Emphasizing the study of software applications, programming, and network security, associate's and bachelor's degree programs in computer science or computer information technology can help prepare individuals for related careers. Due to heavy amounts of math and theory study for a degree in this field, applicants may find exposure to these subjects in high school to be helpful; completion of Advance Placement (AP) classes in calculus, statistics or computer science would be pertinent. Along with pertinent knowledge, applicants will also need to possess a high school or equivalent. Graduates from these programs who have sufficient knowledge and experience can sit for certification examinations that result in the A+ Certification or the CompTIA A+ designation, for example.
Associate of Applied Science in Computer Science
While there are more specific associate degree programs concentrating in network or software design, most general computer science curricula provide a broad foundation of skills and knowledge needed for the software support profession. Programs cover computer science theory and the fundamentals of programming and design. An associate's in computer science can stand alone or dovetail into a bachelor's degree. In addition to general education classes, students can expect to courses that cover:
- Operating systems and software applications
- Basic hardware maintenance
- Database and network design
- Introductory programming, coding and language
- Web and wireless technologies
- Technical writing and communications
Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
The curriculum for a bachelor's degree program in computer science is broader than programming alone. In addition to general education requirements, students cover topics such as operating systems, software, databases, and networking. Other courses will explore:
- Software engineering, analysis and design
- Ethics in computer science
- Computer and network security
- Logic and computations
- Information theory
Career Outlook and Salary Information
Technicians are needed wherever computers are used and networked together, whether in business offices, school districts, universities, hospitals, clinics, government offices, banks, airports or retail stores. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts a much-faster-than-average employment growth for computer occupations, although outsourcing will continue to be a factor (www.bls.gov). The BLS states that most entry-level software technicians will need an undergraduate degree to be competitive. Computer user support specialists earned a median salary of $50,980 in May 2018. Software technicians with expertise in business and security, communication skills and technical specialties may consider becoming computer systems managers, who saw median annual wages of $142,530 in May 2018.
Continuing Education Information
Software technicians may complete training workshops and self-studies geared toward particular applications or certifications. Many certifications are program-specific and offered by software development companies. There also are more generic certifications, administered by groups not affiliated with specific software brands, which ensure competence in basic computer technology, network administrating and customer service skills. Most certifications for software technicians require training specific to the program followed by successful completion of a certification exam.
Certifications are one way to add credentials or specializations to an associate's degree. The CompTIA A+ Certification, for example, demonstrates proficiency in areas such as maintenance, troubleshooting and installations for employment as an entry-level technician. Students may also explore degree completion programs which apply associate degree credits toward a bachelor's degree.
Software technician education is typically found at the associate's and bachelor's degree levels, teaching students about computer science principles and technical support skills related to the job. Specialized training is available to prepare students for earning certification in a variety of topics.