Computer screens in a rowIt's not difficult to see why Information Technology is one of the most popular online degrees:

  • It's a secure field. With the growing popularity of the Internet for school, work and play, the demand for IT professionals isn't going anywhere but up.
  • It pays well. The median annual salary for the eight computer and IT positions listed on the latest Occupational Outlook Handbook is $75,610.
  • Many online students have an interest in technology that stems from their military background, where they became familiar with complex equipment. This translates well when looking for a civilian career. recently released an article entitled "10 Hot IT Skills for 2013," which surveyed 334 IT executives.

If you're considering Information Technology for your online degree, see if some of these 10 hot IT skills match up with your strengths. If you're enrolled or have graduated with a degree in IT, remember to accentuate these skills when you compose resumes and cover letters. We will also include in the list below the most relevant online degrees for each of the 10 hottest IT skills:

1. Programming and Application Development

The report said during the recession a few years ago, organizations fell behind on projects. Currently, they're playing catch-up by adding staff members - most likely contributing to the more favorable employment picture (7.8% national unemployment in September 2012, compared to 10% in October 2009).

DegreeInformation Technology

2. Project Management

With IT projects growing more and more complex in the modern era of advanced technology, the demand for project managers is becoming very strong.

DegreeInformation Management - Project Management

3. Help Desk/Technical Support

As organizations pursue new initiatives and build new systems, existing customers may have to familiarize themselves with new technology. When that happens, organizations will hire more technical support staff to properly acclimate customers to the new service.

DegreeComputer Science

4. Security

Cybersecurity is becoming a problem, as we've noted on the GU blog in the past. Cybersecurity professionals are tasked with preventing cyberattacks (politically motivated computer hacking, often with the target being military operations, banking systems or power grids). The demand for specialized security professionals is growing as data becomes more and more complex.

DegreeInformation Systems Security

5. Business Intelligence/Analytics

The report noted the best business intelligence candidates (professionals who analyze big data) have technical know-how, business knowledge, and strong statistical and mathematical backgrounds.

DegreeBusiness Intelligence

6. Cloud/SaaS

Some technology organizations have various data centers to store their information. As these centers keep growing, organizations will need cloud computing experts to keep track of all of their information.

DegreeInformation Systems

7. Virtualization

Virtualization refers to the creation of a virtual version (as opposed to a physical version) of an operating system, storage device, network resource or hardware platform. There will continue to be a need for IT professionals with experience in virtual environments.

DegreeInformation Technology

8. Networking

Networking expertise involves managing a collection of computers interconnected by communication channels that allow sharing of resources and other information. The need for networking experts will continue to grow.

DegreeComputer Science

9. Mobile Applications and Device Management

Software development is one of the most high-growth fields out there. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for software developers is expected to grow by 30% by 2020, well above the 14% average across all occupations. Furthermore, the average annual salary of a software developer was $90,530 in 2010. What's not to like? I'm surprised this wasn't a bit higher on the list.

DegreeInformation Systems

10. Data Center

Professionals with data center management, storage and data backup experience have been on employer wish lists for years, and it's expected to stay that way, according to the report.

Degree: Data Management