Data Processing Degree Program Overviews

While data processing does not require a great deal of training or education, associate's degrees do exist that provide students with skills related to data processing. They provide education in systems management, business software, and other relevant topics.

Essential Information

Two common program fields in data processing are computer information systems and office management. The associate's degree program in computer information systems allows students to build the technical skills necessary for entry-level IT employment. It highlights programming and systems management fundamentals.

Students of associate's-level office management programs learn data processing as it relates to daily business and office operations. Areas of focus include business software, information and word processing, as well as spreadsheets.

In order to enroll in these degrees, students will need a high school diploma or GED. It is also recommended that incoming students have a background in computer and mathematics to have the best odds for succeeding. These programs typically last two years of full time study.

Associate's Degrees in Computer Information Systems

Degrees such as an Associate of Applied Science in Data Processing, Programming, and Systems or Associate of Applied Science in Computer Information Systems provide students with basic computer skills necessary for entry-level programming or systems management positions. Students learn basic software management, programming, and electronic data processing.

The course topics center on technical skills related to programming, software, and data processing. Course topics might include:

  • Math
  • Basic information systems
  • Programming
  • Introduction to business
  • Systems management

Associate's Degrees in Office Management

An associate's degree in the area of office management, sometimes called business office management or office administration, provides training in data processing and other skills used in daily business management and in support of office personnel. Students are prepared for entry-level positions that require the use of computers for business administration.

Programs in office administration focus on the technical skills needed to operate business equipment, especially computers. Degree programs might include coursework on specific computer applications or software. Additionally, coursework might cover:

  • Keyboarding
  • Information processing
  • Word processing
  • Spreadsheets
  • Introduction to business
  • Presentation software

Popular Career Options

Students are prepared for a variety of positions requiring computer skills and data processing. Popular job titles might include:

  • Office manager
  • Human resources assistant
  • Information manager
  • Administrative assistant
  • Customer service representative
  • Data entry specialist

Career Outlook and Salary Information

The need for data processors is declining. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, employment for data entry keyers is expected to decline 4% in the 2014-2024 decade. However, those who have a degree in this area may find that the additional skills they acquired can help them obtain employment. In 2015, the BLS reported that the median annual salary for data entry keyers was $29,460.

Continuing Education Information

Professional organizations, such as the International Association of Administrative Professionals (, or corporations, such as Microsoft (, offer certification programs for office administrative personnel who demonstrate technical knowledge. Continuing education credits may be necessary to maintain some certifications.

Some associate's degree programs in computer information systems are designed for easy transfer to a 4-year program in computer science or a related area. Students can increase their chances for career advancement by picking up additional skills in areas such as data management, programming or networking.

Data processing degrees are most commonly found as either an associate of computer information systems or an associate of office management. These degrees teach a wide variety of techniques to help graduates find employment in many different fields, with options to become professionally certified and advance to a bachelor's degree.

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