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Computer Careers and Job Opportunities

Computer degrees give students access to state-of-the-art equipment, helping them learn in an interactive way. Continue reading for an overview of the programs, as well as salary info for some career options for graduates.

Those with a degree in computers have a number of career options available to them. They might seek work in computer science, computer engineering, or information technology. For most positions, some level of work experience is required and optional certification is available in some cases.

Essential Information

There are a wide variety of fields students with a computer degree can enter. These include computer engineering, computer science and information technology. Computer science careers cover many different topics, such as algorithms and programming languages. Students in this area can get their bachelor's or master's degrees. Computer engineering careers are geared towards testing different digital software and inspecting computer equipment. Coursework can include electronic and analog circuits, audio engineering and digital communications. Programs in information technology focus on computer-related needs for different organizations.

Career Database Administrator Software Developer Computer and Information Systems Manager
Education Requirements Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree
Other Requirements Certifications offered by database vendors An internship or prior experience as a computer programmer preferred Work experience may be required
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 11% 17% 15%
Median Salary (2015)* $81,710 $98,260 (for application developers) $131,600

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

Computer degrees give students many avenues to work in, whether they are interested in information technology or computer science. Below are overviews and descriptions of potential careers for computer graduates.

Computer Science Careers

Computer science covers computer architecture, programming languages, algorithms, computations and theories. Degree programs in computer science are offered at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels. Degree candidates study topics such as modeling, robotics, artificial intelligence, security and Internet systems, among others.

A degree in computer science affords numerous career options. Those who have obtained a bachelor's or master's degree may go on to work as systems analysts, database administrators, computer programmers and testers while those with master's or doctoral degrees may go into postsecondary education or computer research and development. The U.S. government offers opportunities for communication managers, intelligence specialists and computer systems specialists. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employees with computer and mathematical occupations had a mean annual salary of $81,430 as of May 2015.

Computer Engineering Careers

Computer engineers design, develop, research and test software and digital hardware, digital devices and interfaces. This includes computer systems, circuit boards, computer chips and computer equipment, such as modems, keyboards and printers. Undergraduate coursework includes the study of electric and electronic circuits, analog circuits and systems, digital communications and audio engineering. Graduate programs include coursework in logic design, discrete math probability, data structure, computer architecture and operating systems.

Computer engineers are typically divided into computer software engineers, who develop software programs and applications, and computer hardware engineers, who develop hardware such as keyboards, printers, computer chips and modems. According to the BLS, careers in computer software development are projected to grow by 17% from 2014-2024, while jobs in computer hardware engineering are expected to grow by 3%. In 2014, the median annual salary for computer software developers was $98,260, while the median salary for computer hardware engineers was $111,730 annually.

Information Technology Careers

Information technology professionals plan, coordinate and implement computer and information systems within an organization. Typically, they work with other managers within the company to determine the computer-related needs of an organization in relation to computer systems, software, servers, computer networking or network security. Degree programs in information technology or information systems range from associate's to doctoral and typically include courses in computer science, computer engineering and programming as well as business courses, such as marketing and management.

Information technology (IT) professionals go on to a variety of careers as IT managers, IT project managers, IT directors and, at the highest levels of business, chief technology officers or chief information officers. Job opportunities for computer information systems managers are expected to increase by 15% between 2014 and 2024, according to the BLS. The median annual salary for this career was $131,600 as of May 2015. IT professionals, particularly those with specialized technical skills and business management backgrounds, will have the best opportunities for advancement in the field.

Regardless of what field a computers graduate decides to pursue, they will need a decent level of technical knowledge concerning computers and technology. Specialization can be useful for those who know what field they want to enter and would like to get an edge on the competition. No matter what one's interest, a degree in computers can lead to a job with strong outlook and a decent salary.

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