Bridge the gap between business and information technology (IT) with an information systems degree. Professionals with this degree go on to become the web developers or IT consultants of the world. All modern businesses rely in some way on online communications. A degree in information technology could thus potentially give you the foundations to build a long and fruitful career.
Here are some of the reasons why pursuing this degree could be right for you.
What Is Information Systems?
Information systems (IS) is a discipline and field in the IT sector, but it is also an umbrella term describing various systems such as cloud storage or wireless networking. These systems are used to collect, process, store, and distribute information. This term applies to hardware, networks, and software used to interpret the data that systems collect to make decisions, interact with customers, manage operations, and compete in the marketplace overall, according to Encyclopedia Britannica.
If it sounds like information systems have a hand in just about everything, that’s because they do. In general, IS connects the data collected on the internet and distributes it into code that programmers and developers interpret to carry out various tasks. For example, Amazon is run by information systems that process shopping history, track orders, send email reminders, and do a whole lot more to carry out its business functions.
These systems are the basis of what people need to work, bank, study, entertain themselves, and socialize online.
Top Trends in Information Systems
With a career in this field, you will learn more than just connecting Wi-Fi or an ethernet network. As noted in a 2021 blog by Network Interview, modern technology is becoming more widespread and demands more sophisticated specialists in charge of its development.
Here are 10 trends outlined by Network Interview that an information systems graduate should be aware of:
- Faster 5G and Wi-Fi 6: Both types of connectivity allow for faster service and are primarily created to mobilize organizations, increase network speed, and reduce internet lag. You can connect multiple systems to the same network without increasing latency.
- Internet of Things (IoT): IoT is understood as internet-connected devices that serve many practical functions, including sensors that monitor factory machinery or allow people to activate appliances with their smartphones. The IoT works toward digitally connecting information and people more closely than ever before.
- Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) advancements: You’ve likely seen this with chatbots on various website landing pages. ML, an advanced type of AI, gathers information and makes intelligent decisions based on learned data. It can be used for web page personalization such as smart shopping.
- Cloud computing and storage: This is an option, and increasingly the standard, for storing data and sharing information across computing sources such as Google Suite.
- Enhancing data security: This may seem like a no-brainer, but companies have spent 20% more in 2020 on the cost of recovering from cyberattacks than in previous years, according to Cobalt.io. The average cost of a malware attack on a company is $2.5 million, so proactive data security is a must.
- Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) demonstration: First seen by most people in video games, AR and VR can help customers or stakeholders visualize the future of a project or experience simulated visuals.
- DevOps: This combination of software development (Dev) and IT operations (Ops) aims to provide high software quality by shortening the systems development lifecycle.
- Digital transformation: This is the process of transforming physical data and manual processes into digital assets and processes.
- Intent-based networking (IBN) automation: IBN helps automate networking configuration and issues by applying a deeper level of intelligence behind networking insights. It helps improve network agility and availability.
- Software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN): SD-WAN is a virtual WAN architecture that allows businesses to use a combination of transport services – including MPLS, LTE, and broadband internet – to connect users to applications on a secure system.
Being aware of where technology is heading can help you appear as an asset to your future employer. Keep a finger on the pulse of technology updates — especially in places that could affect your career.
Careers in Information Systems
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), information systems management is a thriving field that is expected to grow 13% between 2020 and 2030 with around 42,400 job openings each year. The median pay for information systems managers in 2020 is around $151,150, with a minimum requirement of a bachelor’s degree. A career in information systems could prove to be both rewarding and fruitful.
Here are career opportunities to follow a degree in information systems.
Computer Network Architect
In this profession, you will design and subsequently develop systems for data to communicate. These networks of communication include:
- Local networks
You could build networks as small as connecting two offices together through a router and Wi-Fi or 5G, or expand to an entire cloud infrastructure for multiple facilities. You should have a deep understanding of the business you work for and its goals to build a system that will help facilitate success.
Computer Systems Administrator
A computer systems administrator is the first point of contact when someone’s network is having issues. Professionals in this role manage the security and functionality of their company’s systems. They assist with the day-to-day operations of business computer networks, including both mobile and desktop equipment. They may also help network architects design and optimize network models.
Computer Systems Analyst
This role is both technical and focuses on business analytics to succeed. A computer systems analyst will dig into the best technology to fit into their design so that the hardware, software, and networks they choose will help the system run smoothly and efficiently. After the technology is chosen, analysts will typically present the costs and benefits of each solution to the company’s decision-maker.
The computer systems analyst will then help set up the equipment and teach their coworkers how to use it.
Analysts could work for systems design firms or a single company in almost any industry, ranging from marketing or science to retail or health care.
In the world of apps, mobile shopping, and cookies, protecting data and the information your customers share with you is essential for your business to succeed. A database administrator (DBA) is in charge of setting up systems that manage data security. Database administration professionals work in teams of programmers, so it’s important to have keen communication skills in times of necessary updates, when holes in the system are noticed, or in any other situation that is critical to protecting data.
Information Security Analyst
While a DBA specializes in setting up their company and customer’s data, an information security analyst is a gatekeeper for their employer’s cybersecurity. Information security analysts manage, prevent, and respond to data breaches. This is a rapidly expanding profession: According to the BLS, it is projected to grow 33% between 2020 and 2030. That means 47,100 new jobs in this niche are expected to open up by the end of the decade.
