Information technology is a big part of our lives. We use technologies such as computers, smartphones and tablets every day. More importantly, information and communications technologies are central to the operation of organisations in many different industries. This means that graduates of computing and information technology programs are very valuable and can take many different career paths.
Many international students enrol in computing and information technology degrees each year. The Australian information and communications technology (ICT) industry is growing, which means that new courses and specialisations are constantly being created.
The courses and employment opportunities available will depend on the level of qualification you complete.
If you are interested in studying computing and information technology, you may also be interested in studying Business and management, Creative arts, Engineering and technology or the Sciences.
There are three qualification levels in computing and information technology:
Courses and specialisation
Vocational Education and Training (VET) courses in computing and information technology are available at certificate level through to diplomas and advanced diplomas. Generally, the lower-level certificates I, II and III provide basic computing skills, while certificate IV, diplomas and advanced diplomas prepare students with the skills required to enter specific careers in computing and information technology. You might consider undertaking a certificate I or II before progressing into a more specialised diploma or advanced diploma.
The list of specialisations in this field is very long. General qualifications in information technology provide skills that graduates can use in many different information technology roles. There are also more specialised qualifications that prepare students for specific careers in areas such as computer systems engineering, computer systems technology, digital and interactive games, information technology support, information technology project management, networking, programming, software development, systems administration, systems analysis and design, and testing.
There are also some higher-level VET qualifications available at the vocational graduate certificate and vocational graduate diploma level, which are equivalent to the graduate certificates and graduate diplomas offered in the higher education sector but offer a more practical focus. Current courses include information technology sustainability, and information technology and strategic management.
Generally, VET qualifications are more practical than degrees in the higher education sector. If you are looking for a course with an academic focus or want to enter a more senior role, you may consider studying in the higher education sector. VET qualifications can provide a good pathway into undergraduate computing and information technology degrees.
Applicants must meet academic and English language requirements, which vary between courses, institutions and qualification levels. Some courses may have additional prerequisites. For more information about VET courses and entry requirements, see Vocational Education.
Where to study
VET qualifications in computing and information technology are widely available at TAFE institutes, private colleges and universities with TAFE departments. Some private colleges may even specialise in this field. If you are considering progressing to an undergraduate computing and information technology degree after completing a VET qualification, enquire with institutions about their pathway schemes to see whether you will be awarded credit for your studies.
The course you choose will depend on whether you want to gain a general set of skills (through a diploma of information technology, for example) or skills that are related to a particular type of work (such as those taught in a diploma of digital and interactive games). You could also choose a certificate I or II to learn basic skills or a diploma or advanced diploma to expand your existing skills.
Practical experience is a very important part of many computing and information technology courses, so it is important to check that the courses and institutions you are considering have the latest computing facilities and equipment. You should also look out for work experience opportunities and industry placements.
Courses and specialisation
There is a long list of undergraduate degrees in computing and information technology available in Australia, which prepare students for various roles in the field. Many graduates find careers in practical areas such as hardware and networking, or deal with the development of systems and programs. Some apply their creativity in areas such as desktop publishing or interactive multimedia. Others enter operations or management roles.
Because there are different career areas, there are also many different specialisations within computing and information technology degrees. The most common degrees in the field include bachelor degrees in information technology, information systems or computing. These are broad degrees that allow students to explore a number of specialisations in areas such as artificial intelligence, database programming, games design, mobile computing, network engineering, software development and telecommunications. Students who have a more specific career in mind may be able to enter a specialised course in their field of interest (a bachelor of software engineering, for example).
Computing and information technology specialisations may also be available within engineering and science degrees. In addition, there are bachelor degrees in business information systems (see Business and management in Australia) and computer systems engineering (see Engineering and technology in Australia).
Double degrees are a popular option, with combinations available in fields such as business and management, engineering and technology, and the sciences. For students who have an interest in computing but aren’t sure about completing a full degree in the field, there is also the option to undertake computing and IT electives as part of their program in another discipline.
Graduates of undergraduate degrees in computing and information technology streams may be eligible to complete the Australian Computer Society’s Professional Year Program (PYP). See Computing and information technology jobs in Australia for more information.
Applicants must meet academic and English language requirements, which vary between courses, institutions and qualification levels. Some undergraduate courses in accounting require the completion of prerequisite studies in mathematics and science in secondary school. For more information about undergraduate degrees and entry requirements, see Higher Education — Undergraduate.
