Those interested in becoming computer support specialists typically need a 2-year associate degree. Individuals interested in working in computer programming or software engineering often need at least a 4-year degree in computer science or a related field. Master's degree programs are often pursued by those looking to enter research or academia positions after graduation. Many schools also offer online computer science degrees.
Besides formal training in computer technology, computer professionals should be good problem-solvers and, at times, must apply creative diagnostic abilities.
Associate of Science in Computer Science or Information Technology
Students in a 2-year computer program learn skills in software, hardware and electrical engineering. They also gain experience in networking, security and programming fundamentals. Many computer training programs include a basic understanding of website design and development. Some course topics might include:
- Learning frameworks
- Programming fundamentals
- State and local government
- University physics
Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
Computer science majors learn about systems architecture and data structure concepts. They also study technical writing and Java programming language. Courses explain how to create, navigate and maintain computer networks and operating systems. Some course topics might include:
- Intro to programming
- Data structures and analysis
- Computer graphics
- Current trends and projects in computer science
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Master of Science in Information Technology
A master's degree program in computers and information technology includes advanced study of networking, software and computer security. Depending on area of interest, a student may take courses in fields such as database management or software design. Course topics in these programs might include:
- Introduction to probability
- Linear programming
- Nonlinear programming
- Financial management
- Enterprise resource planning
- Intro to software development
Popular Career Options
Students who get a degree in computer science can go on to many careers. Some job titles typically include information technology architect, software engineer, data scientist, database developer, project engineer, network architect and management consultant.
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The BLS states that computer software developers make a median yearly wage of $100,690 according to May 2015 data. From 2014 to 2024, the employment for software developers is expected to grow 17%, according to the BLS. This growth is faster than average.
Continuing Education Information
Employers may prefer or require applicants to have certain industry certifications, such as CompTIA's A+ or Network+. Office professionals can demonstrate their competence by earning Microsoft's Office Specialist, Expert or Master certifications. Industry organizations such as the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Computer Society also offer credentials. In order to earn these certifications, interested individuals must pass one or more exams.
Computer professionals seeking continuing education can participate in conferences held by the IEEE or other groups. Additionally, colleges often host workshops which can last for a couple of hours or a couple of days. Programs of study may cover software suites, such as Microsoft Office, or single applications, such as Adobe Photoshop. Training is often geared toward specific experience levels.
Numerous books and magazines are also available for computer professionals, which can provide support, hints and additional training. Help can also be found on instructional websites that may offer forums where professionals can network and discuss computer issues.
Computer training programs can be found in a variety of forms, from brief courses focusing on particular subjects to full degree programs looking at broader areas of computer technology. Students may choose to concentrate on topics such as computer programming, information technology, or another related field.