Individuals interested in technology careers but aren’t interested in waiting four years to start their careers often ask the question, “Can I get a decent job with an associate in computer science?” The good news is that there are several decent jobs they can get with the associate degree. The associate in computer science degree can also prepare the candidate for further education if they so choose. There are many benefits to having a computer science degree.
An associate degree can open the door to a wide range of high-paying computer science jobs. With so many conventional and unusual options to choose from, a two-year degree is the perfect stepping stone to a career with excellent benefits and job security. Computer-related jobs are expected to grow much more quickly than the national average, so it makes sense to enroll in a two-year computer science degree while thinking about the best career options available.
As long as we continue to have computers in our lives, we will continue to need the services of computer programmers. These intelligent, highly-trained individuals are the ones who write and test the codes that make computers and computer applications do what we want. Let’s take, for instance, the popular computer game Minecraft. Software developers created the game and send it to the computer programmers. Without a computer programmer writing the code, it would be nothing more than a non-functional game. The programmer takes the directions from the software developer and turns it into codes the computer will understand. Computer programmers also upgrade programs, test them for errors and assist software developers. Computer programmers earn a median annual wage of $84,280 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
In addition to a college degree, programmers need to have experience coding in at least one major programming language, such as C++ or Java. Most business software is written in Java, so that language may be a good place to start.
Both C++ and Java are object-oriented programming languages, but Java is a little more programmer-friendly than C++. The added benefit of learning these two languages is that, when your entry-level job is finished, you’ll have valuable software developing skills at your disposal. With strong Java programming skills, it’s possible to find a job building custom business applications for major corporations.
Computer Systems Analyst
A computer systems analyst is another job possible with an associate in computer science. Computer systems analysts oversee the installation and configuration of a business’s computer system. They analyze the company’s IT needs, research technologies that may improve the organization’s efficiency, devise methods for making the computer system more functional, determine the cost efficiency of adding new technologies into the computer and consult with managers on issues related to company’s computer systems. Computer systems analysts earn median annual wages of $88,740.
As IT services become increasingly available through cloud software applications, computer systems analysts will be competing for jobs with cloud hosting companies. For this reason, jobs in this field are expected to grow less quickly than other computer-related jobs overall.
Computer systems analyst jobs are projected to grow by 7 percent over the next 10 years, compared to 11-percent growth for computer-related jobs in general. However, the need for computer systems analysts will be significantly better than the national average of 4 percent job growth over the next decade. Large companies will hire these professionals to work as full-time employees while smaller companies will likely hire them on a contractual basis.
Computer Support Specialist
Computer support specialists are professionals who offer advice and help to computer users and businesses. They may offer their technical assistance to an individual computer user at home or may work at a large organization where they test and analyze current network systems to make sure the networks are working correctly. Computer support specialists are an important part of an organization’s computer system because they perform the necessary maintenance, such as backing up files, running virus scans, upgrading hardware and software, solving information technology issues and handling the company’s disaster recovery efforts. Computer support specialists earned median annual wages of $62,770.
Jobs for computer support specialists are also expected to grow at a faster rate than the national average but a slower rate than other computer-related jobs. These professionals will be competing for work with cloud hosting services, and most full-time computer support specialist jobs will be found in major companies with enormous payroll budgets.
Some jobs will be available in cloud hosting companies offering competing services. Other support positions will open up in firms that provide contractors for smaller companies on a temporary basis. While the employment outlook for this profession is somewhat uncertain, the work experience gained from these jobs will be valuable in future job searches.
Developing software for the Web is perhaps the ideal job for college graduates with an associate degree. It’s a quickly growing profession with a high median annual salary of $73,760, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Most Web development tasks are simple and repetitive, but there are always unusual jobs that require additional knowledge. For example, debugging code often requires broad knowledge of the underlying development environment and operating system.
What an Associate in Computer Science Program Entails
The computer science associate degree program is typically a two-year program. Students pursuing the degree online may complete it in less than two years or may take longer than two years. Computer science students will complete these courses.
• Computer programming
• Computer networking fundamentals
• Database Fundamentals
• Programming II
• Introduction to Operating Systems
• Information Technology
• Network Security
In addition to completing courses, students are also required to complete an internship where they can obtain hands-on training working in a computer science field. Upon completion of the associate degree program, the graduate is eligible to earn certifications.
The most important practical skills to learn for computer science students in an associate program are object-oriented programming, Web programming, mobile programming and software debugging. While some associate programs include courses that teach students these skills, many do not, so it’s important to find out if a particular program includes these courses ahead of time.
