The need for data and technology is inescapable; they're integral to how we function daily, whether for work or personal use. Never has this been more true than in modern times, as ever more significant amounts of data become available in different formats. According to Statista, global data creation grows at a vigorous 20 percent annual rate and will reach more than 180 zettabytes by 2025 (a zettabyte is 1021 bytes).
This technology boom creates numerous opportunities. However, these opportunities demand new, constantly shifting skill sets. They require a solid foundation of knowledge and skills upon which to build.
An advanced education in information management can provide both. Information management combines elements from information technology (IT), data science, information security, and database management. Information management professionals have the knowledge and skill set needed to store, sort, and analyze the raw data that facilitates decision-making processes for industry leaders in healthcare, education, government, and for everyday internet users. They also understand the risks posed by cybersecurity threats and know how to develop the secure information systems essential for risk management.
How much training do you need to thrive in this growing profession? Are individual courses or certificate programs enough? Or would you be better served by a master's degree program? And can you earn that degree online? This article explores that question and also discusses:
Information management is an emerging multidisciplinary technology field. It plays a vital role not just in the management of information but also in developing the infrastructure that stores and sorts this information and in analyzing these large quantities of valuable data for varied audiences to forecast future trends.
The amount of data generated every day is astronomical; the 2020 pandemic caused the number to soar even higher. As individuals worldwide began to work from home, take classes online, turn to e-commerce, binge-watch their favorite shows through streaming platforms, and communicate through video chats, that usage increased the digitization of everyday life.
Who is responsible for storing all this data securely and communicating key trends to stakeholders? Information management professionals, that's who.
This growing discipline opens the door to various career opportunities, from IT specialists to statisticians, data analysts, software developers, and system engineers. As data usage shows no slowing down, the demand for information management professionals seems likely to grow as well.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job market for computer and information systems managers should grow by 11 percent from 2020 to 2030; that's more than twice the growth rate of the overall job market. Many opportunities should come in industries that are transitioning from paper to electronic record-keeping systems, such as healthcare providers.
The BLS notes the average salary for computer and information systems managers was $151,150 in May 2020. The top ten percent of earners in this field make more than $208,000 annually.
Information management careers fall into four categories:
No matter what role you play, a master's degree can help fine-tune your skills, potentially leading to a higher salary, more responsibility, and a more satisfying career.
A Master of Science in Information Management (MSIM) provides foundational knowledge, real-world strategies, and business intelligence to equip graduates with the tools needed to excel. Some programs may offer a Master's in Management Information Systems (MIS) or even a Master of Science in Information Systems Management (MS-ISM). No matter what title and acronym the degree goes by, many accredited programs are available at top-tier schools.
Some top-ranked information systems programs are found within business schools, as this career path requires both technical and business savvy. Business administration skills complement the tech skills needed to succeed in IM and may provide that little bit extra needed to boost you to the executive level. Other IM programs reside in tech and engineering divisions.
Highly regarded IM master's programs include:
Career roles within information management combine many disciplines, including software development, technology management, and data analytics. The curriculum for an MSIS program contains varied courses that pertain to each area. Students can expect such course titles as:
Coursework varies for each program, as do admission requirements and prerequisites. Furthermore, some graduate programs offer specialized tracks in specific interest areas.
Not all coursework will apply to your career aspirations because of the many types of roles available within information management. Fortunately, most master's degree programs offer specializations or electives in which you can essentially build your curriculum in addition to the fundamental courses required.
For example, Indiana University's Kelley School of Business offers the following concentrations along with the option to add electives from the MBA program:
Carnegie Mellon University's MSIS program is a more STEM-designated program. It offers a Business Intelligence & Data Analytics (BIDA) pathway that zeroes in on interpreting analytics to inform strategic decisions. The University of Washington offers specializations in:
The admission process varies by the program, but most prospective students seeking their MSIM will likely need to meet the following requirements:
Information management is a highly technical and analytical field that requires prior knowledge of the fundamentals behind sorting and managing raw data. Most students who pursue an advanced degree in this field usually come from computer science, IT, engineering, statistics, or other STEM-related undergraduate programs.
An advanced degree is not a requirement for most IM jobs, but such credentials do give an added boost to have a competitive advantage in the workplace.
Some individuals seek professional development opportunities through membership-based associations. There's an association for almost every occupation, and information management is no exception. The association world encourages networking and connections among industry professionals of all experience levels, from early career to industry veterans. Information management associations include:
Even though associations are beneficial for networking, certifications, and other opportunities, they don't take the place of a master's degree, which can help you identify your niche through specialized tracks and internship or capstone projects. These hands-on learning and personalized experiences can be invaluable.
We are in the digital age, during which an ever-increasing number of disciplines offer online graduate degrees. Some excellent schools offer the Master of Science in Information Management in both on-campus and online formats. They also offer the degree to full-time and part-time students, often running separate tracks for incoming students with little, moderate, and extensive experience in the tech profession. These programs typically require two years of full-time study to complete.
Online and on-campus programs typically follow similar (if not identical) curricula and frequently employ the same faculty to teach courses. Online programs afford greater flexibility, as much of the content is delivered asynchronously (i.e., it's available 24/7). They also typically provide online faculty office hours, career counseling, virtual advising, and virtual networking events. Some require one or more on-campus residencies, typically a week in length or less.
Deciding to pursue an advanced degree in information management is the first step that may open up a world of opportunities. In addition, the flexibility that many programs now provide makes learning more accessible by allowing a self-paced or accelerated schedule. It's never been easier to pursue a master's degree.
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