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Information systems (IS) professionals help every organization -- from government agencies to corporations and nonprofits -- with their data networking needs. These workers plan, create and implement software solutions, all while analyzing current systems and data security practices to determine how effective and efficient they are.

IS degree programs help students prepare for these positions by giving them the fundamental knowledge they need to work with a wide range of computer hardware and software systems.

Overview of Information Systems Coursework

Students enrolled in a degree program in technology in information systems can expect to learn both the technical skills and theories that drive the field, as well as business practices and challenges IS professionals encounter throughout their careers. To help prepare them for the workplace, programs often have students work together in teams to design projects and find solutions for hypothetical problems.

Curriculum varies from program to program, but some examples of possible courses include:

  • Software development - Students explore the fundamental concepts of developing software and the challenges that can occur when creating new programs. In addition, students often learn how to manage software development initiatives, which includes creating schedules and budgets, and ensuring there is enough staff resources to complete the project.
  • Database management - This course helps students learn how to keep an organization's data organized and secure. Classes might cover topics such as the lifecycle of a database and how to manage data in each cycle, database design and manipulation, and database storage.
  • Systems analysis - Students learn how to analyze the computer system requirements for an organization, including the functional and nonfunctional requirements of different information systems. Course topics typically include logical design, dynamic modeling, object-interaction modeling, and unified modeling language.

Many schools also give students the opportunity to focus their studies on a specific area of the field. Common degree concentrations include information systems management, Web design, health care informatics or information systems security.

Information Systems Career Outlook

There are a number of career options available to students who pursue degrees in information systems, such as:

  • Forensic computer examiner - Also known as digital forensic analysts, these professionals use their computer expertise to gather evidence and solve crimes such as identity theft, fraud and other electronically-based offenses, as well as non-cyber crimes. Forensic computer examiners also work with attorneys and law enforcement officers, and may be required testify in court. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), people who pursue this profession typically possess at least a bachelor's degree, although some jobs may require a graduate-level degree. The median annual salary for forensic computer examiners was $52,840 in 2012, and the BLS projects employment in this field to grow six percent nationwide between 2012 and 2022.
  • Database administrator - Database administrators are responsible for storing and organizing a company's data. They create, administer and maintain databases based on what an organization needs, combining old database systems with new ones as needed. In addition, they ensure that company data is secure and keep the permissions of a database up to date. These positions generally require at least a bachelor's degree in information systems or a related field. According to the BLS, database administrators earned a median annual wage of $77,080 in 2012. Demand for these professionals is projected to grow 15 percent nationwide between 2012 and 2022.

Other positions that graduates might pursue include project manager, security analyst, Web developer, IT consultant, software engineer, or chief information officer. To learn more about specific careers and their requirements, students should visit the BLS online.

Sources:
"Forensic Science Technicians," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook (2014-15 Edition), http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/forensic-science-technicians.htm
"Database Administrators," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook (2014-15 Edition), http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/database-administrators.htm

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