How to Become a Computer Scientist in Kentucky

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What is Computer Science?


Computers have completely changed our every day lives. There was a time when experts did not think that computers would ever be in the home, but now, not only are they in use in every room, but we also carry them around in our pockets and purses. Most people complete at least one task each day using a computer, and that trend is not going to change anytime soon. More than likely, our dependence on computers is only going to increase.

With this increase in use, there is a need for people who create computers and for those who write the programs that run them. This industry is referred to as computer science, and those who work in it are often called computer scientists. They build the computers we use and design the programs we use on them. So, as you’re reading this on your laptop, tablet, or cell phone, you should think about the fact that someone designed the device, and another person created the program you are using to read this.

A computer science professional is a person who works with computer hardware or software. They build computer systems, create operating systems, and develop software programs to make computers usable for both the general public and businesses. Computer science professionals are also tasked with making computer systems run smoothly and safely through networking and connectivity. And we’re not just talking about desktop and laptop computers, these professionals design cell phones, tablets, and even the computers that work in our cars, appliances, and other household products. From your banking software on your laptop, to the alarm in your car that alerts you when you are almost out of gas, a computer science professional designed all of these things.


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Computer Science Education in Kentucky


The need for programmers in the United States is expected to taper off between now and 2029, mainly because overseas programmers and builders are more cost-effective. However, there are other areas of computer science where the demand is expected to increase. There are over 10,000 people employed in the field of computer science in Kentucky, and on average they earn over $80,000 annually. So, if you live in the Bluegrass State and you have an interest in working with, on, or around computers, this is a good time to get started. After all, just about every industry in existence uses computers at this point, so there will always be a need for experts in the field. Keep reading for more information regarding education requirements, how to break into the industry, and the types of jobs that could be available to you.

Computer science degrees vary from an associate degree up through and including PhDs. The more education a person receives, the further they can progress in their careers. Below are four types of degrees a person can receive in computer science, and the classes they can anticipate taking.

Associate Degree in Computer Science (AS)

An associate degree in computer science is the lowest level degree a person can earn. Associate degrees take two years to complete (which is why they are also referred to as two-year degrees), and graduates are prepared to take on some entry-level computer science positions, depending on the industry and focus of study.

Students can expect to take classes such as:

  • Computer Programming I & II
  • Networking
  • Database Systems
  • And other general elective courses needed to complete the program

Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science (BS)

With a bachelor’s degree in computer science, graduates can pursue entry-level to mid-management positions, especially if they have work experience. This is the degree level at which workers will begin to qualify for the certifications required to advance in their chosen field, such as those from Cisco and Microsoft. And, depending on the state, some graduates can teach at the community and technical college level.

The degree curriculum will cover all the classes taken at the associate degree level, but will also include courses in the following areas:

  • Computer Software and Hardware
  • Calculus
  • Advanced Networking
  • Web Development
  • Cyber Security

Bachelor degrees take four to six years to complete, depending on a student’s performance and personal and professional responsibilities. An internship might be required.

Master's Degree in Computer Science (MS or MC)

A graduate degree in computer science will allow workers to move into upper management positions within the computer science department at many businesses or within government organizations. Teaching opportunities are also often available. Furthermore, a graduate will be qualified to attain the highest certifications in their particular field. Graduate degrees in computer science tend to be specialized, so there is no set curriculum, but students can expect to complete an in-depth study of their chosen area of expertise, and either a written comprehensive exam or a capstone project is required to complete the program. The degree can take from two to five years to complete.

PhD Degree in Computer Science (PhD)

Those who decide to complete a doctoral degree in computer science may either seek to become leading scientists in the area of research or to teach at the university level. A doctorate degree can take up to seven years to complete and requires a dissertation to be completed and defended. Those with doctorates will be considered subject matter experts and are often highly sought after by major corporations as well as the upper branches of state and federal agencies.

Become a CIS Professional in Kentucky


The short answer to this question is to get an education in computer science, get an entry-level position in the computer science field, and work your way up. But, as with most things, it’s not always that simple. For example, you should decide which area of computer science you wish to focus on. Do you like building systems or do you like writing code? Are you more interested in finding ways for computers to work together in a system? Maybe you prefer creating applications for small devices over programs for mainframes. To figure this out, you might need to work for several different companies or examine the different kinds of opportunities online before you begin your education. Then, once you know where your passion lies, you can find or design a degree program that meets those needs.

One thing you want to be very careful of is where you get your education. In most computer science specializations, certifications are required to advance. In order to qualify for those certifications, an education from an accredited college or university is required. And it cannot be just any accreditation, it has to be a board that the certification organization recognizes. So, it’s important that you get your degrees from schools that hold recognized accreditation, otherwise all of your hard work and expense may have been for nothing.

Once you know where you want to focus and have the education to match, it’s time to start that climb up the career ladder. Don’t be shocked if you start off on one path but then decide to veer off onto another. This happens quite often. The good news is that your education often covers your new path, and you won’t have much to do to solidify your education for to qualify for certifications, if you have to do anything at all. This is why many people who work in computer science don’t go straight through from bachelor’s degree to doctorate, the field is constantly changing and there is always a new technology or trend that needs to be explored.

Careers for Computer Science Graduates


  • Software Tester
    Software testers get software that has been developed and looks for flaws and safety hazards. They run the software as an end user and/or as someone who might want to break into the software and use it for nefarious reasons. In other words, testers are trying to break to program to see where its weaknesses are so that programmers and developers can create more stable and impervious programs. Testers are often programmers themselves, but some testers are just avid users of the types of programs being tested and therefore have an intimate knowledge of how the software is supposed to work, which helps with finding ways to break it.
  • Application Developer
    Application developers create the applications that we use on our devices. From the app we use to check our bank account balances to the app we use to pay back our friend from lunch, someone created those programs. If you are a developer who can design for Apple, Android, and Windows, you’re likely to be in demand. Many developers work for companies, but there are quite a few freelance app developers out there as well.
  • Data Scientist
    Data scientists use data from various sources and find trends and patterns that can be used to create a variety of solutions. Data scientists could track weather patterns and trends and provide that data to others who can develop warning systems, inform those who need to know about disturbing weather possibilities, or predict the chances of a horrible hurricane season or wildfires. Data scientists are in many industries and the best scientists are the ones who are passionate about learning. They often see what other people miss.
  • Web Designer & Developer
    Some might not consider web design a part of computer science, but there is a definite level of skill and expertise required to design websites. Designers must learn programming languages and understand how computer operating and networking systems work to properly design the sites that display information. They may also work with graphics and numerous types of code.
  • Security Consultant
    With the increase of computers doing everything from reminding us to pick up the dry cleaning to depositing checks, it’s important that the applications and programs we use allow us to do these things safely. However, when there is a breach, it’s good to know that there are a group of people who are trained to stop it and track down those responsible. This is what cyber security professionals do. Not only do they stop attacks and find offenders, but they also help developers create programs that are safer, so it won’t happen again.
  • Computer Science Professor
    A computer science professor is a person who teaches computer science courses. They can teach from the technical school level up to and including the doctorate level. They can also choose to focus on an industry, such as engineering or automotive and teach the programming and technical skills needed to be successful in those fields.

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