In our ever-changing and innovative world, technology is rapidly advancing, and with that more people are becoming fluent with the language and foundation of what makes technology “tick”. Thus, more people are required for our vastly growing corporations that run on the basis of said technology, automating and providing functionality to keep the “engine running” so to speak.
People like you! It’s likely that you’re here because you too have a knack for technology and problem-solving, and it just might feed your soul to have a career that not only pays well but fulfills this passion for you. Perhaps, you’re here because you already have a career or knowledge in this field and are looking to branch out.
In either case, you’ve come to the right place. We will cover enough around this topic, so that you can feel confident going forward, knowing that you’re on the right path to a future in IT and what that entails.
What is IT?
IT stands for Information Technology — and is a fairly general term for all things involving processing and managing information, which is in a lot of cases belonging to a company or an organization.
When we talk about IT and its primary purpose, it’s not typically meant for home networking and computing, but rather large-scale operations. A misconception about IT is that it’s only about computers and systems. IT involves every layer of each and every system that creates the makeup of the organization.
Think of someone in IT as the brain, maintaining the functionality of the different systems and networks (the makeup of the way the organization communicates and manages information).
The systems as the automated portions of the body that keep productivity high and always functional. (Examples like the nervous system, circulatory system, immune system… etc).
Lastly, the computers themselves (also known as the body in this example). The physical and tangible portion that needs maintenance and up-to-date hardware for optimal functionality.
In other words…
The layers that we previously discussed, in line with the human anatomy — range from the physical hardware, which we called the body and organs, to software and operating systems.
The things running in the background keeping it completely functional. The person in IT is the brain behind it all, because without them — well, it’d be no more than a vegetable with no use.
Another thing that the IT personnel are to manage is the internet and business phones.
To explain things in slightly more detail, it’s important to understand that IT is a very broad occupation.
- IT means Information Technology.
- IT covers everything involved with the management and processing of information.
- IT is for businesses and organizations, typically on a larger scale.
- IT covers all the layers of all systems within an organization.
- IT covers Computers and systems, physical hardware, databases, storage, servers, internet, phones, etc.
Best websites offering online IT classes
So, you’re ultimately showing interest in getting an education online, that’s great! As you keep reading, you’ll discover all of the opportunities available for “getting your feet wet” in this new way of learning.
Below we’ll cover the top five recommended websites offering you an online education in the IT field — in no particular order.
Coursera is one of the most widely known platforms of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). It has formed a partnership with Universities and organizations worldwide, thus bringing you a vast collection of different courses/topics.
These topics may be searched amongst their database of in-depth courses. The reward you get for completing some of these courses is more than just the education itself, but a certificate of completion.
This can then be put on a resume to show future employers that you have passed the course and have a working knowledge of the subject. For homebodies, Coursera is an excellent place to start, as it provides you with all you need to do this at home.
4/5 Stars – “I feel more than satisfied to know that I have the course I wanted to undertake offered to me through Coursera. In fact, the professor is renowned in this field and she teaches at the University near where I live. I appreciate the format and set up of the curriculum. The videos are very well done as well. A helpful aspect is that you can save notes, repeat parts of the vids, and you may follow the written text as the video plays.”
5/5 Stars – “I have nothing but positive things to say about my experience with Coursera. I enjoyed the learning opportunities they provided and I continue looking forward to learning more with them.”
1/5 Stars – “While the overall intent and content within videos are excellent, the main problem that I’ve had with Coursera is that they have very little feedback and are hard to reach (at all in limited experience) for any technical assistance. Don’t get me wrong, the course I took had a lot of good content, and the exercises were well constructed. However, life demands got in the way, to where I had to stop studying for a whole month. When I tried to resume — all of my work was reset. I could not get a single person to help me. With all due respect, I believe that there are better ways to learn.”
Some IT-related courses within Coursera include:
“Firstly, this course is 100% online, where you shall receive a sharable certificate upon completing the program. The course is beginner level. You’re capable of setting and maintain flexible deadlines, and it caters to those who speak English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Arabic.
Google has put together this program consisting of 5 courses. It sets you up for an entry-level career within the IT department, as a support role. This can get you a job in person at a small business or global company like Google, or at a remote desk. Upon completing the program, you can share information with top employers like Cognizant, GE Digital, Hulu, Infosys, Intel, KForce, Google… etc.”
