A bachelor in computer science degree is designed to help you gain employment in software development or systems management, but also to give you the kind of broad education you need to move into senior management over the long run.
Job listings from every type of company today ask for bachelor of computer science degree holders who can build and maintain the technology backbone of websites, security programs, networking systems and more. While you work toward a general computer science degree, you can also take elective classes that will give you the kind of specialized skills that can help get you into specific industries. If you want to get involved in the media industry, for example, you’ll want to build a knowledge base in Drupal content management systems, php and database issues, flash graphics and site usability. To work in banking or insurance, you would probably want to learn more about network and website security.
The BS in computer science degree generally is usually a 4 year program of 128 credits, versus the 68 credits typically required for an associate’s degree. This kind of degree program generally attracts tech-savvy people (who often proudly call themselves geeks) who have already done some software or technology work for small companies, and want to move up into a bigger business that offer a more varied and higher-paying career track.
It can be tough to decide whether to go for a general BS in computer science or one of the many specialized tech bachelor’s degrees available in game programming, health systems management, security or web design. The answer depends on how clear a picture of you have which industry you want to work in – and how much flexibility you want to change industries in your career. Keep in mind that a software developer with a general computer science degree will often get training in many new specialties paid for by an employer over the course of a career. Not specializing in college doesn’t mean that you won’t have opportunities to gain expertise in new technology specialties later on.
Jobs for holders of a BS in computer science are generally well paid: according to the US Department of Labor statistics the median salary in this category for 2008 (the most recent year measured) was over $66,000. USDLS also predicts a bright future for computer science majors, stating “employment of network systems and data communications analysts is projected to grow by 53 per cent from 2008 to 2018, which…places it among the fastest growing of all occupations.” One key decision is whether you want to work in the tech or “IT” department within a company or work with one of the many “third party” or freelance type firms that get hired to develop software for companies on a project by project basis. The third party route can be more lucrative, but it also involves more pressure to meet tough deadlines. (By the way – don’t think that all software development has been outsourced to India or other offshore locations. Companies do send work to these lower-priced venues, but there’s still plenty of work for programmers here in the US.)
Generally, an associate’s degree in computer science will help you get a foot in the door as a programmer or other IT worker. But the bachelor’s degree is more likely to get you hired to manage a team. Overall, these degrees have become more important as companies have had problems hiring people and then finding they do not have the technology skills they claimed. Quite honestly, there’s a common image of software programmers as being very good with code but not, in many cases, so great at dealing with other workers. The bachelor of computer science degree, with its required study in various humanities subjects, signals to an employer that you have the communications skills to handle project management and to discuss tech issues intelligently in a meeting environment.
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