Associate programs that are designed to help students find jobs after graduation often put more of a focus on practical training and real-world skills than more academic programs, which are designed to prepare students for a bachelor’s degree. In addition to programming skills, students should take advantage of their classroom time to learn computer science skills such as converting looping functions to recursive functions and designing efficient sorting algorithms.
Unexpected Job Opportunities
With the economy constantly changing and new types of jobs being created all the time, some unexpected job opportunities can open up. It may not always be possible to know where to look for decent computer science jobs that require only an associate degree, so it can pay to be open-minded and attentive.
A huge number of jobs are being created on the Internet, and many of them may not be advertised in online job searches. An associate degree can be a great start to a remote career in programming, software testing, technical support and other Web-based jobs. With this convenience and flexibility often come some trade-offs, so it may be a good idea to research a job before accepting it.
One particular downside of working online is that Web-based jobs tend to be contractual, so a large part of the work involves hunting for the next assignment. However, if the life of a freelance technician sounds intriguing to you, it may be the right career choice.
The rapid growth of the Internet means that tons of new websites are being created every year. Many of those websites are social media startups and Web forums that need human content moderators to ensure that new users don’t abuse the rules.
While much of this work can be performed by an algorithm, human eyes are ultimately needed to ensure that the rules are enforced equitably. For example, with the current state of machine learning, artificial intelligence simply isn’t smart enough to judge the difference between a comment opposing racism and a comment supporting racism. This issue has been a problem for Facebook in recent years, and the social media giant has had to rely on human moderators to check flagged comments to either delete them or remove the flag.
Unit testers work with software developers and programmers to ensure that applications perform the way they’re supposed to. Software applications can sometimes contain millions of lines of code and thousands of functions working together, and the debugging process can be ongoing for a period of years.
Unit testers put software applications through extreme testing scenarios to find bugs in the code and then notify developers and programmers so that the bugs can be addressed. Most bugs remain in finished applications because they only turn up when the software is used in an unusual manner, such as processing unformatted data or connecting to another software application. Unit testing positions are typically available to job seekers with associate degrees in computer science or information technology.
User Experience Tester
User experience, or UX, testing is a different sort of job than unit testing. UX design is the process of creating an interface and an overall user experience that the end user will find compelling and satisfying. UX testers meticulously go through every feature of a software application to judge the functionality and convenience of the program. UX testing jobs are often available over the Internet, and they may be full-time or contract-based positions.
As the field of mobile app development continues to grow, UX testers are needed to try every possible function of major mobile apps to ensure that they meet expectations. Mobile app markets tend to rank apps by average user ratings, with lower-ranked apps appearing at the bottom of search results, so UX testers play an important role in the deployment process.
Technical support is a big industry, and support technicians are employed by a wide range of companies to provide assistance for customers with technical questions. Customer support is a major feature of most companies that provide Web-based tools and technology for businesses and end users.
Support technicians can work for Web-hosting companies, cloud software providers and IT firms. Some large companies hire full-time support technicians to work on their staffs, but most technical support is provided over the Internet. While computer proficiency is required for this job, a bachelor’s degree is optional. Most support technician jobs are available to candidates with an associate degree in computer science or a related discipline.
Computer Repair Technician
Repairing computers is another big business that is often overlooked. A lot of expertise goes into repairing computers, including hardware and software expertise. While refurbished smartphones and laptops can be sold on major online marketplaces, many people hire technicians to repair their existing devices. These repairs can involve replacing parts, removing viruses and troubleshooting software issues.
While an associate degree in computer science won’t offer training in computer hardware repair, it will prepare students to troubleshoot software issues and harden system security. These skills are valuable in the computer repair industry as well as a wide range of other computer science jobs.
WordPress is the most popular website programming framework in the world, with billions of websites using this technology across the Internet. WordPress programming uses many of the same skills as Web programming, but there are important differences between these two professions.
While Web developers provide all-around programming services for websites and Web-based mobile apps, WordPress programmers help website owners keep their blogs and e-commerce stores operating smoothly. Some of the work available for WordPress programmers includes setting up new websites, debugging existing websites and building custom themes and plugins. With WordPress growing at a faster rate than any other platform, it’s safe to say that WordPress developers will be in high demand for years to come.
With the technology-driven world we live in today, computer science is a rapidly growing field with many employment options. Earning the associate in computer science not only prepares the student academically for entry-level technology jobs but can also help the student gain valuable work experience through internships.
Associate degrees in computer science offer an excellent return on investment to job seekers. In just two years, a computer science graduate can expect to earn around $60,000 per year, with salary increases coming on a regular basis. Great pay, job growth and personal autonomy are just a few of the reasons to consider looking for computer science jobs.