If you’re considering studying IT, you may wonder how hard it is to complete an information technology degree. If, for example, you’re interested in a Bachelor of Information Technology or similar, what are your chances of success?
Information technology is not hard to study if you’re technically minded and a solid student. You’ll examine how computer systems work and do subjects on programming, logic and mathematics. Passing with strong grades is achievable by diligently attending classes and doing the work.
Intellectual brilliance is not required to succeed with IT courses. But it’s also true that some people aren’t suited to this field of study and could constantly struggle. Let’s explore how difficult information technology is to learn and whether an IT degree may be a good choice for you.
Being Logical is Better than Being Highly Creative
Acquiring tech knowledge and IT skills may be easier if you feel your thinking is based on causality and you solve problems methodically. Because information technology deals with coded information systems and software, logic is central to the field.
But if you think like an artist, studying information technology may be hard. When your brain works in a more creative, unframed way, with high openness to new concepts and perceptions, learning I.T. may often be uninteresting to you. In a list of the top 20 degrees for creative people, game design was the only information technology career mentioned.
Students with a creative mindset may easily lose their motivation in information technology courses. At times, it is necessary to persist with problems or tasks that involve long series of logical steps. This is certainly true of many coding or debugging jobs. Letting your mind wander may take you away from the task at hand and cause mistakes.
This is not to say that creativity is unhelpful in information technology. Lateral thinking can be of great benefit for finding solutions and innovating. But just don’t expect to be able to satisfy creative urges on a regular basis when you study IT or computer science.
And Don’t Be Too Much of a People Person
It’s a similar story as far as being interested in people. You may be naturally drawn to the mysteries of culture, society and fame. You could also be strongly into philosophy or excel at other humanities subjects such history or politics.
The quality of being interested in people does have benefits in the information technology field. Communication and other soft skills, such as political awareness in IT management, often determine who goes farthest with their IT careers.
Being a people-person or extrovert is also considered highly beneficial as an IT project manager, help desk technician, web developer, software sales rep, computer systems analyst or UX designer (Source: Megan Ruesink).
But the practicalities of learning IT mean that you must be able to handle long periods when you’re focused on technical tasks only. There’ll often be no people, characters or social dynamics involved in any way. You must be OK with delving into systems of logic to succeed with your bachelor’s degree.
What Do You Study in Information Technology?
Information technology courses are flexible in terms of the topics you study, even for degree programs. The core subjects that make the foundations for an IT career are quite small in number.
At Macquarie University for example, the Bachelor of Information Technology program contains only four essential subjects: (A) Introduction to Computer Programming (B) Introduction to Database Design and Management (C) Data Communications and (D) Introduction to Cyber Security. These subjects represent essential knowledge foundations working in the IT industry.
Any foundations course in information technology should contain an interesting mix of tech topics and computer concepts. To succeed, you must be prepared to get stuck in and learn each subject well. But none of the topics are so difficult as to make an IT foundations course very hard.
How Hard Are Information Technology Majors?
Beyond the core subjects, IT courses offer a range of electives and optional specializations. The Macquarie program currently offers seven majors. Ordered from hardest to easiest (in my personal view), they are: (1) Artificial intelligence (2) Data science (3) Software technology (4) Networking (5) Web and mobile app development (6) Information systems and business analysis and (7) Cyber security.
You have the option to go for easier or more difficult programs when you choose a specialization for a bachelor’s degree. Each computing major is potentially a pathway into a specialist field where you can dedicate your career.
Artificial intelligence, machine learning and data science may be the most difficult majors in terms of mathematics and the breadth of skills you’re required to learn. Software and app development are challenging with respect to programming. Cyber security and business analysis are relatively easy in terms of technical skills requirements to work in these industries.
Does Information Technology Require Math?
Technically, you may be able to study information technology without doing much mathematics. It depends on the program. And many IT careers are essentially free of mathematical tasks. Nonetheless, if you’re not strong at math, I believe an IT career may not be the best choice.
Information technology degrees often contain mathematics subjects and you’re generally expected to be competent at math. To earn a typical IT or computer science degree, you’ll generally need a solid understanding of algebra, Boolean logic and discrete mathematics. Probability theory and statistics are generally useful. Calculus could also be necessary sometimes in a few special areas.
While learning IT requires math, the level depends on the orientation of the course. To put it simply, the ability to use logic or mathematical thinking is more important than solving quadratic equations. Through choice of electives, you may be able to construct an IT degree program with low mathematical requirements.
However, it would be an unusual person who is terrible at math while also being able to do advanced coding, database management and systems analysis. Logic is a mutual theme in IT and mathematics and the two disciplines seem to rely on similar kinds of innate abilities.
Which Is Harder: IT or Computer Science?
The difference between information technology and computer science is quite arbitrary and the terms of often considered synonymous. Universities usually only offer only one type of general computing degree at a bachelor level, such as BSCS, BCS, BIT or BInfTech. Whether you study IT or computer science, the same kinds of core subjects, elective units and computing majors may be available.
Notwithstanding this, a traditional computer science degree has some elements that you won’t ordinarily study as part of an information technology program. These serve to make computer science a hard major. The programs may be more fundamental because the topic is the science of computing. Computer science students may explore how operating systems work and spend more time learning programming and advanced mathematics.
Information technology is presented as a practical degree that prepares students for computing jobs. Generally, an IT major is perceived to have fewer theoretical and mathematical demands than other computing study fields – including information science, information systems, management information systems, and computer science.
Given a broad IT curriculum, you can create customized programs. You may be able to focus on what you need to know for your future career, steering clear of difficult subjects with limited applied value. That potentially makes an information technology degree easier.
Is Information Technology Good to Study?
I’m not going to give the typical answer to this one. Yes, there are good reasons to study information technology. You’d be entering a growth industry with plenty of job openings and strong job security. High salaries are also available in many of the specialist fields such as software engineering and data science.
But let’s go a bit more fundamental. Information technology is a good degree to study because you’ll gain valuable skills and create diverse job opportunities. Choosing to studying IT is essentially a risk-free choice with high payoffs.
By studying computer technology, you’ll gain skills that will give you long-term career advantages. People are put off by technical degrees, which is why the labor market is oversupplied with would-be psychologists, lawyers, writers, actors and journalists. In tech fields such as cyber security and data analytics, by contrast, essentially every qualified person can get a professional job.
But studying I.T. does more than that. You also create diverse career opportunities. As you work through a Bachelor of Information Technology, you’ll have to start narrowing down your choices for majors or double-majors. If you do this well, you find the right career path to match your abilities and interests. And, even after you graduate, you’ll continue to have the opportunity to upgrade your knowledge and tilt your career in your preferred direction.
I.T. Is Not Equal to Programming
There’s a tendency to think that people who work in the IT industry must be buried in computer code for much of the day. But the reality is quite different. While some computer technology jobs revolve around coding, many others are light on in terms of programming tasks.
- Jobs with often serious coding requirements include computer programmer, data scientist, software developer and software engineer.
- Occupations where you probably need to code but not every day are: cybersecurity specialist, data analyst, database administrator, database analyst, hardware engineer, multimedia developer, network administrator, software analyst, systems administrator, systems analyst, systems engineer, and web developer.
- Professional IT roles with potentially minimal coding demands include business analyst, computer service technician, data center technician, IT consultant, IT manager, and network engineer.
The need to code is perhaps reducing as well because pre-programmed tools are increasingly available. For example, early web development needed serious programming skills. Now, anyone can become a web developer by using platforms such as WordPress and user-friendly software such as WordPress plugins.