How do I become an Information Security Analyst?

How do I Become an Information Security Analyst?

More than ever, information is valuable. With everyone’s digital footprint growing daily, that’s more and more of a liability for any organization that holds personal information for their stakeholders. Cue the burgeoning industry of cybersecurity, and more specifically, information security analysts. Information security analysts are responsible for keeping up to date with the latest tactics of hackers, planning and implementing security measures, and creating and instituting proper cybersecurity policies in their workplace. Information Security Analysts may end up specializing in one particular part of digital infrastructure, or work in a more generalist setting where they are responsible for protecting computer systems, networks, and data. Demand in information security roles is only on the rise, and with a shortage of highly trained cybersecurity professionals, students looking to move into this sector of the economy can command admirable salaries.

Salary of Information Security Analysts:

Depending on location, skillset, and experience, salaries for Information Security Analysts can vary quite a bit. According to, the lowest salary for a current job listing in the field is $49,478, while the highest is $102,185, making the mean salary for current information security analyst openings $70,400. Of Information Security Analyst positions, those with manager, officer, or architect in their title tend to have salaries on the higher end or above this range. Those listing the skills of project management and security risk management, salaries averaged 10% higher than other openings. Salaries were highest for these positions in Seattle and New York.

Common skillsets necessary for Information Security Analyst Positions:

  • Penetration and vulnarability testing knowledge
  • Anti-virus and anti-malware knowledge
  • Computer networking, routing and switching security knowledge
  • Knowledge of establishing and maintaining firewalls and detection protocols
  • OS and terminal knowledge of Windows, Linux, and Unix
  • At least one scripting language such as C, C++, C#, Java, PHP, or Python
  • Knowledge of best practices and implementation for cloud computing
  • Security information and event management

Information Security Analyst Job Description:
Information security analysts often work in research roles, compiling information and implementing changes to meet best practices for security depending on the technologies of their employer. At other times, information security analysts may try to infiltrate their own technologies to expose risks, and will frequently monitor usage metrics as well as risk factors for cyber attacks. Top-level goals of information security analyst positions are to minimize downtime of digital services and to protect digital assets. Information Security Analysts are tasked with staying up-to-date on their hard skills in many subdisciplines of information technology, as well as effectively interacting with and informing broader organizations through proper judgement and communication.

What education and experience does an Information Security Analyst postition require?
Academic requirements for information security analyst positions vary widely from organization to organization. That said, applicants are commonly required to posses a technical bachelors degree such as a bachelors in computer science, information technology, or information systems. There are also some specialized bachelors-level degrees in cyber security. A wider range of information assurance and security degrees are available at a masters level. A wide range of certification are also available for those looking to switch from another technical discipline to cybersecurity, or to advance up the career latter.

Common Information Security Analyst Certifications:

  • CEH: Certified Ethical Hacker
  • ECSA: EC-Council Certified Security Analyst
  • GSEC / GCIH / GCIA: GIAC Security Certifications
  • CISSP: Certified Information Systems Security Professional

Resources for becoming an Information Security Analyst:

Check out our ranking of the best online information technology bachelors degree programs.

Check out our ranking of the best online information systems bachelors degree programs.

Check out our ranking of the best online Information Assurance and Srcurity masters degree programs.

The InfoSec Institute has a wide variety of resources for aspiring or current information security analysts.

How do I become a Database Administrator?

How do I become a Database Administration

Database Administrators (DBA) — or those who work in database administration — are often jacks of all trades, jumping into the creation, implementation, securing, and optimization of database technologies. DBA opportunities abound, and are found in almost every organization of a certain scale, whether public, private, or non-profit. As digital record keeping has accelerated — and become an industry unto itself — organizations as far ranging as your local doctor’s office, an entire hospital, online media corporations, and every hard industry have massive needs in the field of establishing, maintaining, and optimizing databases.

Salary of Database Administrators:
The avarage salary of Database Administrator positions can vary pretty widely, in accordance with location, experience level, and exact job descriptions. The lowest salary reported on PayScale was $43,900, while the highest was $104,758, leading to an average salary of $71,370. This variance is largely due to seniority and skillset, with those with a job description of database administrator III or IV garnering between $100-$120,000. Those with Oracle Database Administrator or Database Administrator Manager in their titles also made well over $100,000 a year on average.

Common Skills Needed of a Junior DBA

  • Advanced knowledge of SQL
  • Scripting Knowledge, such as Powershell, Linux Terminal, or BASH
  • Relationship between third parties and databases, in particular stored responses and triggers
  • A certification in database technologies that match the stack of the employing organization
  • Object Oriented Programming Experience
  • Knowledge of the operating system in which databases are integrated
  • Knowledge of access, permissions, and basic security concepts

Database Administrator Job Description:
Database administrators often work with a variety of teams and individually to design, develop, test, and improve databases in whatever technology their employing organization works. DBAs will often lead software updates, implement secure access procedures for developers and other team members, implement improvements and security audits at the server level. DBA positions often require the ability to troubleshoot and come up with solutions to complex technical issues alone, as well as the ability to communicate and collaborate with business analysts and project managers on issues within their purview. While many DBAs are generalists tasked with learning more in-depth knowledge in areas their organization needs aid in, many larger organizations will have a variety of DBAs on staff fulfilling the following roles and others:

  • DBAs tasked with designing logical databases
  • DBAs tasked with maintaining and fine tuning existing databases
  • DBAs focused on physical design problems related to databases
  • DBAs focused on building systems from scratch
  • DBAs tasked with security matters

What Education and Experience does a Database Administrator Need?

