I am trying to decide my major and want to know what the career path looks like for a MIS/CIS major. I know that there are many many different paths and jobs to take but I would like to know what would be the jobs I can get after I first graduate and the average pay, ie system analyst; and after 5 years of experience what jobs am I qualified for, ie IT manager etc; and finally after 10 years of experience what am I qualified for ie CTO etc. I don't want to be a system analyst for 10 years. I want to know if theres possiblity for movement up the "so called ladder". Sorry if this sounds confusing but an example would be lets say I become an accountant. After I graduate, I article at a CA firm for 2 years making 50K-70K, then I become a CA and after 5 years of experience I can apply for jobs such as controller or Financial manager making 100,000K+ , then after 10 years I can apply for jobs such a CFO or Director of Finance etc.

I would also like to know if CIS/MIS graduates know how to program in languages that a CS major would know how to? AND what the job prospects for a CIS/MIS grad are. Are there lots of jobs open to CIS majors? Do they choose CS majors over CIS/MIS majors since they know how to program more? I know it depends on the job, but I've
heard that usually CS majors and CIS/MIS majors compete for the same jobs so I'm kinda wondering who they choose first.

To be frank, I'm scared that CIS/MIS get the low end jobs such as an helpdesk analyst and are not hired because they lack the programming skills that CS majors aqquire. AND i'm also worried that CIS/MIS majors won't get the "higher" jobs like IT manager or [dont know anymore :P please if you can name a few higher positions] and instead CS majors will get them instead. I say this because I always see job advertisements saying that the requirements are a CS degree OR CompE degree or equivalent expereince and never a MIS/CIS degree.

Finally, IF CIS/MIS majors aren't as adept in programming as CS majors are, Can I just Major in CIS/MIS and for my options take all the programming language courses that a CS major would do and Simply have the best of both worlds?

Sorry for the long post
Thank you so much for your replies

There is an underlying debate that seems to come up with the issue of IT pay scale/experience: Do you need a degree?

Although you seemed to have answered this question in your case, I would take the following away from the countless number of times people have debated this issue:

In most cases, which people have stated and I have seen to be true, you need to have the skill to do the job. For example, I have no degree and this was the career track I ended up taking: Help Desk => Level II Tech Support => Developer/Admin => Systems Administrator (Linux). As well as being CTO of a hosting company, I have had, and still do, what I consider a good career (started in the midst of the dot com crash). In terms of salary, I am very happy with what I make. More importantly (I say more importantly because if you are good at what you do, and you have good communication/people skills, you are probably going to excel in your pay scale anyway) I am happy with what I do.

I had two positions as a manager and I was not happy with either position. Not because I was unable to do the job, but because I was not happy with what the job entailed. So I ended up sticking my head back into the technical side of things, and was lucky enough to keep the raised salary.

The reason I have shared you my story is so you can understand the most important thing I have found to be true in this field. If you learn a skill, and do what needs to be done to show you have that skill, you will be able to excel in that area as long as you are passionate enough to keep gaining knowledge about the subject and applying it. A degree will open more doors for you than I would have if I started out right now, so I am certainly not saying ditch that effort. I was lucky enough to get in the ground of a startup company before moving to another city, and gain experience. However, to be a CIO, you are going to have to prove your skills worthy as a CIO. To be a Sr. Systems Administrator, the same is true. If I where in your position I would pick a path, and start learning about it, get involved in the community that supports it and it's knowledge base, and prove yourself. In other words, there is nothing holding you back from jumping in. It's going to be a lot of hard work (especially how competitive it is these days) and a degree without experience will not guarantee you a great paying job in this field.

On a side note, if you are really not passionate about IT or a specific technical area, and just more passionate about making money (which is fine if that's what you are after - just don't be afraid to admit it to yourself if it is), you may want to look into getting a business degree or something with more guaranteed lucrative opportunities based off the degree alone.

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