If you use a computer at school, work, or just for fun, you engage with information technology. The software you use, the hardware that drives it, the networks that allow remote users to communicate and collaborate—all of that makes up information technology.
As you might imagine, it’s big business. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in information technology should grow at a 12 percent rate between 2018 and 2028, adding a whopping 546,200 new positions in the process. The median annual income for those jobs is $86,320, and that includes plenty of jobs you can get with a bachelor’s degree. A master’s degree prepares you for higher-responsibility—and higher-paying—roles.
A master’s in information technology is a solid investment in your future, assuming you have an aptitude for, and interest in, computing. You might wonder whether a master’s in computer science would be a better bet. If you’re more interested in theory, future developments in computing, and high-level programming, the answer is yes. If you’re more interested in the practical applications of computing in the here and now, though, a master’s in information technology might better suit your needs.
So, how much will you earn with a master’s in information technology? This article answers that question and a few others, including:
- What is a master’s in information technology?
- What will you study in an information technology master’s program?
- Where can you earn a master’s in information technology?
- How much will you earn with a master’s in information technology?
What is a master’s in information technology?
A master’s in information technology is a computing and technology degree focused on how businesses, organizations, and institutions use computers. The study of information technology is the study of how users exploit existing and emerging solutions to address business needs.
Some laypeople confuse information technology and computer science, but in fact, the two are quite different. Computer science explores the potential and limits of computing and develops novel approaches to problems. Its work is immersed in theory, advanced mathematics, and programming. Information technology, in contrast, is more concerned with applying the product of computer scientists’ work. It also involves purchasing and integration of software and systems, managing projects and teams, and helping end-users utilize computers to make their jobs easier and more productive.
Master’s in information technology degrees are typically offered either through a university’s business school or through its school of applied science and technology. Many degrees fit the description of “master’s in information technology,” including:
- Master of Information Technology
- Master of Science in Information Technology
- Master of Information Systems
- Master of Science in Information Systems
- Master of Information Systems and Management
- Master of Science in Information Systems and Management
- Master of Science in Information Systems Technology
- Master of Science in Information Technology Management
- Master of Science in Information Technology and Management
- Master of Science in Management of Information Technology
- Master of Science in Information and Communication Technologies
- Master of Science in Computer Information Systems
- Master of Science in Engineering in Systems Engineering
- Master of Management Information Systems
What will you study in an information technology master’s program?
Information technology is an extensive discipline. Pretty much any intersection of computing and work—whether that work involves for-profit business, academics, nonprofit organizations, healthcare delivery, or government—falls under its umbrella. The number of concentrations available in information technology degree programs reflects the field’s broad scope. Those concentrations include:
- Business intelligence
- Cognitive computing
- Data analytics
- Data science
- Information security
- Information systems engineering
- Information technology management
- Healthcare informatics
- Management information systems
- Project management
- Software design and engineering
- Web design
In addition to pursuing a concentration (in most programs; some programs offer only a general degree), students in information technology master’s programs typically complete a core curriculum that includes such courses as:
- Advanced Programming and Applications Development
- Artificial Intelligence: Business Applications
- Cybersecurity Policy
- Data Management
- Data Networking
- Data Science and Business Intelligence
- E-Business Technology
- Financial Management
- Information Systems Architecture
- Information Technology Security, Policy, and Compliance
- Large-Scale Computing
- Privacy in the Digital Age
- Programming in Java
- Project Management
- Telecommunications Management
Most master’s of information technology programs include a mandatory capstone experience. It could be an internship with a company or organization, a group project, a thesis, or a certification exam.
Where can you earn a master’s in information technology?
Many excellent schools offer a master’s in information technology degree. The following schools offer a traditional degree on-campus:
The following schools offer a master’s in information technology online (nearly all offer the degree on-campus as well):
How much will you earn with a master’s in information technology?
Information technology covers a lot of ground. A master’s in information technology qualifies you for many different jobs, including those listed below.
- Chief information officer: A chief information officer (CIO, sometimes called the information technology director) oversees IT resources, including IT staff. The CIO is typically in charge of equipment purchases, devising and enforcing productivity objectives for the IT department, and creating an overarching IT strategy for their employer. According to Payscale, chief information officers earn an average salary of $158,851, supplemented by additional incentives totalling another $65,000.
