Long gone are the days when competitive computer expertise was gained by being the “computer nerd” in the office and being tasked with handling every email and network glitch that came with the new technologies. As information technology expanded into daily use, so too the demand for people accredited and certified to administer and maintain these complex systems. Luckily, education opportunities also expanded far beyond what were essentially apprenticeships when information technology use and education was in its infancy.

The modern IT worker has a myriad of choices when selecting a rewarding career in information technology as well as numerous choices about where they get the education they need to support their career. Starting at the beginning of a college career, multiple 4 year campuses in North Texas offer competitive degree plans certain to launch a stellar career in IT.

The University of Texas at Dallas has multiple program offerings from undergraduate to PhD level in IT. If you are mature in your IT career, but want to take it to the next level, look no further than the School of Management. The UT Dallas School of Management offers undergraduates Bachelors of Science degrees in Information Technology and Systems. Every enrolled student takes courses in systems analysis and can choose extra courses in JAVA programming and data warehouse technology. Undergraduates also have numerous internship opportunities.

Graduate degrees also available through the School of Management include the Master of Science in Information Technology and Management that may be completed on campus or online. Available concentrations within the MS include business intelligence and IT consulting. The PhD in Management Science with a concentration in Information Systems includes seminars in information systems, and requires two research papers and of course a dissertation.

Tarrant County College offers networking certificates that can be completed in four months including a Cisco certification supported by a Cisco student organization. A Cisco support certificate is also available that covers both LAN switching and Unix. Beyond specific certificates students can get an Associates of Applied Science in Information Technology with a network support specialization that includes courses in operating system support and routing protocols. TCC now offers a Red Hat Academy making it the first in Texas.

Texas Woman’s University now offers a Bachelors and Master program in Informatics if you are interested in the advancements in Big Data analytics. Born from the robust certificate in informatics, the Bachelors program was created to be flexible and industry relevant for those wanting to focus on informatics or health informatics. Two Bachelor of Science informatics and two Bachelor of Science Health Informatics degree programs are available offering four different career tracks with a comprehensive computer science core and branching out into academic components from nursing, health studies, and library and information studies. The brand new Masters of Informatics (Fall 2016) at TWU allows students to tailor their education to their interests by offering an emphasis in clinical applications, data science/data analytics, health studies or community informatics.

Texas Christian University has multiple opportunities for students who choose IT as their career path. The Department of Computer Science offers a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Computer Information Technology, covering both the hardware and software aspects of information technology, also requires a minor course of study and completion of a relevant Senior Project. The curriculum is designed to follow the rigorous standards set by current industry professional organizations like the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers Computer Society. This one hundred twenty-four credit hour program covers varied topics teaching about the growth of communication technologies, creating and maintaining computer networks, interfaces and even ethical issues in information technology along with the fundamentals of project management. Students who pursue this degree have multiple opportunities to study abroad and internships with technology heavy companies.

For those hungry for a career in IT, but not interested in attending a four year university, can enter sooner than later through the robust program at North Lake Community College. North Lake College is a certified Microsoft IT Academy and can prepare students for multiple industry credentialing exams including the coveted Microsoft Certified IT Professional certification tests. Students who enter the program with existing experience in the IT industry can usually receive course credit for their work. North Lake Community College offers other field-specific certificate programs, often sixteen to twenty four credit hours, including Network Associate, Networking Professional and Network Support (database, enterprise and server administrator tracks available). Students can also explore certificate and Associate degree programs in Cisco routing protocols, LAN and WAN. Associate degree students can also pursue very specialized study tracks in Unix / Linux, Microsoft, CCNP or CCNA.

The road is wide and opportunities abound in the various careers available in the IT industry. Starting on the right path early is critical to your success, but with a multitude of learning opportunities finding your path to success should be as easy as following the yellow brick road.