The cost of this course is $50 US/month
“This course is 100% online, where you shall receive a sharable certificate upon completing the program. The course is beginner level. You’re able to set and maintain flexible deadlines, and it caters to those who speak English. Lastly, you have approximately four months to complete the program.
You learn about the evolution of security based on historical events. You’ll be able to list various types of malicious software. You will be able to describe key cybersecurity concepts including the CIA Triad, access management, incident response, and common cybersecurity best practices. Lastly, you’ll be able to identify key cybersecurity tools that include, firewalls, anti-virus, cryptography, penetration testing, and digital forensics.”
The cost of this course is $50 US/month
“This course will aid you in making the transition from controlling a single computer to an entire collection of them, or “fleet” if you will. Being a System Administrator, you’ll be responsible for the maintenance of reliable computer systems in a multi-user environment.
You’ll learn what infrastructure services are needed that naturally keep all organizations functional. We’ll cover the cloud in-depth so that you’ll understand everything from typical cloud infrastructure setups to everything on managing cloud resources.
Another thing you’ll discover is how you can manage and configure servers using industry tools to manage computers, user information, and user productivity. Lastly, you will learn how to recover your organization’s IT infrastructure in the off-chance of a disaster.”
The cost of this course is $50 US/month
“This is the ideal program for aspiring programmers. This course teaches you how to program in Scratch, which is a simplistic visual programming language. Furthermore, it introduces you to the fundamentals of computing and it will help you truly get in the headspace of a software engineer!”
The cost of this course is $50 US/month
“This course introduces the many of the fundamentals of programming, which include data structures, networked application program interfaces, and databases — all using the Python programming language.
You’ll go over, how to install Python and write your first program, describe the basics of the Python programming language, use variables to store, retrieve and calculate information, and lastly, utilizing the essential programming tools like functions and loops.”
The cost of this course is $50 US/month
Firstly, Udemy is an online institution offering a vast collection of online courses taught by professionals from all walks of life. Founded, May 2010, its primary aim is toward “professional adults and students”.
Similar to Coursera in how it works, except for the additional function that allows its users to build their own custom courses from individual lessons!
The courses, themselves, are typically built by instructors on their preferred topics and presented to you in video format, and sometimes additional .PDF documents to help you study the content in-depth. To aid you further, you can engage with your instructor of the course online through the discussion boards.
5/5 Stars – “Many of the people I work with have chosen to use Udemyt for pursuing further education. I feel it has the best options, training, and curriculum compared to many others I have tried. While it’s true that the courses maybe a little longer than others, they’re far more detailed. I would highly recommend Udemy.”
4/5 Stars – “Currently I’m in the middle of taking a couple of different Udemy courses, Java Programming Masterclass and the Complete 2019 Web Development. I only had to pay around $15.00 USD for these courses and both are excellent, in my honest opinion.
While I can understand that some people have had bad experiences with Udemy courses — I think that it’s likely because Udemy doesn’t seem to be very optimal at setting a bar for the courses that they offer. So this results in some being good, while others are not so much.”
5/5 Stars – “I am a long-time Udemy user, as I currently have over 85 courses in my account. I find the platform very user friendly and I like that you can contact the instructors no matter how long ago the course was posted.”
Some IT-related courses within Udemy include:
“This condensed course takes months of computer science and interview preparation material and converts it into 20 hours of video. The content of this course is based heavily on the last semester of Aaron Deane’s in-person coding boot camps, where his students proceeded to land 6-figure developer jobs.
The content that we cover within this course is what helped many of Aaron’s students thrive and nail huge interviews at renowned companies like Google, Tesla, Amazon, and Facebook. The course begins with learning how to analyze your code’s time and space complexity using Big O notation.
Where we then move on to discover the ins and outs of Recursion. Afterwhich we learn a 5-step practice approach to solving any difficult coding problem. We cover common programming patterns. We implement popular searching algorithms, and so on…”
The cost of this course is $117.62 US
“Firstly, no prior design or coding knowledge is required! You may use any operating system. Lastly, no expensive software is required.”
