Training programs related to data technology prepare students to use computers and technology to manage information. Education programs that cover this topic are available in a variety of fields, including computer science, information technology and health information technology. Associate's degrees are usually in healthcare information technology.
At the bachelor's level, students could consider Bachelor of Science (BS) in Computer Science programs. These 4-year programs include programming and coding courses that prepare students to create programs that store, organize and manage information. The programs often include hands-on training experiences, and students may be required to complete a capstone project. Admission to either an associate's or bachelor's degree program requires a high school diploma or equivalent.
Master of Science (MS) in Information Technology programs can also prepare students to create data technology systems, and some programs are available with an emphasis in database systems technology. Master's programs require a bachelor's degree in a related area or with prerequisite coursework. Applicants may also be required to have previous experience in the field.
Associate Degree in Health Information Technology
These associate degree programs are typically focused on IT's particular uses in the healthcare industry, and may award such degree titles as the Associate of Science (AS) or Associate in Applied Science (AAS). These 2-year programs often require clinical training at an approved healthcare facility.
These degree programs can train students generally in basic computer problem solving, networking, database management, website construction and program coding. More specific topics may examine healthcare information systems and related business practices such as the electronic record-keeping of medical bills, reimbursements and service deliveries. Due to their focus on healthcare, programs may also require coursework in physiology, anatomy and medical terminology. Common topics include:
- Coding for ambulatory care
- Compliance and legal issues
- Healthcare statistics
- Healthcare delivery
- Medical billing and reimbursement methods
- Electronic medical records
Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
Bachelor's degree programs in computer science take four years to complete, and train students to understand computer languages and to master the coding and programming skills for creating software. Capstone projects may offer students the opportunity to design complex applications.
Students can learn about computation theory, computer operating systems, databases, software engineering and testing, algorithms and data structures. Specific topics often covered include the Java, C++ and Basic programming languages, artificial intelligence and graphics programming. Programs also require mathematical coursework in calculus, probability and statistics. Common topics include:
- Computer architecture
- Programming methods and web development
- Data structures
- Computation theory
- Artificial intelligence
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Master of Science in Information Technology
Master's degree programs are often designed for IT professionals who are currently working and may be completed in two years. These programs use laboratory coursework to train students in the design and implementation of secure database systems that can share information and mine data. Some programs may allow for specific concentration options in database systems technology.
These programs usually blend topics in computer science, electrical engineering and business, while permitting students to concentrate in areas such as software design, technology management or network security. Additional topics may draw upon areas such as finance, economics, law and marketing. Topics may include:
- Relational databases
- Communications networks
- Data mining and data warehousing
- Marketing strategies
- Wireless technology
Popular Career Options
With a BS in Computer Science, students are qualified to pursue careers in programming, software development, systems administration and database management. Possible titles include:
- Software engineer
- C++ programmer
- Systems analyst
- Computer graphics designer
Most master's degree students already work in IT for educational institutions, consulting firms, technology companies and manufacturers. Common job titles after graduation may include:
- Enterprise architect
- Database administrator
- Network security specialist
- Senior engineer
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Individuals completing an associate degree program can be qualified to work as medical records or health information technicians within medical offices. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment growth for these professionals was expected to increase by 15% from 2014 to 2024. In 2015, the BLS reported that workers in this field earned a median annual salary of $37,110. In many cases, employers prefer that a prospective employee hold certification as a Registered Health Information Technician, which can be earned through the American Health Information Management Association.
Continuing Education Information
After obtaining a MS, students may choose to pursue the terminal Doctor of Philosophy (PhD.) in Information Technology. This degree is particularly suited for students interested in academic and research-oriented careers in the public, private and nonprofit sectors.
Information technology and computer science degree programs are available for all levels of expertise, and allow students to explore this large, complex and essential field. As such, graduates holding these degrees may be able to find a focus that interests them while reasonably expecting job security.