As technology weaves its way into our economy and ingrains itself in our industries, organizations, and personal lives, there is a growing need for individuals who understand the inner workings of technology and how to use it in an efficient, effective manner.
Information Technology (IT) Management professionals connect businesses and organizations with the technology that allows them to meet their goals and to thrive. It only makes sense that as trends in technology grow, there is a growing need for people who not only understand technology, but also understand businesses and the people who work to make them successful.
THE CAREER PATH
An online IT management degree is perfect for individuals seeking a job that mixes their people-management skills with their interest in technology. While the general concept of IT management is consistent across the board, the IT manager role will be slightly different depending on the position:
- Chief Information Officer (CIO) – Determine goals, and strategize the appropriate implementation of technology in order to meet those goals
- Chief Technology Officer (CTO) – Design, evaluate, and recommend the appropriate technology solutions for an organization
- Information Technology Directors – Run the logistics of an IT department, such as the finances, employees, and activities
- Information Technology Security Managers – Oversee network and data security protocol, threats, and investigations
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, IT managers earn around $131,600 a year, on average. Most professionals enter the field with a bachelor’s in IT management or another field related to the computer sciences. Occasionally, a master’s degree in computer science or business can be beneficial for those seeking to further their career.
The management aspects of this career path means that competitiveness is gained through relevant experience in the profession. A position in IT Management usually involves a lot of moving up through the ranks. Fortunately, it should not be difficult to collect experience in the coming years, as IT management positions are expected to grow by 15% in the next decade.
WHO IS THE IDEAL CANDIDATE?
While the various types of IT management requires different skills and responsibilities, almost all IT managers must be analytical, business-minded leaders. Regardless of the industry or the focus of the organization, IT management involves planning, coordinating, and directing computer related activities in a variety of environments.
Individuals who are interested in a career in IT management must be prepared for the following tasks:
- Ensuring the security of an organization’s network and documents
- Researching and proposing IT projects to the organization’s top executives
- Planning and directing the work of systems/security analysts, software developers, and support specialists
- Learning about new technology and keeping organizational systems up to date
Before setting your professional goals in IT management, it is imperative to hone your skills in communication, organization, in addition to establishing a thorough foundation of technical understanding.
WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR?
Opportunities in IT management typically demand a bachelor’s degree at the minimum and many years of experience in related fields. An educational background in the computer sciences as well as in business administration could be equally helpful in preparing yourself for this particular career path.
If you already have an idea of what you would like to focus on within the IT management field, it would be best to start out by seeking experience in similar areas; for example, if you are certain that you would like to manage the security portion of an IT department, look for online IT management degrees with a focus in security.
While searching for the right program to get started with, you should seek out one that caters to your interests, while also providing you with the knowledge necessary to succeed. Regionally accredited online colleges will allow for the greatest flexibility with your credits should you ever need to transfer schools. Some programs may hold additional accreditation from The Association of Technology, Management, and Applied Engineering (ATMAE).
The best programs will include courses that cover topics such as:
- Network and Security
- Business Law and Ethics
- Information Technology Fundamentals
- Data Management
- Quantitative Analysis for Business
When researching programs, make sure that you get as much bang for your buck as possible. Keep an eye out for things like capstone projects, which may help you gain experience or job opportunities. Some schools may allow you to add on additional credits to complete a certificate in Project Management, Enterprise Architecture, or IT Governance that may add value to your resume.
Cost varies depending on whether you choose a private school versus public university, the resources that are offered, and the narrowness of your specialization. Our rankings reveal that the average cost of an online bachelor's in computer science is just under $50,000. However, the most affordable degrees cost under $20,000. Use these figures as benchmarks as you do your research. Keep in mind that books are not included in the tuition estimates, and that additional certificates may add to the price.