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What is Computer Science?
While information collection and data storage are not among the top ten highest ranked industries in Delaware, almost all companies and organizations depend heavily on computer science professionals. With the right knowledge and skills, individuals in this field can work in nearly any setting. Notably, the state’s top industries include finance and insurance, real estate and rental and leasing, professional and business services, educational services, healthcare, and social assistance. All of these rely on computer science and technology to be successful.
There is no single description that summarizes what computer science professionals do. Companies and organizations of nearly every kind require individuals who are skilled in this field, but very few positions are exactly the same. Job responsibilities vary drastically due to employer size and preferences. Most work revolves around designing innovative uses for new and existing technology, as well as studying and solving complex problems in computing.
The tasks performed will also depend on expertise.
Many computer science professionals choose to specialize in one of the following areas:
- Computer Programming
- Hardware Engineering
- Software Developing
- Systems Management
- Web Development
- Database Administration
- Network Administration
- Information Research
- Video Game Development
While computer science professionals can work nearly anywhere, the largest employers of for this field are computer systems design service companies, educational institutions, and the federal government (NSA and DHS). Work settings can also vary, from small offices to large research centers, and it’s not uncommon for positions to require moving between multiple locations. Those who work in computer science also often coordinate projects with other specialists around the world, which requires collaborating via online methods. Most computer and information research specialists work full-time.
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Computer Science Education in Delaware
Are you interested in pursuing a career in computer science in Delaware? The first step is finding and enrolling in the appropriate degree program. Computer science majors generally study several key topics including programming languages, mathematics, and database design. Knowledge in these areas can lead to jobs in software design, networking, and information technology security. Students also get to explore and develop a range of important skills such as analytics, math, communication, logical thinking, and problem-solving. As a result of extensive training and practice in the field, graduates tend to have many great employment opportunities and are often seen as valuable assets in most working environments.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in computer and information technology occupations is expected to increase by 11% from 2019 to 2029, which is faster than the average of all occupations. This growth is expected to result primarily due to a continued and increasing emphasis on cloud computing and information security, as well as the collection and storage of big data.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer and mathematical occupations accounted for 15,390 of the state’s jobs in 2020. The annual mean wage for computer science professionals in Delaware was $99,340 that same year, which is significantly higher than the national median.
Because so many industries are in need of competent computer science specialists in Delaware and elsewhere, students should have little trouble finding accredited academic programs. While every state offers degree options and online learning makes it possible to take classes anywhere that internet is available, those seeking employment in Delaware after graduation should strongly consider attending a local institution. Schools located in the state are most familiar with what employers in the area are looking for and will ensure students receive the training, skills, and knowledge necessary to be successful.
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Computer science covers a wide range of career pathways, chief among them being data science, cyber security, artificial intelligence, software engineering, and information technology (IT) management. Ideally, aspiring professionals will know what kind of job they hope to attain prior to enrolling in an academic program. Identifying a preferred career pathway makes selecting the most appropriate degree option easier.
The computer science field is competitive, which makes earning the right degree extremely important. While most positions require candidates to have bachelor’s or master’s degrees, prospective students can choose from programs at every level, from associate’s to doctorates. Basing your program selection on academic and career goals ensures you graduate with the necessary qualifications to pursue your ideal career.
Associate Degree in Computer Science (AS)
An associate degree in computer science is a good option for individuals seeking entry-level work in technology or further education in the field. While most employers expect job candidates to have a bachelor’s degree, some entry-level positions for those with an associate’s may be available in computer support and web development.
Most associate degree programs in computer science consist of 60 credit hours of coursework and take full-time students approximately two years to complete. Curriculums vary, but instruction typically focuses on the development of object-oriented programing skills to enhance problem-solving and communication.
Many students choose to pursue additional education in the field after graduation. Credits earned from accredited institutions can be transferred to other four-year colleges and universities. Choosing to do this tends to cost less and can drastically shorten the time it takes to earn a bachelor’s degree.
Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science (BS)
Most computer science professionals choose to pursue bachelor’s degrees because they tend to be the minimum requirement for employers in the field. Graduates are often qualified to apply for work as computer programmers, information security analysts, software developers, and computer system administrators. While sufficient for entry and mid-level employment, additional education and training is often necessary for high-level management positions.
Every college and university is different, but most bachelor degree programs in computer science consist of 120 credit hours of coursework and take full-time students approximately four years to complete. They are often designed to teach students about key topics in the field such as computer science theory, computer systems, and applications. Students may also have opportunities to select a concentration, or specialty for further directed study. Common examples include software engineering, network and security, and game development.
Graduates can choose to seek employment or enroll in graduate-level degree programs. Doing this can drastically improve job prospects and often leads to higher salary potential and employer preference.
Master's Degree in Computer Science (MS or MC)
While not necessary for some entry-level employment opportunities, there are many mid-to-upper-level computer and information technology positions that require candidates have a master’s degree. A common example of this is computer and information research scientists. Graduates do tend to be more competitive in the job market, frequently have more responsibilities at work, and often earn higher salaries than those with lower degrees.
Degrees of this type are generally designed to provide specialized training that builds upon the more fundamental knowledge gained during undergraduate study. Students may enroll in either practical or research-based programs. Many practice-oriented options focus on both advanced computer science and business administration concepts, such as quality management and budgeting.
Most master’s degree programs in computer science consist of 30 to 60 credit hours of coursework and take full-time students approximately two years to complete. As with the bachelor’s degree, students may be given opportunities to choose a concentration. Common options include software theory and engineering, artificial intelligence, security, systems, and data science and analytics.
