HomeA-Z Program Guide → Top Online Information Technology Schools (IT)

Top Online Information Technology Schools (IT)

Top Online Information Technology Schools

Information technology is one of the most versatile descriptions in the English language. Any device which allows for the mutual sharing of information falls under the canopy of IT. While the general public might think IT only refers to his or her phone or laptop, it actually even applies to the wireless towers which link their cell phone to the world and the data centers that form the backbone of the Internet.

Because of this, the IT field is one of the fastest growing professions in the world today. Indeed, the Association for Computing Machinery has projected that jobs requiring a degree in computer science will increase by more than 150,000 by 2016 and many of these jobs will require a bachelor’s degree in computer science or mathematics. Classes in computer science, networking and information security courses can be taken online. In fact, many schools offer distance learning opportunities for various IT or IS degree programs.

As with most IT professions, certification is available for those who want to demonstrate their competence with specific programs or technology. Certification courses and exams are available online, though some require on-site testing and physical demonstrations. Accredited programs for a bachelor’s degree in computer science or information systems award a bachelor’s of science upon completion and are designed to take 3-to-4 years to complete.

Post-graduates can find accredited online master's degree programs in IT or computer science, as well as specialized MBA programs focusing on information services. These graduate degrees can further one’s career or open the door to IT management.

Below are some of the information technology focuses available from schools and colleges through SchoolsGalore.com:

Database Administration

The profession of data administration is the study of how information is gathered, stored and retrieved to solve common business problems. Database administrators make sure analysts and employees can access data properly and that data is backed-up in a secure, reliable off-site location. DBAs also work with security analysts to ensure data is secure from unauthorized access and run tests to find security holes and fix them. They can also be employed by a wide variety of companies across many different markets. Because DBAs can work in specialty markets such as financial analysis and market research, knowledge in these markets may help expand employment opportunities.

According to the 2012 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook (BLS.gov, 2012) most DBAs have bachelor’s degrees in management information systems or computer science. DBAs also need to understand SQL, the most common database language, and the language’s many variations. These courses, like much of the computer science discipline, can be completed online.

For those with applicable work experience who are seeking certification, Microsoft has a detailed list of exams and their requirements, such as the Certified Database Administrator exam and SQL Server certification. IBM also offers certification for Linux, UNIX and windows databases. The Microsoft Certified IT Database Professional and Enterprise Administrator on Windows Server 2008 certifications were listed as some of the top certifications by the TechRepublic for both the national median salary and demand.

The BLS (BLS.gov, 2012) noted that the national median database administrator salary was $75,190 per year in May of 2011, and the profession was expected to experience an employment growth of up to 31 percent from 2010 to 2020 (BLS.gov, 2012). This growth is caused in part by the increase of data collection businesses, as well as the increasing need for database security.

Information Systems Analysis and Management

Training in information systems can teach you to regulate system input and output, develop company-wide backup and recovery plans and initiate computer system security protocols. You can learn to design computer databases according to the specific needs of a business or become a support specialist with the training to solve information systems problems as they arise.

Information system analysts tend to have degrees in computer science, management information systems or other technical degrees, although those with degrees in liberal arts who also know programming languages have had success as well (BLS.gov, 2012). Not all degrees need to baccalaureate in caliber, information system analysts can have applicable work experience or certification coupled with an associate degree in a computer related discipline. According to O*NET Online, 41 percent of system analysts reported that that an associate degree was required for employment. Information system managers tend to have an MBA specializing in information security (BSL.gov, 2012).

Cisco’s Certified Network Professional certification and Microsoft’s Certified Solution Developer credentials are two of the top credentials for information systems analysts according to [ci]channelinsider.

With an increase in cloud computing, and increasing cyber threats, the BLS (BLS.gov, 2012), has projected the employment outlook for information systems managers may grow up to 18 percent from 2010 to 2020, and that, in May 2011, the national median salary  for an information system manager was $118,010 per year (BLS.gov, 2012).

Information Security Analysis and Management

Learning to protect sensitive data from computer hackers and other unauthorized snoopers is an increasingly needed branch of online computer technology education. Also known as information assurance, the information security discipline is concerned with safeguarding the confidentiality of critical data from cybercriminals who attempt to breach security measures. This entails blocking intrusions which can infect information systems with worms, viruses, Trojan horses and other threats, implementing firewalls and virus protection software and sometimes, the IT security analyst’s job is to break into a company’s database and expose weaknesses.

Called a penetration test, IS penetration analysts play offense in the computer security game. Credentials to be called an ethical hacker, or a white-hat hacker, are valued by IT pen-testing firms and the exams can be taken completely online (TechRepubilc). The International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium, Inc. offers certification in Information Systems Security, which TechRepublic has listed as one of the top credentials to get as an IS analyst.

Due to the nature of the profession, security analysts and manager must understand programming languages and have a degree in computer science, or a related profession, to keep up with emerging technologies. Increasingly, IT security analysts are required to have certification in preventative security technologies as well as offensive technologies (IISSCCI). Since online security breaches have become more frequent, courses and certifications can be taken entirely online. However, according to O*NET Online, only 11 percent of security analysts reported that certification and work experience were enough for employment, most considered a bachelor’s degree the minimum.

According to the BLS (BLS.gov, 2012) the national IS analyst median salary, based on a survey by Robert Half Technology, fell between $89,000 and $121,500 per year in 2012. The profession is expected to see an employment growth of up to 22 percent from 2010 to 2020 (BLS.gov, 2012) as the government, corporations and health care providers move to protect their sensitive data. Health care providers are especially likely to contribute to the IT security growth as they move to ensure their patients’ privacy.

Learn more about accredited information technology programs from schools and colleges through SchoolsGalore.com:

Online IT schools that are accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology will have passed a strict grading system to earn accreditation. Just as important as accreditation are the opportunities for internships and computer science research. The Computing Community Consortium has a selection of computer science research opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students. These computer science research programs supplement programs offered by selected colleges and give students real-world experience in the IT field.

The following are Computerworld.com’s top-three IT schools to watch. These schools work with IT companies to develop their curriculums and prepare their students for life outside of school.

1.    San Jose State University

2.    University of Illinois

3.    University of Washington


Sources and further reading:

Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT)

Computing Community Consortium

SQL Server

Microsoft Certified Database Administrator

System Security Certification