Information technology analysts plan, install, test and maintain IT solutions for performance problems in a business. Common educational options for would-be IT analysts include bachelor's degree programs in information technology or computer science. Master of Business Administration (MBA) programs in information systems are also available. Unlike undergraduate programs in computer science and information technology, MBA programs in information systems include extensive business coursework. Graduates of bachelor's and master's programs are often prepared to take certification exams through computing organizations, like Microsoft and CompTIA. A high school diploma or equivalent is required for entry into the bachelor's program, while an appropriate bachelor's degree is required for entry into the master's program. Students may choose a traditional classroom option or an online option, with the possibility of an internship.
Bachelor's Degree in Information Technology
Undergraduate IT programs teach students to assist in the operation of a business. They generally include theory classes, as well as opportunities for hands-on and other practical experience. Students learn to develop an information system by mixing network elements, software, hardware and other relevant technologies. To do this, students might have to complete introductory courses in spreadsheets, databases, writing for the Web and statistics before beginning classes in their major.
In some IT programs, students are only required to complete an introductory course in information systems, a programming course and a few specific math courses, while choosing the remainder of their classes from a list of electives. Most programs, however, have numerous required courses, which might include:
- Algorithms and data structures
- Basics of databases
- Basics of networks
- Designing and operating websites
- Designing object-oriented software
- Operating systems
Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science
While most computer science (CS) jobs require a Ph.D., students who want to work as computer IT analysts can generally succeed with a bachelor's degree in the field. CS programs typically teach students to design, implement and apply computer systems.
Before officially beginning their major, students might need to complete an introduction to the C++ programming language, as well as courses in data structures and algorithms, computer organization and college writing. Coursework in a computer science program often includes some of the same classes required for an information technology degree. Courses unique to a computer science program might include:
- Computational math
- Computer languages principles
- Managing databases
- Principles of designing programs
- Programming application servers
- Security issues in detecting and preventing attacks
MBA with a Concentration in Information Systems
MBA programs in information technology focus first on business administration and second on information technology. With this dual focus, the number and type of IT courses will be less than in bachelor's programs. However, since more employers are looking for individuals with this degree, it could be a practical choice for those who have earned either of the bachelor's degrees discussed above. A few programs accept only students who reside in the state where the school is located. Required coursework that pertains to the IT focus might include:
- Approaches to IT management
- Developing information systems
- IT international issues
- New information technologies
- Planning enterprise architecture
- Using IT strategically
Popular Career Options
IT analyst careers for those with bachelor's degrees in information technology or computer science might include:
- IT business analyst
- IT compliance analyst
- IT help desk analyst
- IT resource analyst
- IT security analyst
Career options in information technology for those with an MBA might be broader than those available to graduates with bachelor's degrees in computer science or information technology. Some available careers are:
- Account manager of IT applications
- Data communications analyst
- Developer of delivery applications
- IT application consultant
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Due to a growing need for information security and increasing use of more complex computer technologies, the BLS expected 21% job growth in areas employing computer system analysts between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov). In May 2015, the average annual wage in this field was $90,180.
Another BLS category relevant to computer IT analysts is computer and information systems managers. Jobs in this area were predicted to grow 15% in the decade from 2014 to 2024, and May 2015 salaries averaged $141,000. A third applicable category - network and computer systems administrators - was anticipated to increase 8% in the same decade. Average salaries in May 2015 were $82,200.
There is no certification specifically for computer IT analysts, although particular careers for analysts might have one. For example, those working at an IT help desk might pursue the HDI Support Center Analyst credential. Most IT certification is for programming languages or software or related products. Examples of available credentials include Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP) and a number of IT-related certifications from Cisco. The National Computer Science Academy (NCSA) also offers a variety of certifications, including C++ Programming, Java Script, UNIX Operating System and Oracle 11g Database.
Bachelor's and master's degree programs in information technology (IT) are offered both online and in a traditional classroom setting. These programs prepare students to plan, install, test and maintain IT systems in a business or organizational environment.