I saw this news article on the WWW.USNEWS.COM website today (See link at bottom of this posting) and just had to read it knowing that IT/CIS related degrees from community colleges were going to be listed as one of the four degrees that are better earned at a community college. I was wrong, not because it isn’t true but simply because IT/CIS was only mentioned in the article not listed as one of the four degrees.Here is why I think IT/CIS degrees from community colleges should have been on this list.
1. IT/CIS workers are in demand. I have read several articles lately that show worldwide shortages in the field currently and for the foreseeable future. Expertise is needed in computer/server support, networking, programming, and cyber security. All of these are available in some version at most community colleges.
2. IT/CIS workers can make good money with a two year degree. Students that have completed Associate degrees in IT/CIS can typically find employment in the field with starting salaries anywhere from $35,000 – $45,000. Additionally with experience and continued training in the form of industry certifications, usually paid for, in part, by the employer, it is not uncommon to be making over $50,000 right about the time a 4 year degree student is just finishing school.
3. IT/CIS coursework at community colleges is typically aligned with industry certifications. The more the better is my take on this. Both community colleges that I have taught at have made curriculum changes to align as many courses with industry certifications as possible. This is a huge advantage to the students that not only complete the degree but take the time to study for and pass the industry certifications. Imagine the advantage you will have over fellow job applicants when you have an Associates Degree with 4-8 industry certifications on your resume. It’s Huge! Most employers use industry certifications (or lack thereof) to weed out resumes for a job posting. With the certifications you are more likely to get the interview than without.
4. The overall cost of your community college education will be significantly less than a four year university education. This cost savings combined with 2 additional years in the field making a good income adds up to a huge head start on your career and life in general.
When you combine the lower cost of community college education, industry certifications, good to great starting/career salaries in an in-demand field it all adds up to a great option for students looking to build a great career and livelihood.
I do have a couple of words of caution however.
1. If you don’t like computers then please do not bother. You will hate it and head for the exit about the 10th acronym into your first class. You have got to love computers to be good in this field. My most successful students just absolutely love everything about computers and simply can’t get enough when it comes to learning more about them.
2. When looking at a particular community college make sure the IT/CIS degrees have aligned their courses with industry certifications. Make sure the CompTIA A+ and Network+ are covered in the courses. If you are working on a networking degree make sure they are aligned with Cisco certifications. Other certifications from the likes of Microsoft, Linux Foundation, CompTIA, and others are all excellent indicators that the coursework is aligned with what employers are looking for.
3. Playing video games is not the same as being responsible for the design, implementation and maintenance of a well run network or computer system. This also applies to programming and development work on video games. It is far more involved to build a video game than it is to play one. Don’t get me wrong here, I do love playing a good video game. However, playing video games does not in anyway correlate with being a good IT technician, IT engineer, or developer.
Until next time.
US News Article