If you are interested in technology and enjoy solving problems, a computer programming degree program might be a great way to start a new career. Now is a great time to earn your degree because the demand for qualified computer programmers is increasing.
A computer programming degree will teach you the technical knowledge you need for a lucrative career in technology. This article will explain what a computer programming degree is, the different degree levels, and common curricula. We’ll also share tips for choosing the right computer programming program and information on computer programming jobs.
What Is Computer Programming?
Computer programming gives a computer instructions to run applications and software programs. Computer programmers use different types of coding languages to write instructions for computers to complete specific actions. Computer programming can be as simple as adding numbers or as complex as creating a detailed delivery schedule for a national business.
Computer Programming Quick Facts: Job Outlook and Average Salaries
- According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs in computer and information technology jobs are expected to grow by 13 percent from 2020 to 2030.
- The median salary for computer programmers is $93,000 per year.
- A graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Programming can earn a median salary of $77,000 per year.
Is Computer Programming Hard?
No, computer programming is not hard, but it can be intimidating to prospective students without any prior knowledge of technology. There are many different coding languages, coding practices, software development knowledge, and other computer science-related topics that can be difficult to understand, at first. However, once you learn how to code, it gets much easier.
Is Computer Programming a Good Major?
Yes, computer programming is a good major. Computer programming professionals are in high demand in many different industries. A degree in computer programming opens up many well-paying career opportunities. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts around 667,600 new jobs in the computer and information technology field from 2020 to 2030.
Why Should You Get a Degree in Computer Programming?
You should get a degree in computer programming because it provides high-paying employment possibilities in a growing job market. If you enjoy learning new technologies, solving problems, and analytical thinking, then a computer programming degree is for you.
- Career opportunities. A computer programming degree qualifies graduates for jobs in a wide variety of fields. Any company or organization that has a website, application, or database needs web developers, software developers, and computer programmers.
- High salary potential. Computer programming programs can increase your earning potential. You’ll develop in-demand technical skills that employers are willing to pay good money for.
- Global opportunities. One of the key benefits of studying computer programming is the international opportunities offered by a computer programming degree. Computer programming graduates are in high demand worldwide.
- Remote work. Many computer programming roles can be done remotely. You could work for an organization remotely, which allows you to travel or live wherever you want.
- Transferable skills. A computer programming degree will equip you with technical skills that can be useful in other fields. Problem-solving skills and critical thinking skills are applicable to many professions, both in IT and beyond.
- Dynamic industry. There are new programming languages, frameworks, and applications being developed, constantly. Computer programming professionals play vital roles in this ongoing technological advancement.
Computer Programming Major: What Degree Can You Get in Computer Programming?
The degrees you can get in computer programming include an associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and PhD degree. Students usually start with a computer science undergraduate degree before continuing to a graduate degree. Below, you’ll learn about each type of computer programming degree, in detail.
Education Paths to Computer Programming
What’s the difference between having a degree and a certification? How is going to a college or university different from attending a bootcamp? Whichever option you choose, you’ll end up with the same knowledge and abilities, right? Well, the answer isn’t as clear-cut as you might expect.
Both options have their set of upsides and downsides. For computer programmers, the pros and cons lie within the realm of job placement and pay.
Exploring the Non-Traditional Path
Going the non-traditional route saves you a lot of time and money. It allows more room for flexibility than the traditional college and university.
Some methods you can choose from are attending a coding bootcamp or taking independent online courses. Some bootcamps operate on a self-paced learning mode. They even throw in one-on-one mentorship to keep you engaged in learning.
Teaching yourself means you can learn at your own pace. This, in turn, means that the time by which you master programming skills may be faster or slower than a college course. The point is you’d have more freedom in choosing what to learn and when to do it.
Despite its appeal, taking this path could affect your career outlook. There are employers who will refrain from hiring you because you don’t have a degree. Those who forego credentials still have the option to outsource workers who are willing to work at a much lower cost.
This is where experience comes in handy. If you have experience and a portfolio to illustrate your capacities, you might have a better chance in landing entry-level roles. For some, this interest could be just as much as applicants who have a degree gain.
