Hack College Presents: Getting Into IT Management

it-management

Information technology (IT) has a place in virtually every field. And as companies become more reliant on the latest technology (i.e., cloud computing and cyber security), the demand for IT administrators, specialists, and managers will continue to grow.

Part I. The IT Industry

According the the newly released Robert Half Technology IT Hiring Index and Skills Report, there is a 9% increase in IT hiring activity. “CIOs report higher demand for IT professionals in the first quarter, especially for those with skills in hot areas such as applications development and IT security,” said John Reed, senior executive director of Robert Half Technology. “In the new year, we often see increased hiring as firms’ budgets for 2013 have been approved and they are able to hire additional personnel.”

An Overview of IT Careers

A common denominator in IT careers is having interpersonal and management skills. IT professionals are the link between technology and the people using it. If you have a genuine interest in technology, strong analytical skills, and meticulous attention to detail, IT is a great area to launch a career.

  • Database Administrator: Database administrators use software to store, organize, and manage data for companies. Testing systems for integrity and security is a big part of this job. A bachelor’s degree in IT or a related field like computer science is almost always required.

  • System Architect: System architects interface with users to determine and construct a computer system that fits their needs. In addition to IT and management experience, this role typically requires a bachelor’s degree in computer science or IT; a master’s degree in an IT related field is sometimes preferred.

  • Network Security Specialist: This role helps users control access to their computer networks and protect stored data. Requisite qualifications include experience as a database or systems administrator and a bachelor’s degree in IT or Management Information Systems (MIS). Additional certifications like Services CompTIA Security+, GIAC Security Essentials, and Certified Ethical Hacker can help job candidates stand out.

  • SAP Consultant: Experts in Systems Applications and Products (SAP) might choose to consult businesses on setting up this software, integrating it with other information management systems, or training others to use it. This job generally requires a bachelor’s degree in computer science or IT, along with several years of professional experience with SAP.

Salary and Career Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the majority of IT professionals earned between $40,000 and $100,000 in 2010, depending on the job. This is a highly profitable field considering most IT roles only require a bachelor’s degree. As technology becomes more complex, additional certifications can boost income substantially.

The forecast for IT jobs is good, with growth expected to continue over the next seven years. The BLS projects a 28% leap in network and computer systems administrators jobs. With businesses using the latest technology to become more profitable and efficient, tech-savvy professionals with interpersonal and management skills are sure to have a bright future.

Part II. Top U.S. IT Programs

In order to land a job as an IT professional, a solid education in computer science or MIS is key. Programs offered by technical schools, such as ITT Technical Institute, can help students form a knowledge base for a particular area of IT. However, students who earn a degree from a leading university tend to have a more well-rounded education and can prove that they are able to meet goals, making them more desirable to employers.

Syracuse University

  • Accreditation: Accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Specialized Degrees: Students can earn a B.S. in IT and Technology or Systems and Information Sciences. Those seeking a computer science degree can minor in information systems and technology or IT. The school offers a dual degree program, that combines information systems and technology with a supplementary degree, such as information technology, design and startups or computer science.
  • Industry Perception: Since the 1980s, the iSchool has prepared students for careers in data administration, database management, systems analysis, and consulting.
  • Cost: $55,600 for undergraduate programs
  • Financial Aid: Loans, scholarships, and work-study programs are available.

Penn State University

  • Accreditation: Accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Specialized Degrees: Students can earn a B.S. in Management Information Systems (MIS), Computer Science, or Computer Engineering. Those going the computer science route can minor in MIS. There is also a graduate program in computer science and engineering. The Penn State World Campus offers undergraduate and graduate IT related programs completely online.
  • Industry Perception: The computer science research expenditure at Penn State is ranked eighth in country and the school ranks fifth in computer science citations.
  • Cost:  $16,444 for undergraduate resident programs, and $28,746 for undergraduate nonresident programs
  • Financial Aid: About half of full-time undergrads receive some kind of need-based financial aid, with the average award being $6,531.

Georgia Institute of Technology

  • Accreditation: Accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
  • Specialized Degrees: The school offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs focusing on IT management. Students can also minor in computing and management. For those wishing to advance their career, there is a certificate program in IT management.
  • Industry Perception: The College of Business takes great responsibility in placing alumni in rewarding careers or graduate programs.
  • Cost: $10,098 for undergraduate resident programs, and $29,402 undergraduate nonresident programs
  • Financial Aid: About 40% of full-time undergrads receive some kind of need-based financial aid, with the average award around $9,000.

