Online Degrees in Computer Programming


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Computers have become such an integral part of our personal and professional lives. It's hard to imagine a world without them. Computer programmers are essential to the smooth functioning of computers by writing and testing computer and software application code.

Those interested in computers, computer software, and computer applications may find a computer programming degree a great fit. Computer programmers should be detail-oriented and possess sharp analytical and troubleshooting skills. They must also be able to concentrate on highly technical information for long periods at a time.

Online learning can provide a flexible atmosphere that is particularly beneficial for adults and those with family or work commitments. Just as writing and creating computer code can be done from anywhere, the same can be said for learning how to create code.

Jobs requiring coding skills pay $22,000 per year more than jobs that don't: $84,000 vs $62,000 per year

Students who graduate with computer programming degrees can be found working in a variety of industries, including computer systems design, software design, manufacturing, and financial services. Writing and testing code does not always require an office setting and some computer programmers might be able to work remotely.

Computer programmers write the code (instructions) computers need in order to create the programs envisioned by software designers. Typically, a computer programmer carries out the following duties:

  • Writing computer programs using coding languages like C++ and Java
  • Updating and adding to existing programs as required
  • Testing programs and fixing bugs by repairing the code
  • Using an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) to create code
  • Using code libraries to simplify the writing of codes for programs

They may also write the code for and test the working of websites, mobile applications and video games.

As computers and computer applications continue to expand their reach into our lives, employment opportunities in many computer-related fields are expected to grow. The table below provides a list of popular occupations related to computer programming as defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Career
Employment
(2017)
Average Salary
(2017)
Projected Job Growth
(2016 - 26)
Software Developers, Applications849,230$106,71030.5%
Web Developers125,890$74,11013.1%
Software Developers, Systems Software394,590$111,78010.8%
Source: 2017 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2016-26 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Choose a degree that can help you meet your career goals

Online degrees in computer programming can help prepare students for a variety of different positions in the computer and software programming fields. The right degree program often depends on an individual student's career goals.

Entry-level employment may be obtained with a two-year degree, particularly in fields such as web development. However, most employers prefer to hire candidates with at least a bachelor's degree in computer programming or a related field.

Most specializations related to computer programming may likely require a four-year degree as a prerequisite. Graduates with graduate-level degrees in computer programming may be exceptionally well prepared to meet the demands of this growing marketplace.

Half of jobs in the top income quartile (>$57,000 per year) are in occupations which commonly require coding skills from job applicants

What can I expect to learn in an online certificate program?

Online undergraduate certificate programs for computer programming can be a good way to introduce yourself to the world of coding and its different languages. They are designed to give you an understanding of different software applications and their uses as well as basic programming skills. They may also be used to add new skill sets to existing job roles.

Typical duration: Four months to two years of part-time study

General prerequisites: High school diploma, GED or equivalent

Typical coursework: This may include one or more coding languages along with development concepts in multiple environments, like web and mobile platforms. Other courses may include:

  • Programming essentials
  • Programming in JavaScript
  • Programming in C++
  • Platform-based development
  • Data structures for computer scientists

What can I do after earning a certificate?

After earning a certificate you may be eligible for positions like:

  • Computer programmer
  • Computer systems analyst
  • Software developer
  • Web developer

What can I expect to learn in an online associate degree program?

Associate degrees can be a good fit for students who have time or financial constraints but want to earn a computer programming degree online. An online software development degree or an online computer programming degree prepares students for careers in software development and computer programming by teaching them the necessary skills to design, develop and test computer programs using different coding languages.

Typical duration: Two years of full-time study

General prerequisites: High school diploma, GED or equivalent

Typical coursework: Apart from general education courses like composition, technical writing or algebra, you may be taught:

  • Computer networks
  • Programming in HTML
  • Introduction to computer science and object-oriented programming
  • Database management systems
  • Principles of Operating Systems
  • C Family Programming
  • Visual Basic Programming

You may also be required to take on a capstone project.

Possible electives: Introduction to Javascripting; Web Scripting with PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor (PHP); Software Testing for Quality Assurance

What can I do after earning an online associate degree?

After completing an associate degree program, students may be eligible for entry-level positions in software design firms, web page publishers and similar workplaces. Potential occupations include:

  • Computer programmer
  • Web developer
  • Data manager
  • Software developer
  • Computer systems analyst
In general, programming jobs are growing 12% faster than the market average

What can I expect to learn in an online bachelor's degree?

Bachelor's degree programs in computer programming may be hard to find. Students interested in pursuing higher education in this field may find a computer science or software development program with a concentration in computer programming.

Typical duration: Four years of full-time study

General prerequisites: High school diploma, GED or equivalent

Typical coursework: Bachelor's degree programs include more specialized subjects with courses like:

  • Advanced Java programming
  • Scripting and programming
  • Fundamentals of networking
  • IT architectures
  • Systems analysis, design and integration
  • Software design and testing
  • Big data analytics
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Python programming
  • Design of virtual game environments
  • iSeries CL and file design

You may also be required to complete a capstone project or an internship.

Possible electives: NoSQL databases; ethical hacking; security risk management; human relations; general psychology

What can I do after earning a bachelor's degree?

Most employers prefer to hire candidates with a minimum of bachelor's degree in computer programming or a related field. Programmers who work in specialized fields like healthcare or accounting may need to take supplementary classes to develop their expertise in those areas. Some potential occupations are:

  • Computer programmer
  • Software developer
  • Computer network architect
  • Database administrator
  • Network or computer systems administrator
  • Video game developer

Further study

You'll find that a master's in computer programming is usually awarded as either of the two:

  • Master's in computer science (MCS)
  • Master's in science in computer science (MSCS)

Master's degree programs in computer programming can be ideal for individuals looking to pursue more advanced positions or managerial positions.

Doctoral degrees in computer science can pave the way for research and academic roles.

As the computer industry continues to grow, so do employers' needs for computer programmers with specific skill sets. Some specializations within the field include:

  • Software Application Programming
  • Systems Administration
  • Database Administration
  • Network Architecture
  • Systems Security
  • Hardware Engineering
  • Web Development

Certain specializations require knowledge of specific coding languages. Students should keep this in mind while pursuing their degree. Focusing on an intended career may help you take the proper elective courses and learn the most important computer languages required for each specialization.

Accreditation

Accreditation is a voluntary process that colleges and universities go through to ensure their educational programs meet the quality standards of the profession for which the program trains students. Accreditation can be programmatic or institutional and may be awarded by an educational or professional accrediting body.

Attending an accredited online computer programming degree program may allow you to transfer your college credits to another school and qualify you to apply for certain financial aid programs. Professional accrediting bodies for online programs for computer programming include:

  • Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc (ABET)
  • Computer Sciences Accreditation Board (CSAB)

Certifications

Programmers can obtain professional certifications in specific programming languages or vendor-specific products. Additionally, employers may require their staff to be certified in the programs or software they use.

Top-paying industries, states and metropolitan areas

Computer Programmers

Industries with highest concentration of employment
  • Computer Systems Design and Related Services
  • Software Publishers
  • Data Processing, Hosting, and Related Services
  • Other Information Services
  • Scientific Research and Development Services
States with highest employment level
  • California
  • Texas
  • New York
  • Illinois
  • New Jersey
Top-paying metropolitan areas
  • Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, WA Metropolitan Division
  • Bellingham, WA
  • San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco, CA Metropolitan Division
  • San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA
  • Huntsville, AL

Source: 2016 Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

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