Is a Computer Science Degree Right for You?
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Computer science is the study of the theories behind computation and information and the practical application of them in computer systems. In computer science degree programs, students learn about these systems and the technology, algorithms and programming involved in running them. They also study computer program design, networks and security, information management and human-computer interaction. Bachelor's degrees in computer science vary according to the focus of your chosen computer field.
Advice for Earning Your Computer Science Degree Online
When you begin your computer science degree online, you will be required to take basic courses on program theories and concepts. You will later learn about more complex topics, such as types of computer software and programming languages. Because of the nature of computer science as an independent and self-sufficient field of study, employers are likely to accept virtual learning programs. Online programs are flexible and offer the opportunity for students to complete course work on their own time. However, it is important to make sure your school of choice is accredited, which will ensure that the program is held to a high standard of education.
To establish a career in computer science, you will need to have a solid understanding of how technology can be applied to business and organizational needs. You will also need to know how to design software, develop existing programs and test new methods and processes. During the course of the degree program, you will learn a variety of computer languages, both old and new. Some potential courses include circuits and electronics, computer systems engineering, algorithms and programming, file processing, operating systems, spreadsheet applications, virtual basic programming, information ethics, statistics, macroeconomics, systems analysis, calculus, systems design and techniques in artificial intelligence. As in any other program, you will also have to take some core courses outside the major, such as English and humanities.
Common Career Paths
Common careers for computer science majors include (but are not limited to):
Computer and Information Systems Manager
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, implementing computer networks, analyzing technology needs, assisting with programming and systems design, and maintaining network and information security. Often they will work with and oversee those in IT-related positions including software engineers, systems analysts, support specialists and programmers. The IT professionals must come to computer and information systems managers for assignments and approval of their work.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment opportunities for those in this field are expected to increase 18 percent between 2010 and 2020, which is good news considering that the median annual salary of computer and information systems managers was $115,780 in 2010.
Computer Systems Analyst
Computer systems analysts use information technology tools to help organizations conduct business. They consult with business managers to identify system goals, design appropriate computer systems, and select hardware and software to implement new systems. These types of managers are often responsible for preparing specifications for computer programmers, running tests to diagnose problems, recommending appropriate solutions and training users to work with new systems. Their job usually requires them to work with systems managers, programmers, software engineers and other IT professionals to create and actualize computer systems.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment within this field is expected to increase 22 percent between 2010 and 2020, and the median annual salary of computer systems analysts was $77,740 in 2010.
Database administrators identify the best ways to use, organize and store data. They determine user needs, select appropriate database management software and create computer databases. Sometimes this requires them to transfer data from old systems into new ones, test and modify systems, and solve any problems that may occur. Administrators are often responsible for ensuring that systems are running correctly, adding new users to them and implementing security measures. These types of administrators often work with other IT professionals at small businesses or large corporations in offices or computer laboratories.
Employment of database administrators is expected to increase 31 percent between 2010 and 2020, and their median annual salary was $73,490 in 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.