What IT Courses Are Out There?
Whether you’re looking to start a new information technology career or pick up skills to advance an existing one, IT training programs are an effective way to achieve that goal.
Gone are the days when a four-year degree in technology was the only way to land a tech job. These days, the world’s tech professionals come from diverse backgrounds. Some possess a formal education, while others are self-taught.
These IT professionals are flexible and adaptable - and with good reason. Technology is ever-changing, requiring people to evolve at blistering breakneck speed. Years of classroom training is no longer realistic. That’s particularly true in the cybersecurity market where hackers are staying one step ahead.
Colleges, universities, and trade schools have gotten wise to the speed of technological changes. So have employers who are increasingly hiring skilled tech workers without bachelor’s degrees.
With demand for tech professionals surging, various programs have emerged to prepare the high tech workforce of tomorrow. The training is as varied as the students. There are options by the length of the program, area of focus, and the structure. Some courses take years to complete while others last several weeks. Training can be in a classroom setting, online, or a combination of both.
Finding the IT course that’s right for you depends on your goals, time frame, and commitment level.
IT Bootcamp Courses
Bootcamp programs typically last ten to twelve weeks, requiring students to immerse themselves into intensive training. Bootcamps have been around for nearly a decade, training people in everything from software coding to, more recently, data analytics and cybersecurity.
They used to be the domain of trade schools, but colleges and universities have realized their potential to train and educate students fast. They’ve launched proprietary programs or partnered with bootcamp providers to provide access to this form of training.
Learning to code is the most popular reason to take a bootcamp class, but it’s not the only one. Bootcamp style courses are gaining traction in other tech areas, such as security bootcamps, which teach people how to safeguard computer networks.
These courses typically require one to two years of IT experience and a general understanding of networking. They provide an opportunity for IT professionals to branch into an area of the market that’s rife with jobs or hone in on existing skills.
Data science bootcamps teach people how to build statistical models, mine data, and predict patterns in the data companies amass while networking bootcamps prepare students to build and support computer networks and servers.
Bootcamps have a strong track record for placing qualified tech workers with companies because they aren’t beholden to a particular curriculum. Many work with local businesses to create programs to match the in-demand skills. Programs are designed around the latest advances in technology and security developments, providing hands-on training that applies to the real world.
Whether you’re considering a coding, cybersecurity, or data analytics bootcamp, expect to pay a lot less than if you go the traditional route.
Student loans may not be available for every bootcamp, but some offer deferred payments or income sharing agreements that can help with the expense. Many of the programs have scholarships and grants that also defray some of the costs.
Bootcamps aren’t for the faint of heart or the half-committed. They’re known for being intense, but the payoff is worth it. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the computer and information technology job market will see 13% annual growth for the next seven years.
Online IT Training
The Internet is a treasure trove of training courses that don’t require you to get off the couch. They are geared toward DIYers and self-directed learners.
- Some of the programs are free, lasting merely a few hours.
- Others cost money, providing a more structured online learning environment with courses and certificate programs that can take weeks or months to complete.
- There’s also online-only universities that enable you to earn certifications and degrees as if you were attending a traditional college or university.
- These programs aren’t for everybody. They’re geared toward those who are disciplined, driven and are OK without the hands-on training.
- They are appealing to time-crushed individuals who need the flexibility that online education affords them.
College Courses & Trade Schools
Dedicating four years to schooling may not be an option for everyone, but it’s still a viable way to gain the necessary training. Many higher education institutions have developed flexible programs to cater to all of their students, including those working full-time.
- The cost to earn a traditional college degree in information technology will vary from one school to the next. The time it takes to complete the program will also differ.
- Some schools have accelerated programs that enable you to earn a degree in 3 years rather than
- Some offer distance-learning where you don’t need to be in a physical classroom and independent studies where you earn credits without attending structured classes.
- Trade schools offer programs that won’t take as long, forgoing the need to learn skills outside your discipline.
The pros and cons of taking the traditional route:
- Pro: on the one hand, you’re forced to take non-IT courses, which means you gain much needed soft skills such as the ability to communicate or write. Also, if you’re unsure about your future, a college experience will give you time to decide.
- Con: If your focus is making money, it’s going to take more time to get there. For IT professionals, a bootcamp is a quicker way to gain necessary skills.
Demand for IT jobs will only increase as companies turn to high-skilled tech workers to protect their networks, analyze data, and create applications. Taking advantage of these opportunities requires the right skills. How you get them is up to you.
Whether you choose an IT bootcamp class, go at it alone, or earn a four-year degree, arming yourself with the in-demand skills will ensure a successful information technology career for the years to come.
Think you have what it takes to propel your career to the next level or embark on an exciting new one? Check out the University of Miami’s bootcamp program.