Database administrators can come from a variety of technical academic backgrounds, or in some cases be self taught. Common requirements include bachelors-level work in Database Administration, Computer Information Systems, Management Information Systems, or Computer Science. As with many technical skills, a portfolio of projects, or on-the-job experience can often be substituted for many openings. A common alternative prerequisite for junior to mid-level database administrators is that experience may be taken instead of schooling at the rate of one year of experience per year of schooling not received. There are also specific database administration degrees, such as this listed in our ranking of the best masters in database administration. On top of schooling or experience, many employers will prefer certification in a given technology set. The most in-demand DBA certifications of 2017 include the following:

  • OCP: Oracle Certified Professional
  • SAP HANA: SAP Certified Technology Associate – SAP HANA (Edition 2016)
  • Microsoft SQL Server Database Certifications
  • IBM Certified Database Administrator for DB2
  • Oracle Certified Professional, MySQL 5.6 Database Administrator

Resources for Becoming a Database Administrator:

Check out our ranking of the best onlineinformation technology bachelors degree programs.

Check out our ranking of the best online information systems bachelors degree programs.

Check ou our ranking of the best online Database Administration masters degree programs.

How do I become a Cloud Architect?

How do I become a Cloud Architect?

Cloud Architects are IT professionals who specifically help businesses seeking high-level advice and implementation of cloud-based technologies for their organization. These individuals may perform in consulting or in-house roles depending on an organization’s cloud-related needs. These needs include the surveying and implementation of available cloud technologies, as well as help migrating to the cloud. For organizations already utilizing cloud-based technologies, Cloud Architects will often integrate and improve upon existing components of cloud technology, including app or service usage analytics, as well as performance metrics including service uptime, latency, and efficiency at handling current or expanding usage levels.

To understand what cloud architects are involved in in a more tangible way, one must ask: what exactly is the “cloud?” Most internet users utilize cloud-based services daily, yet it can be hard to pin down without practical examples. First off, the cloud is a set of servers, often utilized en masse, and each performing their own function. Some servers will host an application or “deliver a service” while others will host information. Examples of consumer cloud-based technology are common, and include Google Drive, Evernote, SkyDrive, and iCloud. If you’re using a service that lets you utilize your files, information, or other assets and yet doesn’t use your computers drive to store anything, you’re using the cloud. In a business setting this frees organizations from having to buy their own hardware equipment, and enables them to scale up or down very quickly without wasting resources. In a consumer setting, the cloud often enables one to access their files from any device, rather than having to physically transfer files from one of their devices to another.

A number of programming languages and frameworks are necessary for many cloud architects:

  • Java
  • PHP
  • Python
  • Ruby
  • Perl
  • Node.js

As well as experience in one of the major cloud platform technologoies:

  • AWS
  • Azure
  • Google
  • VMWare
  • OpenStack

Salary of a Cloud Architect:
Commensurate with the importance of a talented cloud architect, as well as the range of mastery of a quality cloud architect, salaries can be high. Average salaries for cloud architects can range from $120,000-$172,000. This puts the middle of the pack cloud architect salary at $142,141 in the United States.

Cloud Architect Job Description:
Cloud architects are often expected to be thought leaders among other developer in an organization. Common job descriptions of cloud architecture positions include establishing definitions for cloud implementation, the identification and implementation of industry best practices for cloud automation and architecture, the development of hands-on prototypes, designs, and implementations of cloud solutions, as well as the evaluation and continued improvement of cloud tools. Cloud architects will be expected to recognize and help to solve broader-business problems through cloud automation and infrastructure.

What Education and Experience does a Cloud Architect Need?
Cloud architects often have extended experience in other IT or CS disciplines, as well as 5-7+ years in cloud technologies. Many positions require aptitude in one specific cloud platform technology (see the list of major cloud platform technologies above) as well as experience with other technologies/design patterns/and portions of a potential employers stack, such as CHEF, Puppet, Ansible, Dockers, Kubernetes, REST APIs. Additional, more general experience is often specified, including experience with object oriented programming, particular of-choice scripting languages, experience with a particular OS (Windows, Linux, MacOS), as well as knowledge of common protocols among other things. Most cloud architects are expected to have at least an undergraduate degree in information technology computer science, or information systems. Some particularly demanding employers may also require a masters in one of these disciplines, though many interview processes look at the breadth of applicant experience.

Resources for becoming a cloud architect:

Check out our ranking of the best online information technology bachelors degree programs.

Check out our ranking of the best online information systems bachelors degree programs.

Microsoft Cloud Architecture applications are one of the most common. Here’s their documentation hub.

Amazon Web Services is another leading provider of cloud solutions. Check out their documentation hub to get started learning.

Cloud Patterns is an educational site offering free tutorials on many of the most common design patterns for cloud-based automation and computing.

How do I become a Health IT Specialist?

What is a Health IT Specialist?

Health information technology specialists, often referred to as Health Information Administrators, are individuals who manage information as it pertains to health and health care. This individual analyzes, protects, and interprets health records to ensure quality patient care. Paper-based records are quickly being replaced, and as health informatics, and health information technology continues to evolve and improve, there has been an increase in job opportunities for qualified individuals.

Where do Health Information Administrators work?

  • Physician’s Offices
  • Home Care Agencies
  • Professional and Technical Service Settings
  • Public Health Agencies

Salary of a Health Information Administrator:
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for Medical Records and Health Information Technicians is $37,110. Registered Health Information Administrators is $46,270.

