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What is Computer Science?

You wake up to the sound of your alarm clock. You get out of bed, head downstairs and turn on the coffee machine, choosing your cup size and coffee strength. After you get dressed, you grab your coffee and head to your car. You click your key fob, and your doors unlock. You get in your car and press the start button. On your way to work, you listen to music through your streaming service on your cell phone that is connected to your car via Bluetooth. When you get to work you put in your wireless ear buds and start your day.

It's been a little over an hour and you have already interacted with at least six different computers. From your alarm clock to your ear buds, computers help to make your life easier and more enjoyable. And those are just a few of the many you don’t even think about. The traffic lights that you drove through or stopped for? Controlled by computers. If you needed a badge to enter your workplace, that’s another computer. We use hundreds, if not thousands, of computers every day, and each one of them has a designer, a builder, and a person who monitors and fixes them when they have issues. Looking at it that way, you can see why a career in computer science could be full of interesting options. There are many different avenues to explore and consider. And, being in Nevada, there are other areas that need computer professionals, such as the gambling and gaming industries. Those slot machines don’t design, build, or fix themselves. If a career as a computer science professional sound like something worth considering, keep reading. There is a lot of information here that can help you make an informed decision.

Computer science professionals keep our computers running properly. They are also the reason we have most of the handy gadgets and machines we use daily. Some computer professionals build computer systems, such as laptops and tablets, while others write the programs computers use. And, when you consider that almost every gadget we use has at least one computer component, there are many options when it comes to what a professional can choose to learn and where they can choose to focus their expertise. And, for those who like to fix things, there are computer professionals that focus on repairing computers when they have issues as well as test new systems before they are rolled out to the public.

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Online Computer Science Education in Nevada

The only downside is that it is nearly impossible to tell you what your day-to-day will look like if you work as a computer science professional. This is because it really depends on what you specialize in, what certifications you earn, and your overall career path. You could start out as a computer support specialist and take calls whenever workers are having issues with their printer or software. You could move into a career as a database administrator and be responsible for making sure that data is stored correctly and that only those who should have access do. You could transition into work on cyber security and work to keep networks and computers secure by trying to stop or responding to intrusions by bad actors. And that’s just three options!

Computer science degrees vary from a two-year associates degree up through and including the rigorous experience of a PhD. The more education a person receives, the further they can progress in their careers, both from a management and financial standpoint. Below are four of the types of degrees a person can receive in computer science, and the classes they can anticipate taking.

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Online Associate Degree in Computer Science (AS)

An associate degree in computer science is the first degree a person can get. 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:

  • Intro to Programming
  • Intro to Statistics
  • Intro to Linear Algebra
  • Ethics and Technology
  • Other general elective courses needed to complete the program

Online Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science (BS)

With a bachelor’s degree in computer science, graduates can pursue mid-management positions, especially if they have work experience. This is the degree level where workers will begin to qualify for certifications required to advance in their chosen field, such as 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:

  • Calculus
  • Computer Systems and Computational Methods
  • Algorithms
  • Computer Software Design
  • Computer Hardware
  • Database Management
  • Cyber Security
  • Networking
  • And More

A bachelor’s degree takes four to six years to complete, depending on a student’s performance and personal and professional responsibilities. An internship might be required.

Online 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 and within government departments. Teaching opportunities are also often available. Furthermore, a person is also most likely qualified to attain the highest certifications in their particular computer field. Graduate degrees in computer science tend to be specialized, so there is no set curriculum, but students can expect 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.

Online PhD Degree in Computer Science (PhD)

Those who decide to complete a doctorate degree in computer science 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.

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Become a CIS Professional in Nevada

People living in Nevada who want to become computer science professionals have to gain some specialized skills. Although a four-year degree isn’t a requirement for many professions in this sector, formal training in your area of interest is a must. For example, if you want to maintain networking systems, majoring in networking administration would be a logical step to take. When choosing a school in which to get formal training, you’ll want to select a school with a good reputation, accreditation, and preferably with a placement program for graduates. Depending on which career you choose, there will most likely be professional certifications you’ll want to achieve in order to progress in your career. For instance, certifications offered from the International Information System Security Certification Consortium (ISC)2 are required for many jobs in the information technology or network development field.

Since you might need to get special certifications, this makes attending and graduating from an accredited college or university very important. To qualify to take certification tests, you have to have an education from an accredited school. If the school you attended is not accredited, you may not be allowed to take the exams, and that will seriously impact your ability to further your career. Also, employers prefer to hire employees who were educated at accredited schools.

You can start your career with an associate degree, so going to a local community college to save funds is an option. But, as you progress in your career, additional education will most likely be required. And, as was previously mentioned, certifications often require a minimum level of education, mostly at the bachelor degree level. If you have plans to move into director or management positions, then a four-year degree or more will normally be required. For those who want to teach, attaining a master’s degree or a doctorate will allow you to pursue that route.

Careers for Computer Science Graduates

Because everything and everyone interact with computers hundreds of times a day, it’s not hard to comprehend that there are a myriad of jobs in the computer science field. Below are a sample of careers a person with a computer science degree can pursue.

  • Software Tester
    Software testers take software that has been created and use it as an end user. They try and make the software fail or glitch and review if for overall useability and quality. If problems are discovered, the tester reports these to the developer so that changes can be made to improve the software. Some testers might focus on the security of the software, focusing their testing on whether or not the software can be easily breached, while others test whether the software actually does what it is supposed to do.
  • Systems Analyst
    A system analyst evaluates computer and networking systems to ensure they run correctly. Important factors, such as proper integration with existing systems and software and proper security features must be in place and working properly, ease of use is examined, and feedback is presented to the developers. Analysts work with a variety of hardware, from laptop computers to cell phones, and high-end machinery that use computers to complete their tasks.
  • Cyber Security Analyst
    Cyber security analysts evaluate a company’s cyber security protocols and procedures. They look for gaps in service and for ways that the security could be improved. Like analysts in other tech areas, cyber security analysts work closely with cyber security developers to ensure the system is a strong as possible so the company is as protected as it can be.
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  • Technology Director
    As the title suggests, a technology director runs the technology department for a company. They handle day-to-day operations that deal with the business’ technological needs and ensures the companies’ systems and equipment are running properly. Technology directors work closely with other tech departments, such as data management and security, to ensure that everyone is aware of any issues that exist and assist each other with making sure things run smoothly.
  • Application Developer
    An application developer, also known as an app developer, develops software for a variety of uses. Most people think only of mobile devices when they hear the term application or app, but household appliances, such as toasters and crock pots, as well as automobiles and other devices depend on apps as well. There are even desktop apps that work on a computer or laptop. An app developer analyzes the device’s needs and creates the apps that fit those needs.
  • Other career opportunities for people with an education in computer science include:

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