Best Online Associate in Information Technology Programs

An associate in technology prepares graduates for further education or entry-level positions. Read on to learn about requirements, resources, and careers.

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by Sharon Wilfong

Published on March 15, 2022 · Updated on April 26, 2022

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An associate degree in information technology provides a foundation in web development and database management fundamentals. Many students attend a community college because these two-year institutions typically offer learners an affordable postsecondary education. After completing their associate degree, graduates may continue to a four-year university, find entry-level work, or do both.

Online associate degrees are not necessarily less expensive than their on-campus counterparts. However, there are multiple benefits to choosing an online associate in information technology program. For example, the best online colleges offer flexible schedules, financial aid, and the program may take less time to complete. Students can also save on expenses related to on-campus housing or transportation.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects employment in computer and information technology occupations will grow 13% between 2020 and 2030. That's around 667,600 new jobs in areas such as cloud computing, collecting and storing big data, and information security. Additionally, the BLS says in May 2020, the median annual wage for computer and information technology occupations was $91,250.

What Can I Expect From an Online Associate in Information Technology Program?

Analytical thinking, excellent organization, communication, and leadership skills make learners good candidates for an associate in information technology. Online programs may also require some experience with digital technology, computer software, and even cloud computing. Learners should consider their previous academic and work experience and long-term career goals when choosing a program.

An associate degree typically takes around 60 credit hours. Students can complete an on-campus or online associate degree in information technology program in about two years, taking classes full-time. There are also accelerated programs that take anywhere from 12-18 months to graduate.

Part-time programs can take over three years to complete but might be an excellent option for working professionals. Plus, there are different tracks available to students considering an online associate in information technology. An associate of science (AS) degree is a 2-year transfer degree offered at a community college or four-year university.

Students with an AS can transfer credits and save money on a bachelor's in information technology. On the other hand, an associate of applied science (AAS) is a technical degree, preparing students for employment after graduation. Consequently, AAS credits don't usually transfer to a bachelor's program as easily as AS transfer credits.

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Popular Online Information Technology Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

What Courses Will I Take in an Online Associate in Information Technology Program?

Introduction to Information Technology

Students explore the fundamentals of computer software, hardware, networks, and operating systems. Topics include computer configuration, software installation, troubleshooting, and administration. Additionally, students learn about best practices, ethics, and security concepts.

Fundamentals of Web Development

This foundational course in web technology covers standard tools for website development, user-centered design, and creating web documents. Emphasis is often on coding with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript and using XML and SVG applications.

Database Management

Studies provide an introduction to data management systems, data models, query languages like SQL, and parallel data processing. Topics include database concepts, such as updating and deleting data and writing queries to retrieve and insert data.

Web Programming

Students typically get a hands-on learning experience to help them develop skills to write client-side web applications. Studies include JavaScript programming and manipulating XHTML documents to create rich interactive user interfaces.

Network Infrastructure Management

Learners gain knowledge and hands-on skills in designing and troubleshooting network infrastructures. Topics include DNS name resolution, routers, switches, routing protocol, and VLANs in physical and virtual environments.

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What Are the Admission Requirements for an Online Associate in Information Technology Program?

Admission requirements for an online associate degree in information technology vary based on the program. However, a high school diploma is typically required. Adults who didn't finish high school can usually submit a GED certificate in place of a high school diploma.

Most colleges require college entrance exams to measure writing, verbal, math, and analytical skills. They may also want letters of recommendation that illustrate a student's readiness for the program. Additionally, applicants typically write college application essays to help admission departments understand their goals and expectations and demonstrate their writing ability.

Today, many schools offer college credit for life and work experience, making higher education more affordable and accessible. Life and work credits award college credit based on a student's credentials, professional training, test results, and other life experiences.

What Can I Do With an Online Associate in Information Technology Degree?

Career Outlook

Computer and information technology occupations are in demand, according to the BLS. Not only that, but these types of careers span across industries, so professionals often specialize. An associate degree may help candidates land entry-level positions, but experience and a bachelor's degree will make them more competitive.

The thing is, while the industry as a whole is growing, the BLS projects certain jobs to grow at a faster rate. Still, regardless of which career path graduates take, an associate in information technology is a foundational degree. And, pursuing an associate degree gives students time to explore potential career paths.

For example, students might want to choose a specialization as a computer support specialist to start. These entry-level positions provide an excellent foundation to begin a career.

See where an associate in information technology degree can take you. Learn more about technology careers.

