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Online Computer Certification and Certificate Programs

Get info about online certificate programs in computer science and information technology. Read about program requirements, course topics and degree levels, and check out career and continuing education options.

Essential Information

Students who want to pursue a certificate program in fields of computer science and information technology can find both undergraduate and post-bachelor's programs online. Certificate programs in computer security and computer programming are designed to provide technical skills that can qualify students for entry-level employment.

Online educational certificate programs in computer programming and computer security are available. Computer programmers, also known as software developers, and information security analysts typically need a minimum of a bachelor's degree.

Certificate Program in Computer Programming

Certificate programs in computer programming prepare students for entry-level employment in information technology fields. Students gain an understanding of fundamental concepts of computer language programming, including application construction, graphic user interfacing, loops, control structures, object-oriented analysis and system engineering. Upon completion, participants will be familiar with programming languages such as VisualBasic, Java and Structured Query Language. Applicants must have at least a high-school diploma or GED to be admitted into programs.

Program Information and Requirements

Certificate programs in computer programming consist of 3-6 courses, culminating in a semester hour total of 12-36 credits. The length of time required to complete the program varies and is often dependent on the number of classes that students enroll in simultaneously. In many programs, students can complete all course requirements entirely online.

Course Topics

Information Technology

Information technology (IT) fundamentals, such as networks, software and hardware, are the focus of this course. Students analyze the separate and combined functions of personal computer components as well as software and hardware installation, maintenance and administration.

Software Engineering

Students are introduced to fundamental concepts of software construction, analysis and processing. These concepts include object-oriented analysis, system design, development paradigms and systems analysis.

C# Programming

Looping, input operations, critical thinking, output operations and object-oriented analysis are fundamental concepts in this programming course. Students then build off of these fundamentals to create their own Graphical User Interfaces.


Certificate in Computer Security

Prospective students who are interested in the protection of digital information can complete a certificate program in computer security. Students generally need to have an undergraduate degree in computer science or a related field; however, some programs accept those without degrees who can pass a computer science proficiency examination. These programs train students in concepts involved with computer security and the management of digital information across telecommunications networks, as well as the ethical and legal aspects of the industry.

Program Information and Requirements

Online certificate programs in computer security typically consist of three to five courses and can be completed in one semester term. These programs are often available in an entirely online format. Course material is delivered via websites and downloadable live lectures, as well as through course management systems such as Blackboard.

Students must have a computer with a high-speed Internet connection. Many downloadable lectures require media players such as Flash.

Course Topics

Some programs allow for students to pick some of their courses to further specialize their field of study.

Computer Security

This course is commonly divided into multiple sections to properly cover all aspects of computer security, from introductory concepts to advanced practices. Concepts covered include ethics, identifying threats, vulnerabilities, network security, viruses, forensics, applied cryptography, anonymity and a variety of security mechanisms.

Advanced Operating Systems

Students investigate operating systems design and architecture, as well as survey current research trends. Topics include process management, safety precautions, parallel systems, distributed systems, digital memory and data migration.

Network Security

A network security course explores common threats to wireless and wired computer networks and introduces various strategies for responding to them. Techniques for safeguarding data and preventing hacking are covered.


Career Information

While many employers in the computer programming and software developing fields look for applicants with bachelor's and master's degrees, it is not uncommon for certificate holders to find employment, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS (www.bls.gov). According to the BLS, employment rates are expected to rise 17% for software developers and decline -8% for computer programmers between 2014 and 2024. The BLS stated that as of May 2015, the median annual wage for computer programmers was $79,530.

Students who earn their certificate in computer security are prepared to work as computer security specialists or information security analysts. These professionals work for individuals, as well as organizations, to secure and maintain computer security plans by installing software, responding to breaches, recovering data and educating clients. O*Net reported as of 2015 that the median annual wage for information security analysts was $90,120 (www.onetonline.org).

Continuing Education Information

Students who have completed a certificate program in computer programming can continue their education by enrolling in a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science degree program. These programs often allow for participants to focus their study on particular elements of computer programming and software engineering, as well as database management, applications development, microprocessor design and electronics theory. Programs are often available entirely online, and certificate holders may be able to test out of some lower-level courses.

Online certificate programs in computer programming provide a foundational education in subjects like computer languages and application structures, while programs in computer security focus on digital management. Graduates may seek a bachelor's degree in computer science to increase their chances of employment in the field.


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