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Information Technology Major Overview

Were you the “computer guy” that all your teachers could rely on growing up? Or, maybe you helped solve any computer problems your parents couldn’t quite figure out? Either way, if you’re interested in computers and you enjoy fixing their issues, you might want to consider majoring in Information Technology! 

Keep on reading to learn everything you need to know about the IT major, including typical coursework, popular jobs for IT majors, and the salaries for those jobs.

Also see: Top college majors for the future

What is an Information Technology (IT) major?

IT majors are all about data. Those who major in the subject will learn how to protect, accept, send off, and store data. Learning all this information teaches IT majors how to maintain and improve the computer networks of an organization, and ultimately prepares them for their future careers. Since most fields and industries require computers to communicate and store information, IT majors can choose from a wide variety of fields once they graduate. 

IT majors will also have a large number of jobs available to them post-graduation. Why, you ask? Well, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Information Technology jobs are projected to grow 11% between 2019 and 2029! The increased need for large data sets and cybersecurity measures largely drives this demand for IT professionals. This makes life easier for IT majors after graduation.

Coursework to expect

While in college, IT majors take a wide variety of classes. They will start with general education courses like English, literature, and history. IT majors will also take a number of computer and cybersecurity courses specific to the major. And, as they will likely be working with businesses and organizations in their careers, IT majors take a few business and project management courses. Altogether, these courses will not only help IT majors gain the necessary computer expertise they will need for their jobs, but also the business and organizational skills needed to make everything run smoothly. Without further ado, here are some of the (major-specific) courses that IT majors may encounter during college:

  • Information Technology Infrastructure
  • Database management
  • Cybersecurity
  • Information Systems Design
  • Web Design
  • Programming
  • Database Management
  • Business Administration
  • Organizational Behavior
  • Project Management

If some of these courses seem akin to what you might take as a computer science (CS) major, that’s because the majors have some similarities (and differences)! For one, majors in both Information Technology and Computer Science work with computers. However, IT majors focus more on maintaining and operating computer systems and networks. Meanwhile, CS majors use mathematics and coding to make systems run more efficiently. To learn more about the computer science major, check out our Computer Science Major Overview (and the Top Computer Science Scholarships!).

Opportunities after graduation

You now know a little about what IT majors study in college, but what exactly can you do with an IT degree after graduating? Great question! As mentioned before, while those with IT degrees can work in a wide variety of industries, they will likely be doing similar, computer-based work in many of them. So, if you don’t necessarily see yourself working with computers and computer systems, we might recommend a different major. If you enjoy working with computers, though, here are some jobs you can potentially get with a degree in information technology:

  • Computer systems analyst
  • Cybersecurity consultant
  • Software development specialist
  • Computer network architect
  • Database administrator
  • Information security analyst

Jobs you can get with an Information Technology degree

IT majors acquire a variety of skills during their time in college which make them adaptable to a wide variety of careers. Such analytical, organizational, communication, and computer skills that one picks up while majoring in Information Technology are often seen as desirable by companies and employers, allowing IT majors to pursue many options post-graduation. But what exactly are some of those jobs, and how much do they make? Without further ado, here are some of the jobs (and their salaries) that can be secured with a degree in information technology (with data straight from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)!

1. Computer and Information Research Scientists

Computer and Information Research Scientists closely examine computing problems, collaborating with scientists and engineers to develop theories to address such issues. They also determine computing needs, develop new computing languages and systems, and test how software systems operate. Using the results from their tests, Computer and Information Research Scientists then write research papers and publish their findings. A master’s degree is typically required to become a Computer and Information Research Scientist.

2020 Median Pay: $126,830 per year
Projected Growth (2019-2029): 15% (much faster than average)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

2. Information Security Analysts

Information Security Analysts’ work focuses mostly on cybersecurity. Besides monitoring an organization’s networks for any security breaches, Information Security Analysts also actively install software and other programs that will protect important information. They document any security breaches and also run tests to see how such protective software will hold up against an actual cyberattack. The majority of Information Security Analysts hold a bachelor’s degree and have some prior experience in a related profession.

2020 Median Pay: $103,590 per year
Projected Growth (2019-2029): 31% (much faster than average)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

3. Computer Support Specialists

There are two types of Computer Support Specialists: Computer Network Support Specialists and Computer User Support Specialists. While Computer Network Support Specialists examine, troubleshoot, and assess computer network problems, Computer User Support Specialists are the on-call employees who answer customers’ questions about computer problems they’re experiencing. While some Computer Support Specialist positions require a bachelor’s degree, others require an associate degree.

2020 Median Pay: $55,510 per year
Projected Growth (2019-2029): 8% (much faster than average)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

4. Network and Computer Systems Administrators

Network and Computer Systems Administrators determine the needs of an organization’s computer systems, installing software and hardware as they see necessary. When not installing new software, they simply maintain such systems, making sure that they’re secure and that everything is running as it should. While the majority of Network and Computer Science Administrators hold a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field, some only have an associate  degree.

2020 Median Pay: $84,810 per year
Projected Growth (2019-2029): 4% (as fast as average)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Frequently asked questions

Is it worth getting an IT degree?

Yes (as long as you’re interested in the field)! Not only does studying Information Technology teach you valuable computer, problem solving, and communication skills, but an IT degree will also help you find a lucrative career post-graduation. As mentioned before, a wide range of positions are available to those who majored in Information Technology, with many of those careers paying an average salary over $100,000. These positions also often have high job growth rates, as tech careers tend to be among some of the fastest growing jobs.

How stressful are IT jobs?

Unfortunately, Information Technology jobs do tend to be on the more stressful side. While this will differ from person-to-person, a 2015 survey found that 78% of IT workers surveyed found their job stressful. Some of the cited reasons for such stress included having to work overtime, missing social events, and losing sleep. While this may be sad to hear, it’s important to know for those looking to major in IT. To combat the stress that may come with an IT job, we highly recommend that you’re actually passionate about the subject before deciding to major in it! This will hopefully make the duties (and stresses) that come with IT jobs more tolerable.

How do I know if Information Technology is right for me?

Knowing whether or not you’re majoring in the right subject is tricky. Even after being in college for multiple semesters or years, it is not uncommon for students to wonder whether they truly enjoy their major. However, many students also love their majors, and end up sticking with the same one for their entire college experience. So, if you’re thinking about majoring in Information Technology, ask yourself these questions first:

  • Are you interested in computer systems and networks?
  • Do you value finding new solutions to problems?
  • Are you passionate about cybersecurity?
  • Do you enjoy working with computers?

If you answered “yes” to the majority of these questions, then an IT major may be a great choice for you! We hope that you love it, but if you don’t, remember that switching majors is always an option (and far more common than you think!). Either way, we wish you the best. Good luck in college!

See Also: How to pick a major