Associate of Computer Science: Degree Overview
Individuals who love computers and enjoy experiencing all the different aspects of working with them may wish to consider careers in computer science. Associate degree programs in computer science can prepare students for entry-level positions working with computers and can prepare them to move on to bachelor's degree programs in the field.
Associate Degree in Computer Science
A computer science program combines theory and practice to teach students computer usage, programming and maintenance, preparing them for a variety of career options. A computer science associate's degree program may be offered in several variations, such as Associate of Science or Associate in Applied Science.
Students may choose programs that prepare them to work immediately after graduating or to transfer to a 4-year college to earn bachelor's degrees, and eventually a graduate degree. Some colleges offer 2+2 programs for those wishing to transfer. A high school diploma or equivalent is typically required for admission.
A computer science program can offer students opportunities to work in computer labs to gain hands-on experience learning about computer science. Additionally, students may participate in internships with local businesses where they put their classroom knowledge to use in real-world situations. Some courses may be offered through distance learning. Course topics may include:
- Database management systems
- Object-oriented programming
- Data Structures and algorithms
- Java for computer science
- Visual programming
Popular Career Options
Computer science is a field that offers many career options to graduates. An associate degree program in computer science could prepare students for careers various related positions, such as:
- Computer programmers
- Computer support specialists
- Systems analysts
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that employment growth for computer programmers is expected to be 8% over the 2012-2022 decade (www.bls.gov), while computer support specialists could see job opportunities grow by 17% over the same period. The median annual salary for computer programmers as of May 2012 was $74,280, and computer support specialists earned a median of $47,660, according to the BLS.
Continuing Education Information
Although many employers prefer that a computer technician or programmer has a bachelor's degree, employees may be hired with an associate's degree and some experience. Employers often provide additional on-the-job training.
Interested individuals may also choose to pursue a bachelor's degree in computer science and become computer software engineers, advanced computer programmers or systems managers or administrators. Certification, which can be obtained through training institutions, certifying agencies and software vendors, may improve employment and career advancement opportunities.
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