Information technology is an enormous and evolving field that impacts many industries. With tech-savvy professionals constantly developing new computer-based tools and applications, innovation continues to drive the information technology sector.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects an 11% increase in employment for computer support specialists between 2016 and 2026, and the employment of web developers is projected to grow 15% in that same period. These growth rates are much faster than the national average of 7%.
If you are interested in pursuing a computing-based career, earning an online information technology certificate imparts the skills and knowledge necessary for success in this promising field.
What Are The Best Online Certificate in Technology Programs?
University of California-Berkeley
|Berkeley, CA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 91%||
Founded in 1868, the University of California, Berkeley, is a historic institution and a founding member of the Association of American Universities. The university's certificate in semiconductor technology fundamentals is part of the UC Berkeley Extension online technology certificate program. Being part of the UC Berkeley academic and professional community is one benefit of enrollment.
Successful completion of the six-semester certificate program requires an overall minimum 2.5 GPA, totaling 90 hours within a 3-5 year period. Berkeley engineering faculty and leadership from the semiconductor industry serve on the advisory board that oversees curriculum. UC Berkeley offers free topic-oriented information sessions online.
Students must complete four required courses for certification in semiconductor technology fundamentals: introduction to microelectronics, introduction to microelectronic circuits, introduction to semiconductor devices, and semiconductor devices for IC design. Students must also complete one of the following three electives: computer simulation of electronic circuits, fundamental analog ICs, or semiconductor IC amplifiers. These continuous enrollment courses follow an asynchronous format. Students can take 30-180 days to complete the coursework.
Enrollment is open and year-round with no prerequisites required. To enroll, students must create a student profile online and add courses to the cart. Familiarity with mathematics and scientific terminology and an understanding of circuit theories are strongly recommended. The program costs an estimated $2,250, which does not include the $100 registration fee. The University of California, Berkeley, is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
The University of West Florida
|Pensacola, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 44%||
Located in Pensacola, Florida, the University of West Florida (UWF) was established in 1967. The university values inclusiveness, integrity, innovation, creativity, and collaboration. The certificate in technology systems support is part of the UWF global online degree and certificate offerings division. With this certificate, students can work as network, telecommunications, and instructional systems support specialists.
Courses such as information technology infrastructure analysis and recommendation, web presence deployment strategies, and technology systems operations: management strategies, comprise the 18-credit-hour program. Students can complete the asynchronous coursework in 2-4 semesters. To succeed, students need basic computer skills and familiarity with word programs and online presentation technology.
Upon coursework completion, students understand how to pair telecommunication and network systems with application and organization requirements. They possess the skills to design systems which meet application specifications and develop websites focused on management practices and methods. Graduates are successful in implementing telecommunications and network systems and aligning instruction and training with technology tool objectives.
Tuition is $211.98/credit in-state, $641.37/credit out-of-state, and $316.98/credit for Alabama residents. Out-of-state students may be eligible for a tuition waiver amounting to a 75-90% reduction in tuition costs. The University of West Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
University of Kansas
|Lawrence, KS||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 63%||
Located in Lawrence, Kansas, and founded in 1865, the University of Kansas (KU) began offering distance learning in 1891 through its School of University Extension. Only two other major universities offered distance learning at that time. The online learning division has been renamed Professional and Continuing Education. Online students receive the same instruction from University of Kansas faculty that they would receive on campus. Professional and Continuing Education puts the university's mission into action by making its high standard of educational resources available to working students.
KU offers its certificate in engineering technology as part of its Continuing and Professional Education online program. Two subheadings exist in engineering technology. The first is industrial control and automation, which offers six online certificate concentrations. The second is reliability and maintenance management, which features an online certificate in maintenance management via synchronous instruction. Process instrumentation and control features synchronous instruction while other concentrations are asynchronous. Computerized maintenance management system implementation and optimization and managing maintenance for buildings and facilities are taught asynchronously.
The KU Center for Online and Distance Learning provides resources for faculty and technical support for students. Tuition is $397/credit with a $30 application fee. The fee for each online certificate course is $995. Students can use an online code to save $200 when simultaneously registering for three courses. The University of Kansas is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
Bismarck State College
|Bismarck, ND||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 44%||
Founded in 1939 as Bismarck Junior College, Bismarck State College (BSC) prides itself as an innovative institution and model for workplace training for the global community. BSC offers the program certificate in electric power technology with specializations in line construction, metering, substation, and system design through the college's National Energy Center of Excellence. The electric power technology program focuses on training in electric grid fundamentals. BSC began offering online courses in 2001 with the electrical power technology program.
