Information technology – using systems, especially computers and telecommunications, to store, retrieve, manipulate and send information – is a burgeoning field which is expected to grow by 45% in the next decade. It’s becoming more and more common to hear someone say, “I’m in IT.”
But “information technology” is a very broad term that encompasses, among other things, hardware, software, electronics, semiconductors, telecom equipment, and the Internet. So the statement “I’m in IT” is about as specific as saying “I’m in the food industry.” That could mean anything from farming to packaging to butcher to short-order cook at a neighborhood greasy spoon.
Since IT is an expanding field, it’s a good one to set your sights on. But knowing the different types of training, levels, degrees, and certificates available from online IT courses will help you aim your arrow at a specific target instead of just shooting into the air.
Degree or Certificate?
By and large, employers in the IT industry are looking to hire those with a degree or certificate; online IT courses offer both. The credentials you choose to pursue depend on the job you’d like to have and where you are in your career.
A degree – as opposed to a certificate – can be more advantageous in terms of a long-term career. It helps you secure a lifetime of work instead of just your next job. A degree can be used across scores of industries and occupations. Of course, it takes longer to get an online degree than an online certificate. Degree courses feature technology-specific subjects, but, as with any degree program, include other general education requirements.
Certification programs, on the other hand, require fewer classes and usually focus on acquiring one particular skill. And certificates can pave the way toward earning a degree; the credits for certificate training can be used to eventually get a degree in IT.
Relatively new to the industry are nanodegrees, training which provides credentials for specific types of jobs such as basic programming, data analysis, or front-end web developing. These generally take a few months to complete. Online “boot camps” provide training and preparation for several types of IT certification exams, and can be completed in a matter of weeks.
Why Take an Online Course?
It seems obvious: You use computers and the Internet – the nuts and bolts of IT – to get a degree or certification in IT. And for those with jobs, families, or a busy schedule, online training allows them to learn and study comfortably at home, set their own schedule, and go at their own pace.
To sum up, a degree program will cost more and take more time, but it prepares you for a career in IT across many different industries. A certificate program provides you with specific training in one particular area; it’s quicker, cheaper, and allows you to start working in the IT field within just a few months. Online IT courses are a great way to get you started on a path to a new, exciting career.