What are the Information Technology (IT) Specializations?

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Professionals with business competency and a background in information systems continue to prove immeasurably helpful in easing the transition into the era of big data.

A major component of the modern information technology landscape is the area of predictive analytics, where a grasp of business metrics combined with industry and management know-how is critical to profitable operations. Information technology and computer science serve many of the same industries, and usually from fairly similar operations perspectives. Students can be confident that IT and computer science will continue to exert an influence on the development of the tech industry in years to come.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists several information technology jobs ranging from web developers to computer and information research scientists with annual median salaries of $77,200 to $126,830, respectively. In May 2020, the median annual wage for computer and information technology occupations was $91,250.

Between 2020 and 2030, the BLS projects that the field will add an astonishing 667,600 new positions, amounting to a growth of 13 percent. This field includes varied positions such as computer and information research scientists; web developers and digital designers; software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers; network and computer systems administrators; information security analysts; database administrators and architects, computer systems analysts, computer support specialists, computer programmers, and computer network architects.

In recent years, two significant U.S. government initiatives have indicated that the realm of the digital sciences is here to stay: the Department of Defense’s Joint Information Environment and the IC Information Technology Environment (IC ITE, pronounced “eyesight”).

The purpose of these movements is to move away from an agency-focused approach to intelligence gathering and instead focus on a new, community-based angle. “IC” stands for the intelligence community, which comprises the body of intelligence-gathering agencies in the U.S. The ultimate goal is to build a secure platform through which sensitive data can be promptly shared with relevant parties to aid in investigations or research.

With data at the center of many of the tech industry’s most significant leaps forward, there’s no doubt that capabilities in information systems and data analytics will become essential for most industries to better serve their clientele.

A career in information technology spans a large variety of specializations and niches, especially where analytics are concerned. There is also a significant connection and overlap between the computer sciences and information technologies. Skills that are requisite for a student of information technology include capabilities in tactical, strategic, and operational decision-making.

IT professionals must have their fingers on the pulse of emerging technologies to increase the utility and actionability of data. Skills in data mining, visualization, and charting are important, as is expertise in web metrics and analytics, text structuring, pattern-finding, intelligence-sharing platforms, and advanced analytics models to serve customers and product markets.

Keep reading to gain insight into a variety of information technology specializations, including examples of programs featuring them and descriptions of various educational paths.

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Featured Information Technology (I.T.) Programs
Arizona State University Graphic Information Technology - User Experience (BS)Visit Site
Arizona State University Information Technology (BS)Visit Site
Purdue University Global AAS IT - CybersecurityVisit Site
Purdue University Global AAS IT - Network AdministrationVisit Site
Southern New Hampshire University Online MS - Information Technology (MSIT)Visit Site
Southern New Hampshire University Online MS in IT - Data AnalyticsVisit Site
Grand Canyon University BS - Information TechnologyVisit Site
Grand Canyon University MS - Information TechnologyVisit Site
George Mason University Online MS - Applied Information TechnologyVisit Site
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Cybersecurity, Digital Forensics & Systems Security

The cybersecurity specialization centers around the security of applications, data, and networks, as well as the proper management of information technology. There is much overlap with digital investigations, as one of the main functions of this specialization is a type of quality assurance.

Students explore topics such as information security, ethical hacking, information assurance, steganography, disaster recovery, vulnerability analysis and control, business continuity response, coding security, securing databases, mobile device forensics, operating system security, legal and ethical issues, auditing, and intrusion detection.

Utica College

Utica College hosts a fully online bachelor of science program in cybersecurity with a focus on cybercrime and fraud investigation that’s designed for prospective IT professionals. Students in this program will gain experience using computer forensics, cryptography, and steganography techniques and will learn to leverage the newest technologies for conducting cybercrime and fraud investigations and bringing white-collar criminals to justice.

Made up of 120 credits, the program includes courses such as fraud prevention and detection technologies; payment systems and fraud; cybercrime investigations and forensics; economic crime theory; information assurance risk and compliance; introduction to criminal justice; software foundations for cybersecurity; and cybercrime law and investigations.

  • Location: Utica, NY
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Expected Time to Completion: 48 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $475 per credit

Data Analytics

Data analytics students design, develop, and manage data resources to make traditional systems more fluid and responsive to client specifications. With internet-based data management considerably on the rise, IT professionals who specialize in data analytics management are adept in predictive modeling, utilizing big data, and sample data sets to solve real-world problems.

