The Ultimate Computing Career Guide for 2021

With a computing career and with nearly all industries looking for employees with great computer skills, you are almost guaranteed to find a job in a field that you love! On their own, the computer and technology industries provide a wide range of fast-growing and high-paying professional opportunities. However, the principles of computer programming, computer science, information technology (IT) and other related programs are also applicable to many sectors.

computing career

Since technology is continuously evolving, computing degrees have been of great importance not only for a living to make but also for improving the lives of everyone. People’s use of computers and technology is at an all-time high. For example, AI, machine learning, and data mining support assist physicians in diagnosing, managing, and treating diseases faster and better. Persons with disabilities can now perform complex tasks using machines with a computing career. Retailers improve customer service relationships through technology, E-learning platforms help shape the future of education, and people conduct plenty of functions of just about anything through programming a lot more efficiently.

QUICK LINKS

Computing as a Degree

computing career

Computing degree is a unique field. It also is considered as thedegree of the future.” Almost everything is about technology nowadays. Computer and information technology scientists, programmers, and developers build the computing world. While an associate degree is the basic level of education you can get, most employers look for higher degree levels since the industry is continuously changing. You have to remain competitive by learning additional courses. Students continue their education to earn bachelors or even a master’s degree. According to DATA USA, there were about 35,342 computer science degrees and 20,864 information technology degrees awarded in the year 2016. Planning to get into the computing world means looking for accredited universities and colleges that will best serve you with the best computing programs, courses, and excellent faculty to help you discover or perhaps, enhance your talent and skills in computing.  

Here are some of the computing career degree programs offered in universities and colleges:

  • 3D Animation & Modeling
  • Cognitive Science
  • Computer Engineering
  • Computer Forensics
  • Computer Programming
  • Computer Science
  • Database Administration
  • Design
  • Digital Arts
  • E-Commerce
  • Game Design
  • Graphic Design
  • Information Systems Security
  • Information Technology
  • Information Technology Management
  • Mathematics
  • Network Administration
  • Project Management
  • Robotics Engineering Technology
  • Software Engineering
  • Statistics
  • Web Design & Development
  • Web Management & Webmaster

Types of Computing Degree

computing career

Associate Degrees in Computing

If you are interested in necessary computer skills such as introductory programming, computer networking, and web foundations, then earning either an Associate of Science or an Associate of Applied Science is for you. Students must complete 60 to 72 credits to receive an Associate’s degree. This includes general education courses in areas like ethics, behavioral science, math, social sciences, and humanities. They may also choose to study part-time or full-time. Full-time students have two years to finish while part-time typically takes 2.5 to 3 years. Core courses may include Introduction to Web Design and Development, Networking and Telecommunications, C++ Programming, Java, and Data Structures.  Additionally, students can use this degree to transfer to a four-year university in the future and earn a bachelor’s degree in the computing career of choice.

Bachelor’s Degrees in Computing

If you’re all about a next level professional computing career, getting a bachelor’s degree is the right decision. With a minimum of 120 credit hours (maximum of 135 credit hours) of study, students learn core courses which are more in-depth and well-rounded. These courses may include Introduction to Software Systems, Operating System Design and Implementation, Data Structures and Algorithms, and Database Application. Curriculum requirements are typically General Education major elective courses. Students are given 3-4 years to finish the courses and may take either Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science depending on the track they choose.

Master’s Degrees in Computing

A Master’s in Computing may enhance one’s employment marketability since this entails a higher level of knowledge and training. Generally, core courses depend on which specialization students pick. Learners usually master specific programming language or focus on artificial techniques for case studies and research. Typical courses in this degree level include Advanced Operating Systems, Software Development, High-Performance Computer Architecture, Computability and Algorithms, and many more. Complete at least 30 to 45 credit hours of general coursework and master thesis to earn a Master of Arts or a Master of Science degree.

Other Related Computing Career Master’s Degree Articles!

Doctorate in Computing

Computer and Information Research scientists invent and design new methods of computing technology. These people hold a Ph.D. or a professional degree. A doctorate is perfect for those wish to start their own research-based companies or become a member of a high-level faculty position. Large companies also prefer individuals with a Ph.D. whose advanced technical skills are indispensable. The degree typically requires 4-8 years to finish with 70-92 credits. Students are required to attend seminar courses, teaching practicum and thesis, including dissertation.

