Does an Information System Degree Worth it? worth it to those who have the passion and are willing to keep up with the latest trend.
Does an Information System degree worth it? If you have asked yourself this question, that means you are considering switching to the IT industry, or you want to upgrade yourself in your I.T career. Peradventure, you are new, and you want to know if it is a field you can thrive in. Oftentimes, people decide to choose a field because it is presently or will in the future become lucrative, whereas some choose a discipline because they like the living standard of those that work in that field. Hmmm! As interesting as that might sound, people tend not to consider other salient details and sacrifice that discipline will require from them. In this article, I seek to reveal the detailed requirements and relevance of Information systems in the 21st Century. With this, you can make an informed decision.
Definition of Information System
What is an information system? An information system is “an organized system for the collection, organization, storage, and communication of information. More specifically, it is the study of complementary networks that people and organizations use to collect, filter, process, create, and distribute data.” (Wikipedia Contributors. “Favonian.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 25 March 2017, Web. 02 April 2017.)
“Information Systems focuses on the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in managing organizations. In this 21st century, almost every organization, both large and small-scale, use Information and Communication Technologies to efficiently manage their operations. This helps their managers make better decisions and achieve a competitive advantage, and to facilitate seamless internal and external communications with their employees, customers, partners, and other stakeholders” The University of Scranton, (2021) The role of Information systems in running 21st Century Organization, Available at https://elearning.scranton.edu/resource/business-leadership/the-role-of-information-systems-in-increasing-productivity, (accessed: 06 January 2021).
The services of information systems in a given organization can range from product tracking systems, file processing systems, database management, data integration, financial information systems, customer relationship management, security management systems, etc.
What do Information System really mean?
Let’s take an example that you can easily understand. I want you to know how it works and what it takes. A customer in San Francisco sees an advert for Pizza on his smartphone from a nearby restaurant online and wishes to have two pieces of pizza delivered to him. For this to take place, the customer has to visit the website of the restaurant by simply click on the pizza advert. That means the Restaurant already has a website. On that website, there is an application (Application here means a form of entry for customer details for the restaurant to know what he/she wants and how he/she wants it). When this submission is made, it enters into a database (A database is a list of structured information).
Now, based on the information sent to the database, the restaurant swift into action to ensure the customer needs are met immediately. The interoperability of the online advertisement platform, the website, the application, and the database is referred to as an Information System. In this case, specifically, it is called the Product Ordering System. Operations of IS appearing to the customer is called Front-end; operations of IS not appearing to the customer is called Back-end.
Here is the role you are looking for. Would you like to develop the database of that restaurant? Would you like to write that website application? Would you like to develop the website of that restaurant? Would you like to advertise for that restaurant online? Alternatively, would you like to manage different facets of an Information system(s) of a large company?
List of Roles and their Equivalent Salary in Information System
An information system is a family of data processing structures built by different I.T skilled personnel in order to achieve productivity and efficiency for an organization. Having a degree in Information System could be your gateway to working with big tech companies, getting a high paying job, and feel even more confident. If it is a Master’s degree in the Information system, it affords you the opportunity to manage a team of I.T professionals.
There are several roles that you can play in building an information system for an organization. Though, not limited to these:
- Front-End Developer: This is a programmer and could be a website designer. It creates a user-interface for customer information entries. Salary averages from $80,000 and above per year. (According to payscale.com)
- Database Administrator: This personnel develops the database that holds customer data. Salary averagely ranges from $73,000 and above per year. (According to payscale.com)
- Social Media Manager: handles online campaigns for the organization, such as advertisements on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Salary ranges from $50000 per year. (According Glassdoor.com)
- Programmer/Software Developer: this personnel develops the software application on which the entire IT depends for efficiency and accountability of the organization. He/she can also develop a mobile application for the organization. Salary averagely ranges from $86000 and above per year. (According to payscale.com).
- Data Analyst/Data Scientist: uses statistical methods on a large volume of (e.g., customer) data to provide insights for top management decisions—salary averages from $96,000 and above per year. (According to payscale.com).
