If you’re a high school student who is keen to pursue a career in STEM, you may want to take a closer look at the information technology (IT) field. People commonly (and mistakenly) believe that IT is the same discipline as computer science. However, whereas computer science professionals typically specialize in building new systems, IT professionals specialize in installing and maintaining them. The IT field also focuses on how technology can be applied to improve business operations and efficiency.
What can you do with a degree in information technology? With an IT degree, you could pursue a wide range of careers. This career guide takes a look at some of your options.
Information Technology Degree Overview
A degree in information technology that focuses on the technical aspect of the field — rather than the managerial aspect — opens the door to a number of hands-on careers. Consider the following possibilities as you think about your career options.
Computer Systems Analyst
The main goal of a computer systems analyst is to study the current technology systems that an organization uses, and to identify ways of improving them. By implementing system improvements, a computer systems analyst can help an organization improve the efficiency of its daily operations. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook estimates job growth for computer system analysts to increase by about 7% from 2020 to 2030 — as fast as the average for all professions — accounting for an estimated increase of 42,800 jobs in the field.1
A technical architect is responsible for planning and developing IT systems for an organization in a way that allows the organization to work toward its mission. The technical architect may coordinate plans with company managers or executives to ensure that the IT system fits the needs of the company. Once the system is implemented, the technical architect monitors its performance and may troubleshoot problems.
What Can You Do With an Information Technology Degree in Management?
Some information technology degree programs may focus more on the entrepreneurial or managerial aspect of this field. If you decide to earn an IT degree with an emphasis in technology management, or an entrepreneurial studies degree with a concentration in technology management, then you have other options available to you. Take a look at the following career options.
IT Project Manager
An IT project manager is responsible for overseeing the life cycle of a project — from conception to launch. IT project managers must develop a budget, assemble a strong team, delegate responsibilities to team members, allocate resources, and ensure that each team member stays on track toward a timely completion. These professionals must have excellent attention to detail, but they must also be able to keep the “big picture” in focus.
Computer and Information Systems Manager
A computer and information systems manager establishes the IT goals of an organization and plans IT-related projects intended to meet those goals. These professionals plan and coordinate the work of IT specialists, such as computer systems analysts. Their work involves developing and tracking departmental budgets, identifying ways of improving the existing technology framework, negotiating with vendors and protecting the security of the IT systems.
It’s a great time to consider pursuing this career. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates job growth for computer and information systems managers to increase by 10% from 2019 to 2029, accounting for an estimated increase of 48,100 jobs in the field.2
At an IT company, a sales manager is responsible for directing and overseeing the team that executes technology-related sales. These professionals must develop the overall corporate strategy for the sales team and ensure that the team has the resources they need to meet sales targets. The sales manager is always on the lookout for ways of optimizing sales and improving the process of negotiating contracts and terms with clients.
If you’ve decided to earn a degree in entrepreneurial studies with an emphasis in technology management, one logical career path would be to launch your own tech startup. Becoming an entrepreneur can be risky, but it can also be highly rewarding.
entrepreneurs typically look for a business idea that disrupts the current industry in some way. To be successful and sustainable, a business idea usually needs to solve some sort of problem that many people experience, or it needs to improve some aspect of daily life. When brainstorming ideas, think about the problems that you’ve encountered in everyday life, and consider what particular issues you’re passionate about.
For instance, perhaps you’re passionate about addressing the environmental crisis. You may want to create an app that would allow people to easily locate recycling drop-off points or connect with green energy companies in their area to get quotes on installing solar panels. Or, if you’re passionate about travel, perhaps you could create a tech solution that would allow people to more easily navigate unfamiliar airports.
The sky is the limit for an IT entrepreneur — just remember, though, that you’ll need more than a great idea. You’ll also need a good team of competent, dedicated people around you, a solid business plan, and funding. These are issues that you can reflect upon as you work through your entrepreneurial and technology management classes.
Earn Your Information Technology Degree
No matter which career path suits you best, your first step is to earn your bachelor’s degree. You can expect an information technology degree to require four years of full-time study. If you choose a traditional IT degree that focuses on technical skills — rather than managerial or entrepreneurial competencies — you can expect to study topics such as the following:
- Principles of how networks work, with a look at LANs, WANs, packets, hubs, routers, internet protocols and switches
- System administration and maintenance as well as platform technologies
- Advanced router and switch configuration
- System architecture through the lens of information security, covering topics such as data encryption, ethical issues, operational issues and attack types
- Cloud computing solutions, including migration strategies
Although this type of technology degree would largely focus on the tech itself, you may also take a course or two in IT project management. When you graduate, you’ll be well qualified to pursue an IT career that involves hands-on technical work.
On the other hand, if you’ve decided to earn a degree that focuses on technology management, you’ll spend less time on technical competencies and more time on managerial principles. The curriculum for this type of degree program might include the following:
- Entrepreneurial pursuits that offer innovative solutions to real-world challenges
- Models and practices in domestic and international marketing, with a look at conducting market research and understanding consumer behaviors
- Funding start-ups, focusing on venture capitalists and angel investors as well as how these groups decide whether to back a new venture
- The development of business plans and strategic management competencies
You’ll have the opportunity to take some electives while you’re working toward your technology management degree. It’s a good idea to take as many electives as possible in information technology classes, and you may want to take a computer science or programming course, as well.
Essential Skills and Characteristics for Information Technology Professionals
Information technology professionals and technology entrepreneurs can benefit from cultivating the following skills and characteristics:
- Communication abilities
- Analytical reasoning and critical thinking
- Collaborative teamwork
- Emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills
- Attention to detail
- Organizational skills and project management
- Innovative and ethical problem-solving
You can begin working toward a rewarding future in information technology when you apply for enrollment at Grand Canyon University. The Bachelor of Science in Entrepreneurial Studies with an Emphasis in Technology Management degree program combines forward-thinking competencies in entrepreneurialism with foundational knowledge in technology management.
1COVID-19 has adversely affected the global economy and data from 2020 may be atypical compared to prior years. The pandemic may impact the predicted future workforce outcomes indicated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as well. Accordingly, data shown is based on September 2021, which can be found here: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Computer Systems Analysts, retrieved on 03/04/2022.
2COVID-19 has adversely affected the global economy and data from 2020 may be atypical compared to prior years. The pandemic may impact the predicted future workforce outcomes indicated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as well. Accordingly, data shown is based on 2019, which can be found here: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Computer and Information Systems Managers
Approved by the Academic Program Coordinator for the Colangelo College of Business on Dec. 6, 2022.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.