Guide to IT Degrees and Certifications

Decide which IT certification training level best suits your needs.

mortarboard with it degree and computer mouse

Before deciding on which IT degrees or certification training courses are right for you, you'll have to think about your career goals. Depending on those goals, there are many different levels of computer degrees that you can pursue. And once you've gotten a job in IT, don't forget that continuing education is often necessary to stay current in the fast-changing IT world or to get that promotion you've been dreaming of.

IT Diplomas

IT diploma programs are generally completed in less than one year. These IT certification training programs help students with a high school education gain the skills necessary for entry-level positions, such as a database administrator, computer networking engineer and computer support specialist.

IT Certificates

IT certificates range from entry-level career training to advanced credentials for experienced tech professionals. Microsoft certified programs, Cisco certification training and Oracle training are popular IT credentials that validate an individual's ability to work with a specific product or technology and also identifies individuals that possess a level of expertise demanded by today's industry. Certificate programs often take only a few months to complete.

Associate's IT Degrees

Associate's IT degrees in computer information systems and technology can be completed within 18-to-24 months and are often a stepping-stone to a bachelor degree. An associate education helps students with a high school diploma or GED gain the skills necessary for entry-level positions, such as a computer networking engineer or computer support specialist.

Bachelor's IT Degrees

From computer science to network systems administration and everything in between, a traditional 4-year bachelor's IT degrees require roughly two years of general education requirements followed by two years of intensive computer/IT course work.

Starting IT salaries for graduates with a bachelor degree in computer science, computer engineering, information science or a related area are often significantly higher than salaries of bachelor degree graduates in many other fields.

Master's IT Degrees

Master degrees such as Master of Information Technology, Master of Management Information Systems (MIS) and Master of Technology Management are designed for working professionals with a desire to advance their careers in the IT field.

Programs may focus on the acquisition of IT theory and the application of theory and practice to real-world business opportunities and challenges. Curricula may cover computer architecture, network security and telecommunications, database administration, business and financial management strategies and more.

Due to the full-time work schedules of most tech-industry grad students, classes are often scheduled for evenings and weekends, and many IT certification training programs are offered online. Programs normally take two years to complete.

Technology MBA

Technology MBA programs combine management techniques and technology in a unified MBA program. Most tech MBA programs are designed for experienced high-tech industry professionals who wish to gain a broader business management knowledge base, often with the goal of going into technology management. Curriculum may cover accounting, marketing, strategy, statistics, finance, economics and operations management. Due to the full-time work schedules of most tech MBA students, classes are often scheduled for evenings and weekends. Tech MBA programs often take two years to complete.