Colorado Tech

Colorado Tech offers a fully online BSIT in network management that can give candidates the edge they need to succeed in this sector of information technology. Along with IT basics such as programming, computers, connectivity, and database systems, students will also learn about evaluating and implementing an organization’s networking requirements.

Comprising 184 credits, the program includes courses such as advanced database systems; vulnerability assessment and management; implementing, managing, and maintaining a network infrastructure; network infrastructure design; client/server system and network administration; and disaster recovery.

  • Location: Colorado Springs, CO
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Expected Time to Completion: 48 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $37,128

Digital Investigations

The digital investigations specialization centers around skilled, educated information technology professionals who can counteract the growing threat of crime on the internet. There is much overlap with cybersecurity and network and systems security.

Students complete courses in vulnerability analysis and control, information security, information assurance, ethical hacking, mobile device forensics, disaster recovery, steganography, business continuity response, securing databases, coding security, operating system security, legal and ethical issues, auditing, intrusion detection, and digital law.

American Intercontinental University

The American Intercontinental University offers a fully online BSIT with a specialization in digital investigations providing students with industry-relevant experience and knowledge in conducting digital investigations as digital-crime professionals. Areas covered in this program include examining techniques to collect, preserve, analyze and report digital-network evidence.

Consisting of 180 credits, the program includes core courses such as discovering information technology; information technology and society; developing professional communications; introduction to databases; information technology security; and comprehensive IT project. Concentration courses include an introduction to cybercrime and digital investigations; network investigations; and digital investigations.

  • Location: Chandler, AZ
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Expected Time to Completion: 48 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $62,100

Information Technology Entrepreneurship

For this specialization, managerial and entrepreneurial skills are needed, as well as an instinct for thinking ahead of the curve. Information technology business students learn how to launch and maintain a new enterprise in the tech industry.

Illinois Institute of Technology

The Illinois Institute of Technology hosts both a BSIT and an MSIT in management and entrepreneurship, both of which help experienced information technology professionals and students in becoming entrepreneurs, managers, leaders, and innovators. Coursework in these programs will help students enhance their technology skills; prepare them for management and leadership positions with a solid understanding of how to identify business opportunities; develop strategies for capitalizing on those opportunities; and build and grow new ventures.

The curriculum features courses in data analytics, systems technologies, information technology theory, and much more.

  • Location: Chicago, IL
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Expected Time to Completion: undergraduate (48 months or less); graduate (24 months or less)
  • Estimated Tuition: undergraduate ($48,670); graduate ($1,614 per credit)

Information Systems Management & Information Technology Management

This specialization is concerned with the design, testing, and building of information systems that management can use to make organizations more effective in their day-to-day activities.

University of Arkansas Grantham

An entirely online BS in information systems from the University of Arkansas Grantham educates students on what they need to know to be an IT or information systems manager. The program provides students with the skills and knowledge needed to enter the workforce and advance into roles that require the application of technology to information systems. Covering a broad range of topics, the program allows graduates to significantly enhance their knowledge base.

The curriculum of the program helps students in building their skills in web design, systems analysis and design, and programming. Students will further be able to specialize in concentrations such as cyber security, web development, and health informatics.

Consisting of 120 credits, the program includes coursework in systems analysis and design; information systems project management; security trends and legal issues; security operations; database applications; systems architecture; and management information systems.

  • Location: Little Rock, AR
  • Accreditation: Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 38 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $295 per credit

Network Administration & Management

This specialization focuses primarily on network applications and their management. It overlaps considerably with information systems management or information technology management.
Bellevue University

Bellevue University hosts a bachelor of science program in systems and network administration which can be completed online or on campus. Students through this program will enhance their IT skills and will learn to create and configure various operating servers and systems and apply information security principles to mitigate risks. Throughout the program, students will be exposed to learning experiences and case studies designed to prepare and challenge them for issues typically encountered in the workplace.

The program consists of 127 credits including courses such as introduction to networking; advanced networking administration; Linux administration; virtualization of computing resources; operating system administration; database administration and design; and web server administration.

