The Total Cost of an IT Education

Information technology is one of the fastest-growing industries. And with fast growth comes a greater demand for jobs. Employment of computer and information systems managers is expected to grow 16 percent between 2006 and 2016 — faster than average for all occupations — according to projections by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics’ (BLS) “Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008-09 Edition.” Network systems analysts, data communications analysts and computer software engineers are particularly in demand.

But while a healthy industry is great, aspiring IT professionals still must develop their technical chops in order to take advantage of it. There are many ways to do this, but the most common can be lumped into several categories: full-time college, part-time college, technical classes and boot camps. Of course, a combination of some or all of these is ideal, as the Holy Grail of marketability is to have a degree, significant work experience and a few meaningful certifications.

The Full-Time Experience

The percentage of people opting for a post-secondary education has been growing gradually for the past century. It was not uncommon for someone from “The Greatest Generation” — generally billed to be those born between 1901 and 1924 — to drop out of high school to continue working on the family farm.

The emphasis on education is completely different now. The increase in college attendance rates is indicative of the country’s swing away from primary reliance on agricultural and manufacturing jobs to white-collar service jobs such as IT. Today’s student realizes not…


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