If you're interested in working with computers and data — and if you're looking for a degree that can open the doors of opportunity in many different disciplines — then an information technology (IT) degree may be right for you. Specifically, IT is a field that encompasses several industries, ranging from computer science and information science to cybersecurity and software development. 


So, what can you do with an information technology degree and how can you make the most of your career? There are a few things to keep in mind as you consider whether an IT degree and career path may be right for your interests and professional goals. 

Exploring the Scope of an Information Technology Degree 

As the world grows more interconnected and relies more heavily on computers and networking, the need for experienced and skilled IT professionals only continues to rise. Today, IT is very much an interdisciplinary field, and you'd be hard-pressed to find an industry that doesn't rely on IT in some way. 

Growing Importance of Information Technology 

In numerous ways, information technology keeps businesses running across a wide range of industries daily. Businesses of all scopes and sizes rely on computers and networks for everything from communication (such as emails and social media) to data storage, banking, and much more. As a result, there is a serious need for IT professionals who can keep computer systems always running smoothly and efficiently. 

Also consider the enormous amount of data now generated online. According to recent estimates, more than 328 million terabytes of new data is generated each day across the globe. With so much data floating around, there also comes a need for increased cybersecurity. This is yet another area where IT professionals come into play, ensuring that data is stored safely and securely. 

Critical Skills Acquired With an IT Degree 

While no two IT programs are exactly alike, there are some essential skills (both hard and soft skills) that graduates should walk away from an IT program possessing. Some examples of more technical skills that may be acquired in an IT degree program include: 

  • Proficiency in cybersecurity, including data encryption practices and risk mitigation. 
  • Knowledge of different programming languages, including Python and C++. 
  • Data analysis skills, such as the use of SQL and complex statistics. 
  • Understanding of cloud computing platforms (like Google Cloud and AWS) and how they work. 
  • Knowledge of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI). 
  • Proficiency in systems and networking, including different operating systems and applications. 

In addition to these technical skills, IT graduates should also sharpen the following soft skills as part of their degree programs: 

  • Communication (written and verbal) 
  • Problem-solving 
  • Analytical skills 
  • Critical thinking 
  • Collaboration and teamwork 
  • Time management 
  • Project management 

Different Career Paths in Information Technology 

You might be wondering, "what can I do with an information technology degree?" 

The good news is that there are plenty of career paths to choose from, depending on where your interests and professional goals lie. Below is just a sampling of some of the most common careers in IT to consider for yourself. 

Software Development and Engineering 

Many IT degree holders go on to work as software developers or software engineers, where they are responsible for designing computer programs or software applications. Per data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for software developers in the United States is expected to grow by 25 percent between 2022 and 2032 alone. This also comes with a projected employment change of more than 451,000 during that time period. 

Systems Analysis 

IT and computer systems analysts are responsible for studying the computer systems within a business or organization and coming up with recommendations to improve their efficiency and operations. Per the BLS, the job outlook for computer systems analysts will grow by 10 percent between 2022 and 2032, which is much faster than the average growth for all occupations. 

Data Science and Big Data Analysis 

Data scientists and data analysts use special tools and methods to gain insights from large data sets. That information can then be used to make recommendations to businesses, organizations, and individuals alike. This field is growing rapidly with a high demand among IT professionals. In fact, the job outlook for data scientists is projected to grow by 35 percent by 2032. 

Network Architecture and Administration 

Many IT degree holders go on to work as network and computer systems administrators or architects. They handle important tasks such as the configuration and maintenance of a company's computer systems and networks. 

Web Development 

The need for skilled web developers continues to grow across all sectors, with BLS data projecting a growth of 16 percent between 2022 and 2032. These professionals are responsible for developing and maintaining websites from the ground up, ensuring that they are user-friendly and easy to navigate. 

Information Security and Cybersecurity 

As the threat of cyber attacks continues to grow, so does the demand for qualified information security and cybersecurity professionals. In fact, the demand for information security analysts is projected to grow by 32 percent between 2022 and 2032, with an expected employment change of more than 53,000. 

Degrees and Certifications in Information Technology 

Depending on where your interests lie, there are several different degree options and additional designations you might explore in IT. 

Overview of Various IT Degrees 

Generally, IT degrees are available at both the undergraduate and graduate level. An associate degree in IT is generally the first step after obtaining a high school diploma or equivalent, with these degree programs usually taking around one to two years to complete. This kind of degree program can offer a great introduction to the field while potentially qualifying you for some entry-level IT positions. 

Another undergraduate degree option to consider in IT is that of a bachelor's degree, which usually takes around four years to complete (depending on your enrollment status). If you already have an associate degree in IT under your belt, you may be able to transfer your existing credits from your previous program to complete your bachelor's degree even faster. 

If you already have a bachelor's degree in IT or a related field and are looking to pursue a more advanced degree, then a master's in IT may be right for you. Typically, these programs consist of around 31 credit hours and are designed to take about two years to complete. The curriculum of a master's degree program is more rigorous and may include coursework in such topics as business intelligence, database systems, and organizational leadership. Having an advanced degree in IT can be a great way to open more potential career opportunities, especially those in leadership and/or management. 