Health Information Administrator Job Description:

Qualified individuals are competent professionals who hold at least an associate degree in Health Information Management, and are capable of working within specific computer networks, databases, and administrative systems. Those with more expertise will be able to analyze data, IT audit, and make data available and clear to patients. Perhaps one of the most important facets of Health IT specialists is that in protecting and assuring patient confidentiality particularly as it pertains to The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA). HIPPA ensures the enactment of something referred to as the “privacy rule” which is a set of national standards that protects certain health information as is mandated through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This ensures that health information is properly protected while also allowing for the flow of health information needed to provide the best possible quality of health care to each individual.

The range of responsibilities and, along with those responsibilities the range of pay-grade will swing with education, position, years of experience, and specialization. Information Technology auditing for example requires the individual to evaluate an organizations’s technology infrastructure as well as that organization’s policies and operations to determine and ensure data integrity. Those with the ability to interpret data are able to analyze all forms of health care data and translate that information so that information is readable, accessible, and useful to the patient all while adhering to the law governed through HIPPA.

What education and experience do I need to be a Health Technology Administrator?

With such diversity in the healthcare field and imminent job growth, a job as a Health IT Specialist is a great option for those seeking job security. The path to employment is also straightforward and does not require too many difficult hoops to crawl through to access employment.

The first place to start is with an associate degree in Health Information Management (HIM). This is recommended for most entry-level positions in today’s job market. Your associate degree must be approved through the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM). Following completion of your degree you must take and pass the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) certification examination which leads certification as a Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT). Not all states require this, but most do. Most associate in health information technology degree programs focus on computer technology, electronic health records, healthcare insurance, coding diseases and operations, and administration.

Those looking to advance further in this rapidly growing field may seek out a position as a Registered Health Information Administrator . This career pathway is similar to that of the RHIT though an administrator requires a CAHIIM-accredited bachelor’s or master’s degree in HIM. Once you have successfully completed the academic requirements at the baccalaureate or master’s level, you may then take the examination that leads to the certification as a Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA). Those who qualify to sit for the RHIA and are following a master’s degree pathway must submit a paper application which may be found here. All candidates who are qualified to sit for the RHIA or RHIT may select the “early testing” route to expedite certification. Those candidate will have: enrolled in their final term of study, completed all course work but not yet graduate, and those waiting for their official transcripts. Candidates seeking certification must request and schedule their exam appointment within what is known as an “eligibility period” which is typically within four months of course completion. Recertification is required after two-years.

Resources For Becoming a Health IT Administrator:

Check out our rankings for the best online associates in IT programs here

Check out our rankings for the best online masters in IT programs here

For information on CAHIIM-accredited programs head here

For more information on sitting for exams, exam prep and pricing head here

If you are already certified and are seeking information on recertification, or continuing education units (CEUs) look here

What is ethical hacking?

When most people hear the words “ethical” and “hacking” together, their first thought is often a question: “Isn’t that a contradiction in terms? How can someone who breaks into other people’s computer systems be ‘ethical’?” Those more familiar with what “ethical” and “hacking” mean on their own, as well as some awareness of current events, might think about groups like WikiLeaks or Anonymous: hacktivist collectives whose aim to infiltrate computer systems with the utilitarian goal of exposing “the bad guys” for a greater good is known across the globe. Still others might think that ethical hacking is as simple as when you open up a friend’s laptop to a logged-in Facebook account, post a joke or funny picture, and leave their page a little better off than how you found it.

None of these people is far from the truth. Even ethical hackers and computer scientists sometimes think of the words “ethical hacking” as an oxymoron; hackers associated with WikiLeaks and Anonymous have participated in (or taught) the kinds of security-testing hacks that are deemed ethical with the permission of the “hacked” organization; and hacking someone else’s Facebook, if it was done with the user’s permission and for the purpose of security testing, can actually fall under the category of “white hat” (as opposed to “black hat“) hacking.

So what is ethical hacking and who can be said to do it properly? The long complicated answer is “Cybersecurity professionals who are paid penetration testers.” The short simple answer is Certified Ethical Hackers (CEH). Using PayScale, we found the three top job titles that CEH’s commonly assume in the workplace, as well as a few resources for where to go to become a Certified Ethical Hacker if you’re interested in a career in white hat hacking. Contact us if you have questions about this blog post or any others on

Information Security Analyst

Information Security Analysts are often responsible for solving security problems at companies and organizations with substantial technological and informational infrastructure. Duties usually include conducting research on a company’s or organization’s computing systems, a task that requires the ability to collect data, develop large-scale, logistical, and problem-solving strategies for potential security breaches, as well maximize computational productivity. Most Information Security Analysts are highly equipped multi-taskers and superb critical thinkers. They often monitor and document security breaches of company rules that govern computer usage. They sometimes draft these rules altogether. And of course, they must know how to operate every central component of a company’s technological infrastructure, from routers, to firewalls, to memory storage hardware, as well as how to lead IT professionals as a team in their effort to ward off cyberattacks.

  • Common places of work: Medium-to-large corporations, Governmental organizations, and Universities.
  • Salary: $50,000-$105,00 per year, depending on location

Check out our ranking of the best online masters in information assurance and security degree programs

Security Engineer

Security Engineers are often responsible for creating new and effective ways of ramping up security at their employing institution. They are on the front lines of solving problems that lead to better detection of unwanted intruders, as they are usually the first responders to technical problems that deal with software and hardware malfunction. In order to perform this job, Security Engineers require exceptional skills, not only in their ability to respond to emergent security situations, but to track down infringements against security policy using in-depth knowledge of computer forensics. They also need to know when and how to take direction, when and how to work independently, and most of all how to maximize utility within a team of IT professionals whose end-goal is always more secure computation and connectability. In-depth knowledge of the principles and practices of computer engineering is a must.