Applicants to the program will either need two years of IT experience or an associate degree(or a minimum of 60 credits from a previous institution).

  • Location: Bellevue, NE
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Expected Time to Completion: 48 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $430 per credit

Software Development, Engineering & Analysis

This specialization focuses on programming and the development of sophisticated applications for use in public and private entities. This area dovetails with the computer science field of coding. Specialists use programming languages to build applications and programs that address the specific needs of the client.

Durham Tech

Durham Tech offers an associate in applied science (AAS) degree in information technology (IT) with a specialization in software development preparing graduates for employment in the technology sector as testers, designers, system administrators, support technicians, programmers, or developers, who use computer hardware or software for designing, processing, implementing and managing information systems in specialties such as security, database services, healthcare informatics, business intelligence, and others.

The program comprises 66 to 67 credits including courses such as network and security foundation; web, programming, and database, foundation; introduction to computers; information systems business concepts; python programming; database programming; and JAVA programming.

Graduates of the program will be ready for entry-level employment with businesses, governmental agencies, and educational systems which rely on computer systems for designing and managing information.

  • Location: Durham, NC
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: five semesters
  • Estimated Tuition: $5016

Systems Administration & Analytics

This specialization is concerned with the administration and management of servers used for the deployment of customer or client solutions deliverables.

Michigan Technological University

Michigan Technological University offers an on-campus BS in computer network and system administration preparing students for some of today’s most exciting and challenging career opportunities: computer network design, administration, and security. Graduates of this program will be ready to manage, design, and secure computer networks in all sectors of the economy, including retail, healthcare, manufacturing, insurance, government, and research.

Students will be able to tailor their classwork to fit their interests with three technical emphasis areas: IT management; network engineering; and cybersecurity. The program includes courses such as computer and operating systems architecture; network administration; Microsoft system administration; Linux fundamentals; database management; and undergraduate research in computer network and system administration. The program is made up of 127 credits.

  • Location: Houghton, MI
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission; ABET
  • Expected Time to Completion: 48 months
  • Estimated Tuition: Residents ($16,654); non-residents ($37,800)

Web & Application Development

This specialization focuses on programming and the development of sophisticated websites and applications. This area overlaps with the computer science field of coding or programming. Web and application development specialists use programming languages to build software program solutions for certain identified IT problems.

New Jersey Institute of Technology

The New Jersey Institute of Technology hosts both a BSIT and MS in IT web application. The BSIT with a specialization in web application focuses on the different aspects of the information systems lifecycle. Graduates will be able to take up roles such as web designers, information systems managers, webmasters, systems analysts, and IT Managers.

The curriculum will take courses in different areas of web and information systems including web application development and web design techniques. Students will also learn how technologies can be best utilized within organizations. As part of the program, students will delve into topics such as introduction to website development; building web applications; advanced web applications; advanced internet applications; managing technology and innovation; web standards; and web mining and information retrieval. The program comprises 129 credits.

  • Location: Newark, NJ
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education; ABET
  • Expected Time to Completion: 48 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $563 per credit

Conclusion: Careers in Information Technology (IT)

Below are some examples of many of the job titles with IT specializations. There is a significant overlap between many of these roles. Some of these job titles include:

  • Application Developer / Support Analyst / Engineer
  • Chief Technology Officer / Chief Information Officer
  • Computer and Information Systems Manager / Computer Systems Manager
  • Customer Support Specialist / Data Center Support Specialist
  • Data Quality Manager / Database Administrator / Management Information Systems Director
  • Desktop Support Manager / Specialist
  • Help Desk Specialist / Technician
  • Information Technology Coordinator / Director / Manager
  • IT Support Specialist / Technician
  • IT Support Manager / IT Systems Administrator
  • Java Developer
  • .NET Developer
  • Network Architect / Engineer
  • Network Systems Administrator
  • Programmer / Programmer/Analyst
  • Senior Applications Engineer
  • Senior Database Administrator / Senior Network Engineer / Senior Network Administrator
  • Software Architect / Engineer
  • Software Quality Assurance Analyst
  • Systems Administrator
  • Systems Analyst
  • System Architect / Designer / Systems Software Engineer
  • Technical Operations Officer
  • Technical Support Engineer / Specialist
  • Telecommunications Specialist
  • Web Administrator / Webmaster
  • Web Developer

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