Is a Computer Science Degree Right for You?
Students who are just as interested in theories of computing as they are in the practical applications of computing are often drawn to online bachelor’s degrees in computer science. The main branches of computer science include algorithms, theory of computation, computer architecture, software systems, and artificial intelligence, according to the University of Buffalo, so students who are interested in one or more of these areas would benefit from a computer science degree.
Computer science is also considered by many to be a more marketable degree than related degrees like information systems, according to Yahoo Education. Finally, computer science is a good fit for people looking for a versatile major in computing that is applicable to a wide range of careers.
Advice for Earning Your Computer Science Degree Online
While computer science is a natural choice for people who love working with computers, that doesn’t mean every course will come easily to them. Many students find courses in programming and advanced mathematics to be challenging. Perseverance is key in CS programs, as students commonly drop difficult courses in these two areas, only to repeat them and do much better the second time around, according to Dice, a tech career information resource. For this reason, take advantage of online tutoring resources in mathematics and choose programs that maintain small class sizes so that your professor can spend more time helping you one on one.
If you struggle in mathematics or programming, avoid accelerated courses that compress the material and make it easier for you to fall behind. Finally, we recommend online CS degrees that incorporate an internship so that you can get much-needed hands-on experience in the field.
Computer science builds a student’s understanding of mathematics, computing, programming languages, and algorithm analysis. Students will learn principles of computer architecture, operating systems, and computer networks. Specialized course work can vary a great deal depending on the concentration a student chooses, but courses that are common to CS programs include:
- Applied Discrete Mathematics
- Principles of Software Systems
- Database Design
- Programming I and II
- Computer Networks
Common Career Paths
The versatility of a computer science degree is one of its greatest attributes, as it opens graduates up to a wide variety of careers. Salaries for these careers can vary significantly based on your level of experience, your roles and responsibilities, and the region of the country you live in. Common careers for computer science majors include (but are not limited to):
Network and Computer Systems Administrator
- Expected Growth: 28%
- Average Annual Salary: $74,270
Network and computer systems administrators are in charge of an organizations networks, including their local area network (LAN), wide area network (WAN), and Internet/intranet systems. They make sure everyone who uses these networks has access to them, address any network performance issues, and may even be in charge of network security as well.
While it is possible to break into this field with an associate degree and relevant experience, a bachelor’s degree in an area like computer science or information science is a common requirement, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The above job outlook and salary average were provided by the BLS.
Computer and Information Systems Manager
- Expected Growth: 18%
- Average Annual Salary: $125,660
Computer and information systems managers oversee the technical operations within an organization such as information management systems, software development, Internet use, and network security. They must be knowledgeable about an organization’s operations and goals to identify and put to use the appropriate technology to optimize its functions. These types of managers are often responsible for arranging hardware and software installations and upgrades, analyzing technology needs, and providing oversight of others in IT positions at a company, including software engineers, programmers, computer analysts, and support personnel.
A bachelor’s degree and work experience is a typical requirement for such a position, although some managers are required to have a graduate degree, the BLS explained. The job growth estimate and salary average listed above were provided by the BLS.
Computer Systems Analyst
- Expected Growth: 22%
- Average Annual Salary: $82,320
Computer systems analysts consult with the management team at an organization to identify system goals, evaluate current computer and IT systems, and come up with solutions for either making current systems more efficient or replacing them with new hardware or software systems. They also provide estimates of the cost involved in upgrading to new and better systems, test new systems that are implemented, and may even train workers on the new systems.
Most of these analysts have a bachelor’s degree in a relevant area of computing, but a bachelor’s may not always be required to enter the position, the BLS explained. The employment growth projection and salary figure provided above was drawn from the BLS.
- Expected Growth: 31%
- Average Annual Salary: $77,350
Database administrators come up with effective systems for organizing and securing a company’s data, which might include anything from sensitive financial records to client lists. They ensure that the appropriate people at an organization have access to the data, while limiting or preventing access to unauthorized people. They also fix any errors that occur in databases and devise a backup system in the event of power outages or natural disasters that could otherwise eliminate or prevent access to the data.
Most people who work in this field hold a bachelor’s degree in an area of computing, and knowledge of database languages, such as SQL, is important, the BLSjob outlook and salary figures provided above can be found through the BLS.
Operations Research Analyst
- Expected Growth: 15%
- Average Annual Salary: $78,840
Operations research analysts examine data on how an organization does business and make recommendations on how these business practices can be improved. They may provide analyze problems in all sorts of areas within a business, such as the supply chain, production scheduling, price setting, and more.
While a master’s degree is required for many positions, you can obtain entry-level jobs in the field with a bachelor’s degree in an area like operations research, management science, or other technical fields like computer science, engineering, or mathematics. A computer science background is beneficial because of the emphasis on advanced statistical and database software used when operations research analysts model and analyze data. The above employment growth projection and salary average were provided by the BLS.