Computing Specializations

computing career

Choosing a computing career is a vast field and is ever evolving. It holds several specializations. One must note that trends might not be the same in the next few years, so it is best to look for a specialization that best interests you. Here are some common specializations in computing but are not limited to:

Artificial Intelligence is a vast field that involves computer systems. This specialization requires basic knowledge of computational language and algorithms as well as topics in machine learning, robotics, probabilistic modeling, logical reasoning, and knowledge representation. Useful applications such as data mining and analysis, intelligent tutoring system, speech recognition, and machine vision.

Interactive Intelligence incorporates artificial intelligence and machine learning with health and educational technology. Courses may include Software Development Process, Introduction to Graduate Algorithms, Knowledge-Based AI, Introduction to Health Informatics, Educational Technology: Conceptual Foundations, and Computational Social Science.

Computational biology is the study of the application of techniques of computer science, mathematics, and statistics in solving biology-based problems. Learners study computational management, high-performance computing, biological processes, and data-algorithm. This specialization will prepare learners for positions in pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. Some of the core courses may include Computational Genomics, Machine Learning or Statistical Machine Learning, Bioinformatics of Gene Expression and Introduction to Biophysical Modeling.

Human-Centered Computing is the study of how humans interact with information technologies by focusing on designing, implementing, and evaluating interactive information technology systems. Coursework in this specialization includes User/Interface studies, Prototyping Interactive Systems, and Issues in Human-Centered Computing. Topics in cognitive science, artificial intelligence, and social computing are also part of the program.

A Mobile and Internet Computing Career provides access to all applications and supports all information flows and process. It is the backbone of e-business using the most streamlined architecture available. It focuses on the sociotechnical nature of modern systems. Networking, interface design, web applications, and operating systems are among the topics in this concentration.

Computational Perception is a combination of computer science, neuroscience, and cognitive science. This is a study of how knowledge is processed in human and machine. Courses may include Computer Vision, Computational Photography, Computational Complexity Theory, Approximation Algorithms, and Computational Science and Engineering Algorithms. This concentration helps learners explore and develop intelligent machines and environments to process modeling, recognizing, and interacting with humans.

Intelligent Robotics is designed to demonstrate how artificial intelligence and software work for robots. This specialization centers on the technical areas of computing, programming, and algorithm design. Some of its courses are Autonomous Robotics, Artificial Intelligence for Robotics, Human-Robot Interaction, Operating Systems & Architecture, Discrete Mathematics, and Data Structures.

A High-Performance Computing Career is designed to help and prepare new generation students to solve high-end and challenging scientific and engineering problems. It also tackles parallel computing and parallel platforms, which include cloud environments, Graphics Processing Unit, and multicore machines. Courses may consist of new software design methods, Computer Networks, Computer Architecture, Object-oriented Programming, High-Performance Parallel Computing: Tools and Applications and Design and Multicore Computing: Concurrency and Parallelism on the Desktop

Scientific Computing delves into the computational dimensions of the natural and social sciences. Graduates with this specialization take on positions in data-intensive science, engineering, finance fields, big-data analytics, modeling proteins for drug discovery, and mining massive internet transaction datasets for business decision support systems. Computational Science and Engineering Algorithms, Introduction to Numerical Methods for Partial Differential Equations, Big Data Algorithms, Computational Models in the Sciences and Optimization Methods are some of the core courses included in the curriculum.

Visual Analytics is a form of study in which data is used to that produce insight into solving problems are displayed interactively and graphically. This helps people study how the use of visualization can help represent data for a better understanding. Some of the core courses in this specialization are Information Visualization, Computational Data Analysis, Data with Spatial and Temporal Components, Data Ethics and Data Sharing, and Data Provenance.

Software Engineering helps students study software development methodologies, re-engineer, and validate existing software systems, design programs for specific domains, and solve engineering problems. Require courses include Mathematical Foundations of Computing, Languages, and Automata, Software Specialties, Software Re-Engineering, Software Design and Probability and Statistics for Engineers.

System Administration deals with an in-depth understanding of maintaining and connecting a variety of computers and other electrical equipment in an establishment. This provides students with an emphasis on the use of network communication technologies, network administration, and operations, client-server system administration, cloud computing technologies, information technology management frameworks, storage technologies, and project management. Administrative Information Systems, IT Project Management, Project Management for Information Technology Management, Introduction to Networking, Introduction to Routing, Introduction to WAN Technologies and Administering SQL databases

Systems Analysis is the process of observing system for troubleshooting hardware and software issues. It also emphasizes the identification and resolution of problems in the development of computer system models and designs, project management, application development methodologies, and cyber security management. Popular courses for this specialization are UML Based Software Development, Software Testing and Maintenance, Application Development Methodologies, Hardware Configuration, Software Configuration, and Information Systems.