  • Common places of work: Small, medium, and large corporations, Cybersecurity firms, Home
  • Salary: $57,000-$125,000, depending on location

Check out our ranking of the best online masters in information assurance and security degree programs

Penetration Tester

Penetration Testers are often responsible for maintaining secure connectability between internal and external communications. This means they’re often the stewards of the computational border between email servers, accounting and communications software, and the Internet. Penetration Testers work tirelessly to ferret out weaknesses in company firewalls that may otherwise allow hackers the inadvertent access they crave for sensitive personal, professional, and otherwise private data. They might even build their own tools for security testing, tools that are designed to compromise their own systems, as they’re always striving to think like a hacker in order to remain one step ahead of the threat they protect against. Communication and teambuilding skills are a must for penetration testers, who often rely on coordination and collaboration with multiple other penetration tester to address every angle of the collective threat that hackers pose today. Expertise and experience in cybersecurity are also a must, while expertise in black hat hacking might be a plus.

  • Common places of work: Small, medium, and large corporations, Cybersecurity firms, Governmental organizations
  • Salary: $43,000-$130,000, depending on location

Check out our ranking of the best online masters in information assurance and security degree programs

Resources for Becoming a Certified Ethical Hacker:

As human labor is replaced by automation, who will keep the robots running? People who can build, maintain and troubleshoot their way through computer systems. For those with no significant experience in this world, don’t worry! You’re not alone. Most people depend on computer systems daily, yet have no idea how they work. Fortunately, beginning a career in information technology can start for you tomorrow, from the comfort of your home. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the average employment in nearly all computer information systems occupations will grow faster than any other occupation, and it isn’t even close. Salaries are higher, too. The average salary in IT is almost twice as high as in the general economy, and people in the upper fourth generally make six-figure annual salaries. With that in mind, here are the top ten IT associates programs that can help you change your earning potential in two years or less.


  • Specializations (1/4): the number of emphases, specializations, or customizable tracks in a program.
  • Program length (1/4): the minimum number of months required to complete the program.
  • Affordability (1/4): the estimated out-of-state cost per credit hour.
  • Academic Prestige (1/4): the placement and rank of the program in other prestigious rankings.

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Founded in 1911, this private, not-for-profit career college focuses on degree programs that will prepare students to enter the workforce in their desired position upon completion. Baker College has expanded rapidly since its establishment, by opening new campuses and purchasing existing campuses then converting them to part of the Baker system. Baker offers certificates, associate, bachelor, master and doctoral degree programs. Baker has a right-to-try admissions policy, which means that anyone with a high school diploma or GED can attend. In 1996, Baker College began offering online education. By 2001, they had 4,000 students enrolled online. Baker’s online classrooms and library resources are always accessible to its students.

Baker’s IT program promises to give its students the latest, specialized skills to break into the information technology industry. Baker reflects just how diverse this world is by offering 5 associates programs in IT: Computer Networking Technology – CISCO, Computer Networking Technology – Microsoft, Cyber Security, IT Support Specialist and Linux/Unix Systems Technology. Pick the specialization that best suits your interests, then learn to build, install, analyze, troubleshoot, and maintain the hardware and software that keeps computer networks functioning. Baker Online was ranked highly on this list because of its breadth and depth of specialties.

  • Homepage
  • Tuition per credit hour: $250

2.)Southern New Hampshire University

SNHU is a private, nonprofit, coeducational, and nonsectarian university. Established in 1932, SNHU now has over 3,000 on campus students, and approximately 60,000 continuing education students. SNHU has won many honors, including being named by Fast Company as the 12th most innovative organization in the world. SNHU ranked among companies like Apple, Google, and HBO, and in front of NFL, Starbucks, and LinkedIn. Their accelerated classes ensure you can complete your degree at a pace you have influence over. For those looking to make a shift into IT quickly, this is one of the better options to do so. SNHU also promises some of the most affordable tuition rates in the country.

Graduates of the IT Associates program will learn to solve fundamental technology-related problems, develop verbal and written communication skills to present findings, strategize, maintain and secure existing IT systems. SNHU makes it easy for you to parlay your associates degree with them into the core curriculum requirements for their BS in IT as well, if you choose to continue your education. You’ll develop skills in software development, website design and data management that you can apply to a career immediately. Some of the jobs you’ll be immediately qualified for at the entry-level include systems administrator, IT specialist, security engineer, computer operator and technical support specialist.

  • Homepage
  • Tuition per credit hour: $320

3.)Bluegrass Community and Technical College

BCTC was established through the consolidation of two schools in 2005, but is rooted in an educational past that has been serving the Lexington, KY area for over 75 years. It’s one of sixteen two-year open admissions colleges that make up the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. KCTCS was created in 1997 by the state legislature through House Bill 1 that combined the technical colleges of the Workforce Development Cabinet and the community colleges previously with the University of Kentucky. BCTC is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). Students from all over the world (Europe, Jordan, Turkey) choose Bluegrass. In 2009 the school had 11,500 students attending.

The only BCTC’s IT Associates program offered online is the Applications track, which deals with productivity software and applications such as word processing, spreadsheets, database management, presentation, geographic information systems, website development/maintenance, and help desk tracking systems. Within the Applications track there are several subsections that students can hone in on including:
Business Software Specialist, created to train students on a variety of software packages and help businesses to developand maintain databases, produce financial statements, and develop applications with those software packages. Computer Application Support, which will give students a meticulous look at application software, computer system configurations, Help Desk Tools/Software, end-user documentation, user training, and other user support skills. Geographic Information Systems which gives students a basis for geographical manipulation through building and deploying GIS Applications. Finally, Software Support, which will teach students in-depth about application software, computer system configurations, and data driven websites.