- I.T Support Specialist: provides customer supports, attend to customer complaints, troubleshoot, and solve problems—salary averages from $50,000 per year (According payscale.com).
- Network Technician: The network support technician monitors and troubleshoots the connectivity status of the organization either in a location or across multiple locations. Salary ranges from $50,000 per year. (According to Glassdoor.com)
- Information System Manager: Information System Manager manages the entire information system and I.T infrastructure of the organization. The salary ranges from $120,000 and above. (According to Glassdoor.com)
The Nitty Gritty
What is the nitty-gritty of a degree in Information Systems? A degree in the Information system, preferably a Master’s degree, would see you overseeing the Information system and the IT department of an organization. You will help to create IS, troubleshoot, oversee, and provide technical advice for your organization’s management. You seek to manage a team(s) of I.T professionals’ ranging from graphic designers, website designers, data analysts, and different classes of programmers. Inadvertently, you are a programmer too, and you are a software developer too. You write codes, and you love programming; alternatively, you like to handle data. You are analytical, you pay attention to details, and you love solving problems. You can code for hours, and you already know the team of professionals that can help you achieve a project. You are willing to learn and develop into new horizons. You can break into new thinking and create something new.
Know the Industry
Many are those who come into this field with the hope of developing a lifelong career, but along the way, they could not continue; due to this, you need to know how the industry works and have first-hand experience from those who have been in it. I.T industry has ever since evolved and shall continue to evolve with new programming languages, tech companies, and tech devices coming up. Most I.T specialists have to learn three(3) or four (4) programming languages in other to keep themselves in their job and in the industry.
A typical example is Android. Android, a programming language based on Java, was first released in 2008. Despite the fact that up till now, the market demand for Java programmers is still available, yet a large number of Java programmers upscale their skillset with Android programming when Android became the most acceptable open-source language for smart devices. Today, android still takes the largest market share as billions of devices operate with it. To get a job fast, you must upskill. Even now, you can program Android without Java if you use Koltin. The 2020 Google news reveals that Fuchsia, another Operating system that will replace Android, is on the pipeline, combining android with chrome. In the next 3 to 5 years, most likely, Fuchsia will be Google’s universal operating system for all its devices.
That goes a long way to tell you that for every innovation, you must keep up with new trends, you must be ready to upskill yourself. Learn new things every day. Is programming easy? Is Programming sweet or boring? Is it an easy feat, either front-end or back-end? No work is easy until you become an expert in it because it takes practice to make perfect. However, can you sit with your laptop for 8hours? Can you program for a minimum of 5 hours per day? What type of lifestyle do you want for yourself? Playing video games is fun, right? But can you test for problems in a game by playing that game for 8 hours every day? If your answer is yes. Then this field is for you. If your answer is No, then sorry, you might be mistaken.
Some beginners could not cope with the dynamism of the industry. They had to back out. Meanwhile, some switched to other career lines due to the nature of work. If your interest is to make quick money, but you cannot learn fast, then you won’t be seeking to build a career in I.S/I.T. The training curve could be long, boring, and fatigue-prone to some folks. Paul Wolfe, in his CNBC interview, says that the need to learn new skills is one of the reasons why people take longer to decide whether a career switch to I.S/I.T will worth it.
Let’s get the first-hand experience of those in the IS/IT field. My experience was different. I was like a kid in a candy store for the first several years that I was learning to code. In fact, that boyish excitement has not really ever left me. I was running up big balances on the credit card, buying programming books that I would read voraciously in my spare time. I would suggest that you evaluate alternatives. Spending 40+ hours per week doing something that you do not find innately interesting could be a poor way to live out the next 40 years until retirement.
Development entails spending 8 hours a day in deep concentration, solving problems that at the outset seemed impossible to solve. If you are not driven or internally motivated to solve hard problems, it can be a frustrating experience for both you and your employers. Do you like math? I found that math was the “gateway drug” for me. I started as a math major, then stumbled across coding one day, and switched to computer science fully. I really enjoyed the thrill of solving math problems. Programming gives the same satisfaction but with the added benefit of having something tangible to show for my efforts (a working program that people can use).”