Online vs. Brick & Mortar Computing Career Degrees

A computing degree is one of the most compatible degrees for online education. If you are interested in learning without having to attend classes on campus or may not have the time and luxury to transport to a college campus, an online computing degree is the best option. Thanks to the incredible innovation in college education, online classes are now available and offered by many colleges and universities.

computing career

Although some lectures are better-learned face-to-face and that classrooms are “smart” classrooms with computer-based demonstrations, this degree does not require a lot of in-person labs or discussions. Thus, online education will most likely be the same as traditional on-campus learning. While learning halls and discussion rooms on-campus are still available and helpful to many students, online discussion boards are just as useful. Computing courses and tasks such as Coding may not always require a student’s physical presence, making online education ideal for distance learners.

Online and on-campus Computing learners study and use the same technologies.

Financing Your Computing Career with a Great Education

computing career

According to DATA USA, Tuition costs for Information Technology majors are, on average, $5,472 for in-state public colleges, and $28,049 for out of state private colleges. The tuition for Computer Science is $6,478 for in-state public colleges. Out-of-state private colleges charge an average of $31,584.

Some schools do not require students to pay tuition, provided that they do on-campus work or come from a particular region or state. Other than these, different ways to pay for college include grants, scholarships, and loans. Below are the details of college financial aid:

Scholarships do need to be repaid. There are two types of scholarship. Some are awarded based on the financial need of the student while the other one is merit-based, meaning students are awarded the scholarship based on academic achievement or participation in extracurricular activities. Universities award their scholarships to incoming and existing students. There are also outside and private scholarships that require their application procedures and deadlines.

Loans area type of financial aid that has to be repaid after the student graduates. There are several factors to consider before approving the amount of money the student can borrow. These loans are offered by the Federal and State government as well as private lenders and institutions. Federal loans are taken out by either eligible parents or student borrowers taking an undergraduate, graduate, or professional degree. State loan requirements vary depending on the state. Private loans are meant to be considered when the student has exhausted his/her federal and state loans.

Grants are another form need-based of financial aid that does not have to be repaid. Grants are provided by the Federal and State government, and some universities and colleges. Federal grants are divided into three types. These are the Federal Pell Grant, which is awarded to students with significant financial needs, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant which is awarded to students with the greatest financial need, and lastly, Federal TEACH Grant which is awarded to Education students. State grant recipients are in-state students.

Work Study provides part-time jobs for students with significant financial needs. This helps students earn money to pay for school expenses. Students may find computing-related jobs in the university. Their skills could be useful in IT departments, libraries, and other school offices.

Some students who are fully employed may inquire for tuition reimbursement programs offered by the company. Some employers may cover a large sum of your tuition. Companies may require specific grades for employees to qualify for the program.

There are also technology scholarships like Generation Google Scholarship, Edison International STEM College Scholarships, Vanguard Women in Information Technology Scholarship, Dell Computer Corporation Scholarship, Dell Computer Corporation Scholarship, and many more.

Computing Career Pathways, Information, and Outlook

Nearly every business makes excellent use of computer and technology in this modern age, so earning a computer degree is a foolproof way of staying relevant in the job market. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics reports that employment of computer and information technology occupations will most likely increase by 13% within the next seven years. This means 557,100 new jobs and the median wage for computing career is at $86,320. This is higher than the annual salary for all occupations, which is $38,640.

10 Most Common Computing Occupational Titles

computing career

What jobs do Computing graduates usually land, you ask? We gathered the most popular career pathways of Computing degree holders:

Computer Scientist

Salary: $111,405 per year

Education Requirements: This position typically requires a bachelor’s degree with a major in computer science, information technology, information systems, or software engineering. Most computer scientists are expected to earn either a master’s degree or a Ph.D. in related fields to enhance and keep them up to date with the advancement of technology.

Computer Programmer

Salary: $84,280 per year

Education Requirements: Most computer programmers in an entry level hold undergraduate certificates or associate’s degree, but employers require or encourage candidates to earn or hold a bachelor’s degree in computer science, mathematics, information systems. Still, practical programming experience stands as one of the key requirements in computer programming jobs.

IT Manager

Salary: $97,461 per year

Education Requirements: Some IT managers may have started their careers with an associate or a bachelor’s in Computer Science, Information Technology, or Computing fields with significant levels of experience. Most employers require their IT managers to hold a master’s degree with a specialization related to their responsibilities. They may work while earning this master’s degree.