This certificate requires students to complete 57 credits during four semesters. Courses are offered in blocks of 3-5 weeks and include industrial safety and health, applied electronics, and advanced electrical systems. Successful students dedicate 15-20 hours per week engaged in coursework. BSC offers 58 start dates for online classes.
For admission, students need a 16 in ACT math, 34 in Compass pre-algebra, and a 41 in elementary algebra from Accuplacer. Tuition is $160/in-state (military) credit, $179.20/credit in Minnesota, $240/credit in the U.S., Manitoba, and Saskatchewan, and $280/credit for international students. There is a $45 per-credit fee for online course offerings. Textbook costs are an estimated $500 per semester. Bismarck State College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commision (HLC).
|Nashville, TN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 59%||
Lipscomb University is located in Nashville, Tennessee, and was founded in 1891 by David Lipscomb and James A. Harding. Lipscomb Online promotes active learning and Christian values through faith, community, knowledge, innovation, and service ideals. This research institution's technology integration specialist certificate program strives to meet evolving technology challenges. Students can take advantage of valuable resources such as the Lipscomb Libraries, which are accessible online. Learners can access the university's LiveText site for document review, assignment submissions, and student orientation information.
The 12-credit certificate program deepens students' knowledge and enhances their leadership skills through courses such as instructional design, technology applications, and technology for special groups.
The Competency Assessment Center is the university's tool for promoting competency-based education, awarding as many as 30 credits for life experience and skills. For admission, applicants must submit official transcripts, an essay articulating purpose and goals at Lipscomb, and two recommendation letters. Students can expect to spend $953/credit on tuition plus a $50 non-refundable application fee. With regard to financial aid, Lipscomb offers a 26% in-service scholarship for educators. Lipscomb University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
What Else can I Expect From an Online Certificate in Technology Program?
Curriculum For an Online Certificate In Technology
Although curriculum requirements vary from one program to the next, students pursuing an online information technology certificate complete coursework related to a few central topics. Below are courses that students commonly take while completing an online technology certificate program.
- Database design and implementation: In this course, students learn how to design, develop, and implement database systems. In addition to discussing the business aspects of database design and addressing potential security concerns, students gain practical modeling and diagramming experience. Courses related to database design and management are particularly relevant to aspiring database administrators and computer network architects.
- Introduction to information systems: This course gives students an overview of computer systems, information management, internet security, and software basics. Students examine digital safety, information security, and online privacy. They may also explore how information systems affect business communication and decision making. Systems design coursework is especially valuable for students who hope to become network and computer systems administrators or computer systems analysts.
- Programming concepts and problem solving: In this course, students learn to address computer programming issues. They develop user interfaces, examine program structures, and familiarize themselves with the syntax and logic of programming languages. Students test program functionality, modify existing programs, and develop their own. Computer programming courses can benefit students who hope to establish careers in software development, web development, database administration, computer programming, or computer and information systems management.
How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Certificate in Technology?
Online information technology certificate programs require students to complete 12 to 18 credits. Typically, coursework is entirely program-specific, meaning students don't spend time fulfilling general education requirements.
Some programs require participants to join a cohort of students, completing coursework on a fixed schedule similar to that of a traditional, term-based program. Other formats are more flexible, allowing students to take courses at a pace best suited to their needs. However, schools typically expect students to complete these programs within a specific length of time.
Online technology certificate program lengths vary by school, but full-time students may earn a certificate in five to 18 months. Some programs allow students to specialize in a particular area of information technology, while others provide a general overview of the field.
What Can I Do With a Technology Diploma?
For aspiring internet technology professionals, earning an online information technology certificate can be an important first step to a rewarding career. Certifications can help computer professionals develop technology expertise and stand out to hiring departments. However, a degree can give job candidates an even greater career advantage.
After completing an online technology certificate program, students may choose to earn an associate, bachelor's, or master's in the field. Completing a degree typically requires more time and money than earning a certificate, but some schools grant course credit to degree-seeking certificate holders. Additionally, some institutions offer combined programs that allow students to simultaneously earn a degree and certificate.
Career Paths for an Online Technology Graduate
After earning an online information technology certificate, aspiring computer professionals can enter fields such as internet security, government, healthcare, and the service industries. They may seek positions as computer support specialists, web developers, computer systems analysts, or network and computer systems administrators.
A 40-hour workweek is typical for professionals in these fields, though computer support specialists and network and computer systems administrators may work unusual nights or weekends to ensure 24/7 system functionality.
Computer systems analysts, web developers, and network and computer systems administrators must have good communication skills, as their responsibilities often entail collaboration with other technology professionals.
After earning an online information technology certificate, graduates may seek employment in one of the following positions.
