It’s no secret that technology governs much of modern life and work.

Information technology, in particular, plays a central role in the success of business, government, and nonprofit organizations. IT professionals oversee such critical tasks and functions as software development, network security, and operational analytics.

But increasingly, IT is also full of new challenges. IT professionals must have skills that go beyond the technical. They must understand business, the creative possibilities of technology, and the innovative solutions that can spring from the integration of technology across an enterprise.

Computer and information technology is a fast-growing field, and many jobs in the field require a bachelor’s degree.* A bachelor’s can be viewed as a sign that job candidates are not only technically prepared for the workplace, but also capable of thinking critically, communicating clearing, and grasping and navigating the issues that unexpectedly arise every day in business.

 

What Tech Skills Are Employers Looking For?

Here’s a look at five skills employers are often looking for in IT professionals:

  • Programming/application development
    Many organizations buy off-the-shelf software, but they still need IT professionals with skills in customization, API development, and integration to make the products work for them.
  • Help desk/tech support
    The broader your knowledge about hardware and software systems, the more useful you’ll be in answering questions from across the organization. People who are tech-minded but human-focused are needed to fill these jobs.
  • Security compliance/governance
    Protecting data from hackers, viruses, and leaks requires IT staffers who understand systems and have a keen eye for potential vulnerabilities.
  • Cloud/SaaS
    As companies increasingly rely on cloud computing for sharing data and leasing software (known as Software as a Service, or SaaS), IT professionals who have experience engineering the architecture needed for a cloud environment are needed.
  • Business intelligence/analytics
    The ability to harness the power of big data represents an enormous opportunity for companies. Health care, insurance, financial services, and retail are just some of the sectors that need IT pros proficient in business intelligence and analytics—bringing together technology with math, engineering, and statistical backgrounds.

 

Job Titles to Explore With a Degree in Information Technology

The world of IT is full of diverse kinds of work and positions. Five job titles to explore include:

1. Computer Programmers write and test the code that allows software applications to function properly.

Responsibilities:

  • Write, analyze, test, and rewrite programs
  • Consult with managers and engineers as needed
  • Document program development

Skills: Mathematics, communication, attention to detail, abstract thinking, problem-solving

Salary: The median annual wage for computer programmers was $79,530 in May 2015.*

*SOURCE: Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook. Capella does not guarantee its graduates will experience any particular career outcome or salary level.

 

2. Database Administrators use specialized software to store and organize data, ensuring that information is available to users yet secured from unauthorized access.

Responsibilities:

  • Direct database maintenance
  • Write policies and procedures
  • Manage security
  • Train employees

Skills: Capacity planning, installation, configuration, database design, migration, performance monitoring, security, troubleshooting

Salary: The median annual wage for database administrators was $81,710 in May 2015.*

*SOURCE: Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook. Capella does not guarantee its graduates will experience any particular career outcome or salary level.

 

3. Network and Systems Administrators are responsible for the day-to-day operation of computer networks, handling maintenance and upgrades, as well as troubleshooting when problems arise.

Responsibilities:

  • Install and support networks
  • Ensure security and integrity of networks
  • Maintain servers
  • Evaluate and install enhancements

Skills: Technical skills, collaboration, initiative, interpersonal communication

Salary: The median annual wage for network and computer systems administrators was $77,810 in May 2015.*

*SOURCE: Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook. Capella does not guarantee its graduates will experience any particular career outcome or salary level.

 

4. Computer Systems Analysts study computer systems and procedures and design solutions that help organizations operate more efficiently and effectively.

Responsibilities:

  • Test, maintain, and monitor computer systems
  • Assist users with solving computer-related problems

Skills: Teamwork, problem-solving, deployment of new systems and components

Salary: The median annual wage for computer systems analysts was $85,800 in May 2015.*

*SOURCE: Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook. Capella does not guarantee its graduates will experience any particular career outcome or salary level.

 

5. Software Developers are the creative minds behind computer programs. They develop applications to do specific tasks as well as the underlying systems that run devices and control networks.

Responsibilities:

  • Install, test, and maintain software systems
  • Recommend upgrades to existing systems

Skills: Knowledge of computer languages, analytical thinking, collaboration, analysis.

Salary: The median annual wage for software developers was $100,690 in May 2015.*

*SOURCE: Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook. Capella does not guarantee its graduates will experience any particular career outcome or salary level.

 

How Can You Stay Relevant in a Quickly Changing Field?

Technology is evolving at an unprecedented pace and skilled IT professionals are in demand. Keeping up on the latest developments can help you stay competitive in this exciting field or make your entry into the IT profession.

  • Get certifications. Adding industry certifications that zero in on a specific skill set (e.g., CompTIA, Microsoft, Cisco) to your resume helps demonstrate to hiring managers or your supervisor that you’re serious about staying on top of the changing IT world.
  • Dig into IT-focused magazines, websites, and blogs. Reading industry publications is a great way to discover new developments in IT and to find inspiration for projects and solutions to problems. You can find reviews of hardware and software applications, learn about leaders in the industry, and get a leg up on emerging topics.
  • Attend conferences. Sometimes face-to-face interaction is the best way to learn something and get exposed to topics and concepts you didn’t even know were developing in the industry. Plus, networking at conferences is a great way to expand your circle of professional peers and, potentially, future employers.
  • Keep learning through online courses. The more business and IT skills and knowledge you can demonstrate, the more value you’ll bring to your employer. Online platforms like Pluralsight give you the chance to add to your toolbox of skills quickly.

 

Ready to gain the technical and soft skills IT leaders are looking for? Capella University’s online BS in Information Technology program is flexible to fit your busy life. The curriculum is built by experts in your profession to help you learn job-ready skills that you can apply immediately. You’ll also have the opportunity gain certifications along the way, learn in a virtual lab, and access Pluralsight courses at no additional cost.

 

*SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Important information about the educational debt, earnings, and completion rates of students who attended this program.
* Disclaimer