Once you’re used to all of the front-end languages, we’ll then ramp up the difficulty and tackle some more challenging work and acquire some more advanced skills like making Responsive Websites, PHP, MySQL, WordPress, and custom WordPress plugin development.
At this point, you will have the ability to build responsive, dynamic websites and blogs, basic eCommerce sites and online stores, while maintaining a professional understanding of all aspects of web design and development. Lastly, you will be guided through a hands-on career section that will help you find your way into the working world as a freelancer, or working at a brick and mortar location.”
The cost of this course is $155.56 US
“The only requirement is that you have basic computer skills.”
“So, you need to learn how to build a website, or brush up on your coding skills to enhance an existing site? This course will show you, step-by-step, how to set up a website from scratch and tips and tricks of the trade to make your site more attractive and user-friendly.
This will take you from the tools you need to build your website, creating and formatting pages, to what to test and look at before your website goes live! This course is strongly suited for those who are looking to build a strong foundation in web design, HTML, and CSS.”
The cost of this course is $60.70 US
“You are only required to have a computer that runs Microsoft, Linux, or Mac operating systems with at least 4GB of ram.”
“You will understand the fundamentals of the C Programming Language and create your first C application. You will also get to understand the variables and different data types. You will get to understand the core language that most modern languages are based on.
This will help make yourself more marketable for entry-level programming positions as you learn one of the most popular, widely used languages in the world! You will get to apply for real-time programming positions and learn how to write high-quality code as well. This course is for anyone who is looking to learn how to program in the C language, even those without any prior experience.
The cost of this course is $117.62 US
“Having a broad but basic knowledge of computer hardware, network standards, and database concepts would prove to be an asset in your endeavors of learning AWS. This course is for developers and admins interested in getting started with AWS.”
“This hands-on course will help you in learning to grasp the components of Amazon EC2 interact, and educate you on how to go about deploying a Linux or Windows instance. This course was specifically designed for people who have prior experience in working with a Linux or Windows server.”
“The course begins with you learning how to deploy an EC2 Linux instance, which includes how to make a key pair and a basic instance. You’ll also learn how to allow network access, add a new disk, and move files. After, Steve will cover the fundamentals of Windows in EC2 and how to use it.
There are video tutorials included covering some topics like monitoring and reporting, security, creating AMIs… etc. Lastly, you will learn how to work with RDS and EC2, as well as create applications on EC2 instances. This course should make you fully capable of building and deploying your own EC2 and Windows instances.
The cost of this course is $41.73 US
Using edX is another great option for obtaining a free online education. It offers you many full in-depth courses that include teachers, quizzes, discussion boards, and more! The main niche for this website, however, revolves around courses that specialize in math, engineering, and science. In a nutshell, this course has a lot of quality information to offer.
5/5 Stars – “Edx is a good place for those looking to enhance their knowledge around a subject. All courses provided are useful and helpful. I will definitely suggest edx to anyone out there. It is my favorite learning platform.”
5/5 Stars – ” I have been a student of edX since its infancy. I have learned much from high-quality courses placed on the edX platform, taught many renowned universities and industry partners from all over the world. I cannot stress how good edX is!”
1/5 Stars – “It has very poor customer feedback and support systems. My rough experience began when I applied for a course and subsequently canceled it within the stipulated time frame. However, I was charged roughly $80 USD for currency conversion and admin fees. It’s been about two weeks since, and I’ve been still trying to get a hold of them.”
Some IT-related courses within edX include:
“Over the course of 5 months, you will learn pretty much why IT organizations use product management to deliver business value and how organizational culture can influence the role of the PM for individual projects.
You will also learn how to describe and distinguish among the major product management methodologies and project lifecycles as applied to IT and to identify strategies for managing distributed teams.
Furthermore, you will understand the purpose behind a Project Management Office (PMO), high-level strategies to set up, maintain, and close a PMO, and how it can work within your organization.
We will also discover the techniques needed to prioritize, intake, and select programs and projects alike so that they fall in alignment with the organization’s complete business plan.
Lastly, we will uncover which of the personal and performance competencies are necessary for project management in IT, and strategies for developing those skills.