  • Homepage
  • Tuition per credit hour: $156

4.)Rasmussen College

Rasmussen is a for-profit college originally creating as a business school in 1900. Since then it has grown to include 24 campuses across the country, and a thriving online division. It now offers over 70 programs broken into seven schools including Health Sciences, Design, Business, Justice Studies, Education, Nursing, and Technology. Rasmussen is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Over 13,500 students attend the school. Its online campus opened in 2002. It has graduated over 100,000 students since then. Rasmussen made this list because of its flex choice system allows synchronous or asynchronous courses, so students can seamlessly build a schedule that fits their needs. You’ll be able to combine coursework with self-directed assignments as part of this program.

Rasmussen’s IT associates come in three specializations: Network Administration (learn how to keep complex networks functioning and navigate them), Network Security (keep networks secure, decrease risks, recover after disasters and administer networks), or Computer Information Technology (troubleshoot and repair desktop/mobile, deploy software with the end user in mind, and work as an IT with an understanding/philosophy that embraces the diversity of devices). Rasmussen’s graduates have gone on to work at Best Buy, Microsoft, Target, Wells Fargo, Ikea, State Farm, Verizon and many other luminaries within the technology sector. An associates degree from Rasmussen can be earned in as little as 21 months.

  • Homepage
  • Tuition per credit hour: $281

5.)Penn State World Campus

Established in 1998, Penn State World Campus is the famous state school’s online arm. Over 6,000 people attend the school. The World Campus offers 120 online undergraduate and graduate degree and certificate programs in partnership with Penn State academic programming. Penn State’s distance learning legacy is built on decades of experience before the Internet’s existence. In 1892 Penn State began offering farmers access to its classes through correspondence. Upon graduation from the World Campus, students can attend the Penn State graduation ceremony, and receive the exact same degree as on campus students. Penn State’s IT associates program made this list in part due to its four distinct tracks.

Penn State World Campus’ IT associates was designed in conjunction with their College of Information Sciences and Technology to give working professionals that have little to zero experience in information technology an entrance into a career in tech management. You’ll have the option to convert this degree into a bachelors, focus in on the business side of IT, develop an individualized concentration based on your own interests or focus on network administration. This associates program also requires an internship, in which you’ll gain tangible, real-life experience to help you segue into a new career. This dedication to hands-on experience will be paired with an in-depth virtual classroom inspection of information systems and practice with cutting edge tech in the creation, organization, storage, analysis, evaluation, communication, and transmission of information.

  • Homepage
  • Tuition per credit hour: $542

6.)Indiana Wesleyan University

Indiana Wesleyan University is a private, evangelical Christian university affiliated with the Wesleyan Church. It is also the largest private university in Indiana. Founded in 1920 IWU now has over 16,000 students. Over 10,000 of them attend classes at education centers in Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio, and online. IWU has been paying close attention to the needs of professional adults who are looking to achieve new degrees since 1983. It’s grown by 200% since 1990 as well. IWU has received many awards and ranks highly by many esteemed ranking sources. It notably placed 17th out of 150 universities in the midwest in 2013 on the U.S. News and World Report rankings.

IWU’s IT associates program promises to blend the ethical decision-making of Christianity with the thrill of Information Technology expertise in approximately 24 months. This program is very flexible with transfer credits, and depending on what you have, you may be able to quickly parlay your previous schooling into a bachelors in IT. No one describes the focus/overlap of IT and biblical foundations quite like IWU. The program promises to help students create Computer Information Technology analysis skills within a Biblical framework. “You’re able to go from zero to being able to get a job in IT, develop your career, and then move on to higher education if you want to,” says Joe Snider, an assistant professor at IWU.

  • Homepage
  • Tuition per credit hour: $283

7.)Grantham University

Grantham is a for-profit school based out of Lenaxa, Kansas. Established in 1951, the school has over 17,000 students, many of which attend online. In total, Grantham offers over 40 accredited online certificates and degrees. Its College of Engineering and Computer Science is a pride of the school, offering associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees and courses in project management, digital systems, physics, calculus, differential equations, and programming. Just this fall, Grantham received specialized accreditation for its Bachelor of Science in electronics engineering technology program. It’s now been recognized by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) as an excellent purveyor of this degree. In 2006, eLearning World University Rankings ranked Grantham University 13th out of 27 American online colleges. Grantham has also been ranked highly as a military friendly school.

Grantham’s IT program focuses on the physical, electric engineering side of IT. They call it an associates in Electronics and Computer Engineering Technology. The program promises to give students in depth knowledge through specific courses in DC/AC circuit principles and design, digital electronics and analog electronics, and computer programming. It takes 63 credit hours and approximately 24 months to complete the program, and it can immediately be used towards a bachelors from Grantham in Electronics Engineering Technology. The program costs $265 per credit hour, and can be started at students’ discretion.

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  • Tuition per credit hour: $250

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9.)Florida State College at Jacksonville

This state school was founded in 1965 as a junior college, eventually upgrading to a community college, and eventually being converted by the Florida Legislature into a state school. Florida State College at Jacksonville has gone from 2,610 students in Fall 1966 to over 80,000 students currently. During that time it’s offerings have exploded to 13 bachelor’s degrees, 45 associate degrees and over 100 technical certificates and workforce certifications. It ranks among the top 25 most affordable four-year schools in the nation, and its students hail from over 146 countries, ranging in age from 15 to 77. It was ranked 11th in the nation out of 4,548, and in all disciplines granted among public, four-year colleges and universities granting associate degrees by Community College Week.