Software Engineer

Salary: $103,035 per year

Education Requirements: The minimum requirement for this an entry-level position is an associate’s degree, but most complex software engineering jobs require a bachelor’s degree major in computer science, computer information systems, software engineering or mathematics. Employers count on ample hands-on experience so internships while pursuing a degree is important.

Software Developer

Salary: $105,590 per year

Education Requirements: Most software developers hold a bachelor’s degree in computer science, software engineering, or a related field.

Web Developer

Salary: $69,430 per year

Education Requirements: Although there is no specific education path for web development, an associate degree is the most common minimum educational requirement. It is traditionally necessary for web developers to hold a bachelor’s degree for career advancement. It is also important to note that developers have to choose a development specialization. This will help them focus on a greater level of efficiency.

Network Administrator

Salary: $68,156 per year

Education Requirements: This job often needs an undergraduate or an advanced degree in Computer Science, Network Administration, or Systems Engineering. Employers also look for those who have gained sufficient experience and certificates in networking.

Application Developer

Salary: $76,195 per year

Education Requirements: Individuals who have earned a diploma in Software Engineering or a related field may fill entry-level positions. Large companies require employees to hold at least a bachelor’s in Software Engineering, Mobile Application Development, Mobile Computing, or Computer Science.

Help Desk Worker

Salary: $44,402 per year

Education Requirements: Help desk careers often start with training at technical schools that take a year at most to complete. Certificates and diplomas may be earned in two semesters. However, help desk professionals need to hold a bachelor’s in computer science or related major to solve and work with complex issues.

IT Professional/Specialist

Salary: $86,012 per year

Education Requirements: A bachelor’s degree in a computer-related field is the common requirement for becoming an IT professional or specialist. In the present, most employers require and prefer a master’s degree in computer science, information technology, information system, or a related field. Still, professional experience always counts, especially for big businesses. Smaller organizations are the best place to start your career.

Other Computing Occupational Titles

  • Cloud Architect
  • DevOps Engineer
  • UX Designer & UI Developer
  • SQL Developer
  • Technical Specialist
  • Cloud System Administrator
  • Chief Information Officer
  • Chief Information Officer
  • IT Director
  • Programmer Analyst
  • System Architect
  • Webmaster
  • Software Quality Assurance Analyst
  • .NET Developer
computing career

Part-time Computing Careers

Most companies look for part-time employees for busy months or seasonal help. Most of these computing jobs are fulfilled through remote support or work from home platforms. Some part-time computing jobs include:

Software Testers deal with the quality assurance of software and are often responsible for creating test-product documentation. They also write and execute test scripts, write bug reports, and carry out all testing needed.

QA Tester Intern/Assistants report to QA Engineers. They assist in developing, maintaining, and implementation of quality systems. They help in product complaint investigations and root cause analysis, assist QA Engineers in writing protocols and validation procedures.

IT Consultants/Technology Consultants primarily support clients with training on software and provide software-related services to them. Some consultants manage and train teams in a specific department.

Help Desk IT Consultants must possess exceptional communication skills. They support complex projects, troubleshooting issues, and other relevant job functions in the company at the office or remotely.

Data Entry Clerk/Operators- Data entry clerks and operators keep track of activities performed by the departments in an organization. This is done by compilation, organizing, and updating text and numerical data and information entered into databases. They have to ensure data is adequately stored and that they are accurate.

Get a Unique Computing Career and think outside the box

Data detectives investigate data generated by devices, sensors, and sources to solve issues and find IT business answers.  They have to document the process to let other technology professionals in the organization understand why such process was made.

VR Product Testers immerse themselves in gameplay processes to familiarize themselves with the user’s experience. This helps engineers and developers understand the potential scenarios that users encounter. They have to create issue reporting workflow, perform gameplay testing, and stability. They support a QA production team.

In-House Philosophers arein charge of the “morals” of products. They lead the use of the operating system, advise teams on handling new regulations, and help in the decision-making process of creating, building and implementing technological advancement. They perform all these with ethics in mind.

Mobile Designers provide support for design approach, create design deliverables as process flows, workflows, wire frames, and specification. They work with multiple teams through the design process. Mobile designers must have a strong understanding of Human-Interaction design and JavaScript capabilities.

Live an Exciting Travel Computing Career!

Software Developers who work from home and for several clients, often on a freelance basis, often get opportunities to travel. This exciting computing career as a freelance software developer will have you likely visiting clients’ sites or locations.

Software Testers may have clients located in different locations or even in different states, enabling them to travel for projects. Also, it’s possible for software testers to do multiple projects and be physically present to test it and assess the codes.