Jeff, H., Software Developer for 15+ years https://www.quora.com/Is-coding-programming-boring-for-everybody-at-first?top_ans=26872401, (accessed: 06 January 2021)
“Initially, it seems boring as you start off with syntax, not with any sort of logic; however, once you taste the happiness of enslaving the computer through your code, the real fun and addiction start. Coding is the ultimate computer game. It is you vs. the computer. You are trying to enslave it, to get it to do exactly what you want it to do. Then the ultimate joy: your program runs and gives an answer that looks right (but it might not be exactly what you expected). You have won! You enslaved the computer, if only on this one task.
You defeated it! Congratulations! Celebrate! Coding is certainly hard. But it is never boring.”
Sheik, A., programmer; https://www.quora.com/Is-coding-programming-boring-for-everybody-at-first?top_ans=68106851, (accessed: 06 January 2021)
“My experience of being a software developer is around eight years now, not so much as others. But I remember working in such a place where programmers, who were working under my supervision, didn’t even know if he/she wants to keep his/her career as a programmer in the future. However, when I started communicating with them, had a lot of group sessions on different software development topics, encouraged them to grow the passion inside them, I saw 80% success. Yes, I could not make it 100%, I believe I had my own lacking at that stage, but then 80% is better than 0%, right?
I even know people who completely converted from a non-technical background to a software development career. Why? Because they grew a passion for programming/software development in them when they watched how other software developers work. — Cheers.” William, G., https://qr.ae/pNVDGw, (accessed: 06 January 2021)
“Over the years, I have seen the industry mature and evolve. In the beginning, I was considered an educated professional with unique skills and knowledge. We were valuable. Today the profession has been relegated to on-demand contract labor. It is difficult to find full-time employment as an actual employee. Today we are salaried workers classed as “management.” This is primarily because most companies want us to work 50 or more hours a week. We are kept on-call and work weekends, holidays, and after hours at no additional compensation. The companies operate 24/7, and we are expected to be available 24/7. Even when we are supposed to be on vacation or on sick leave, we still report in and monitor company emails. I have seen countless colleagues’ marriages end in divorce because of the ridiculous hours we are expected to work.
The industry itself changes every two or three years with new tools and technologies. We have to continuously study and update skills, often on our own time and at our personal expense. It is becoming increasingly challenging to stay current. If we cannot, then our skills become obsolete within about five years. The typical time a job lasts seems to be about five or six years. Suppose you need to update your skill set and get a good raise, which might mean finding another job. More often, you will be asked to go in that time-frame, and you have no choice but to seek out another job.
Business management never learns that IT is an ongoing effort. Security is a constantly moving target. Legacy software dominates because the business does not want to invest in updating software. Usually, the business will not budget modernization until their legacy systems fail and cannot be patched any longer. At this point, it is all hands on deck, firefighting, and non-stop work until the replacement software is in place. Business is reactive and not proactive; then they will ask for something tomorrow and expect it yesterday.
Stress is through the roof. Often you have no hobbies or actual vacations. You neglect yourself and your family. There simply are not enough hours in a day to do what your job demands and anything else. I recall back in the beginning, and this was not true. Our IT shops that needed to operate 24/7 ran three shifts. There was no need for on-call unless it was a total system failure. We were often hourly employees with OT, etc., like everyone else. I did not realize how burnt-out and exhausted I was until I had been out of work for two months. I was too busy to even take time to consider I was burning out.
That is why I stopped.” Joseph, E., Self-employed Software Engineer, https://www.quora.com/Why-did-you-stop-being-a-software-developer?top_ans=176707319 , (accessed: 06 January 2021)
Now, you have a full view, and you now know what it takes. Do you have a passion for IS? Can you learn fast and keep learning for long? Information system degree is more than worth it to those who have the passion and are willing to keep up with the latest trend. If yes you can, then an IS degree will be useful, however, if you think it is useless, I am sure that the knowledge remains useful.
also read: Computer Science Vs Information Technology