Florida State College at Jacksonville’s associates in Computer Information Technology degree program gets students ready to begin careers as developers, programmers, programmer-analysts, database developers or web developers. In order to accomplish this, students will be inundated in courses on program and systems design, computer communications, database development, web development, customer support and programming in specific languages. A 50-hour internship is part of the degree to translate what’s discovered in the classroom to real world experience. Students may also choose from three tracks, including: Programming, in which students will learn modern languages like C language, C++, C#, Java, J2EE or Visual basic.NET. Web, in which students will focus on web design by learning web management, UNIX/Linux development or server development. Finally, Database, in which Oracle SQL, PL/SQL, database administration, M.S. SQL Server database or M.S. Access database are used to learn database development/maintenance.

  • Homepage
  • Tuition per credit hour: $466

10.)University of Massachusetts Lowell

The University of Massachusetts Lowell is a public research university with just under 18,000 students. It’s the second largest public university behind UMass Amherst. It’s a prestigious public school in a state known for its higher education, and offers 122 bachelor’s, 43 master’s and 36 doctoral degree programs, with esteemed courses in engineering, criminal justice, education, music, science and technology. UMass Lowell has been ranked extremely highly on a number of criteria, especially in recent years. U.S. News & World Report ranks UMass Lowell at 152 among top-tier National Universities list in 2016. UMass Lowell is one of only six schools to rank higher on that list each year since 2010. It gained 27-spots in the past five years, second-fastest in the nation. They also ranked it 78th among top public universities and second in the state. Forbes rated UMass Lowell the 10th best value among all universities and colleges nationwide in 2013, and fourth in value among non-military academies.

UMass Lowell’s IT associate’s program is geared towards giving students the skills they need to enter rapidly growing, lucrative occupations like network systems and datacom analysts, database administrators, software engineers, computer and infosystems managers, network and system administrators, computer specialists, and more. All of these jobs have been ranked in Fortune’s top 20 fastest growing occupations. If you visit their website, they offer prospective students the ability to sample a course to determine its worth for themselves. The cost per course is approximately $1155. For a full list of courses and descriptions in this program, look no further.

  • Homepage
  • Tuition per credit hour: $375

In the age of technology that we live in pursuing an education in computer science is simply a sure bet, or at least as sure as they come in higher education. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, almost every job in the industry of computer science is showing growth well above the national average, an exciting prospect for anyone interested in obtaining a computer science degree. Obtaining the degree that best suits your interests and leads to your ideal career, however, is another story. There are a staggering number of computer science degrees and specializations, sub-specialties, and degree combinations. The differences between them can be both very subtle and highly consequential, having an enormous impact on learning paths and career outcomes down the road. So below you can find our exploration of the three main degrees in the field computer science: Computer Science, Computer Information Systems, and Information Technology.


Computer Science simply put is the scientific study of computers, their processes, and why they work. This study of computers delves into computer software, information systems, artificial intelligence, programming languages, information technology, machine programming, and cyber defense. A degree in computer science can lead to any number of lucrative and in high demand occupations including: web developers, data scientists, IT technicians, programmers, computer scientists, and more. All of which can excel in a wide array of industries, meaning that students with a computer science degree have an enormous amount of freedom to choose how, when, and where they work while maintaining impressive financial freedom as well. Seem too good to be true? Well for once it’s not. The only trouble though is deciphering which of the many, many paths you will take–for there are countless options and many of which can appear identical on the surface.

As a degree defined by technology, it should be no surprise that many top computer science degree programs can be earned entirely online. While many students require the platform of traditional schooling to best meet their education goals, many of the tech-minded students see enormous opportunity in online degree options. The freedom to learn when, where, and how you want is something that empowers many prospective students and busy professionals to earn their degree when they otherwise would not have been able to–whether due to busy work schedules, demanding personal lives, or other factors. You can find our article exploring the best of the undergraduate options for obtaining such an online computer science degree here.


Computer Information Systems is the branch of study wherein students explore the vast number of practical applications of technology, and how these applications might best support other business/organizations, applications, or research. Computer Information Systems is often confused with Information Technology. They are indeed similar, however, the CIS degree empowers students to explore areas and subject matter that are often peripheral to IT degrees. Essentially, the IT degree is for the most part designed to prepare students to take on roles in tech support or in IT services where they employ existing technology to tackle current problems, while the CIS focuses on teaching students how to develop new technology to tackle future problems. The degree will deliver an education wherein students tackle a variety of areas such as business systems, programming, social networking, software design, and intensive mathematics. This effectively grants students more freedom to choose their own career paths and choose in which niche market they will attempt to develop new technology–an impressive amount of personal choice.

It is important to note here that computer information systems as an area of study often presents itself in many different names. CIS degrees can be called Information Systems, Business Information Systems, or Management Information Systems. And these alternative names conveniently illuminate what makes the CIS degree unique: it focuses on the bridge between information system technology development and the business world, meaning that students necessarily keep up with both of these worlds and determine how new information systems might best bridge the gap between them. This makes the CIS degree an absolutely incredible tool for any up and coming entrepreneurs in the tech world, as it prepares them to stand at the apex where business technology needs and business technology development meet–an excellent place for any entrepreneur to be.

