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IT Analyst Career Paths: Understanding Your Options

August 22, 2022
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Information technology has evolved by leaps and bounds this century, as the internet becomes the primary vehicle through which businesses advertise products and communicate with customers. The ever-increasing need for security, and the development of diverse online computer networks, has led to a steady increase in the number of IT analyst career paths.  

For those who want to enter the field of computer and information science, there are plenty of jobs available. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, projected growth in this field is 22% over the next decade—much faster than all occupations combined.  It's also a field that commands high wages: In 2021, the median annual salary in this field was $131,490.1

To land an entry-level position as an IT analyst, you'll typically need an M.S. in Computer and Information Science. Read on to learn more about the IT analyst career paths you can pursue with the right educational tools.

Qualifications for an M.S. in Computer and Information Science 

Here's what you need to be accepted into an M.S. in Computer and Information Science program:

  • Transcripts that show you have a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university 
  • Letters of recommendation from professors or professionals who can attest to your aptitude
  • Two semesters of computer science or IT course work, including programming, or the equivalent
  • Evidence of strong academic potential—either an undergraduate GPA or a GRE score; many schools are GRE-optional, though you may need to present your scores if you are applying for financial aid

You might think you need to know several computer languages and be skilled at coding before you apply to get an advanced degree in Computer and Information Science. That is simply not the case. Many programs now offer a preliminary course that teaches students the basic information they will need to excel in a graduate-level IT program. So even if you've never taken a course on information systems, cybersecurity or computer networks before, you can enter a whole new field and change your career with Marquette.

Another thing you won't need is to commute to a brick-and-mortar campus. Reputable online programs allow you the flexibility to study at your own pace and continue earning the money you need to keep things afloat. If you are disciplined enough to carve out study time, and the idea of working in information technology excites you, online courses make the goal attainable.

What You'll Learn While Studying for a Career in Computer and Information Science

Like all fields, there are some soft skills that will make working in a professional environment easier like having good communication skills, being able to collaborate and work with different types of people and being organized. Through the curriculum of the M.S. in Computer and Information Science, students are specifically prepared to take on the role of an IT analyst in an advanced capacity. You will be able to: 

  • Create integrated solutions to problems in the field by applying knowledge of a variety of technologies and practices
  • Communicate problems and solutions to stakeholders and business clients
  • Formulate and explain designs for solutions to enterprise-scale problems 
  • Evaluate and apply common standards to information systems in the field of IT

Some graduate programs offer specializations within the broader field of Computer and Information Science, such as Information Assurance and Cyber Defense. This concentration prepares students to enter the fast-growing and in-demand field of cybersecurity.

 Some of the classes you can take to fulfill a cyber defense specialization are:

  • Introduction to Cybersecurity
  • Principles of Service Management and System Administration
  • Networks and Internets
  • Mobile Computing
  • Principles of Database Systems
  • Advanced Database Systems (3 semester hours)
  • Practicum for Research and Development in Computing
  • Professional Project in Mathematics Statistics or Computer Science
  • Curriculum Integrated Practicum

 Another specialization within the field of Computer and Information Science is Big Data and Analytics. This specialization requires students to study mathematics and statistics in addition to taking courses such as:

  • Data Mining 
  • Principles of Database Systems
  • Topics in Computer Science
  • Data Intelligence
  • Data Analytics
  • Big Data Systems
  • Enterprise Architecture
  • Web Technologies

Finally, some M.S. in Computer and Information Science programs offer a special degree option for students who wish to make a career change to computer science and its many IT analyst career paths, including IT business analyst, IT cybersecurity analyst, IT support analyst, IT systems analyst, or IT service desk analyst. This degree option requires students to get up to speed on their coding and computer science skills by taking an intensive course in the foundations of computing and information systems before moving to the required and elective courses.

IT Analyst Career Paths

IT Cybersecurity Analyst

An information security analyst, also known as IT cybersecurity analyst, plans and executes strategies to secure the computer networks of their organizations and prevent security breaches. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects cybersecurity analyst roles to grow 33% over the next decade—a much faster rate than all occupations combined. The median annual salary for an IT cybersecurity analysts was $102,600 in 2021.2

Data Scientist

Data scientists transform raw data from vast information systems into meaningful information, using data mining, data modeling and machine learning. California, New York, Texas, North Carolina, and Illinois employ the most data scientists nationwide; the median annual salary in this field was $100,910 in 2021.3

Financial Analyst

Financial analysts provide a professional evaluation of an individual or company's portfolio to maximize profit and growth. Like other IT analyst career paths, it is an in-demand profession that is projected to grow 6% over the next decade. The median annual salary in 2021 was $81,410.4

Software Developer

Sometimes known as software engineers, those employed as software developers design computer programs and applications. Expected to grow 22% over the next decade, this career also pays well; the median annual salary for software developers was $110,140 in 2021.5

Enterprise Solutions/Architect

Enterprise solution architects research, review and make recommendations on new corporate software applications, making sure that they integrate well into existing systems. According to Indeed, the median base salary for this position is $143,446, making it one of the more lucrative options among the various IT analyst career paths.6

Start Planning Your Future IT Career Today

Ready for the challenges and rewards of a career as an IT analyst? Marquette University offers an online M.S. in Computer and Information Science with opportunities for students to specialize their education to work as cybersecurity analysts, IT managers, software developers and other roles. Plus, we've designed career-changer pathway to meet the academic needs of those just entering the field of computing for the first time.

Still have questions? Set up a call with an Admissions Advisor to learn more about how our computer and information science master's can help you meet your career goals.