IT Consultants can expect a lot of time on the road and several trips to clients’ sites. There isn’t a typical day for most IT consultants, so they anticipate being on-the-go to meet clients recurrently and not sitting on the desk all day.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

computing career

Why should I earn a computing degree?

A computing degree opens a lot of doors to plenty of opportunities to many industries. We live in the digital age, wherein the demand for talented computing degree holders continues to exhibit exponential growth.

Businesses change the way they do things and obtain a reduction in cost by counting on computing experts. This is how they respond to the challenges of the information revolution. Expertise in computing can lead to solving the most complex and multidimensional problems. There are things you will never know if you don’t get a degree. Some courses will undoubtedly add to your knowledge and help work effectively.

A computing degree lets you compete and survive in a world of technological advancements — employees in the computing field report job satisfaction and enjoy high pay.

What are the admission requirements for undergraduate Computing degree?

Entry requirements for a bachelor’s degree in any computing major typically emphasize Mathematics and some universities or institutions may ask for Physics background. Computing degree students may also be expected to have taken up beginner languages such as Java, Pascal, Python, or C++. However, some institutions forbid learning programming before entering university to avoid bad programming habits.

For first-year students- You are asked to submit high school transcripts, SAT/ACT scores, letter/s of recommendation, and an essay. Some distinguished institutions require a minimum math score. However, if you do not meet the Math requirement, you may be accepted as a pre-computing degree student and may transfer to the program after fulfilling minimum GPA in math, physics, computer science, and engineering.

Besides copies of college transcripts, transfer students are required to have completed minimum credits of math, physics, computer science, and engineering courses.

Other institutions allow students to take challenging examinations which may serve as an alternative to the required math course credits.

What kind of certifications do I need for a computing career?

Certifications in computer science, information technology, and other computing-related careers offer plenty of opportunities. Certifications and licensing help you demonstrate your valuable skills and specialty. These documents also substantiate a professional’s knowledge and experience of products and practices. Systems engineers, software developers, security managers,  and project managers are some of the professions that may require certification/s. Most of these are a high-paying job, so employers look for necessary credentials.

There are two types of certifications: vendor-specific certifications and vendor-neutral certifications. Vendor-specific certifications cover specific technologies, platforms, and practices for the particular company while vendor-neutral certifications are offered regardless of the company the employee works for.

Here are some examples of certifications:

  • Cisco CCNA Routing and Switching certification
  • Cisco professional-level certification
  • Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate certification
  • Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer
  • Project Management Professional Global certification
  • Certified Scrummaster
  • Certified Information Security Manager
  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
  • CompTIA A+ Technician

Are there professional computer degree associations or societies I should join?

Connecting with your fellow computer and technology peers allows you to take advantage of the opportunities for personal and professional growth, access job boards, mentorships, and even scholarships. Below are some of the associations and organizations formed to enhance your academic study:

  • Association for Computing Machinery: The world’s largest educational and scientific computing society that was founded in 1947
  • Association for Women in Computing: One of the first professional organizations to represent women in the computing industry and was founded in 1978.
  • Association for Information Science and Technology is a non-profit organization that started in 1937, ASIS&T lead the search for theories, techniques, and technologies for enhanced access to information.
  • IEEE Computer Society is an organization that hosts over 60,000 members. Its main goal is to advance the computer and information processing.
  • Computing Research Association: Established in 1972, the Computing Research Association is a non-profit organization that aims to enhance innovation by joining with industry, government, and academia to strengthen research and advanced education in computing.
  • Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence came to be in 1979. AAAI is an international scientific society that offers training for new AI professionals and promotes research and development for responsible use of AI.

What are the skills and qualifications to get a job with a computing career?

A degree in computing deals with a lot of aspects in computers like programming languages, software development and more. This overlaps with other disciplines, and there are a lot of skills needed to pursue a career in the industry. So, one should know what skills to learn and earn to stand out in this type of future one creates.

Here are the top marketable and beneficial hard skills to earn and learn:

  • SQL
  • JAVA
  • JavaScript
  • Microsoft C#
  • Linux
  • .NET Programming
  • XML
  • Python
  • C++
  • Oracle
  • Ethical hacking and threat modeling
  • Network security architecture development
  • Cloud Computing
  • Metadata design third-party auditing and cloud risk assessment methodologies

These soft skills are highly preferred:

  • Critical-thinking skills
  • Analytical skills
  • Communication skills
  • Creativity
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Interpersonal and negotiation skills