The catch is that employers may offer you a lower base salary than what they offer degree-holders. But if you enjoy what you do and are willing to work for a little less, being self-taught could work out for you.
Choosing Formal Education
Earning a degree, on the other hand, can take a bit longer. Most degree programs have a set amount of years to completion. This is because degree programs come with numerous prerequisites. These include having a cumulative GPA of at least 2.75 and completion of general education courses.
Completing a degree from highly recognized schools, such as MIT or Stanford, will almost guarantee you any job you apply for. It might just take longer to finish.
Pursuing a degree route may not leave much room for working at your own pace. But, it will allow you easier access to expert knowledge in the field and more specialty areas.
Having a degree on your resume also likely leads to higher base salaries and less competition. It puts you a step above those without one in the eyes of potential employers.
Whichever route you choose to take, there will be ample opportunity for improvement and employment as you gain knowledge and experience in the field. As long as you put in the work, you’ll be able to get the job you want.
Getting a Degree in Computer Programming
Here is a fun fact for you: there really are no degrees in computer programming. You may have realized this if you have been hoping to pursue a career in computer programming. Instead of a computer programming degree, future programmers hoping to earn a college degree will need to consider a few other degrees.
What makes computer programming a fun field to work in is the broadness of it. Nearly every industry requires a computer programmer to fill in certain positions. Luckily, there are lots of different degree paths you can take to be prepared for the job you want.
The path most programmers take is a degree in computer science. This is a similar field to computer programming and teaches the necessary skills for working in the field.
Types of Associate Degrees in Computer Programming
The types of computer programming associate degrees are an Associate of Science (AS), Associate of Applied Science (AAS), Associate of Arts (AA), and Associate of Applied Business (AAB). These different degrees set you up for different career and education opportunities.
An associate degree is a great starting point for those interested in successful careers in computer programming. Most associate degrees are equivalent to the first two years of a bachelor’s degree. Additionally, credits earned through an accredited associate degree program can usually be transferred to a bachelor’s degree program.
Types of Bachelor’s Degrees in Computer Programming
The types of computer programming bachelor’s degrees are a Bachelor of Science (BS), Bachelor of Arts (BA), and Bachelor of Applied Technology (BAT). It usually takes four years of full-time study to earn a computer science BS, BA, or BAT. Many Bachelor of Science programs offer different concentrations such as data science, artificial intelligence, and cyber security.
Types of Master’s Degrees in Computer Programming
The different types of Master’s Degrees in Computer Programming are a Master of Arts (MA), Master of Science (MSc), and Master of Engineering (MEng). These programs prepare you for different kinds of careers in computer science. A computer science master’s degree program usually takes two years of full-time study to complete.
What Will You Learn in a Computer Programming Degree Program?
In a computer programming degree program, you will learn how to code in different programming languages, debug existing programs, and configure operating systems. An undergraduate degree, like an associate or bachelor’s degree, prepares graduates for technical roles.
On the other hand, a graduate degree, such as a master’s degree, teaches students advanced theory and applications of the technology. With a master’s degree, graduates can work in designing and project management roles for a higher salary. A PhD degree prepares graduates to work as academic researchers.
Popular Specializations for Computer Programming Degrees
Many computer programming programs offer concentrations in data science, information security, artificial intelligence, game design, and programming languages. Choosing which specialization to pursue depends on what careers you are interested in.
The 5 Most Popular Computer Programming Concentrations
- Data Science
- Information Security
- Artificial Intelligence
- Game Design
- Programming Languages
Common Computer Programming Courses Across All Specializations
Common topics you will find in every computer programming degree program include databases, operating systems, programming, and software engineering. Most computer programming programs also require general education courses, such as English, mathematics, and history. A capstone project is required for most bachelor’s degrees, and a thesis is required for most master’s degrees.
- Introduction to Computer Systems. Students learn about the interaction of hardware and operating systems that affect program performance. They also get an introduction to coding.
- Object Oriented Programming. This course covers the fundamentals of object oriented programming, including topics such as encapsulation, abstraction, and polymorphism. Students typically work in Java or C++.
