Information Technology & Computers Degree

By: Niamh Brown

Things you should know before pursuing a degree in information technology and computers.

Information Technology & Computers Degree

Computer Science and IT are attractive avenues to many people because of the income potential it can bring. This can be a dangerous lure if you’re new to it and not prepared for the kind of work involved. In order to work out if this is the best choice for you consider the following:

  1. How logical/mathematical are you? In my experience the difficulty of programming and math were often a major reason for people becoming disillusioned with their course. You will need to have an aptitude towards math (perhaps qualifications) and most courses will have a number of programming languages to learn. Often you take to it or you don’t. I would suggest trying some programming classes before taking this at a college or university to see if you enjoy it. However if it isn’t for you, but you like other aspects of computing there might be hardware or engineering avenues you can take instead.
  2. Can you see yourself doing this for years to come? If you don’t, consider something else; although this is true of any degree subject. You probably will have to take a few positions after university before you can get enough experience to get the salary and role you want. Are you interested enough to work at it for 5-10 years? If not, is there something else you are passionate about?
  3. Don’t do it solely for the money – Although IT jobs tend to be better paid, the competition is crazy. The market will be flooded with IT graduates when you leave, especially if you live in a major city. Companies all want experience and you will be fighting each other tooth and nail for any position, temporary or permanent, that will get you the experience you need. Unless this is a passion it will be hard to keep the motivation going long enough for the debt and time invested to pay off.
  4. What is the balance of the course? There are many aspects that can be studied during a computer science/IT degree, so you need to make sure the university you are looking at has the right balance for you. A good one should give you a taste of different pathways (software, programming, graphics, web development, databases, hardware etc) and then give you the option to pick one or two aspects towards the end. If you don’t understand the different parts, research them or try them out beforehand and see if they fit your temperament. Also check to see how up to date your department is in what they offer, you will be several years behind today’s technology when you graduate, so if they are obsolete now there is no point wasting your money.

Computer experience can open many doors. Lots of jobs are looking for IT skills, but this is not the same as studying computer science (It is after all science!). It can be a very useful thing to have to fall back on if you have other interests, but I wouldn’t advise taking a break from it until you have at least 2-3 years work experience on your CV. Technology moves forward so quickly it’s hard to keep up and if you don’t make use of your degree pretty much straight away, you could risk getting too far behind the crowd in your skill-set.

However if you find computers fascinating, are interested in more than one aspect and can imagine yourself working with them for most of your life, then you should have no problems with motivation and your only limit will be how much you’re prepared to put in.

By Niamh Brown, a writer at Helium.com

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