- Computer Support Specialist
These specialists assist computer users and organizations. They evaluate system functionality, perform network maintenance, troubleshoot networks, and provide technical advice to organizations. They may work directly with computer users by remotely identifying customers' problems and walking them through solutions. They may also make site visits, provide software training, and offer system feedback to team members and management.
Median Annual Salary: $52,160
Projected Growth Rate: 11%
- Network and Systems Administrator
These administrators oversee an organization's day-to-day computer network operations. They determine system needs, install new hardware and software, make necessary upgrades and repairs, and maintain network security. These professionals also optimize network performance and ensure that systems are fully operational. Other components of the job include managing data storage, workstation functionality, and telecommunication networks.
Median Annual Salary: $66,130
Projected Growth Rate: 15%
- Web Developer
These professionals design and create websites. Their responsibilities include website visuals, performance, storage capacity, and content. Developers write code, integrate media, and monitor online traffic. They may work with clients and graphic designers to determine a website's content and aesthetic. While some web developers direct all aspects of website creation, others specialize as back-end developers, front-end developers, or webmasters.
Median Annual Salary: $79,700
Projected Growth Rate: 6%
Educational Paths for an Online Technology Graduate
Holding an associate, bachelor's, or master's degree can greatly improve information technology professionals' employment and career advancement potential. Students who earn a degree after completing an online technology certificate program may become computer programmers, computer network architects, database administrators, information security analysts, or software developers.
In addition to qualifying for more positions, degree holders demonstrate to potential employers that they possess both technical expertise and the soft skills that the workplace requires. Employers may prefer to hire candidates who hold both a certification and a degree in the field.
Graduates of online technology certificate programs may choose to continue their education by pursuing one of the degrees listed below.
- Associate of science in information technology: In addition to studying computer fundamentals through core coursework, students who complete an information technology associate degree take general education courses in subjects such as writing, math, and economics. They also take elective classes related to information technology, and they may use focus areas to center their studies on a particular aspect of the field.
- Bachelor of science in information technology: To earn this degree, students study the relationship between business and information technology. They fulfill general education requirements by taking courses on topics such as communications, natural science, and the humanities. Students then complete core coursework specific to information technology. They may select a concentration or area of specialization such as project management or business intelligence.
- Bachelor of science in information sciences and technology: This program also introduces students to the role of information technology in the business world, providing opportunities for project-based learning and collaborative programming. As students complete the required general, core, and elective coursework, they may choose to simultaneously earn an online information technology certificate as well.
Accreditation for Online Technology Certificate and Diploma Programs
For students who choose to pursue an online information technology certificate, it is important to enroll in an accredited program.
External accreditation confirms that a school or program meets certain quality standards. During the hiring process, employers typically want to know that a candidate's credentials are from an accredited institution. Additionally, students who complete an accredited online technology certificate program can more easily transfer credits and qualify for financial aid.
Regional accreditation is generally regarded more highly than national accreditation, as national accreditation is a less rigorous process.
To verify an online technology certificate program's accreditation, prospective students may locate a database of nationally recognized accrediting agencies on the U.S. Department of Education or Council for Higher Education Accreditation websites.
Employment Outlook for Certificate in Technology Holders
Certificate in Technology Salary
Factors that determine annual wages for information technology professionals include education level and location. Employer type also affects earning potential in this field. The table below features BLS data regarding the median annual salaries of network and systems administrators who work in the position's top five employing industries.
|Employer Type||Median Salary|
|Educational services; state, local, and private||$68,510|
|Management of companies and enterprises||$83,210|
|Finance and insurance||$84,850|
|Computer systems design and related services||$85,490|
Technology Professional Organizations
Students pursuing an online information technology certificate may benefit from joining a professional organization within the industry.
Professional associations for information technology advocate politically for member interests and provide access to industry data, research publications, product discounts, and career resources. Members may take advantage of professional development and networking opportunities by joining a local chapter, attending national conferences, and participating in continuing education seminars.
Students and recent graduates of online technology certificate programs may seek membership in one of the organizations listed below.
Financing Your Online Certificate in Technology Program
Students who pursue an online information technology certificate may be eligible for financial aid in the form of grants, loans, work-study awards, and institutional financing plans. Some programs offer deferred payment plans, exam vouchers, and scholarships as well.
Additionally, some schools grant course credit for professional experience. This lessens the financial burden of certification by allowing industry-seasoned students to complete the program more quickly.
By completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), students can qualify for federal funding opportunities. Students may also find industry-specific scholarships, grants, and fellowships through professional organizations such as the ISSA or IEEE.
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