
Information security analysts make over $103,000 per year5 planning and carrying out security measures for an organization’s network and systems. The field is expected to grow much faster than average at 33%, with over 16,000 positions new positions added each year5.
Database Administrators and Architects Average Annual Salary: $98,860
Database administrators and architects make almost six figures per year6 creating and organizing the systems to store and secure data. BLS expects the field to grow at an average rate, adding around 13,000 openings per year6 for the next ten years. Potential job seekers can come from either information technology or computer science degree programs6 to find employment in the field.
Online Information Technology Degree Programs
- Purdue University Global: Bachelor of Science in Information Technology
- University of Phoenix: Bachelor of Science in Information Technology
- Southern New Hampshire University: Bachelor of Science in Information Technologies
- Santa Fe College: Bachelor of Applied Science in Information Technology Systems
- Kennesaw State University: Bachelor of Science in Information Technology
IT Program Courses
Information technology bachelor’s degree programs vary, but many contain the following courses, in addition to state-required core courses.
This course teaches students everything they need to know about data storage and security measures, from relational databases to less restrictive databases designed for unstructured data.
Information systems design
Students learn to build the right system for optimized performance based on a number of different business considerations and data factors.
Information technology infrastructure
Students learn what goes into the systems and applications businesses and organizations require, as well as how to troubleshoot and secure them.
The communication points between applications require maintenance and knowledgeable oversight.
Web and applications development
Although information technology deals more with practical applications of existing solutions, students will still receive training in development
Students often take on projects in their online classes that mimic real-world challenges. This type of project-based learning provides students with the skills necessary to take on challenges in the job setting.
Students should also expect some measure of collaboration, even in online courses. Dynamic, multi-media online courses can provide students with a firm foundation in technology principles.
IT Degree Concentrations
Information technology offers a broad range of concentrations for students to choose from. These concentrations provide additional, directed skillsets that aid in job seeking in the student’s desired industry or even desired place of employment.
Cybersecurity analysts make about $76,625 per year7 helping companies and organizations ensure that data and sensitive information remain safe. Cybersecurity professionals ensure that systems and applications remain in compliance through preventative measures and take decisive action against any attacks or threats.
With a strong background in data analytics, IT job seekers can support data science and artificial intelligence teams by building and maintaining data pipelines. They can troubleshoot frameworks and ensure that data scientists use the most optimized method for data ingestion, analysis, and visualization.
Students with this concentration plan to take on the administrative side of things, managing teams, budgets, compliance, and IT strategies. They look at the organization’s strategic plan and ensure that all IT goals align with that plan and move the needle.
Smart technology (IoT, devices, applications, and artificial intelligence) gathers data, responds to human commands, and makes many things possible. Students with this concentration can design smart technology applications, leverage machine learning so that applications learn, and manage upgrades to existing smart systems.
Web and Applications Development
Designed at the crossover of IT and computer science, students in the web development concentration take on both the creation of systems and their maintenance. These students learn how to make systems more user-friendly and intuitive and encourage engagement between humans and their systems.
How Long Does It Take to Earn an IT Degree?
Choosing a bachelor’s degree in information technology takes four years of full-time study, including state-required coursework. Students in an IT program will engage with a combination of fundamental IT courses and those in their chosen concentration.
Master’s work takes an additional one to three years after receiving an undergraduate degree. Doctoral degrees take an average of five years after achieving a master’s level degree.
Self-taught IT students may opt for certifications to help boost their resumes and make the job search easier. Some common choices include:
This certification offers a fundamentals certification, as well as topical certifications such as network or security. Students do not need any work experience and can take the test as soon as they feel ready.
Microsoft Technology Associate9:
The MTA certificate also offers topical options, including IT infrastructure, databases, and development. Students can take exams whenever they feel ready, regardless of their work experience.
Cisco offers students a variety of test subjects, classified in five categories—entry, associate, specialist, professional, and expert. Students can take certifications on a level-by-level basis.
Discover More About IT Programs
Q. What is the application process for an information technology degree?
Students should follow the application process for their chosen school. Once accepted, they can declare a major in information technology.
Q. Are scholarships available for information technology degrees?
Students should check with their school to find out if any departmental scholarships can reduce the cost of the degree. Women and minority students may also find eligible scholarships designed to diversify the field.
Q. Is information technology worth it?
Nearly every industry will need knowledgeable IT specialists to manage data, systems, and online applications. BLS predicts growth11 in several fields, with these growing much faster than the average industry.
Q. Does location matter for an information technology degree?
Technology degrees can happen entirely online. While in-person courses may provide students with networking opportunities or internships at big-name technology companies, students can complete online degrees conveniently without uprooting their current lives.
Q. Are online information technology degrees an option?
Online courses make up a common path for technology students, especially mid-career professionals training for a new type of career. Professional studies courses also happen online for leaders who need a greater understanding of the potential of technology as well as its risks.
 PayScale. (2021). Bachelor of Science (BS/BSc), Information Technology Degree. https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Degree=Bachelor_of_Science_(BS_%2F_BSc)%2C_Information_Technology_(IT)/Salary
 Bureau of Language Statistics. (2020). Occupational Outlook Handbook: Computer and Information Research Scientists. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-and-information-research-scientists.htm
 Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2020). Occupational Outlook Handbook: Computer Network Architects. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-network-architects.htm
 Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2020). Occupational Outlook Handbook: Software Developers, Quality Assurance Analysts, and Testers. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/software-developers.htm
 Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2020). Occupational Outlook Handbook: Information Security Analysts. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/information-security-analysts.htm
 Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2020) Occupational Outlook Handbook: Database Administrators and Architects. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/database-administrators.htm
 PayScale. (2021). Average Cybersecurity Analyst Salary. https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Cyber_Security_Analyst/Salary
 CompTIA. (n.d.). CompTIA Certifications. https://www.comptia.org/certifications
 Microsoft. (n.d.) Earn a Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) certification. https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/topic/earn-a-microsoft-technology-associate-mta-certification-357215d0-31ce-0620-feba-1bb60165b770
 Cisco. (n.d.). Cisco Certifications. https://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/training-events/training-certifications/certifications.html
 Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2021). Occupational Outlook Handbook: Computer and Information Technology Occupation. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/home.htm