Career Paths

Computer Support Specialists

Computer support specialists help support computer networks or directly assist computer users. While a bachelor’s degree is required for some computer support specialist positions, an associate degree may be enough for others. The BLS projects 9% growth between 2020 and 2030, with around 70,400 openings projected each year over the decade.

Median Annual Salary (May 2020): $55,510

Industrial Engineering Technologists and Technicians

Industrial engineering technologists and technicians typically work with engineers to solve manufacturing production problems, design workflows, and analyze production costs. These jobs usually require an associate’s degree or a postsecondary certificate. The BLS projects 4% growth between 2020 and 2030, with around 6,300 projected openings each year over the decade.

Median Annual Salary (May 2020): $57,320

Web Developers and Digital Designers

Web developers create and maintain websites, and digital designers focus on looks and interface functionality. Depending on the position, entry-level jobs may require a high school diploma, associate degree, or bachelor's degree. A bootcamp certificate may also help a developer or designer secure a job. The BLS projects 13% growth from 2020 to 2030, with around 17,900 openings projected each year over the decade.

Median Annual Salary (May 2020): $77,200

Network and Computer Systems Administrators

Network and computer systems administrators oversee computer networks in many industries, from healthcare to government. A bachelor’s degree is often required; however, an associate degree may be enough for some entry-level positions. The BLS says it projects 5% growth between 2020 and 2030, amounting to around 24,900 openings projected each year over the decade.

Median Annual Salary (May 2020): $84,810

Computer Programmers

Computer programmers write and test code and correct mistakes in computer applications and software programs. While computer programmers usually have a bachelor’s degree, some employers hire professionals who have an associate degree and experience. The BLS says that despite a projected 10% decline, they still project around 9,700 job openings between 2020 and 2030.

Median Annual Salary (May 2020): $89,190

Information Technology Not For You? Check Out These Related Careers.

Continuing Education

A bachelor's degree is often the logical next step in continuing education since around 35% of jobs in the U.S. require one. However, careers in information technology offer many continuing education options, depending on the career path. Also, some occupations may require industry-specific certifications, such as in health information technology.

For example, a health information exchange certification demonstrates an individual's mastery of information sharing between authorized providers.

There are also technology and security certifications in network security, smart technology, and fiber optics. And the best university coding bootcamps offer continuing education in coding languages, cybersecurity, data analytics, and web development.

Microsoft, Google, and Adobe certifications add value to a candidate's portfolio as well. Certifications like Amazon's AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate validates a candidate's skill in cloud technology using Amazon web services.

How Do I Choose an Online Associate in Information Technology Program?

Cost

Calculating the true cost of an online program means figuring direct expenses, including tuition, books, fees, and supplies. There are also other factors to consider in online versus on-campus comparisons, such as residency requirements and class schedules. Online programs are typically more flexible, may waive residency fees, and many online programs don't require scheduled class times.

Program Format

Full-time or part-time attendance and program format are vital considerations. Full-time and accelerated programs may save money, but many students opt for part-time classes to fit into their schedules. Similarly, some students need the flexibility of asynchronous courses versus synchronous courses, which require attending scheduled classes online.

Location

Students often choose an online program versus on-campus because it makes school more convenient. However, the school's location is still a consideration because some online programs require state residence or charge an out-of-state fee. Also, students may miss out on local internship opportunities or have to schedule practicums close to home without college assistance.

Accreditation

College accreditation is an evaluative process and an institutional designation that ensures a school or program meets specific educational standards. Credits may not transfer to accredited institutions from schools without proper accreditation. The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology is one accrediting body for the information technology field.

Student Support

Essential student services such as tutoring and mentorships contribute to student success by helping learners perfect their skills. Online student services should provide the same quality assistance with writing, advising, and additional resources students receive on campus. Career counseling services, career fairs, and support from peers and mentors typically help students find internships.

Best Accredited Online Associate in Information Technology Programs

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Best Online Associate in Information Technology and Systems Programs

  1. Keiser University
    Location

    Fort Lauderdale, FL

    Tuition

    $27649

    Keiser's online associate in information technology program awards an AS. The major curriculum includes coursework that covers topics like the principles of information security, the essentials of networking, and web systems. General education requirements include multiple elective options. Graduates leave the program with research and critical thinking skills.

    Keiser's career advisors help degree-seekers prepare resumes, hone interview skills, and develop money management plans. The university also offers professional development workshop videos that students can watch at any time.