- Chief technology officer: A chief technology officer (CTO) oversees a company or organization’s all-encompassing technology strategy. Long-term planning and communicating those plans to the chief executive officer (CEO), chief operating officer (COO), and other critical stakeholders are a big part of a CTO’s job. The CTO also supervises cybersecurity operations, quality assurance processes, production schedules, and technology budgets. Glassdoor reports that chief technology officers earn an average salary of $153,893. Bonuses, profit-sharing, and other incentive payments can add nearly double that amount.
- Computer and information systems manager: Computer and information systems managers execute on the vision set by the CTO and CIO. They review computer systems with an eye toward opportunities for improvement, install and maintain hardware, and supervise systems analysts, programmers, developers, engineers, and project managers. According to Payscale, computer and information systems managers earn an average salary of $83,649, plus another $8,000 in incentive pay.
- Computer forensic investigator: Computer forensic investigators (sometimes called cybercrime investigators) work with law enforcement to combat online theft and fraud. They also assist in investigative work focused on cyberbullies, security breaches, and any criminal conspiracies that might be captured on a criminal’s computer. According to Payscale, computer forensic investigators earn approximately $73,000 in salary plus another $13,000 in incentives.
- Computer systems analyst: A computer systems analyst studies computer systems to find conflicts, inefficiencies, and possible opportunities for optimization. They recommend improvements and upgrades, factoring in cost, ease of use, and difficulty of reconfiguration in determining whether changes are worthwhile. US News & World Report fixes the average computer systems analyst salary at $88,740.
- Data scientist: As a data scientist, you will gather and evaluate massive data sets to solve business problems, forecast future trends, and develop strategies. This is a job requiring plenty of smarts as well as mastery of mathematics, statistics, analytics, software applications, and computer science. According to LinkedIn, data scientists earn a median salary of $130,000.
- Information security analyst: Information security analysts police networks for security flaws, install software to protect networks, consult with leadership on cybersecurity strategy, and assist end users with cybersecurity-related issues. This is a fast-growing field; the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 32 percent growth in jobs between 2018 and 2028. According to the BLS, information security analysts earn an average of $93,350 per year.
- IT manager: An IT manager makes sure that a business’ network is secure, optimized, and up-to-date. The IT manager oversees help desk operations to solve end-user issues, and often initiates contact with third-party vendors when it’s time to purchase or upgrade equipment. According to Payscale, IT managers earn an average annual salary of $87,611, with the potential for another $14,000 in incentives.
- IT audit manager: In larger operations, the work of IT managers may be subdivided into specific functions. An IT audit manager conducts system audits to ensure that everything is operating as expected; that new software and hardware are compatible with existing assets; and that IT staff are properly trained in managing any issues that might arise from a network’s configuration. Salary.com reports that an information technology audit manager earns between $115,333 and $145,915 annually.
- IT risk manager: As the job title indicates, an IT risk manager focuses on potential risks to an operation’s computer system. The IT risk manager identifies risks presented both by system components (e.g., potential hardware or software conflicts) and by user error or flawed protocols. Should a security breach occur, the IT risk manager is responsible for defending against and shutting down the attack. IT risk managers also oversee insurance claims when failures result in insurable losses. According to Payscale, IT risk managers receive an average salary of $117,832, plus an additional $15,000 in incentives.
- Network administrator: A network administrator maintains computer networks. Among their responsibilities are installing and configuring networks, troubleshooting networks, customizing networks to a customer’s specific needs, upgrading hardware and software within the network, and managing the network budget. According to Indeed, network administrators earn an average salary of $68,149.
- Network architect: Network architects design and build the systems that allow those on a computer network to communicate and share work. They constantly assess the network to determine where improvements would be beneficial, and they consult with the CTO and other leaders to plot an operation’s tech strategy going forward. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, network architects earn an average annual income of $109,020.
- Project manager: In IT, pretty much any task that requires the work of multiple people over multiple days is called a project. That project needs a project manager: someone to assign roles and make sure the jobs get done; to create and enforce deadlines for various milestones and benchmarks; and, to ensure that the whole thing gets done within budgetary constraints. An effective project manager needs great organizational skills, the soft skills necessary to motivate team members, and enough knowledge of all the processes in a project to anticipate and prevent delays and cost overruns. According to Glassdoor, IT project managers earn an average base salary of $88,397, plus an
- Software developer: Software developers write code for software applications. They participate in the design, execution, testing, and maintenance of software projects that function properly across multiple platforms and adhere to cybersecurity best practices. Because software development is a team effort, this job requires not only significant coding skills but also excellent communication skills. According to the BLS, a software developer earns an average annual income of $105,590.
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