You may be reading this on your computer or your phone, or you may have just finished checking your bank statements on your mobile banking app before making a purchase online. A software developer helped create those technologies — things you can’t live without now. This is an interesting role that involves both the creative and technical side of information technology. Software development means building the code that makes conducting everyday activities online a breeze. Professionals in this role are problem solvers, creatives, and analytical thinkers who have the unique ability to think outside of the box.
The difference between a website that fits together perfectly, flows nicely, and looks incredible and one that does none of those things is a great web developer. From the colors to the graphics, the navigation bar to the images, every detail is part of their work. They collaborate closely with a company’s creative and marketing departments to create a cohesive design.
However, web developers do more than make a website look good. They also help the website perform well through search engine optimization (SEO) and UI/UX (user interface/user experience) design to drive business goals for brand awareness and return on investment (ROI). The people in this role assist the marketing department in reaching business goals by leveraging online strategies.
Jessica Wong, the founder of digital transformation and brand management marketing agency Valux, had this to say about being a web developer: “A great website will speak for itself through online analytics. Your conversion rate, average order quantities, revenue per order, page views, click-through rates, and other key performance metrics will tell you how well your website performs. Having engaging content, attractive visual assets, good SEO, and smart UI/UX design is the minimum in web development and optimization. Starting with these strategies will set the foundation for a successful website.”
Information Systems Manager
Also known as information technology managers, information systems managers oversee, plan, and implement information systems. This role is responsible for determining technology goals for a company and making recommendations for certain hardware, software, or networks that align. As managers, they’ll also oversee their team and create a plan to install and maintain upgrades to their system.
This is also a business savvy role that must negotiate with vendors to get top-quality technology for a good price after pitching the technology plan to upper management. As a manager, this role requires communication and organizational skills, including hiring team members and training them on the new systems.
Excelling in any of these positions requires comfortability in implementing technology, whether it involves coding or setting up systems, an interest in learning new styles and applications, and the drive to serve your company well. A position in information systems can be rewarding and may open up a world of opportunities to develop and showcase your skills.
Attributes of a Successful Information Systems Graduate
Deciding what to major in when you have so many options can be tough. Project management might sound like an interesting route, but application development could be exhilarating. With a degree in the CIS program, you could explore both options or others to find the best fit for your specific skills.
After learning more about the different positions you could apply for with your information systems bachelor’s degree, you can pick out which of these careers fit your skill set. If you’re not sure yet, don’t worry — that’s what going to school is all about. Pursuing higher education can give you the chance to explore your interests before entering the real world as a professional.
Here are some attributes that may help you succeed in the role and determine if information systems is the right career field for you:
Strong Communication Skills
You will be part of a team of other technology professionals, all working on similar projects. You should be able to communicate with them when an issue arises, new technology becomes available, or you have any other concerns or updates relevant to your position. You might have noticed the first signs of a data breach or have an issue working out a coding bug: Whatever it may be, the ability to communicate effectively with your team about such topics is essential to the department’s (and company’s) success.
Love for Learning
When it comes to technology, things are continually changing. We are in what is known as “the fourth Industrial Revolution.” According to a 2020 article by Salesforce, this is the “blurring of boundaries between the physical and digital worlds. It’s a fusion of advances in artificial intelligence, robotics, the Internet of Things, 3D printing, genetic engineering, quantum computing, and other technologies. It’s the collective force behind many products and services that are fast becoming indispensable to modern life.”
A career in this field can offer chances to continuously learn new skills and technologies as they develop.
Learning is likely a necessary part of the job, but being truly inquisitive in your pursuit of knowledge could prove valuable for your career in the long term. Typically, when you start at a new position, your employer will tell you that there is always room for improvement. They may also be open to hearing if you’ve found a new way to do something or if there is a new technology that could improve the systems already in place.
Not only would this help you stand out to upper management, but it could also present you as an asset to your team. Being inquisitive about emerging trends in your field and staying up to date with current events and industry news could make a huge difference in your business.
While being inquisitive could help you stand out, you also want to present yourself as capable to lead teams well. The first step to this is directing yourself, your time, and your workload. Determining how to manage yourself most effectively will help company leadership consider you as capable to eventually oversee a team.
When you are in charge of your company’s computing network, hardware, and software, you should also be aware of how to keep these systems safe from breaches. A secure system can help your company grow with confidence knowing that their information won’t easily go missing, be stolen, or compromised in some way.
Benefits of Higher Education
Earning your degree from a CIS program can help you become a well-rounded applicant in the real world. You’ll have the necessary skills and foundations to succeed if you study hard and commit yourself to do your best in school. After graduation, a degree is a minimum requirement to help you earn a higher salary.
Learning through the online program offered by the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) could also give you the flexibility to pursue apprenticeships or internships in your chosen field. A great program offers access to faculty who are conducting research or have significant experience in your field. Building a healthy network of professionals could prove to be helpful when it comes time to ask for recommendations when applying for your first full-time position.
The information systems program at UAB can offer all of these aspects and more. The online program here can help you learn about data, management, security, and networks if you have the ambition to further your interests. You’ll learn from technology experts who blend best business practices with technical knowledge that could help you prepare for a career.
The online Bachelor of Science in Information Systems degree at UAB can help you grow in the field of constantly evolving technology by examining every avenue of a career in IS. While studying, you’ll come across experiential learning requirements that will put you in the driver’s seat to help you prepare for a real position in the field.
With the help of UAB, you can begin to see the opportunities that await you. To get started, apply online and contact an admissions counselor with questions.