PhD Degree in Computer Science (PhD)
A doctoral degree in computer science is best suited for individuals seeking jobs in advanced education and/or research. This type of education is well above the standard requirements for entry and mid-level employment opportunities in the field. Most colleges and universities do, however, necessitate that professors have a doctorate if they wish to receive tenure. Some private sector employers involved in research may also expect candidates to have this level of education.
While every doctoral degree program is different, most require approximately six or seven years to complete. This includes three years of coursework related to computer science, as well as a dissertation in which students must conduct research and present their findings in written form.
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Become a CIS Professional in Delaware
If you want to become a computer science professional in Delaware, you first need to determine your ultimate career goals in the field. Because a computer science degree can lead to many different jobs, it is important to identify the type of employment you are most interested in from the start. Knowing your specific objectives will make it easier to select the most applicable program and degree type. Taking time to acknowledge your goals now ensures you enroll in a program that will provide the knowledge, skills, and training necessary to be successful in the future.
You can still enroll in a computer science degree even if you are unsure what area of the field you would like to pursue. Most colleges and universities offer students the opportunity to select a concentration after completing general education and basic technology requirements. Identifying a specialty generally tailors a number of the classes remaining. Because there is some overlap between specializations, however, it is relatively easy to switch career paths if you decide another specialty is of greater interest.
Few computer science professionals are required to pursue specific licensure, but there are many different certifications that may prove helpful and/or help advance your career. Once you have obtained the necessary degree(s), you can choose between vendor-specific and vendor-neutral credentials. Many technology companies, professional associations, and certification boards offer certifications related to this field.
Some common options for computer science professionals include:
- Certified Information Security Manager
- Cisco Certified Network Associate
- Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer
- Project Management Professional
- Certified Information System Security Professional
It is also worth noting that some employers require job candidates to possess specific credentials. As a result, it’s important to always review job postings carefully prior to applying. Deciding to earn one or more certifications can lead to improved employment security and increased salary potential. Obtaining various credentials is also likely to make you more competitive when looking for new computer science positions in Delaware.
Technology is constantly changing, which also makes continuing education and research a vital part of a computer science career. Options include free online courses offered by corporations, seminars provided at conventions, and academic courses provided by academic institutions. Some certifications have continuing education requirements, but most professionals choose to pursue these activities in order to remain current and relevant within the field.
Careers for Computer Science Graduates
After earning a computer science degree in Delaware and completing any optional certification programs, there are a wide variety of positions you may be qualified to apply for, from entry-level employment to advanced management positions.
While salaries and responsibilities vary, some of the most common career options include:
- Software Tester
- Systems Analyst
- Business Analyst
- Technical Support Specialist / IT Support Specialist
- Cyber Security Analyst
- Technology Director
- UI Developer
- Application Developer
- IT Project Manager
- Senior Database Administrator
- Security Analyst
- Data Scientist
- Big Data Analyst
- Web Designer and Developer
- Network Architect
- Software Designer
- Software Engineer
- Full Stack Software Developer
- Network Analyst (WAN/LAN/etc.)
- Cyber Security Consultant
- Computer Science Professor
- Data Scientist
Data scientists are responsible for the gathering and analysis of large sets of data for the companies and organizations they work for. They often utilize computer science, statistics, and mathematics to analyze, process, model, and interpret data with the goal of creating viable action plans. These professionals also assist in solving problems and advise management about potential issues and cost-effective changes to existing procedures. According to PayScale, data scientists make an average base salary of $96,550 per year.
- Web Developer
Web developers are responsible for creating websites for their employers. They often write code to create web pages and access databases, as well as write, modify, and debut software. These professionals also test new software before incorporating it into company or organization websites. According to PayScale, web developers make an average base salary of $60,100 per year.
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- Network Architect
Network architects are responsible for the design and management of networks for companies and organizations they work for. They often that network implementation is completed successfully by assessing system integrity, monitoring progress, and escalating issues to administrators or supervisors. These professionals may also initiate the use of new technologies and monitor their performance. According to PayScale, network architects make an average base salary of $121,200 per year.
- Software Designer
Software designers are responsible for the design of new computer software for the companies and organizations they work for. They ensure proper development and usefulness by working with other programmers and testers. These professionals also serve as an informative resource to other professionals by answering questions about the software and developing reference documentation detailing what software does and how it works. According to PayScale, software designers make an average base salary of $77,750 per year.
- Network Analyst
Network analysts are responsible for ensuring company and organizational computer networks remain functional. They often work with other technology experts, such as network engineers, to keep hardware, software, and peripherals working properly. These professionals also coordinate various communication networks, troubleshoot network-related issues, and evaluate new vendor products for potential purchase. According to PayScale, network analysts make an average base salary of $60,200 per year.
- Technical Support Specialist
Technical support specialists are responsible for identifying technology issues and assisting others in resolving them. They may write new programs or work to improve the efficiency of programs already in place. These professionals also raise information, bugs, and feature requests to development teams and/or senior support specialists. According to PayScale, technical support specialists make an average base salary of $52,500 per year.
- Cyber Security Analyst
Cyber security analysts are responsible for protecting information technology infrastructures for the companies or organizations they work for. They may consult and offer advisory services, or work directly to keep data secure. These professionals spend a lot of time monitoring networks and systems in order to detect potential security threats, analyze alarms, and report intrusion attempts. According to PayScale, cyber security analysts make an average base salary of $76,650 per year.
- Computer Science Professor
Postsecondary and higher education professors who teach computer science are responsible for developing and delivering lectures to college-level students at academic institutions. They have strong mastery over the content and often serve as experts in the field. These professionals also instruct students in research, data analysis, and reporting. According to PayScale, postsecondary and higher education professors make an average base salary of $88,250 per year.