The cost of this course is $599.50 US
“Through 5 months of studying, we will go over how information technology is used in organizations along with an overview of how computers and communications networks work.
Another thing that we will also cover, is some of the basic concepts of software development and project management, and fundamental concepts of computer programming. Last but not least, you will learn about computer threats, hackers, antivirus, and information security — along with the social and ethical implications of IT.
The cost of this course is $338.45 US
“This Master’s Degree in IT Management is designed for ambitious professionals with an interest in information technology and information systems who are looking to accelerate their careers.
We have created this online IT Management degree program to meet the growing demand for IT leaders, information systems managers, and IT project managers, developing a curriculum that will prepare students from both business and IT backgrounds to meet current market needs for CIOs and other tech visionaries.”
The cost of this degree is $15936.13 US
“You will obtain practical skills for hardware tunings, like Arduino, ESP32, and Raspberry Pi. You will learn the recommended programming skills necessary for IoT application development, along with the basic principles of data collection and storing.
You will understand the guidelines for data security and privacy with demonstrations of popular cases. You will obtain some practice in the Robot Operating System and its connection with OpenHAB for home automation. Lastly, you will learn decentralized IoT solutions or IoT without infrastructure.”
The cost of this course is $403.72 US
“By taking this course, what you will end up learning is a broad and robust understanding of computer science, programming, and software development.
You will learn the principles of 2D and 3D graphics, animation, sound, and collision detection. You will learn to work with Unity. and LÖVE 2D, plus Lua and C#. Lastly, you will understand the fundamentals of game design and development.”
The cost of this course is $162.40 US
Khan Academy has a very “user-friendly” interface, providing the foundation for many courses amongst different subjects! Khan Academy has partnered with many post-secondary schools, giving you short but condensed lectures, offering you a wealth of information. These courses build on each other, helping you grow as a student at a very fast pace.
5/5 Stars – “The platform is very user friendly. There are lessons for all, parents as well as students. The lessons are structured helping you escalate different skills, which the teachers help break down. You may practice problem-solving numerous times until you are confident as well, on numerous subjects.”
4/5 Stars – “Courses are well-composed, and most if not all instructors seem genuinely engaged with the material and outcomes of the students. Courses are organized with care, with content presented in a logical manner.”
5/5 Stars – “It’s very clear and helpful. The presentation has a lot of detail and examples that show all the steps to avoid any confusion. Color-coded presentation is included to help make things easier to comprehend. Thank you, Khan.”
Some IT-related courses within Khan Academy include:
“In this course, we begin by covering drawing and animation, followed by making your own webpages. Afterwhich, you will learn querying and managing data, games, and visualizations and natural simulations! Lastly, we cover making the webpages interactive, and then making them interactive with jQuery.”
This course is free!
“This short course begins with learning computer science algorithms, followed by cryptography, and lastly information theory.”
This course is free!
“This course begins with understanding digital information and a little on computers. Next, we’ll get a better understanding of the internet and how important online data security is. Finally, we’ll tackle some of the computing innovations that have come our way to get an idea of the bigger picture.”
This course is free!
You can monitor your progress from within the dashboard, and organize your lessons as complete modules. This automates your course so that it jumps from one section to another without you manually needing to do so!
5/5 Stars – “This is a great platform to learn to program, as there are many courses that cover each programming language.”
5/5 Stars – “There are many courses on computer science and programming. Content is good as well.”
4/5 Stars – “There is a lack of in-depth explanations. I feel as though, personally, they aren’t explaining things enough. Although, I would recommend this for beginners.”
Some IT-related courses within Codecademy include:
“In this course, you will learn to become a Python expert. This means grasping the ins and outs of Python — which happens to be one of the fastest-growing programming languages. Next, you’ll learn to write super efficient code. Code that is second to none.
With a strong conceptual foundation, you’ll be able to write clean, efficient code. Lastly, you will learn how you can ace the interview, learning to get in the headspace of a real programmer.”
“In this course, you will learn to get a grasp of big data. This means using SQL to talk to databases and manipulate tables. Next, you’re going to go beyond the stats with Python. You will use Python for statistical analysis and create data visualizations which will ultimately help you see the big picture!
