An information system encompasses the hardware, software, data, people, and procedures needed to generate, deliver, and process information in organizations. Depending on the activities and needs of an organization, different types of information systems may be used to track progress and make decisions in a timely manner. Information systems professionals use their technical knowledge and communication skills to manage computer systems and people within IT departments. At the associate level, students will learn the basic concepts and applications of information systems, specifically within business computing. With this introductory training, students can obtain entry-level positions, or prepare for a higher degree that may lead to middle-management positions.
Why an Associate Degree?
One of the quickest and most affordable ways to obtain an entry-level information systems career is to earn an associate degree. Some begin this path with a vocational certificate in information systems, and others go straight for the two-year degree to avoid spending extra time and money in school. The associate degree is good preparation for work and the bachelor’s degree. Even if you don’t return to school, the information systems associate degree is still a worthwhile investment in your career.
Getting Into an Associate Degree Program
The first step in preparing for an information systems career is earning the necessary education and training. Although admissions criteria vary from school to school, most associate degree seekers need to have the following:
- High school diploma or its equivalent
- Minimum required GPA
- Desired score on the SAT, ACT, and/or entrance exam
Inside an Information Systems Associate Degree Program
Depending on your course load and pace, most associate degree programs take about two years to complete. Students will take courses in a variety of subjects, including accounting, computing, supervisory management, computer programming, computer operating systems, database management, web page design, and more. In addition to the core requirements, some programs also have general education courses and electives.
Online students can access their courses, lectures, assignments, and grades on a learning management system provided by the school. Blackboard, Moodle, and other course management sites have helpful communication tools like instant messaging, discussion forums, and e-mail. Maintaining good communication with your instructors, classmates, and faculty can help you succeed in online courses.
What’s Next for Information Systems Associate Degree Holders?
Graduates of the information systems associate’s degree program are qualified to do several technical jobs. A popular path for many associate degree holders is to become computer systems analysts or computer and information systems managers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer systems analysts and computer and information systems managers have excellent job outlooks, ranging from an 18% to 22% employment increase by 2020. Both occupations also have favorable salaries that vary based on employer, location, education level, and experience. Computer systems analysts made an average annual salary of $83,800 in 2012, and computer and information systems managers made $129,130 annually.
Associate degree holders have good job prospects overall, but there are some employers and positions that require a higher level of education. Students who want to further their schooling for personal or career reasons should consider earning the bachelor’s degree in information systems. Not only will earning a bachelor’s degree meet most employers’ minimum educational requirements, but it can also increase your job opportunities, earning potential, and marketability.