7 Popular Computer Degrees for IT Jobs

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Updated 10/6/2020

When wondering what degree to get for an IT job, you should definitely consider these seven popular computer degrees:

  1. Information Technology and Information Systems

  2. Computer Science

  3. Information Science

  4. Systems & Network Administration

  5. Software Engineering

  6. Computer Engineering

  7. Cybersecurity

 

For each of these areas of study, you have the option of earning certifications or an associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree. You may even have the option of earning these in a traditional classroom setting at a university or online.

There was a time when getting a four-year degree wasn’t necessary for getting a good IT job. Simply having experience and certifications was more than good enough to get hired. That’s not the case anymore, even though there are more IT jobs available than ever before. Employers now require advanced education for qualification. But that’s okay, all you have to do is continue your education, and then you can count on becoming gainfully employed! 

 

Computer Degrees

What degree should you get for an IT job? With so many different computer degree options available, how do you know which is the right one for you to pursue? Well, we can’t answer those questions for you. Instead, we’ll go over the following seven computer degrees in detail so you can find the answers for yourself.

1. Information Technology and Information Systems

This is definitely the top computer degree choice if your goal is to excel in dealing with end-user computing, systems administration, and/or systems engineering because it covers all those aspects.

Classes include:

  • Introduction to UNIX

  • Windows Server Networking

  • Database Concepts

  • Web Design I & II

  • Fundamentals of Business Systems Development

2. Computer Science

Budding IT professionals commonly pursue this degree. That being said, a CS degree is not for everyone because it can be a difficult program, focusing on mathematics, programming, and computer theory.

Courses include:

  • Programming Principles

  • Algorithms

  • Logic & Computation

  • Data Structures

  • Calculus

3. Information Science

If you have a degree in Information Science, you’d be able to know (in great depth) how to manage and store data. Skilled professionals are needed by the government and private companies to electronically care for large quantities of confidential and highly valued data. 

Courses include: 

  • Intermediate Programming

  • Relational Database Concepts and Applications

  • Web Database Development

  • Computer Systems and Architecture

4. Computer Animation

Students in this discipline learn how to use algorithms and data structures to animate everything from online games to medical- and technical-related graphics and movies. 

Courses include:

  • Linear Programming and Convex Operations

  • Algorithmic Languages and Compilers

  • Lighting and Shading for Three-Dimensional Graphics

  • Video Game Production

  • Advanced Film Production

5. Software Engineering

Majoring in software engineering is a good move if you want to design and develop computer programs that meet users’ needs and solve real-world problems. 

Courses include:

  • Real-Time Operating Systems

  • Software Design

  • Web Programming

  • User Interface Software

  • Database Modeling Concepts

  • Testing, Analysis, and Verification

6. Computer Engineering

Computer engineers are primary contributors to advanced developments in communication and network technology. Their job is to design systems and devices that have a significant impact on the world, such as in the manufacturing, medical, transportation, and economic industries. 

Courses include:

  • Circuit Analysis and Laboratory

  • Software Design

  • Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

  • Large-Scale Distributed System Design

  • Electromagnetic Fields and Waves

  • Calculus of Several Variables

7. Cybersecurity

A cybersecurity degree teaches you how to create, operate, analyze, and test the security of computer systems. It also includes areas of interest like ethical hacking and digital forensics investigation. 

Courses include:

  • Information Assurance

  • Penetration Testing

  • Cyber-Physical Systems

  • Mathematical Cryptography

 

Which Type of IT Degree Should I Get?

There is a range of IT degree types you can aspire to get, each of which offers different benefits:

  1. Certification

  2. Associate degree

  3. Bachelor’s degree

  4. Master’s degree

  5. Doctoral degree

 

Once you know the area that interests you most, you still need to decide which type of degree you should get. Can you just get a certification? Is an associate degree enough to get you in the door? Do most employers require a bachelor’s degree? How much more advantageous is a master’s degree? Is there any reason to think about getting a doctoral degree?

Let’s break down each of these types so you can have a clearer idea of what you want.

IT Certification

IT Certifications can help anyone, anywhere in their career, progress in their skills, or learn entirely new ones. Certificate programs generally take weeks to complete and don’t have high associated costs. The downside is that certifications are typically not enough to stand on their own when trying to qualify for a specific job position.

Examples of certificates in computers and technology are:

IT Associate Degrees

An associate degree in IT allows graduates to qualify for entry-level tech jobs, such as in desktop publishing. Learning even the basics can help you get in the door at some companies, giving you valuable work experience in your chosen discipline.

Jobs often available to those with an associate degree are often in the gaming or graphic design sectors. There are many online associate degrees in the information technology realm, so it’s important to choose a college that is accredited and respected in the industry.

IT Bachelor’s Degrees 

Earning an IT bachelor’s degree opens a lot of doors, as this is usually the preferred minimum education required to qualify for many jobs. Whether you have a general computer science degree or a more specialized degree, you’re sure to get a job you want at a competitive wage. 

Your options are endless when it comes to majors in information tech and computing. Whatever area you want to focus on, there is a degree for it. 

IT Master’s Degrees

There aren’t as many IT master’s degree programs as bachelor’s programs, but holding a master’s degree in tech shows current and potential employers that you are serious about taking on advanced projects and managerial positions. Of course, along with having more responsibility comes a higher paycheck. 

IT master’s degree programs usually require two to three years to complete, but you can count on the investment paying off.

IT Doctoral Degree

If you have a doctoral degree in computers and technology, you are qualified for high-level research careers within education, government, and data-driven corporate organizations. Earning this degree is not quick, easy, or inexpensive, but if you want to be a professor or executive in the field, this is the path for you.

Do More Research

These are just a few examples of top degree choices for IT-related career fields. There are many others out there that would also further your education and help you land your dream job. That’s why you need to do a bit more research before you make your plan. One thing you could do is browse Pluralsight’s vast library of IT topics and even take some free courses before you commit to a four- to eight-year degree. At that juncture, you’ll need to:

  1. Decide what you love doing. Is there a particular subset of skills you want to focus on?

  2. Plan out your career and financial goals. Will a bachelor’s degree suffice. or do you want to climb the career ladder?

  3. Select a respectable and accredited school. Don’t choose a school just because you can get through the program quickly or because it has low tuition costs. The time and money you spend is an investment in your future.

  4. Get started and work hard!

 

In the end, when you walk across that stage to accept your diploma and head out into the job market, you can rest assured knowing your resume will sit at the top of the candidate pile.

 

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Contributor

Greg Stuart

Greg Stuart is a vExpert and systems administrator/network administrator by trade, who has worked a slew of IT jobs in his career. He's put his time in with certification training, obtaining A+, Network+, Security+, MCP, CCNA, VCP4, VCP5 and NCDA. He now works as an IT consultant and runs the blogs, vDestination and vLATAM.