What Can You Do with an Associate’s Degree in Information Technology?
You’ve been searching high and low for a career that will put your technology talents to good use. You know the technology field is poised for growth, and you want to get in on the action with a career that lets you explore your natural interest in tech.
There’s just one problem: you’re worried a “four-year degree” is the only way to get there. As much as you value education, you’re not sure if you can commit the time and money it takes to earn a Bachelor’s degree—at least not right off the bat.
Lucky for you, the tech field is generally more receptive to hiring talented individuals who don’t have a Bachelor’s degree. An Associate’s Degree in Information Technology can qualify you for plenty of solid job opportunities that can give you a foothold in the field and start you on a path to advancement. Better yet, an IT Associate’s degree can be completed in as few as 18 months.1
If this route sounds like it might be up your alley, then take a look at these benefits of earning an Associate’s degree and the IT careers it could lead to.
Is it worth getting an Associate’s Degree in Information Technology?
It’s easy to look at job postings for tech jobs with extensive wish lists for candidate requirements and wonder this, but an Associate’s degree offers educational expertise that employers recognize. When examining workers across all occupations, those with an Associate’s degree earned just over 15 percent more per week than those with only a high school diploma in 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.2 And that’s just focusing on people with any Associate’s degree—not exclusively IT, where there are several positions that fall into the “new-collar” category of technical positions that do not require a Bachelor’s degree.
An Associate’s degree in IT isn’t just applicable to tech startups in Silicon Valley, either. Even if you’re still not sure if you belong in the tech industry, this versatile degree can help you get your foot in the door with a wide variety of companies and industries in your own backyard. Technology is part of nearly every company in every industry, and plenty of them are aware of the value you can bring to an IT department with a two-year degree.
With the help of the BLS, we’ve identified five IT roles you may be eligible for with an Associate’s degree in hand. It’s important to note that while these positions are attainable with an Associate’s degree, many may require experience and potentially professional certifications to land them. Like with any career, you don’t stroll out of college into a senior-level position—you’ll need to put in the work.
3 Jobs you can land with an Information Technology Associate’s degree
The technology world is changing rapidly, and companies in many fields need talented tech workers to help them keep up with the fast pace. These five job titles come with respectable salaries and a good job growth outlook. Keep them in mind as you consider the long-term value you could get from earning your Associate’s degree in Information Technology.
1. Computer support specialist
Computer support specialists—often called help desk specialists—are on the front lines of addressing computer and technological issues for an organization’s network users. They help users troubleshoot and address software issues, computer crashes and hardware trouble. Additionally they may assist in configuring network hardware and work with senior IT members to report and fix large scale network issues. This role is a common career starting point for IT professionals. Computer support specialist positions may be listed as comparable jobs titles like desktop support technician, help desk analyst/ technician or IT specialist, among others.
- Median annual salary (2018): $53,4703
- Projected employment growth (2018–2028): 10 percent3
2. Network systems administrator
Most companies today rely on computer systems to conduct their day-to-day business, and network systems administrators are the ones who make sure those infrastructures continue running smoothly. They install and support a company’s computer systems, maintain the network’s security, install hardware and software, troubleshoot problems and evaluate system performance to make recommendations about necessary upgrades. Responsibilities like these may also fall under job titles like information analyst, information systems manager, and network coordinator.
Though this job may require more experience for Associate’s degree holders compared to Bachelor’s degree holders, becoming a network systems administrator can be a good goal for ambitious and enterprising individuals getting started in technology.
- Median annual salary (2018): $82,0503
- Projected employment growth (2018–2028): 5 percent (as fast as average)3
3. Computer systems analyst
Computer systems analysts work behind the scenes to marry IT with smart business solutions. Their job is to make an organization’s tech setup as efficient, functional and cost-effective as possible. They often specialize in a certain industry, such as finance, where they work closely with business leaders to make computer systems decisions. Their day-to-day work includes conducting tests and analyzing results, researching emerging technology, preparing cost-benefit analyses and implementing new systems.
Computer systems analysts can come from a variety of backgrounds. Many benefit from having experience in business operations on top of their technology education. Having knowledge of the industry they work in is a big help when communicating with stakeholders—effective IT solutions require a strong understanding of how they’ll be utilized by end users.
- Median annual salary (2018): $88,7403
- Projected employment growth (2018–2028): 9 percent3
Your Information Technology career awaits
Information technology career opportunities exist in nearly every industry, and it isn’t necessary to have a four-year degree to get there. Though some jobs may require greater experience combined with an Associate’s degree, there are options. Now that you’re well aware of where an Associate’s degree could take you, take the next step by learning more about the Rasmussen College Information Technology Associate’s degree program.
1Completion time is dependent on number of transfer credits accepted and courses completed each term.
2Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey, Unemployment rates and earnings by educational attainment, 2018 [Information accessed March 2020] https://www.bls.gov/emp/chart-unemployment-earnings-education.htm
3Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, [career information accessed March 2020] www.bls.gov/ooh/. Salary data represents national, averaged earnings for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries and employment conditions in your area may vary.
This article was originally published in 2018. It has since been updated to include information relevant to 2020.