Best Two-Year Degrees For Entry Into IT Career

With unemployment still high, many of those among the jobless are returning to college to educate themselves for in-demand computer industry jobs

By Curtis Ross
Posted 2013

Best 2-Year Computer Degrees
Best 2-Year Computer Degrees

With unemployment still hovering at a worrisomely high percentage, many displaced workers may be considering returning to college with an eye toward a career change.

Similarly, recent high school graduates considering a college program must factor in what career options their degree will open for them.

For potential students in either situation, particularly those with a knack for computers, a career in computer support can be a smart choice.

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A 2 Year Computer Degree Can Lead to Quick Entry Into the Job Market

For those looking to enter the job market as quickly as possible, computer support positions are easily attainable with a two-year degree.

Two-year degrees – typically called an associate’s degree – allow students to train and prepare for a career in half the time of earning a bachelor’s degree.

They also have the benefit of often paying just a fraction of the cost of a four-year degree at a university.

Computer support positions consistently appear in lists of the best careers available with a two-year degree.

Begin Your IT Career with a Computer Support Position

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), computer support positions generally fall into two categories: technical-support specialists and help-desk technicians.

Technical support specialists, also called computer network support specialists, work in an organization’s information technology (IT) department. They analyze, troubleshoot and evaluate any computer network problems. They also maintain upkeep of their organization’s networks by finding solutions to problems in a timely manner.

Technical support specialists provide assistance by phone, email or in-person visits. They often work under network and computer systems administrators.

A technical-support specialist’s duties include:

  • Test and evaluate network systems
  • Perform regular maintenance to ensure that networks work properly
  • Troubleshoot local area networks (LANs) and wide area networks (WANs) as well as Internet systems.

Help-desk technicians, also known as computer user support specialists, provide technical help to non-IT computer users, who request help via telephone or email. On occasion, they will work with a customer in person.

The issues that concern help-desk technicians vary with the industry and the particular firm. Some are employed by large software companies or support service firms and instruct business customers using complex programs. Others deal with consumers with questions about their computer or its software. Still others work for organizations and help non-IT workers with their computer problems.

Help-desk technicians typically do the following:

  • Discuss computer problems with customers
  • Diagnose customers’ computer issues, asking questions when necessary
  • Provide instructions to help customers solve their computer problems
  • Set up or repair computer equipment and devices
  • Instruct users on new computer hardware or software, including printing, installation, word processing and email
  • Provide information to others in the organization about what gives customers’ concerns

Some help-desk or call-center positions can be obtained with no postsecondary degree, although candidates seeking any job requiring more technical knowledge will need at least an information technology related associate’s degree.

Most companies require on-the-job training of at least three months, longer for positions requiring more technical skills.

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Many IT professionals advance on the basis of work experience. However, some organizations prefer bachelor’s degree holders for higher-level positions. IT professionals can enhance their chances for advancement by pursuing a bachelor’s degree in computer science, engineering or information science.

The BLS forecasts employment growth in the field of computer support specialists of 18% from 2010 to 2020. Part of the reason for the gain, according to the BLS, is that the need for support services will increase as organizations upgrade computer equipment and software. For example, computer support staff will be needed to install and repair complex computer equipment and software.

Computer support specialists earned an annual wage of $46,260 in May 2010, according to the BLS.

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