Associates Degree in Computer Programming Overview

Discover the curriculum and requirements for earning an associate's degree in computer programming. Learn about career options, employment trends and salaries for graduates in this field.

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Essential Information

Associate's degree programs in computer programming are generally offered at community colleges, and they may also be offered through distance learning. These 2-year programs prepare graduates to work directly in the field of computer programming, and/or to transfer to a related 4-year program. Along with courses in programming languages, students will learn about operating systems, networking, software maintenance, databases and data management. Graduates of these programs normally earn an Associate of Science or an Associate of Applied Science degree, and they may go on to pursue certification in various programming languages or operating systems. A high school diploma or the equivalent is usually required for admission.

Course Topics

Curriculum typically includes courses that teach students to write computer programs and maintain computer functions. In addition to coursework, students may spend extensive lab time gaining hands-on training with computers. Participants may be required to write computer programs from design to completion as capstone experiences. Topics of study may include:

  • Java programming
  • Computer networking
  • Programming and logic
  • Systems analysis and design
  • Computer security
  • Linux operating system
  • Computer servicing
  • Data structure
  • Computer science

Popular Career Options

Computer programming graduates can write computer programs for a variety of purposes. Some common career titles include:

  • Computer programmer
  • Programmer analyst
  • Web developer

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Computer programmer employment is projected to increase 12% over the 2010-2020 decade, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) (www.bls.gov). The mean annual pay for programmers in May 2012 was $78,260. The BLS also reported a fast 22% growth rate for web developers (categorized with information security analysts and computer network architects) over the 2010-2020 period. Mean earnings for web developers in May 2012 were $66,100.

Continuing Education and Certification Info

Employers may prefer to hire computer programmers who have completed bachelor's degrees, although an associate's degree may be sufficient, especially when combined with work experience and professional certifications. Some positions, however, may require completion of a relevant bachelor's degree program, such as a program in information systems or computer science.

Certification can demonstrate an individual's knowledge and skill, while also being a bonus on a job resume. Candidates can obtain certification through many software and product vendors when the company's product is being used. Some training programs offer courses that also prepare students for certification examinations.

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