Carnegie Mellon University

  • Accreditation: Accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Specialized Degrees: Students can earn a B.S. in Computer Science or Computer Science and Arts. Graduate programs include a master’s degree in information systems management and a master’s degree in IT.
  • Industry Perception: Carnegie Mellon University has ranked first in IT and management by US News & World Report.
  • Cost: $44,880 for undergraduate programs, and $42,916 for graduate programs
  • Financial Aid: Nearly half of full-time undergraduates receive some kind of need-based financial aid; the average award is roughly $25,000.

University at Albany, State University of New York

  • Accreditation: Accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Specialized Degrees: The school offers a computer science combined baccalaureate-master’s degree program, Master of Science in Information Science Degree, and an information security certificate program.
  • Industry Perception: The university is ranked third for its IT management program by U.S. News and World Report.
  • Cost: $7,525 for undergraduate resident programs, and $18,145 for undergraduate nonresident programs
  • Financial Aid: Nearly 60% of full-time undergraduates receive some kind of need-based financial aid, with the average award around $6,000.

Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey

  • Accreditation: Accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Specialized Degrees: Students can earn a bachelor’s degree in IT and informatics.
  • Industry Perception: Nearly all of Rutgers 2,500 full-time faculty hold a Ph.D. or an equivalent degree. The school ranks ninth among U.S. universities in supercomputing systems.
  • Cost: $13,073 for undergraduate resident programs, and $26,393 for undergraduate nonresident programs
  • Financial Aid: In 2000, 65% of undergrads received some form of financial assistance.

Part III. Launching an IT Career

It’s true that finding a job can be a full-time job, especially for those fresh out of school. But, those willing to put in some extra effort by fine-tuning their résumé, reaching out to their network, and taking on jobs that aren’t “dream” material will have an edge over the competition.

Overlooking opportunities in disguise is a common mistake among people who are just starting out in their career. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Volunteering, attending professional networking functions, and attending conferences can all lead to job interviews. Taking advantage of these opportunities also allows you to show off your social skills, something that is quite valuable in the IT field.

With each interview, demonstrate enthusiasm for your work and the company. Before you leave, find out the timeline for the hiring process and get the names your interviewers. Follow up with these people within 24 hours of the interview to thank them for their time and reiterate why you are the right person for the job. Check out Inside Tech for more interview tips.

5 Tips From IT Insiders

Among the many white-hot areas, the one I find most promising is the tremendous push into analytics-driven decision-making generated by the ever-growing availability of big data. Today, we all work in content-rich environments where information sets of almost endless combinations are being developed to deliver strategic value. This suggests a strong need for data scientists, developers, analysts and related technologists who can help organizations build and work with analytics-driven tools. – Dave Ballai, CIO and vice president of commercial solutions at Reed Technology & Information Services

Java is making a big comeback, yet Java programmers can’t find jobs. Employers are looking at more than skills. It’s Java applied to mobile apps or big data or retail. It’s knowing how to make people more likely to spend money [online] or how to build an online presence along with C++ and Python. – David Foote, CEO and chief research officer at Foote Partners LLC

Volunteering at these different nonprofits allowed me to try several different types of jobs in the high tech industry. I was able to figure out if I liked writing code for websites or tearing apart old computers. – Charles Smith, network administrator for the Center for Media and Independent Learning at the University of California at Berkeley

Mingle with the business people. Make every effort to know the people in your organization who run the business. Seek out a mentor, even if the mentoring relationship is casual and occasional. Almost no one can see themselves objectively, so a positive relationship with senior business (and IT) professionals can be immensely valuable. – Eric J. Brown, Executive Vice President and CIO, NCI Building Systems, Inc.

IT professionals need to focus on areas that either drive down costs, such as virtualization, cloud computing, and converged networking, or on areas that help to generate revenue, such as social media, mobile marketing, and SEO. Ultimately, those IT professionals who have a positive impact on the bottom line will be the most valuable to their employer. – Rick Mancinelli, managing partner for Cloud Computing Concepts

A Star Player in the Digital Age

Those interested in bringing the rest of the world into the digital age will have a promising future in information technology and management. With their strong background in computer science, flair for the creative, and ambitious nature, trained IT professionals should have little trouble landing a desirable position.