Check out our ranking of the 20 Best Online Masters in CIS

Check out our ranking of the 20 Best Online Bachelors in CIS

Information Technology is the field of study that is defined by a clear dedication to the practical applications of computers in a work environment. While the CIS degree focuses more on developing new technology to meet pressing needs of the business world, the IT degree focuses more on teaching students how to best implement computer and information technology into the current workplace. The most popular careers in IT are software/app development, computer systems analytics, information security analytics, and computer user support specialty. The IT degree offers students a unique opportunity to both work with technology and serve people in tech support, which is also one the highest in-demand markets in IT.

Students may also find it game-changing to note that the IT degree requires significantly less math than the Computer Science degree or CIS degree. In this same vein, the IT degree also offers several routes of study that focus on applied tech such as database management, security, or networking, which are characteristically different in that they don’t require an enormous dedication to writing code–a perk that some students will likely love. Essentially, there are two main learning options that are uniquely tied to the IT degree. This is is all the more noteworthy because the three degrees explored in this article are similar to begin with, and become near indistinguishable when adding degree specializations and sub specializations to the mix, but despite this characteristic homogeneity the IT degree distinguishes itself through offering these exclusive perks.

Check out our Ranking of the 20 Best Online Bachelors in Information Technology
Check out our Ranking of the 20 Best Online Masters in Information Technology

So What’s the Difference? As mentioned above there are numerous distinctive characteristics between the Computer Science degree, the CIT degree, and the IT degree. But these characteristics are for the most part only apparent at a very micro level. So for students, who are looking for a more basic understanding of the differences between these three degrees, we can distinguish between them at the macro level. Each of the degrees at its core seeks to answer a fundamental philosophical question:

CS: how might we develop, test, and hone computing systems that mechanize repetitive tasks?
CIS: how might computing solutions be used to answer an organizational or research problem?
IT: how might we ensure uptime or repair existing hardware systems?

The 50 Highest Paying Jobs in Computer Science

highest-paying-computer-science-jobsWhile “Software Developer” is only #4 in’s 8 hottest jobs of 2014 list in terms of growth rate (demand), it probably goes without saying that there are many well-paying career opportunities in Computer Science and IT (Information Technology) in general.

If you’re considering pursuing a computer science career, or just curious, here is a list of 50 of the top-paying jobs in the field. While salaries for some roles vary widely by location, industry, experience level, demand and sometimes as the wind blows, this list should give you a rough idea of the more financially rewarding IT-related roles.

Not all of the following roles are purely technical, although all are considered to be in the IT field in general or relevant to IT. In the interest of presenting as many different types of widely-achievable roles as possible for the average candidate, we’ve left out upper-level IT management positions such as CTO, VP and Director roles. In some cases, where job titles are merely different designations based on experience, we’ve grouped titles into one listing. E.g., we’ve made no distinction in entries between junior, intermediate, senior, and lead positions of the same type of role. So listed salary ranges usually cover all such variations. Salary ranges are a composite from different sources and should only be considered as a guideline.
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50 Most Useful APIs for Developers


Whether you’re a seasoned developer, or just getting your chops, APIs can be a great way to quickly move your app idea from the drawing board and onto the world’s devices.In case you don’t already know, API stands for “application programming interface.” APIs govern how one application can talk to another, and are largely how data gets shared across the web. They enable developers to “piggyback” on the offerings of another service (like when a non-Google app shares a Google map with you).

API’s are a quick way to get and manipulate data from other web services for your app or site. It’s also common to create “mashups” using the overlapping data from multiple APIs (such as geospatial data) to create new functionality.
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50 Essential Online Tools For Every Computer Science Student

Computer science students need to acquire skills in multiple areas — arguably more so than many other study disciplines. So not surprisingly, they need a large toolbox, for any of several activities encountered in the typical college program. To that end, here is a reference list of 50 essential tools (software and resources) for computer science students.


  • We’ve left out the typical Web browsers, email clients, most IM/ chat clients, search engines, video sharing sites, etc., and given a sample of tool categories that have numerous options.
  • Some tools listed are free, others follow a freemium model (free with paid upgrade options).

Communication and Collaboration

  • Google Hangouts: Free group conversations and live voice and video, from a browser or mobile app.
  • Strike: Create Web-based task lists and share with classmates, colleagues and other collaborators.

Data Parsing, Data Conversion, File Retrieval, Format Checking

  • JSONLintValidate JSON content and convert to prettyprint mode.
  • Mr. Data ConverterConvert between JSON, XML, HTML, CSV and other data formats.
  • net2ftpUse this Web-based FTP client to download assignments or upload your course work when using public campus computers.

IDEs, Code Snippet Savers, Coding Sandboxes

There are a lot of code sandboxes out there, most that handle multiple programming or scripting languages. Here’s a sampling of a few.

  • Chop : Save code snippets with notes and share with classmates, project partners or teaching assistants.
  • GistGist, a collaborative code and data snippet repository from Github that lets you save secret or public snippets that people can fork as well as leave comments or ask questions.
  • Ideone.comRun and debug syntax-highlighted code in the browser for over 40 programming and scripting languages.

