Career Information for a Degree or Certificate in Computer Software

Apr 21, 2019

Career Options for a Degree or Certificate in Computer Software

Expertise in computer software can lead to satisfying employment in the information technology field, as well as other fields in which professionals use computers for their job tasks. Graduates could work as computer support specialists, programmers, administrative assistants and paralegals.

Computer Support Specialist Computer Programmer Administrative Assistant Paralegal
Education Associate's or bachelor's degree in computer science or related subject Associate's or bachelor's degree in computer science or related subject; certification in a programming language High school diploma and related experience Associate's degree in paralegal studies or bachelor's degree in a related field plus a certificate in paralegal studies
Job Duties Assist computer users and support information technology (IT) employees Write and test code for computer applications and software programs Draft correspondence and organize appointments Prepare, organize and maintain legal documents
Median Salary (2018)* $50,980 (computer user support specialists) $84,280 $36,630 (secretaries and administrative assistants, except legal, medical and executive) $50,940
Job Outlook (2016-2026)* 11% growth (all computer support specialists) 7% decline 7% decline (secretaries and administrative assistants, except legal, medical and executive) 15% growth

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Computer Support Specialist

Computer support specialists provide support for hardware and software issues, including installing software and hardware, training users and troubleshooting hardware and software. These professionals usually possess a degree related to computers, as well as customer service skills, problem-solving skills and solid communication skills.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), computer support specialists can expect growth between 2016 and 2026 to be at a faster-than-average rate of 11%. In May 2018, the BLS reported that computer user support specialists made a median salary of $50,980.

Computer Programmer

An education in computer software can lead to a career in computer programming. These professionals write programs for computers, the Internet and mobile devices, as well as make updates to code and do debugging. This career requires expertise in at least a few programming languages, such as Java and C++. An associate's or bachelor's degree is a common requirement. Programmers also need strong troubleshooting skills and analytical skills, as well as be able to concentrate and pay attention to details.

The BLS expects programmers to have an average decline of 7% between 2016 through 2026. Outsourcing will prevent stronger growth. In May 2018, the BLS reported a median salary of $84,280 for computer programmers.

Administrative Assistant

Administrative assistants use a wide range of software packages to efficiently maintain the daily flow of information and correspondence in an office environment. You'll be called upon to make use of software applications such as word processing, database software and spreadsheet packages. The ability to juggle all of these responsibilities effectively as well as to maintain a smooth flow in the office also requires good organizational and interpersonal skills.

According to the BLS, this career field is declining at 7% between 2016 and 2026. Modern administrative assistants are respected members of the workplace team. What was once considered somewhat menial labor is now a high-tech job that requires considerable education, expertise and skill. The median annual salary in May 2018 for secretaries and administrative assistants who did not work in the legal or medical fields was $36,630, according to the BLS, although earnings vary to a great extent according to employer, location and other factors.


A paralegal works under the supervision of lawyers to assist in the functioning of a legal office, creating legal documents such as contracts, wills and subpoenas, performing research and fulfilling other responsibilities that would otherwise be met by attorneys. The ability to manipulate software applications such as word processors, spreadsheets and database software is a must. While qualified personnel are in demand, it's necessary to have a well-rounded education that includes some computer troubleshooting abilities, software manipulation and interpersonal skills.

Over the decade spanning 2016 through 2026, the field is expected to experience much faster than average growth of 15% as many law firms hope to cut costs by hiring paralegals to do work that previously would have been done by lawyers, according to the BLS. Full-time paralegals and legal assistants earned a median annual salary of $50,940 in May 2018.

Overview of a Degree or Certificate in Computer Software

Computer software is the component of the computer system consisting of encoded information or instructions, i.e., the programs. In pursuing a computer software certificate or degree, you'll learn in-depth about three types of software: platform software, which includes basic input-output systems, device drivers, operating systems, and graphic user interfaces; application software, which comprises office suites and video games; and user software, which changes systems to meet users' specific needs and includes spreadsheet templates, word processor macros, scientific simulations, graphics and animation scripts.

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