Associate's degree programs in information technology support or computer support may be beneficial to individuals seeking a career as a PC specialist. Few of these programs are offered entirely online; most combine online classes with on-campus courses that meet once or twice a week. An up-to-date computer with a fast Internet connection is required, and students may need special software for some courses.
Students learn several different programming languages, study computer networking and gain knowledge of computer systems security. Other courses may include Web development, wireless application design and database design.
For students looking for an entirely online option, an Associate of Science in Computer Science may be a suitable alternative. These programs require the same basic information technology training, but it is easy to find a program that includes no on-campus training requirements.
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Associate's Degree - PC Specialist
Students interested in an online PC specialist associate's degree may pursue programs entitled information technology support or computer support. The courses in these programs focus on areas involving computers, information technology, programming and software applications.
Information and Requirements
Fully online associate degree programs that cover PC specialist topics are rare, and prospective students will need to enroll in a hybrid program. A hybrid program allows students to take courses both on-campus and over the Internet. Online courses are delivered through audio and video streaming, and students may need to visit campus 1-2 days per week. Students will need a computer with Internet access, updated operating system, word processing software and e-mail account.
In addition to completing core computer and information technology courses, students will also need to complete general education requirements. These courses will include mathematics, English and science. Core courses are listed below.
An information security course teaches students about different security systems. Students learn how to develop and implement these systems, and topics cover information security terminology and ethical and legal issues in the field.
Program Design and Development
Students learn the basics of designing programming concepts in order to solve real-world computing dilemmas. Topics of study include structured programming, the four logic structures and file processing.
Computer Networking Fundamentals
In this class, students learn about computer-to-computer communications. Topics explore fundamentals of network design and the latest developments in networking technologies. Students train in the standards and procedures for successfully implementing and maintaining all range and manner of networks, including local area networks (LAN) and wide area networks (WAN).
Career Information for Graduates
Graduates of the program can find career opportunities as computer applications technicians, PC specialists and computer support specialists. As of May 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that computer support specialists earned a median annual wage of $51,470 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also predicts a 12% increase in job opportunities from 2014-2024.
Graduates may be able to enter the workforce with an associate's degree, but many apply the credits they've earned towards a bachelor's degree program. They may also qualify to test for professional certification in software, networking and related areas.
Although some employers prefer computer support specialists to have a bachelor's degree, entry-level employment is available to graduates with an associate's degree. Some employers provide additional technical training to entry-level employees. Computer support specialists who have received specialty professional certifications in areas like networking, maintenance and project management may make themselves more competitive in the industry. Graduates can continue their education by completing a bachelor's degree program in computer science or engineering.
For students who want to become PC specialists, there are several computer-related associate's degree program options that provide a general overview of the information technology field. While some hybrid programs include on-campus studies, other relevant programs are available entirely online.