- Programming. There are introductory courses in various programming languages. Students will need to be proficient in one or more programming languages before they graduate.
- Algorithms and Data Structures. In this course, students will learn how to use classical algorithms to solve real-world problems. Students will also learn how to evaluate the effectiveness of algorithms in different situations.
- Enterprise Application Programming. This course covers how to design and implement standard or mobile applications for businesses or organizations.
Best Minors for Computer Programming Students
The best computer programming minors give students the chance to explore a subject that is related to computer programming but doesn’t have many classes in common. Choose a minor based on your career goals and interests.
The 5 Best Computer Programming Minors
- Electrical Engineering
- Business Management
- Graphic Design
- Human-Computer Interaction
Best Major for Your Chosen Career Path
How to Choose the Right Computer Programming Degree Program for You
If you are researching potential accredited computer programming degree programs, you should consider factors such as accreditation, employment outcome, degree format, accelerated options, and student-to-faculty ratio. These factors are important for both graduate and undergraduate students.
Best Computer Programming Colleges and Universities: Where to Find the Top Computer Programming Degree Programs
There are plenty of schools offering computer programming degree programs, including public research schools and private institutions. Some of the best colleges and universities are Massachusetts Institute of Technology and University of California, Berkeley. Below you’ll learn about the best schools for the different degree programs in computer programming.
- Chattahoochee Technical College
- Columbia College
- Pittsburgh Technical College
- Seminole State College
- University of the District of Columbia
- Stanford University
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- Princeton University
- University of California, Berkeley
- University of Florida
- University of Washington
- East Carolina University
- Vanderbilt University
- University of Connecticut
- University of Wisconsin-Madison
Best College and University Computer Programming Schools
How Can I Pay for a Computer Programming Degree Program?
You can pay for a computer programming degree program through federal grants and loans, work-study programs, scholarships, and private loans. It is best to figure out how to pay for tuition, fees, and living expenses before you enroll in a computer programming degree. Below is detailed information on finance options.
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
FAFSA is an application for all federal financial aid programs. This includes grants that don’t need to be paid back and federally subsidized loans that have better payment terms than most private loans. All students should fill out the FAFSA form before the start of each school year.
Work-study programs are federally funded programs where students with financial needs can get part-time jobs on-campus. The roles may be clerical roles, research assistantships, or library positions. Some schools have affiliated organizations and companies where students can work to get financial aid and develop career-related skills and experience at the same time.
Scholarships are money that doesn’t need to be paid back. Scholarships can be offered by individual schools, professional organizations, or non-profit organizations. Although some scholarships cover the full cost of tuition, most only cover part of the total amount.
The two types of student loans are federal student loans and private student loans. You will have to pay back the full amount of the loan, plus interest. Some private lenders require a good credit score or a co-signer to qualify. Read the terms of any private loan carefully before you apply.
Grants are usually awarded based on financial need. Grants do not need to be paid back, nor do they usually have many restrictions on how you can spend the money. Consider school and state grants before exploring options for other special grants.
Computer Programming Scholarships
Scholarships provide financial assistance that allows students to earn an education. Below are a few scholarship opportunities that computer programming students should look into. Get in touch with your school’s financial aid office for assistance with finding computer science scholarships.
Most Popular Scholarships by Specialization
Student Loans for Computer Programming Majors
College education can be expensive. Student loans can help, but you should exhaust other funding areas before taking out a loan. Below is some information on the average amount of student loans that students use for each computer programming degree level.
What Is the Average Student Loan for Computer Programming Associate Degrees?
The average student loan for a computer programming associate degree is $18,550, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Students at public schools only borrow an average of $15,640, which is about $10,000 less than students at private institutions.
What Is the Average Student Loan for Computer Programming Bachelor’s Degrees?
NCES reports that the average student loan for computer programming bachelor’s degrees is $29,910 from federal and private lenders. Students at private non-profit schools borrow an average of $31,890, while students at private for-profit schools borrow an average of $41,320.
What Is the Average Student Loan for Computer Programming Master’s Degrees?
