Fully online information technology associate's degree programs are readily available. These programs cover the basics of computer hardware and software, networking and information security. Some programs may require a supervised IT internship arranged at a site that meets the approval of the host school. Web-design classes may required specific software.
Graduates may be prepared for jobs as computer support specialists, Web designers and database administrators. Some programs may prepare individuals to take certification tests through Microsoft or Cisco.
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Associate's Degree in Information Technology
Associate of Arts degrees are more commonly granted in liberal arts and humanities fields than in science, technology, engineering and math fields like information technology, which focuses on computer support. While a few community colleges offer an Associate of Arts in Information Technology, online A.A. in Information Technology programs are rare; distance learning students are likelier to find IT associate's degrees offered as an A.S. or A.A.S. The programs are generally geared toward students who have no prior computer science education.
Program Information and Requirements
An associate's degree generally takes about two years to complete, though some online associate's degree in information technology programs can be completed in 16 months of full-time study. Students work independently and collaborate with classmates on Web design and networking projects to practice the principles outlined in the virtual lectures and written lessons. Most IT associate's degree programs mirror the school's semester schedule without the set class times each week, though professors may have regular virtual office hours for students to contact them by phone or chat about questions on course material.
Online information technology associate's degree curricula require few specialized programs or hardware, though students may need Adobe Dreamweaver for Web design classes. A printer and CD- ROM drive are necessary for some course elements. A student's computer system should have a broadband connection and updated Flash, Adobe and QuickTime plugins to display all course media correctly.
Online information technology associate's degree programs require general education courses in math, science and psychology that prepare graduates for dealing with the human users of IT systems, as well as the technical aspects of the systems themselves. Information technology courses comprise about half of the program and are accessed through Web-based virtual classrooms.
An online information technology associate's degree program generally starts off with a basic programming course covering types of programming and the software application development process. Students may learn programming languages like C++.
Computer networking courses introduce networking protocols and types of hard-wired and wireless network connectivity, along with the hardware and software for local area network (LAN), wide area network (WAN) and wireless networking. Students plan out a LAN and WAN.
Students in Web design courses concentrate on designing, building and maintaining Web pages using HTML, XHTML, DHTML and Adobe Dreamweaver. They focus on website layout, navigation and usability.
System Design and Security
System design and security courses cover security measures for both digital information and the physical computer hardware, with discussion of IT laws and ethics. Students learn system vulnerabilities and contingency planning to minimize the impact of security breaches.
Online information technology associate's degree programs train graduates for entry-level careers as computer support specialists, though other jobs may be possible as well. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer support specialists earned a median salary of $51,470 as of 2015. The BLS projected faster-than-average employment growth for computer support specialists, with a 12% increase in jobs anticipated over the 2014-2024 decade.
Continuing Education Information
Online schools may offer transferable Associate of Science or Associate of Arts in Information Technology programs; graduates of the programs transfer through articulation agreements to a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology program at an affiliated 4-year school. Online associate's degree programs also prepare graduates for IT certification from CompTIA, Cisco or Microsoft.
Online information technology associate's degree programs prepare students to pursue professional certification and/or entry-level employment in computer support occupations. Courses typically cover networking, programming and systems design; students must be present for internships.