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.
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
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.
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?
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.
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 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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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Frequently Asked Questions About Associate in Information Technology Programs
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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