For a business of any significant size to function – much less compete – in today’s world, it must utilise the latest and greatest information technologies. Every day, a new computer product or Internet technology is introduced to revolutionise the way data are stored, processed and shared among co-workers, peers, businesses and governments – both internally and globally.

As modern technology steamrolls further ahead, the gap between those “in the know” and those endlessly confused by technology of any sort widens. Knowledge of information technology is an extremely valuable asset to possess.

Though most interpret the term “information technologies” (IT) to refer exclusively to computer hardware and software, it also applies to other electronic communications media, like broadcasting and telephones. The application of IT services exists across all manner of business functions. Even service businesses and trades have come to rely on modern technology and software programmes to schedule appointments, electronically transmit invoices, or even diagnose automotive problems. The growing reliance of nearly all businesses on IT creates a perpetual cycle of demand for IT professionals.

Ideal applicants for Information Technologies programmes

If communication media and technology fascinate you, a Masters degree in an IT field may be perfect for you. The job requires a strong grasp of electronics and the myriad means to transmit data. An IT professional should enjoy challenges and problem-solving. Someone in information management must be able to evaluate data like a researcher, diagnose problems like a doctor and account for many different variables like a scientist. These efforts must result in efficient solutions for clients or employers, with end goals of solving problems, streamlining processes and communicating effectively with peers, co-workers, customers and every other stakeholder.

The tools of this profession change every day, and you must be willing – and even eager – to embrace new technologies and change around every corner. An IT professional must always be learning, staying up to date with the latest technological advances and competing in an ever-changing market.

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IT professionals also frequently manage people, or groups of people, to accomplish an assignment. Project management skills are an asset that IT supervisors need to add to their portfolio of expertise.

Information Technologies course content

A Masters programme in information technologies will educate you on specific facets of data storage, analysis and transmission. Common courses that you will take include the following subject areas:

  • Hardware and software support
  • Systems design and analysis
  • Software/hardware development and installation
  • Network design, installation, support and security
  • Database administration
  • Information storage management

Career options

As an IT professional, you are valued for the expertise you can provide to others in a highly technical field. You can sell your services as an independent contractor or work for a company providing IT services to multiple clients. If a company is large enough, it may directly employ IT professionals and have staff dedicated to vital functions such as administration of the company’s internal network.

The acronyms CEO (chief executive officer) and COO (chief operations officer) may be familiar to you, but how about CIO? As the role IT plays in a company becomes more and more critical, the position of chief information officer is rapidly becoming a common position in larger companies, and it is the most senior officer in charge of information technology in a business.

In terms of job security, the availability of jobs for IT professionals is continually on the rise, with no sign of slowing down anytime soon. In fact, every prediction of the future calls for more and more reliability on technology and automation for nearly every facet of business.

As the field grows, so do IT specialisations. You may decide to focus on becoming an authority when it comes to network security, for example, which is an extremely critical business function. Knowing how hackers operate and finding the tiny faults in security systems that can lead to devastating data loss or dissemination is incredibly valuable. As with any specialisation, you can choose to practice the skills in the marketplace or become an educator, sharing your valuable knowledge to those who need it most. The more specialised your knowledge of a particular facet of IT, the higher in demand your skills are likely to be.

Beyond a Master’s degree lies another growing world of PhD programmes that can further prepare you for your career. The terminology used for these programmes may vary, but the content always boils down to the storage, analysis and transmission of data.

Programme admission

The admission requirements of any Masters programme will vary from school to school, but typically begins with the completion of a Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and submission of the score to the school’s admissions office. Once you know your score is sufficient, you can complete the application process, which usually includes transcripts, essays, letters of recommendation and other documentation.

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Start your school research early. Narrow down your selections to just a few, and then investigate their admission requirements (often stated clearly on the school’s website) to make sure you are a fit for their programme. Do not expect every school to have identical requirements, or even every programme at a particular school. Do the legwork and find out what you will need to submit, and then go a step further and try to talk to someone at the school personally, either an admissions officer or member of faculty. You may discover some new piece of information that could change the trajectory of your studies to one that suits you better.

IT professionals are the plumbers and electricians of the virtual world, master tradesmen who keep data moving all the time and yet constantly available to us. Demand for their expertise increases daily. Since information must flow around the globe lightning-fast just to maintain the status quo, the capacity, security and reliability of that flow is crucial to the success of virtually every business.

For an overview of some of the most popular Masters programmes, click here