Lastly, you’ll use machine learning and AI. This means you will create your own models that can automate different data processes, recognize patterns, and make recommendations, based on what you see.”
Next, we’ll learn how to build a web app, which means going beyond a landing page. You’re going to build the back-end of a web application and even create your very own API.
Last but not least, you’re going to put your skills on display by building a portfolio of related projects while you learn. This allows you to show potential employers your skills that will help you kick-start your future career as a web developer.”
“Within this course, we will begin by learning to visualize data. This means using your Python skills to visually present data by visualizing by utilizing graphs, charts, and more!
Next, you will learn to interpret large data sets. Lastly, you’re going to test your hypothesis! The exciting part. Check your gut instincts by designing and running A/B tests to further evaluate data.”
Pros and cons of online courses vs being on campus.
- Easily Accessible – Courses that you take online are typically guaranteed to give you access to all of the course material, e-books, as well as e-mails and phone numbers needed to thrive in the program of your choosing. This can all be accessed through the internet via computer or mobile platforms. What better way to learn and achieve academic success than to have all of your course material at your fingertips?
- No commute – Tardiness is a huge reason why many students fail, drop-out, or just graze by the skin of their teeth when it comes to college/university programs. In fact, attendance is quite a big deal in how you are graded as well, including the important information you may miss! With online learning, you can rest assured that you will be able to make it to your class on time, regardless of automotive problems, finances, or illness. Furthermore, you won’t have to worry about outside circumstances like traffic, weather conditions, accidents, or emergencies. You are simply in charge of waking up on time and having your computer ready for the course material.
- Flexible Schedule – You are typically given assignments and are meant to complete them before the due date — as per usual. However, some courses are just that. Due dates. In which, you read the course material, and are in charge of when you complete the following assignments. This can work really well for people who have day-jobs or have children or other obligations, they can arrange themselves when they complete the course content, which would otherwise be impossible if it were on campus.
- More Cost-Effective – Online courses are typically cheaper and in some cases a lot more condensed. Furthermore, you don’t have to worry about meal plans and buying books (some of the time) — as well as transportation fare, whether that is bus fare, your own vehicle, train or other.
- Bad/No Reputation – Some of these programs aren’t “recognized” as a credible educational institution. Therefore, having a degree/diploma on your resume from this source might be no different than obtaining a certificate of completion — ultimately showing, you have enthusiasm for the topic, but there’s no reputable college/university to vouch for you.
- Fewer Course Options – In a lot of cases, the course you are looking for may not be available online — or from the educational institution of your choice. This circles back to potentially settling for a non-credible institution, changing fields, or just attending college/university on campus.
- Lacking Social Interaction – For those “social-butterflies”, people looking to branch out, or those who simply like to engage with their professors and peers — this may not be the right choice for you. Everything is done online with minimal interaction with others. The interaction you might get could be through e-mail, group messaging, webcam, or other. For those who aren’t homebodies, and enjoy being out and about, perhaps being on campus is for you!
- Dependant on Internet/Technology – While technology in ways, yes, can make our lives easier — it can also create a hindrance to our success as well. When you are at the mercy of technology, how it functions, and relying on it for virtually anything, what happens when the technology is faulty, or worse… dies on us! This can be anything from our internet connection to our computers and printers. The things we rely on to get our job done. When we are approaching a deadline, it’s important to have a backup plan for when things go south.
- More Academic Responsibility – The biggest threat to your education is yourself. What is meant by this, is that you are in charge of everything revolving around your education and achieving success in your program. Furthermore, when you get “too comfortable” in the lifestyle of online learning, you might see yourself slip, or become too lenient with yourself. Discipline is required for making sure you get your work done, and are showing up every day giving it your all. Without this, you are doomed to fail.
Where can my education in the IT department lead me?
- Quality Assurance Analyst
- Data Analyst
- IT Business Analyst
- IT Project Manager
- Network Administrator
- Senior Software Engineer
- Technical Support Specialist
Is getting a career in the IT field worth it?
In one word, “yes”. There are a few reasons for this, for instance, there are a plethora of job opportunities in this field. As stated within the introduction, technology has, is, and will continue to rapidly advance.
