If there is ever a degree that is ideal for studying over the internet, it is surely an online IT degree because the tool you are studying with, is the very same tool you are learning about.
It is no surprise then that IT and computer science degrees online have become popular and increasingly well accepted by employers.
Here are five important considerations for anyone contemplating an online computer science degree or IT degree.
1. IT Degree or Computer Science Degree: Which Do You Want?
There is a difference between the two.
If you pursue a computer science online degree you will be dealing more with the creation and implementation of computer programming.
However with an online IT degree, you won’t be working on the “creation” side of the industry but rather working with already established technology systems, (e.g.) network and communications systems installation and maintenance.
2. IT and Computer Science Degrees Don’t Require Hands-On Training
Some aspects of studying networking and security (security is currently the fastest-growing part of the IT industry) may require a small amount of your physical presence while training.
But other than this, most online IT degrees and computer science degrees will not require you to be physically present.
Online teaching technologies are advancing at such a rate that the gap is rapidly closing between the learning experience in a brick and mortar university and an online University.
However, a senior IT industry contractor that I spoke with recently said that one downfall of the online learning experience can occur when the tutor is not camera savvy.
In a situation where the tutoring has been filmed without an audience, a tutor who is not used to fronting a camera can struggle to communicate effectively.
3. What Will an Employer Think about Your Online IT Degree?
After talking to IT industry professionals, it seems that most employers are far more concerned about how well you know your profession and (something that may surprise) strong interpersonal skills.
Most IT employers, like any business, are actually in the people business.
It is businesses (people) who want the network upgraded.
It is businesses (people) who want a new software program written.
The idea of an IT nerd locked away in a room working on his own for eight hours a day isn’t a very common occurrence.
Interpersonal qualities are more important to employers than whether or not you received your computer science degree online or at a brick and mortar university.
Having said that, you would want to ensure that your online computer science degree is from a recognized and accredited university or training institution.
4. Can You Handle the Lack of People Contact?
If you have a had an interest in computers for a while you’re probably very used to spending long periods of time in front of the screen on your own.
But how would you go extending that screen time to working your way through a comprehensive online IT degree? One IT industry professional I spoke to said that he enjoyed going in-person to a University because of the people contact factor.
It is good to consider whether you think you would miss that physical contact with people.
However whether you are completing your computer science or IT degree online versus a traditional university, the vast majority of your study will still be done on your own anyway.
5. Is It Possible to Realize Your Goal without Completing an Online IT Degree?
Is there another route for you to enter the IT industry?
Are there people who are working in the IT industry who do not have these qualifications; people who have got there by extensive online self-learning and then proving to an IT employer they have the necessary knowledge and skills to do the job. The answer to these questions is nearly always yes.
So this route to an IT career is a possibility.
The question is: are you the type of person who could pull it off?
An IT professional of 40 years said to me once that he usually learned more through Google searches than by attending computer science training.
He went on to say that most people, IT professionals included, don’t know how to use Google and other search engines to their full advantage, something that I found rather surprising.
Most of what you would learn through an online IT degree could probably be accomplished through your own online learning program, including the accessing of free online IT training courses.
For more on this idea, see my career training page.
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