Where to study
Undergraduate degrees in computing and information technology are widely available. They can be studied at most universities, some private colleges and also at some TAFE institutes.
The course you choose will depend on the aspect of computing and IT that interests you the most, whether this is a course with a technical, creative or business focus. Not all specialisations are available at all universities, so check course guides to make sure courses you are considering cover the areas of computing and information technology that you would like to study. You should also consider whether you would prefer a course with a practical or academic focus and choose the course that is best suited to your needs.
Another thing to look for is accreditation from the Australian Computer Society (ACS). Courses that have gained ACS accreditation follow an industry-approved standard curriculum and maintain equipment and facilities to a high industry standard.
It is important to check that the courses and institutions you are considering have the latest computing facilities and equipment. You should also look out for work experience opportunities and industry placements.
Courses and specialisation
Postgraduate study in the computing and information technology field has grown a lot in recent years. Student numbers are increasing, with many professionals returning to study to update their skills and knowledge or qualify for more senior positions. There are also many students who do not have a computing and information technology background that are using postgraduate qualifications to enter a career in the field, as well as a large number of computing and information technology bachelor degree graduates who want to improve their job prospects through further study.
The list of postgraduate coursework degrees in computing and information technology is extensive, with options available at graduate certificate, graduate diploma and masters by coursework level. There are also some vocational graduate certificates and diplomas available in the VET sector (see VET study in computing and information technology). Courses include general information technology and computer science degrees that allow students to complete a range of specialisations (a master of information technology, for example), as well as more specialised courses in areas such as cyber security, forensic computing, mobile applications development and multimedia studies.
Double degrees are another option, with many students choosing degrees combining information technology with fields such as engineering and technology and business and management, including the master of business administration (MBA). There are also a number of postgraduate management degrees with a computing and information technology focus, which are designed for information technology professionals interested in entering management positions, such as the popular master of information technology management.
While most students study coursework degrees, research degrees are also popular, including masters degrees by research, research doctorates and professional doctorates.
Graduates of postgraduate degrees in computing and information technology streams may be eligible to complete the Australian Computer Society’s Professional Year Program (PYP). See Computing and information technology jobs in Australia for more information.
Applicants must meet academic and English language requirements, which vary between courses, institutions and qualification levels. Some courses may require a relevant bachelor degree or industry experience. For more information about postgraduate degrees and entry requirements, see Higher Education — Postgraduate.
Where to study
Postgraduate degrees in computing and information technology are available around Australia at universities, as well as at some private colleges and TAFE institutes.
The course you choose will depend on the current qualifications you have, as well as your career goals. If you are interested in changing the direction of your career and want an in-depth look at the field, you may choose a broader degree (such as a master of computer science). If you would like to expand or update your skills in a specific area, you might prefer a more specialised degree (a graduate diploma in games technology, for example). Those looking to enter information technology management positions may consider a degree or double degree that incorporates a management focus.
If you are considering research, you should make sure that the institution you select has expertise in your chosen area. It is also important to investigate potential supervisors, industry connections and support for research students.
You should also make sure that the facilities and equipment at the institution are up to date and relevant to your specialisation. Another thing to look for is accreditation from the Australian Computer Society (ACS). Courses that have gained ACS accreditation follow an industry-approved standard curriculum and maintain equipment and facilities to a high industry standard.
Australia’s digital economy is growing, so the demand for computing and information technology graduates is expected to stay strong for years to come.
Graduates are employed in many different roles across all sorts of industries, from information technology firms to other organisations that require information technology expertise. Some graduates find work in information technology support roles in various types of workplaces. Others may find themselves working in more creative roles such as designing websites or games. Other roles include testing, networking and software or systems development. Some graduates apply their information technology skills in sales roles or as act as consultants to the industry. It’s possible to work outside of the industry too, perhaps using your knowledge for a technical writing role or to teach information technology skills to others.
Graduates of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in computer science and information and communications technology (ICT) may be eligible to undertake a Professional Year Program (PYP) through the Australian Computer Society (ACS). This is a one-year program that assists international students to obtain work experience and workplace skills at the conclusion of their Australian study program. Graduates who successfully complete a PYP may be awarded five points under the Skilled Occupation List (SOL), which may assist them to gain permanent residency in Australia.