At the tail end of the 20th century, we experienced what can only be described as a massive boom and rapid acceleration of the computer industry and the Internet, enhancing the flow of information and making the world and increasingly connected place.
Consequently, with the new century, tech buzzwords like data science, deep learning, and the information highway are now part of regular public usage.
One such word, “Information Technology” (IT), finds its way into virtually every discussion about tech today, but what does it mean?
Origin of the Term “Information Technology”
Handling information has been a part of the human experience for quite a while. Since we developed writing more than 5000 years ago, humans have been storing, utilizing, and communicating data.
However, the term “Information Technology” only first came into use in 1958, coinciding with the massive shift in our ability to store and manipulate data that was happening at the time.
However, beginning in the 1940s, there was a shift from analog systems to newly developed electronic computers, and then programmable iterations of the technology, offering us advanced computing capabilities and significantly enhancing our ability to manipulate information.
Consequently, writers for the Harvard Business Review named the then-new, unnamed form of technological systems information technology.
What these writers considered to be part of information technology includes the various new techniques for processing information, the application of mathematical and statistical methods in our decision-making processes, and the simulation of thinking using computer systems.
The Scope of the Term “Information Technology”
Since modern electronic computers are now ubiquitous and part of our everyday lives, the term information technology is now commonly considered a synonym for computers, computer networks, and other related systems.
However, other information distribution technologies like televisions and phones also fall under the umbrella of information technology as they match the original definition by the Harvard Business Review.
Consequently, computer software and hardware products that enable these technologies, as well as telecom equipment, semiconductors, the Internet, and the resultant commerce and e-commerce are all part of IT.
Nevertheless, the term Information Technology now also features in academics where it is associated with fields of study that prepare undergraduate to meet the computer technology needs of businesses, schools, governments, and other forms of organizations.
Information Technology in the Academic Sense
The Association for Computing Machinery defines information technology as an undergraduate degree program that acquaints students with computer software and hardware products, equipping them with the knowledge to meet the computer technology needs of all forms of organizations.
Consequently, information technology students acquire skills that enable them to select appropriate computer products for any organization. Furthermore, students learn to integrate those products into the organizational infrastructure to meet the companies’ technology needs, as well as customize and maintain those product applications for the organization to guarantee efficient, seamless performance.
A degree in IT gives the student all of the foundational skills they need for troubleshooting and resolving issues with computer systems per industry best practices. A typical information technology degree includes instruction in some of the following fields:
- Hardware and software selection, procurement, and integration
- Operating systems
- Networking and networking security
- Server and database management
- Computer technical support
- Software Development and Programming
- Virtualization and Cloud Computing
- Robotics and Artificial Intelligence
- Geographic Information Systems
- Digital Forensics
- Web Architecture and Administration
Information Technology in the Professional Sense
Companies and other forms of organizations that participate in the information technology field often fall under a common ground in discussions as the tech industry or the tech sector. The use of the term IT in the professional sense typically applies to this sector of the commercial world.
However, today, information technology is no longer restricted to this sector, as computers are now all-pervading, featuring in all forms of business, commerce, and resource management.
Consequently, many companies now have dedicated IT departments that focus on managing their computers, networks, and other forms of technology. The responsibilities for these IT departments include software design and development, network administration, as well as managing the organization’s software and hardware life cycle.
Should You Be an Information Technology Major?
If you have a passion for technology, a degree in information technology might be the one for you, as it could significantly improve your prospects of pursuing a career in the tech sector.
Currently, more than two-thirds of job openings in the information technology sector still require a degree. Hence, a bachelor’s degree in information technology gives you an edge in the rapidly expanding market.
Furthermore, a degree in information technology will help you develop all the characteristics and skills that employers are looking for in candidates to fill their IT departments.
Career Opportunities in Information Technology
Information technology is currently one of the higher paying fields for workers, and it has been that way since day one. Furthermore, the sector is expanding as the world goes increasingly more digital, and new technologies and technological applications appear over time.
According to a report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in the information technology sector has a projected growth rate of 12% by 2028, almost double the average for all jobs.
Currently, Payscale estimates that the median pay for information technology occupations is $86,320, making the field a very inviting one pay-wise.
Accessible information technology jobs include:
- Computer support specialists
- Information security analysts
- Network systems administrators
- Database administrators
- Cloud, network, and software architects
- Computer forensic investigators
- Health IT specialists
- Mobile application developers
- Software engineers
- Geospatial professionals
- Data modelers
- Computer Technical Support Specialists
- User Interface Designers
- Data Scientist
- Information Security Analyst