Associate Degree in Information Technology

Updated September 26, 2023

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An associate degree in information technology (IT) blends general education coursework with fundamental knowledge and skills in IT installation, maintenance, and problem-solving. By teaching students to create software apps, protect information security, and resolve network and equipment issues, associate in information technology programs prepare learners for entry-level positions as customer service representatives, computer support specialists, and web developers.

Associate in IT graduates can use this degree as a foundation for more advanced education, which may qualify them for lucrative and specialized IT positions as network or computer systems administrators or computer and information research scientists. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 12% growth in computer and information research scientist positions from 2018-2028. This guide covers important information for prospective associate in IT students, including common courses and potential careers and salaries for graduates.

Information Technology Associate Programs

Associate in Information technology programs typically comprise around 60 credits, requiring about two years of full-time study to complete. Some accelerated programs take only 12-18 months, while part-time programs may take three years or more. Students who transfer prior credits may reduce program length.

Online degrees typically cost less and take less time to complete than on-campus degrees. Graduates of associate programs often qualify for entry-level computer support specialist positions, which earn a median annual salary of $53,470.

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Associate in IT degree requirements often include general prerequisites in classes like freshman writing and precalculus, plus core IT courses, such as information security. Some programs allow students to specialize their degrees through concentrations in areas such as software development, information security, or network management. Many programs culminate in a capstone project or internship.

Associate Degree in Information Technology Courses

  • Database Systems Fundamentals: This course introduces students to database system design and usage. Students cultivate common skills and knowledge used by database system developers and administrators.
  • Introduction to Information Technology: Learners in this course cover information systems hardware, software, networks, and databases. Students learn how companies use information technology to guide operations and business decisions. This class also delves into essential information security and ethics policies and practices.
  • IT Project Management: This course takes students through IT project management steps and stages, including planning, implementation, and completion. Students also learn to build systems for tracking and managing risk in their IT projects.
  • Fundamentals of Information Security: Students taking this class explore principles, strategies, tools, and practices for protecting information. Topics include risk management, security assessments and tests, and network security. This course also covers cryptography, incident response, and disaster recovery tools and methods.
  • Web Design and Development: This course introduces students to website functions and interactions with various devices and browsers. It typically entails projects in which learners build web pages and models.

Common Admission Requirements

Students applying to associate in information technology programs need a high school diploma or the equivalent. Required application materials typically include official transcripts from all previously attended high schools and postsecondary schools. Prestigious schools often prefer candidates to demonstrate a minimum 3.0 GPA, but many programs accept students with 2.0 averages.

Schools often require standardized test scores, such as the ACT or SAT, or completion of alternative college placement tests. Students with demonstrated success in prior, college-level coursework often receive test score waivers. Prestigious programs may require recommendation letters, as well.

Most schools charge an application fee of around $50, though members of special interest groups, such as active military members or veterans, may qualify for fee waivers.

Associate Degree in Information Technology Career Outlook

An associate in information technology degree qualifies candidates for several potentially lucrative careers. BLS data from May 2018 indicates that computer and information technology professionals earn a median annual wage of $86,320 -- more than double the national median salary for all occupations.

Graduates with an associate in IT degree can also work in roles such as computer support specialist or customer service representative. These jobs garner median salaries of $33,750 and $54,470, respectively.

When combined with requisite skills and work experience, an associate in IT may qualify graduates for specialized, higher-paying positions as IT specialists, network analysts, or web developers. These professionals typically earn annual salaries of $57,000-$70,000.

What Jobs Can You Get With an Information Technology Associate Degree?

An associate in IT meets the educational expectations for many of the following positions, though some jobs may require additional certification or training.

Computer Support Specialist

Often working in contexts such as helpdesks or IT support call centers, these professionals provide computer network or user support through email, phone, or in-person communication. Duties may include testing and maintaining network systems, diagnosing computer issues, and teaching customers to use computer features.

Median Annual Salary: $53,470

Projected Growth Rate (2018-28): 10%

Customer Service Representative

Customer service representative duties vary by industry, but most representatives address customer problems and questions, process orders, and make changes to accounts. Other duties include recording service activities and referring customers to supervisors or other departments. Some of these professionals also provide information leading to the sale of new products.

Median Annual Salary: $33,750

Projected Growth Rate (2018-28): -2%

Web Developer

These professionals employ design and technical skills as they develop websites for organizations or individuals. They typically consult with employers or clients, create computer applications, and write computer code. Some developers also produce visual, verbal, or audio content for the sites they create. Web developers may also collaborate with other design or IT professionals.

Median Annual Salary: $69,430

Projected Growth Rate (2018-28): 13%

Educational Paths

Managerial and specialized positions in computer and information technology often require at least a bachelor's degree. Consequently, IT associate program graduates seeking higher-paying careers usually use their degrees as a foundation for further study.

Bachelor's degrees in IT meet the academic qualifications for positions as computer network architects, information security analysts, and network or computer systems administrators. These professionals typically earn $80,000-$100,000 annually.

Students interested in research may continue on to master's or doctoral programs in IT or related fields. Advanced degrees can qualify graduates for research-related careers as computer and information research scientists.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Associate's in Information Technology

What is Information Technology?

A branch of information and communications technology, information technology includes computer- and internet-based storage, communication, and usage of data, typically for business purposes. IT includes telecommunications and computer systems design, administration, maintenance, and support. IT also applies to software, hardware, networks, and databases. IT careers include computer technician, software designer, systems analyst, and computer scientist.

What is Health Information Technology?

Health IT describes the storage, analysis, and communication of health information. This information may include personal health records, electronic health records, and electronic prescriptions. Health IT professionals often specialize in encryption and other methods that protect privacy by controlling access to sensitive health information.

What is Information Technology Governance?

A dimension of corporate governance, IT governance (ITG) refers to IT risk management and performance processes. ITG also entails the choosing and implementing of IT investments to improve company performance. ITG professionals ensure the effectiveness, compliance, and efficiency of IT operations.

How Do I Get Into Information Technology With No Experience?

Entry into this skills-based field can involve short-term training or professional certification. However, pursuing an associate or higher-level degree in the field typically yields more opportunities. Aspiring IT professionals should also consider optimizing networking opportunities, teaching themselves necessary skills online, and highlighting relevant soft skills from prior, non-IT work experience.

Why Do Students Need to Study Information Technology?

As a diverse, growing field, IT offers career opportunities in virtually every industry. An IT education provides the knowledge and skills necessary for graduates to build successful careers in the field. Lucrative IT careers typically require bachelor's degrees, but earning an associate constitutes a strong first step toward that credential. A solid education helps IT students obtain flexible, lucrative, and practical computer and IT careers with promising growth projections.

Featured Image: Hinterhaus Productions / Digital Vision / Getty Images

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