Computer systems engineers are information technology (IT) professionals who fix system administration and networking issues while also managing computer hardware and software functions. Many of these professionals are required to have a bachelor's degree in the field. However, an associate degree in computer systems engineering might prepare graduates to work in network and system support services. To qualify for either program, students should have their high school diploma or equivalent.
Associate in Science in Computer Systems Engineering
A 2-year associate degree program in computer systems engineering is geared toward the student interested in working with hardware and software support, computer maintenance and information technology. Similar degrees include Associate of Science in Computer Science and Associate of Science in Computer Engineering Technology. These programs emphasize computer network design and the fundamentals of programming. Many schools also offer coursework to help prepare students for CompTIA certification, which is often a requirement for jobs in the computer industry. Aside from general education in English and math, potential course topics include:
- Telecommunication in business
- Computer system programming
- Computer science
- Electrical circuits
- Design and maintenance of networks
Bachelor's Degree in Computer Systems Engineering
Similar degrees may be named Bachelor of Science in Information Technology or Bachelor of Science in Computer System Administration. A 4-year bachelor's degree program in computer systems engineering offers students the opportunity to learn about various levels of computer and information technology. Students work toward proficiency in network design, microprocessor systems, data transmission efficiency and security. This broad base of knowledge allows graduates to work on a wide array of computers, including personal computers, company-wide computer networks and microcomputers such as those found in cars and aviation.
Along with degree requirements in computer science and engineering, heavy emphasis is placed on subjects like calculus and physics. Students are also required to complete general education coursework to fulfill university degree requirements. In this program, traditional classroom learning is typically paired with experience working on computer hardware, software and networking applications. Course topics could include:
- Computer design
- Differential equations
- Computer engineering
- Computer security controls
- Wireless networking
Popular Career Options
Depending on employer needs and the level of training of the individual, an associate degree can lead to employment in entry-level positions. Graduates may find work in:
- Computer support
- Network security
- Systems maintenance
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that employment opportunities in the field of network and computer systems administration are projected to increase by 8% over the 2014-2024 decade (www.bls.gov). The average yearly salary for those working in network and computer systems administration was $82,200 in 2015.
Individuals seeking higher-level management positions can continue their education through master's degree programs in computer engineering or computer science. As new computer systems are developed, those working in the computer systems engineering field should keep abreast of the latest technology by maintaining their certifications and training.
For students with an interest in computer systems, pursuing an associate or bachelor's degree in the discipline could help them learn to work with computer hardware and software in preparation for jobs in computer support, network administration and systems maintenance, among other options.