    High school graduates and individuals with a GED certificate can apply. As a private university, Keiser does not charge out-of-state tuition. The Keiser University Scholarship Program does not require a separate application and considers students' financial need and academic merit.

  2. Saint Leo University
    Location

    Saint Leo, FL

    Tuition

    $20036

    Saint Leo's online associate degree in information technology includes required courses in computer systems, programming in Java, and systems analysis and design. The university also offers multiple general election electives that cover topics such as science fiction and global warming. This Roman Catholic-affiliated university requires all degree-seekers to take a course in religion.

    More than 90% of Saint Leo information technology alumni enroll in a bachelor's program or begin a full-time or part-time job within 12 months of graduating. The university helps prepare students for the job market by hosting virtual workshops that highlight professional letter writing and job search strategies.

    Students must submit high school transcripts (or GED scores), and the school awards credit based on AP results and challenge exams. Additional requirements include FAFSA results. Incoming first-year students may qualify for institutional scholarships.

  3. Peirce College
    Location

    Philadelphia, PA

    Tuition

    $6395

    Peirce's associate in information technology program allows students to earn their degree entirely online or in a hybrid format by taking some courses on the college's Philadelphia campus. Core coursework emphasizes networking fundamentals, server administration, and the ethical management of information technology.

    Peirce's career center provides students with interviewing tips and a career-planning guide. The center also offers alumni advice on how to earn a promotion.

    The program accepts up to 30 transfer credits. It does not require standardized test scores and charges all degree-seekers the same per-credit tuition rate. Incoming students can submit the Common Scholarship Application to apply for all institutional financial aid programs.

  4. Randolph Community College
    Location

    Asheboro, NC

    Tuition

    $6041

    RCC's online associate in information technology program offers an IT support specialist track and a network and cybersecurity specialist track. In addition to honing their IT fundamentals, students develop important interpersonal and communication skills.

    Recent RCC alumni have all started a career or entered a bachelor's program within one year of graduation day. The college helps each student succeed by giving them information that covers interview techniques, resume best practices, and workplace professionalism.

    To apply, individuals must fill out a residency determination and the RCC College Foundation application. North Carolina residents receive a significant tuition discount. However, out-of-state learners can still apply for institutional grants and scholarships.

  5. Union County College
    Location

    Cranford, NJ

    Tuition

    $3268

    Aspiring and experienced information systems professionals can apply to Union's associate in computer information systems and technology program. The 60-credit curriculum features courses related to the dynamics of communication, computer applications, and systems analysis and design. Full-time students can earn the degree in two years.

    Union's career services office provides students with information about bachelor's programs and potential careers, resume feedback, and networking opportunities with potential employers. Union also hosts workshops where alumni speak to current students about a variety of career topics.

    Union recommends that prospective students submit SAT scores. The college awards credits based on AP and IB results. Union County residents pay the lowest tuition rates. Learners who take at least six credits per semester can apply for institutional financial aid.

  6. Minnesota State Community and Technical College
    Location

    Fergus Falls, MN

    Tuition

    $10235

    M State's online associate degree in information technology awards an AAS. Graduates leave the program with the ability to evaluate emerging technologies and provide excellent customer service. During core coursework, students analyze IT essentials, microcomputer operating systems, and network security.

    M State provides learners with resume guides, interviewing tips, and job fairs. The college's CAREERwise Education resource highlights career opportunities throughout the nation, with an emphasis on jobs in Minnesota.

    Admission requirements include a high school diploma or GED scores. Applicants without ACT or SAT scores must take a placement test. M State is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  7. Campbell University
    Location

    Buies Creek, NC

    Tuition

    $22458

    Campbell's online associate in information technology security management program uses a 62-credit curriculum that covers database management, systems analysis and design, and information technology fundamentals. The program also allows students to personalize their educational experience by choosing electives. All learners must maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA to graduate.

    Campbell's career services office helps learners research career opportunities and bachelor's programs. Helpful resources available to both students and alumni include a job board, resume and cover letter assistance, and virtual events.

    This program accepts up to 45 transfer credits. Active-duty military personnel receive a 40% tuition discount. Non-military students can apply for endowed scholarships.

  8. College of Southern Maryland
    Location

    La Plata, MD

    Tuition

    $7376

    Recent high school graduates and professionals seeking a career change may be interested in CSM's online associate degree in information services technology. The 60-credit, four-semester program includes courses in computing essentials, introduction to databases, and program design and development. During the program's final semester, students complete a capstone project or an internship.