Web Site Development and Testing

  • Bounce: Enter a URL to get a Web page snapshot (or upload an image), add annotations, and share with colleagues via Facebook or Twitter to solicit feedback.
  • BrowsershotsTest browser compatibility across OSes by requesting bulk screenshots for an URL running on up to 180 browsers.
  • CodePenA Web browser-based sandbox for front-end Web development, with markup options for Haml, Markdown, etc., stylesheet options for Sass, LESS or Stylus, and scripting options for JavaScript, CoffeeScript or LiveScript.
  • DabbletA sandbox with configuring interface for testing HTML+CSS code snippets — with save-to-Github Gist (above).
  • IE NetRendererFor when you absolutely need to check how Internet Explorer renders a page in versions 5.5 and 6 through 11.
  • JS Bin: Do your JavaScript development and debugging; with a long list of framework and JS library choices, export to Github Gist, and other features, including console panel.
  • JSFiddleA front-end Web page development sandbox with real-time collaboration including screen sharing, text and audio chat, and more.
  • Web Design Tools: Not a tool per se, but a big list of over 80 Web design tools for browser, desktop and mobile use.

Reference, Notetaking, Bookmarking, Studying, Planning, Projects, Presentations

  • EasyBib: When you have to cite references in a proper format (MLA, APA, Chicago, AMA, etc) for a term paper, use Easybib to help you get the citation right, whether the reference is a Web site, book, newspaper, journal or any of a total of nearly 60 source types.
  • EvernoteSave notes, bookmarks, Web clippings, sketches and more, from a browser (desktop/ laptop) and sync via the Cloud for access from other computers or mobile devices.
  • ExamTime: There’s a lot to learn in Comp Sci; test your ongoing study efforts by creating and using your own notes, quizzes, flash cards, free-form mind maps with multiple sticky notes per node — or use the searchable study resources created by other users.
  • FreedcampA free (limited) alternative to Basecamp, for managing class projects, with collaboration features, notification via IM/SMS and email, project templates and more.
  • GliffyFor when you need to create wireframes, flowcharts, sitemaps, network diagrams and more — with collaboration features. Also available as an extension/ plugin for select Web browsers.
  • PearltreesOrganize your Web page bookmarks, files, photos, and notes in a structured, mind map-like, navigable visual format, via drag-and-drop or add-by-email feature, and social sharing.
  • PivotalTrackerSimple project management, with free solo accounts, plus sync to Cloud for computer and mobile device access.
  • PocketBookmark Web pages, add tags for easy search, read saved pages in a nicely formatted manner, plus sync to Cloud for for computer and mobile device access.
  • PonderAn online reading app designed for K-12 and college students, with embedded commenting and collaborative features.
  • PoppletAnother mind mapping-like visual organizer similar to Pearltrees (above), but more free-form, with export to image and PDF formats, and language support for English, Japanese, Korean and Hebrew.
  • Prezi: Instead of boring old slides for your class presentation, use Prezi to create dynamic, more mind map-like zooming presentations. “Edu Enjoy” license free for students registering with school email address.
  • ReadabilityMakes ugly, unreadable Web pages easy to read, with an estimated reading time displayed.
  • SlideShareCreate and share Web slideshows, infographics and other content for your big project presentation.
  • StudyBlue: Create your own study flash cards in a browser — with import option from your Evernote account — then consume them on a mobile device, or browse over 200M pieces of student user-generated study content (free and paid).
  • TeuxDeuxManage your to-do list in stylish calendar format.
  • TrelloOrganize your tasks and ideas in a stackable card format.
  • Wunderlist Create and share to-do and reminder lists with course project teammates (with limited free task assignment) or just manage your own life — with Cloud sync for easy access from other computers and mobile devices.


  • AnonymouseFor when you need to browse without giving away your browser’s and computer’s details including IP address.
  • CoderwallGamified coder community where you can browse tips from experienced developers or earn badges for your own coding achievements.
  • Google DriveGoogle Drive is like a Swiss Army knife of online tools, with spreadsheet, word processing, presentation, diagramming, file storage and other features.
  • IFTTTSet up triggers that use two or more of over 100 online “channels” (email, social media, cloud storage, note repositories, etc.) to create automated tasks for managing content, notifications and other online actions.
  • LastPassForget trying to remember dozens of passwords when you can use the LastPass browser plugin to manage your online passwords.
  • PixlrEdit photos and other images online, sourced from your computer, an URL, or online photo libraries including Facebook.

Learning Resources

While not strictly tools in terms of software, these Web pages are worth taking note of for the wealth of computer science and programming information they hold. It never hurts to at least know what other schools are teaching, and you can learn for free, if you want.

  • Algorithms in the Real WorldCarnegie Mellon University offers up course material from several semesters of its “Algorithms in the ‘Real World’.”
  • Cheat SheetsA large collection of cheat sheets of interest to computer science students, good for quick reference use.
  • Dictionary of Data Structures and AlgorithmsA handy alphabetically-indexed list of data structure and algorithm definitions and overviews, with links to implementation examples.
  • Open Online CoursesAn indexed directory for finding free online lectures of various course material, including computer science, from various universities.
  • GithubOne of the largest collections of code, for private and open source use, with repository forking, commenting, Git versioning and other features.
  • IT eBooksDon’t blow your book budget on expensive computer books without checking them out in digital format first at IT eBooks.
  • Apple iTunes UniversityFor when you want to check out course lectures and assignment materials from Computer Science programs at other colleges, including Stanford and others.
  • MIT OpenCourseWareProbably the grandaddy of free online college course materials, from MIT and other schools.
  • Stack OverflowFor when you’re done racking your brain trying to figure out why your code doesn’t work or how to do something tricky, ask the community nicely at Stack Overflow.
  • Skiena’s Algorithms Lectures: A sizeable collection of lecture materials (video, audio, slides) on specific algorithms from Professor Steven Skiena’s lectures at SUNY Stony Brook.
  • What Comp Sci Students Should Know: A helpful overview of skills a computer science student should have, plus a selection of tool and resource links.