The average student loan for a computer programming master’s degree is $66,000, according to NCES. In addition, 60 percent of all master’s degree graduates have student loans. Students who attend a public school are less likely to have student loan debt than students who attend private institutions.
How to Get Into the Best Schools for Computer Programming
To get into the best schools for computer programming, you should make sure you meet all the admission requirements for the program and put together a strong application. Applications usually require a resume, personal statement, one or more letters of recommendation, and transcripts from schools you have previously attended.
Assembling a persuasive application is all about showing the admissions committee that you are a strong and well-rounded student. Having a high GPA and high SAT, ACT, or GRE scores are an easy way to show the admissions committee that you are a committed student. A compelling essay and letters of recommendation are also necessary to allow the admissions committee to learn more about who you are and whether you are suitable for the school.
Top 5 Tips to Get Into the Best Programs at Computer Programming Schools
- Earn a high GPA in required courses.
- Get a high SAT, ACT, or GRE score.
- Write a persuasive and interesting personal statement.
- Ask mentors who know you well to write your letters of recommendation.
- Take advantage of the Early Admission or Early Decision options, when possible.
How to Get Into the Best Colleges and Universities
How Can You Get a Computer Programming Internship While in College?
You can get a computer programming internship while in college by getting in touch with your school’s academic advising and career planning offices. You can also attend job fairs and search websites of specific companies. Read on to learn more about how to get an internship while in college.
What Jobs Can You Get With a Computer Programming Degree?
Some of the jobs you can get with a computer programming degree include computer programmer, network architect, software application developer, and web developer. These are only a few of the numerous lucrative careers you can have with a computer programming degree, and a more advanced degree will help you find a more advanced position.
Most computer programming professionals improve their earnings and career opportunities by obtaining higher degrees or technical certifications. Although a bachelor’s degree can get you a good entry-level job, many graduates pursue a master’s degree to qualify for higher-level positions with more job security.
Computer Programming Degree Salary Outlook
Your computer programming degree salary depends on your degree level. The table below shows the average annual wage per degree level.
|Computer Programming Associate Degree
|Computer Programming Bachelor’s Degree
|Computer Programming Master’s Degree
Computer Programming Degree Jobs and Career Outlook: What Can You Do With a Computer Programming Degree?
With a computer programming degree, you can develop new applications, optimize the computer systems of an organization, manage data storage, and build new artificial intelligence models. Check out the list below for job opportunities at each computer programming degree level.
Top Computer Programming Associate Degree Jobs
- Web Developer
- Computer Support Specialist
- Computer Technician
- Junior Software Developer
- Database Administrator
Top Computer Programming Bachelor’s Degree Jobs
- Software Engineer
- Application Developer
- Systems Architect
- Computer Systems Engineer
- Video Game Developer
Top Computer Programming Master’s Degree Jobs
- Lead Programmer
- Software Consultant
- Computer Research Scientist
- Computer Network Architect
- Computer Systems Security Analyst
Highest-Paying Computer Programming Jobs
|Highest-Paying Computer Programming Jobs
|Entry-Level Position Salary (0-12 Months)
|Early-Career Salary (1-4 Years)
|Mid-Career Salary (5-9 Years)
|Experienced Salary (10-19 Years)
|Senior Software Engineer
Professional Computer Programming Organizations and Resources
Becoming a member of a professional organization can help you network with other professionals and stay up-to-date in your field. They are critical in sharing current trends, knowledge, and practices regionally and globally. Listed below are some professional organizations you should check out.
How to Set Yourself Apart From Other Programmers
With many opting for education in computer science and information technology, it’s important to pursue further opportunities for distinction. Here are some steps you can take to build a solid resume.
Sign on for a Minor
The best answer to that question is to minor in something related to your future career goal. A great all-encompassing minor to go alongside this degree would be one in mathematics, for instance. To set yourself apart, consider a more specialized skill.
Let’s say you want to become a video game developer. You can begin by learning how to code. This is often a skill people learn independently or through coding bootcamps, rather than through colleges.
For video game development, a minor program in graphic design, creative writing, or theater would be a great accompaniment to your major. If you’re feeling ambitious, you could choose to double major in the fields.