    Each year, nearly 1,800 CSM graduates earn admission into bachelor's programs. Students can research top bachelor's in information technology and systems programs and explore entry-level careers on CSM's career services website.

    Applicants without prior college coursework or standardized test scores must take a placement test. Additional requirements include FAFSA results. Maryland residents receive a slight tuition discount.

  9. St. Petersburg College
    Location

    Clearwater, FL

    Tuition

    $3477

    SPC's associate in computer programming and analysis program trains learners to use Java, C++, and C#. Students also develop in-demand software maintenance skills. Degree-seekers must maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA to graduate.

    Over 90% of SPC alumni transition to a career or bachelor's program soon after graduation. The college provides learners with job hunting tools, including Handshake software and resume critiques. Additionally, SPC hosts a career and internships blog that provides information about job hunting best practices.

    Applying to SPC takes most individuals about 10 minutes, and Florida residents receive a tuition discount. SPC offers an interest-free tuition payment plan, and students who pay tuition on time receive a discount on textbooks.

  10. Northern Virginia Community College
    Location

    Annandale, VA

    Tuition

    $9124

    NOVA's online associate degree in information technology prepares graduates to transfer to a bachelor's program. This 61-credit program includes required coursework in advanced database management, personal computer hardware, and Java programming.

    The college offers degree-seekers a four-step career success plan that involves taking interest inventories, exploring relevant job opportunities, developing job hunting skills, and applying to jobs. NOVA also provides students with videos that cover resume writing and career fair preparation.

    Admission requirements include high school transcripts or GED scores and speaking with an academic advisor. Applicants without ACT or SAT scores must take the Virginia Placement Test. The college's Our Opportunities website displays current institutional scholarships and directions on how to apply.

Frequently Asked Questions About Associate in Information Technology Programs

Is an associate degree in information technology worth it?

Earning an associate degree in information technology online is worth it for many students because taking classes online offers flexibility. An online program allows students to schedule school around work and saves traveling time and money on gas and parking. However, it is essential to know if the program format is synchronous or asynchronous.

Online programs that follow synchronous formats hold scheduled class meetings using video chat technology like Zoom. Also, an online associate in information technology might not be less expensive than attending an on-campus program. And it often comes with additional technology expenses.

How fast can I get an associate in information technology degree online?

Your level of education, part-time versus full-time classes, and program requirements factor in how long it will take to graduate. An associate degree typically takes around two years if a student attends full-time. In comparison, some part-time students can take as long as three years to graduate.

Accelerated programs may take anywhere from 12-18 months, but make sure the school and program hold accreditation. Additionally, some schools count work and life experience toward college credit to cut down on a professional’s time commitment. Ultimately, how long it takes to complete an associate degree depends on how much time you can dedicate towards it.

Is an online associate degree in information technology credible?

The truth is, not all online schools are credible, which is why it's essential to do some research before committing. Institutional accreditation and program accreditation are the way to ensure you'll get a quality education that employers respect. Also, consider that a school that holds regional accreditation typically only accepts transfer credits from other regionally accredited schools.

Programmatic accrediting bodies focus on specific departments such as nursing, business, or technology. The Association of Technology, Management, and Applied Engineering is one accreditor for technology. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation recognizes ATMAE to accredit associate degree programs in technology and technology-related disciplines.

How much money can I make with an associate in information technology?

An associate in information technology can lead to careers that pay anywhere from $50,000 to over $80,000 annually. The BLS reported that the median annual salary for computer support specialists was $55,510 in 2020. In contrast, network and computer systems administrators made a median annual wage of $84,810 in 2020.

Many professionals continue their education to advance their career and salary potential as software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers. According to the BLS, these careers paid a median annual salary of $110,140 in 2020. Not only that, but BLS projects a 22% increase in job openings between 2020 and 2030.

Is an associate degree in information technology in demand?

Yes, an associate in information technology degree is in demand. For one, the BLS projects jobs in information technology to grow between 2020 and 2030. But perhaps even more important is the foundation an associate degree provides for professionals to build a career in technology.

An AAS degree prepares students for employment right after graduation, and bootcamps can help students focus on specific areas such as coding. However, these program credits don’t always transfer easily if students want to continue their education. Consequently, many students choose an AS degree through a community college that offers an opportunity to transfer credits to a bachelor’s program.

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