This means that more people are needed to help maintain the computers and networks that hold an organization together. Furthermore, there are careers within the IT spectrum that hold a lot of potential for career growth. For instance, as stated by the Australian Department of Employment, “within our projections for the next 5 years, the potential career growth for Technology Administrators are foreseen to be very strong“. Others, like IT support technicians and Web Developers are predicted to be strong in the future.
Another reason for obtaining an IT career is that no two days are alike. That’s right! Every day you are met with new challenges, which just might feed your soul if you are: a) technologically inclined, b) are deeply fascinated with how things work, or c) you absolutely love solving problems. This, however, can have negative consequences too. If you are:
- Not good under pressure – then you will either need to learn to adapt, or search for another career. This is important because a lot of people are going to be depending on you and your skills with technology to make things more optimal, efficient, and help them so they can focus on their job. Time is most definitely a factor here.
- Not technologically inclined – this isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker when it comes to a career in IT, because as with anything, you can learn! However, it’s not without its challenges. Technology has a steep learning curve, especially since it’s incredibly complex. However, this becomes easier when you break it down into chunks and tackle them individually. It will always be one of those things that are constantly progressing — and with that, so must you!
- Not a team player – this is important if you’re not a people-person or if you have trouble communicating and working as a unit with your coworkers. The important thing is that everyone has the same goal in mind and that you are all on the same page. Not being a team player can hinder your progress and ultimately your ability to carry out a job as an IT support technician.
- Not used to change – this circles back to when we talked about “no two days being the same”. The environment will be fast-paced, demanding, and complex — most importantly, you’ll need to adapt, especially when the challenge you’re faced with is more than you’re used to. If you cannot adapt to this environment and exercise your ability to communicate with others, keep cool, and use your noggin, perhaps another field would be more appropriate.
- Not passionate about technology – or at the very least, keen on the topic. If IT is just about a paycheque for you, perhaps you should find something you resonate with. You need a certain amount of enthusiasm, initiative, and inclusiveness (with your employees) to make sure that not only are they happy, but you get the job done right.
Now, all of that being said — it’s not discourage you from finding a career in the IT field. In fact, this should inspire you. Knowing exactly what is needed, and understanding your strengths and weaknesses can help prepare you for what is ahead.
FAQs About the Best Online Courses
The best 10 online courses are:
• LinkedIn Learning;
• General Assembly;
The best top 5 IT courses are:
• Cisco networking (CCNA) undergraduate degree course with the Open University
• Computer Science Degree at Cambridge University
• Foundation Web Design and Software Development foundation degree at the University of Bedfordshire
• Cloud Computing Technologies Introduction with Learning Tree training company
• European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL) online courses
The best free online courses are:
• Inbound Marketing Certification – HubSpot Academy
• Marketing Fundamentals: Who Is Your Customer – edX
• How Websites Work – Google Garage
• Google Analytics for Beginners – Google
• Content Marketing Certification – HubSpot Academy
• Viral Marketing and How to Create Contagious Content – Coursera
• Business Blogging – HubSpot Academy
• Online Video Marketing Course – HubSpot Academy
• Social Media Course – HubSpot Academy
• Introduction to Social Media Strategy – Skillshare/Buffer
The best IT courses for the future are:
• International Business Degree or Finance Degree
• Bioinformatics or Biomedical Engineering
• Any Engineering Degree
• Environmental Science Degree or Sustainability Degree
• Health Information Technology or Health Administration
• Computer Science Degree
• Information Technology Security Degree
• Public Health Degree
• Instruction Design Degree
• Human Resources Degree
Ultimately: Computer and Information Technology
Others also include:
• Masters in Artificial Intelligence
• Masters in MIS
• Masters in Computer Science
• Masters in Information Systems
• Masters in Business Analytics
So there you have it! We have covered in-depth all that you need to know about IT and pursuing a career and an education on that path. You’ve probably come to find that a career in IT is a very rewarding and enriching experience to us technology-loving problem-solvers, in more ways than one!
Does a career in IT sound like a good fit for you? Which field in IT sounds most befitting of you? How do you think you might pursue this? Thank you for reading! From all of us here, we wish you the best of luck in your endeavors in IT.
On a related note, check out our list of essential IT tools you need to have to make your workspace of utmost efficiency.