To name another example: If you want to pursue a job in the banking sector, consider a minor in accounting or finance. Having a minor to accompany your computer science degree affects what jobs you will qualify for.
Be an Intern
If you are unsure as to what minor you should go for, consider applying for internships for your main career goal. Most programs will require students to accomplish internships where they can gain hands-on experience in real-world tasks. While working as an intern, you gain first-hand experience of what the job entails. This helps you figure out the best accompanying minor be for you.
Degree: Undergraduate or Graduate?
While a graduate degree may look fancy, it isn’t necessary to pursuing a career in computer programming. An undergraduate degree will give you as much an edge you need and put you ahead of the competition.
If you decide to shoot for an undergraduate degree, you are looking at much less time spent in college. On average, a bachelor’s degree takes two years to earn (after completing general education requirements).
An undergraduate degree will work fine for the purpose of getting you in with potential employers. But a graduate degree will give you a higher chance of employment and much higher salaries.
A graduate degree will take a few additional years to complete. It will take two years for a master’s degree and another two for a doctorate. But, if you are willing and are able to put in the time, you will be able to benefit greatly in your future career.
Start by going after a bachelor’s degree. Once further down the road, you can decide whether to go for a master’s or doctorate.
It’s Not Just About the Degree
It is important to note that a degree isn’t the end-all-be-all for the field of computer programming. Have you taught yourself to code? Or are you in the process of doing so? If you answered yes to either of these questions, you’re likely as determined and capable as someone with a degree is.
For many, being self-taught and/or attending coding bootcamps is a much cheaper and easier way to learn the knowledge needed to be successful.
Pros and Cons of a Computer Programming Career Track
When researching the field of computer programming, you might read about a bleak outlook on the future of jobs in the field. One of the primary reasons mentioned may be the influx of people who know how to code.
Now that more and more people are learning to code on their own, many companies have begun to outsource their jobs to other countries. Companies do this because the minimum wage for many countries is much lower than it in countries like the United States.
However, if you have a degree in computer programming, you may go a longer way than coders who don’t. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job prospects in computer programming are most positive for degree holders and those who exhibit continuous learning. After all, the particular credential signals the breadth and depth of programming skills you’ve gained in years.
Still on the fence about launching a career in the field? It’s worth mentioning that computer programming does have great aspects to it. This is a job that suits every personality type.
It suits introverts or people who prefer working by themselves. It’s also a good fit for extroverts or those who thrive on collaborations. Either way, computer programming allows you to work on solo and team projects.
The flexibility of the field is another one of its strengths. Computer programming jobs are remote. With a career in the technology field, you can find remote positions as quickly as you can find office positions. You can work from home and set your own hours! All in all, it is a great field for anyone who enjoys coding.
Computer Programming in 10 Years: Is Getting a Computer Programming Degree Worth It?
Yes, getting a computer programming degree is worth it. You will be part of a growing industry, and the number of jobs for a computer programming degree graduate keeps increasing each year.
Computer programming not only creates online entertainment but also makes banking more accessible and smooths out supply chain issues. Pursuing this educational and professional path guarantees you job security, high pay, and a meaningful career.
Additional Reading About Computer Programming
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Computer Programming Degree FAQ
No, you do need a degree to be a computer programmer. You can qualify for entry-level computer programming jobs by completing a computer programming bootcamp or online course. However, it’s important to know that education requirements for computer programming positions vary by organization and often require a bachelor’s degree.
You can gain programming experience during college by doing personal projects, like downloading the source code of any open-source software and trying to improve it. Internships give you work experience, while coding challenges give you the chance to practice your skills and potentially win prizes.
Coding and programming are often used interchangeably, but there is a subtle difference between the two terms. Coding is the process of writing code in a programming language. On the other hand, programming is designing the code structure and maintaining the code over time.
To prepare for a programming degree, you can take a programming course. You should also review your program’s admission requirements and study any material that you’ll need to know prior to enrollment. If you are going to be an online student, make sure your computer is up to date and your internet connection is stable.
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