Information technology is ideal for students interested in designing computer systems, learning about computer programming, and developing software. As a field, it seeks to apply computer applications to the gathering, storing, and retrieving of information. In addition, the subject explores ways to keep information secure. A typical certificate program in information technology will include lessons on Microsoft Office, C++, networking, and database development. Students will also learn how to think critically about projects and solve common technological problems. Because the field is broad, students may also have the opportunity to specialize their certificates in an area of information technology that interests them, like health informatics, multimedia, or web development.
Types of Information Technology Certificates
Vocational Certificate in Information Technology
At the vocational level, online certificate programs in information technology teach students the basics of information system architecture, database systems, and hardware. They also help students develop their communication and professional writing skills. These certificates are a good way to set a foundation upon which you can build your career. Unlike with associate degrees, these programs can be completed in a short amount of time and therefore cost less. Exact qualifications for vocational certificate programs will vary, but typically require the following:
- High school diploma or equivalent.
- SAT, ACT, or college placement exam.
Program length will vary according to course requirements and student status. Those who attend on a full-time basis can finish the certificate program in as little as six months. Those who take part-time classes may take a year to complete the curriculum.
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Information Technology
At the post-baccalaureate level, classes build upon the skills acquired during the student’s undergraduate education. Earning a post-baccalaureate certificate in information technology is a good way to get additional experience in the field, which in turn will make you in a more marketable potential employee. Some certificates may also give students the opportunity to specialize in an area of information technology, like networking or systems management. Classes will include systems analysis and design, data communications, and business systems. To gain admission, students typically must have:
- Bachelor’s degree in a related subject.
- Transcripts from prior colleges and universities.
- Experience with programming environments.
It usually takes around a year for students to complete the post-baccalaureate certificate program, although students who attend on a part-time basis may take longer. Projects and assignments involve the study of operating systems, programming practice, and electives in documentation or communications. Students may also learn how to manage and delegate software projects.
Post-Master’s Certificate in Information Technology
After earning a master’s degree, students can advance their education even further by earning an information technology post-master’s certificate. A post-master’s certificate is a good way to stay current on technological developments, which will keep your knowledge relevant within the IT field. It can also help you advance up the career ladder into management positions. To gain admission, you must have the following:
- Master’s degree in a related subject.
- Transcripts from your prior colleges and universities.
- Passing GRE scores.
Post-master’s degree programs usually take a year to complete. Students who only take classes on a part-time basis may take longer to complete the program. Classes will include current topics in information technology, web programming, data management, and systems analysis and design.
What’s Next for Certificate Holders?
After earning your information technology certificate online, you can qualify for a variety of information technology positions. You could find a position as a computer systems analyst, which earns around $77,640 annually, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). You could also work as a database administrator, a field that has good job prospects, the BLS reports. These aren’t the only possible careers for information technology majors. The BLS lists several, including software developer and computer support specialist positions.
If you want to educate yourself even further, consider earning a doctorate in information technology. Doctoral degrees can take anywhere from five to eight years to complete, but involve a lot of research and hands-on practice, which will help you become an expert in your field. Upon earning a doctorate, you can establish a career as a computer information search scientist, a position that earns around $100,660 annually, the BLS reports. You could also work in academia and teach information technology to future certificate and degree students.