Key IT Certifications and Their Benefits 

A degree in IT is an excellent starting point to a rewarding career in this industry. However, the IT field is constantly changing and increasingly competitive, so even once you have your degree, you should never stop learning. Specifically, pursuing additional certifications and designations in your field can be a great way to set yourself apart in the job market while gaining new skills and knowledge. 

So, what are some of the best certifications to pursue in IT? It really boils down to your interests and career goals, but some of the most popular certifications in IT include: 

  • Google Cloud - Professional Data Engineer 
  • Project Management Professional (PMP) 
  • AWS Certified Security 
  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) 
  • Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) 

The requirements for obtaining additional certifications in IT can vary, but typically involve taking an online course or workshop and passing a certification exam. In some cases, certification may need to be renewed every so often as well. 

Industries Leveraging Information Technology 

With IT being so heavily integrated into our everyday lives, we're now seeing a number of industries leveraging IT to their full potential. Here are just a few examples of sectors where information technology is being used to improve operational efficiency, maximize data security, and streamline processes. 

IT in Healthcare 

The field of healthcare information technology is rapidly growing, especially as more healthcare facilities make the shift from paper documents to digital storage of things like patient forms and sensitive medical data. With this comes a greater need for solid health information management that follows privacy laws (such as HIPAA) and compliance regulations. As a result, healthcare facilities are regularly looking for IT professionals to assist with things like cybersecurity, data storage, hardware/software solutions, and more. 

IT in Business and Finance 

The role of IT is also becoming more pronounced across the business and finance fields, especially as more businesses turn to IT professionals for assistance with things like cloud computing, data management, safeguarding information, and application development. Meanwhile, IT experts can help the finance sector improve security and streamline operations while enhancing the overall client experience. 

IT in Manufacturing 

The manufacturing sector also relies on a wide range of IT services to improve operations and maximize success. For example, consider the increased use of Internet of Things (IoT) devices in the manufacturing field. To successfully implement and maintain these devices, IT professionals are often brought in. At the same time, IT experts can enhance cybersecurity by protecting sensitive data and intellectual property among manufacturing businesses. All of this, combined with the use of IT for data analytics and decision-making, makes manufacturing a viable field for many IT professionals looking to put their skills to use. 

IT in Education 

With more colleges and universities offering online degree programs, there is an increased need for robust IT services to keep these programs running smoothly and securely. In some ways, the use of IT can support and promote learning diversity while making degree and certification programs more accessible to a wide audience. Simultaneously, IT improves interaction among students using such tools as live video conferencing software, web design editors, and the like. 

Future Prospects of IT Careers 

The IT industry has evolved significantly over the past several decades, and it is constantly changing even today. If you're planning to get into IT, you'll need to be committed to ongoing learning and professional development to stay on top of the latest changes and innovations. 

Advancements and Innovations in IT 

So, what are some of the latest advancements and trends in IT? One of the most notable is the increased availability of AI tools and machine learning. More than ever, IT professionals will be expected to be able to work with emerging AI technologies in their everyday work. 

Meanwhile, the use of IoT devices is likely to continue increasing. These interconnected devices can help streamline operations while improving efficiency across businesses of all sizes. However, because they also come with some inherent security weaknesses, IT professionals need to be able to design and implement secure IoT systems for the best results. 

In-Demand IT Jobs in the Future 

With so many career opportunities to explore in IT, you may be wondering what some of the most in-demand jobs in the coming years will be. While nobody can predict the future, it is believed that some of the most in-demand IT jobs in 2024 and beyond will include: 

  • Systems security manager 
  • Cloud/network architect 
  • IT director 
  • Big data engineer 
  • Data scientist 

Making the Most of Your IT Degree 

Ultimately, your IT degree is only what you make of it. Having a degree alone is an important aspect of breaking into the competitive and dynamic IT field. That said, there are some additional steps you should take (such as earning relevant certifications and designations) that can help you make the most of your degree. 

How Can an IT Degree Pave the Way for a Successful Career? 

Having an IT degree can pave the way for a more successful career in a few ways. While it is possible to be ‘self-taught’ and break into some entry-level IT jobs without a formal degree, the reality is that having a formal education can enhance your career opportunities and earning potential. In the interim, a degree can help you work your way up the ladder in your career, potentially qualifying you for promotions or other opportunities that you may not be considered for without a degree. 

Explore Information Technology Degrees at University of the Cumberlands 

Whether you're interested in IT work in healthcare, education, finance, or anywhere in between, gaining the foundational skills and knowledge that you need to thrive as an IT professional begins with the right degree. 

At University of the Cumberlands, we're proud to offer both undergraduate and graduate degree programs in information technology. This includes an associate degree in IT, a bachelor's degree in IT, and even a master's in information technology to suit your interests. No matter where you may be on your professional journey, our on-campus and online programs are 100% student-centered. 

Learn more about the IT degree programs offered at University of the Cumberlands, as well as the support and resources we have in place for our students, by reaching out. Ready to apply? You can get started online now.