If you've always been interested in technology and are eager to begin a career in the still-rapidly-expanding IT job market, you may be overwhelmed by the number of different courses of study in the information technology sector. A generation ago, those interested in technology had no choice but to go the general Computer Science route, but today's colleges, universities, and technical schools have highly specialized degree programs focusing on everything from coding to technology marketing. If you're interested in programming and helping make systems more efficient, there are several programs that can give you a leg up on the competition. Read on to learn more about the courses of study that can give you the most flexibility and leverage when it comes to choosing your career path in technology.
Business Information Systems (BIS) degree
This degree focuses on process management -- helping integrate the way businesses function with technological upgrades, making processes and work flow as efficient as possible to save clients time and money. Although you'll need enough technical knowledge to work your way around commercial and proprietary software and understand how different operating systems communicate with each other, you won't need to be a high-level coder to achieve a business information systems degree.
Many who earn a BIS degree will go on to be business or systems analysts, performing the same skills that earned their degree in the private market or government sector. This can be a lucrative profession for those just setting out after college, with business analysts earning an average salary of around $65,000 per year and needing only a bachelor's degree to land their first job.
Computer Engineering (CE) degree
Computer Engineering degree holders will need to demonstrate skill in either hardware or software construction (ideally, both). These engineers, like other types of engineers, innovate new ways of doing tasks and are in charge of ensuring that hardware and software can be seamlessly integrated, troubleshooting problems and working backward to find the simplest solutions. Those who prefer working with tangible objects may prefer hardware engineering, while amateur coders may enjoy the challenge of software engineering.
Those who enter either the hardware or software engineering fields will enjoy a higher-than-average starting salary of almost $63,000 per year, earning an average of $105,000 during the peak of their careers. You may opt to work for a private company that designs and markets proprietary software, for state, local, or federal government to work on data security and upgrades or as a contractor for several different companies that have temporary or long-term computer engineering needs.
Computer Science (CS) degree
CS holds a number of similarities to CE, although this degree program tends to have more of a focus on math and science than CE. It can be ideal for those who are passionate about technology and are interested in coding mobile or web applications, working in high-level government intelligence, testing and tweaking software others have developed, or even designing and developing websites for private clients and businesses.
Computer Science degree holders earn similar salaries to hardware and software engineers, beginning their careers in the high $50,000s and topping out at around six figures during the middle of their careers. Those who opt to work as contractors and forgo the tax and healthcare benefits often available through traditional employment may be able to command an even higher hourly salary than CS employees. Because of the heavy load of math and science courses required to attain your CS degree, you'll also have quite a bit of versatility to switch tracks if you discover that one niche in the computer science field isn't quite right for you.