Careers in IT – Information Technology Diversity Part I: Systems Category

As a service member who developed a rewarding career in the IT arena after leaving the military, I want to provide a brief overview of the incredible diversity of career options available to those of you interested in getting into the field of Information Technology. Very briefly, I was a CIO and IT department manager for a medium size enterprise that included a national headquarters, 1500+ nationwide offices, 60,000+ members, and the nation’s largest fleet of single engine piston aircraft (550+).

The scope of the organization’s Information Technology program touched in-house business and mission processes as well as interfacing with civilian and government organizations on the national, state, and local level. It included equipment management and application interaction among ground, aircraft, and satellite resources. And even with this wide a scale of involvement in so many aspects of the operation, our role touched on only a limited number of applications from the vast opportunities available in such a diverse field as Information Technology.

Due to the wide array of possibilities open to an Information Technology professional, it might be difficult for you to determine which degree program you want to pursue. In an effort to make things a little simpler, we can break down the field into two main areas of specialization – Systems (the physical tools, instruments, and hardware that makes it all work), and Process Applications (the software programs that perform required IT tasks and run on the aforementioned systems). This first article will cover the Systems category, while my next article, Part 2, will focus on Process Application Development.

Systems Category

Information Technology practitioners working in the Systems side of the field typically deal with the actual computers, networks, security systems, and the required support networks used to run the business process applications. Systems workers also provide the means of connectivity among both local and geographically disparate parts of an IT system, handling local and worldwide information sharing, system resources, and interfaces. Some examples of specialized tasks from the Systems field include:

  • Purchasing, setting up, and maintaining computers (including end user support)
  • Designing, installing, and maintaining networks
  • Database administration
  • Developing, deploying, and monitoring system security

Most military members serving in Information Technology roles play some part in one or more of the above tasks. And anyone who’s been deployed to a new location knows both the importance and urgency placed on completing these tasks efficiently and effectively. Depending on the size – and budget – for the system in question, IT workers can find themselves working on all of these functions at once, or focusing on a specific role like monitoring and interpreting security logs to prevent or stop hacking attempts. On the Systems side of the Information Technology arena, there are occasional requirements for coding and programming, though those functions are typically not the primary task at hand.

American Sentinel University offers a wide variety of online programs in support of individuals pursuing the Systems IT career track, including an Information Systems degree program (with AS, BS, and Masters programs all available), and the popular Information Systems Security degree (BS).  Other interesting avenues offering opportunities for specialization in the Information Technology field include programs like our AS or BS in Geographical Information Systems (which is used by military battle field management systems). We also offer a variety of online certification programs for IT Systems workers, including CompTIA general certs, Cisco courses and Microsoft-specific programs, among others.

Be sure to stay tuned for part 2 of this article, where I will explore the Process Application Development category of IT. Also watch out for future updates from both myself and other experts in the Information Technology field. We’ll be providing a wealth of information on specific issues and general considerations alike. Be sure to help out fellow service members by inviting them to participate in our forum either as a contributor, or another interested reader, and if you have any questions, feel free to contact us at your earliest convenience.

If you have any comments, please reach out to me through my LinkedIn profile at or join American Sentinel University’s Military Subgroup on LinkedIn at  I’d love to hear from you!

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