Do I Have to Work as an IT Professional to Obtain my Master’s in IT?

According to the Association of Information Technology Professionals (AITP), information technology refers to communications systems of data between computer networks. Information technology is the equipment and the programming involved to process data across networks, which have evolved from basic wired connections to the internet.

Professional Information

Professions involving information technology include numerous technician, analyst, and engineering positions. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are over half a dozen categorized labor professions that deal with information and computer technology. Each of these professional groups might have different academic requirements and they will have different earning potentials. Nevertheless, some college education is needed for many of these professions.One key issue that many students may have is whether or not they should jump right into a master’s program in information technology or if they should work a few years in the information technology field before investing in another degree. This can be a difficult question to answer, as many firms and graduate programs may have different application requirements and the personal needs of the student need to be met first.

Admission Requirements

According to some admissions websites to graduate information technology programs, employment may be a requirement for admissions. For example, Northwestern University’s Master of Science (M.S.) in Information Technology program has a professional experience requirement for their applicants. However, at the University of Washington’s Information School, which offers a graduate program in information technology, there is no work requirement for admissions. Universal requirements, however, including holding a bachelor’s degree related to information technology with a good grade-point average (GPA) and GRE scores.

What Governments Studies Have to Say

The BLS offers more general details on what the industry wants from some professionals in information technology. In general, it seems many information technology professionals do indeed need some level of professional experience, especially if they want advancement from entry-level positions. For example, the BLS analyzed two information technology professions: information security analysts and computer network architects. These individuals usually need some college to a bachelor’s degree for entry-level work. However, the BLS states that information security analysts tend to have previous experience in an entry-level position that they work up through. At the same time, these information security analysts are sought after with master’s degrees under their belt so they can have more technical insight and business acumen. Computer network architects are preferred to hold master’s degrees according to the BLS. However, the BLS states that the average computer network architect previously holds about 5 to 10 years of work experience in network administration.

In general, one of the best and safest strategies for any person interested in pursing a graduate education in information technology is to enter the job market first. Although some graduate programs will not require professional experience, some schools might. Also, according to the BLS, many jobs in information technology that are higher in position could require graduate and professional experience beforehand. Although it is best to consider the exact profession and school you might want to invest in, having work experience as an information technology professional before obtaining a master’s degree may be very helpful.