What is Computer Science?
Are you interested in obtaining a degree in computer science? Prospective students in Ohio will benefit greatly from pursuing higher education and choosing to major in computer science can lead to a wide variety of dynamic career opportunities. While anyone can work toward this degree, the field is best suited to individuals with an interest in and aptitude for information and technology. College and university curriculums vary, but those enrolled tend to gain knowledge related to computer programming languages, mathematics, and database design. Students can also expect to develop skills in analytics, communication, logical thinking, and problem-solving. Because many industries seek professionals familiar with these topics, graduates often have little difficulty securing employment. This type of degree is particularly recommended for those who plan to seek jobs in software design, networking, and information technology security.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment in computer and information technology occupations is expected to increase by 13% from 2020 to 2030. This is faster than the average of all occupations and will account for approximately 667,600 new jobs throughout the nation. Most of this projected growth is expected to occur as a result of companies, organizations, and the general public placing greater emphasis on cloud computing, as well as the collection and storage of big data. It is also expected that the need for information security will rise.
While computer science and technology is not considered a top industry in Ohio, many of the state’s biggest sectors depend heavily on information collection and data storage. In fact, these services are essential to almost every company and organization. As a result, there should still be plenty of employment opportunities for professionals in this field. Those seeking to specialize their skills may find the greatest success working in some of Ohio’s largest industries such as manufacturing, business services, real estate, education, health care, finance, wholesale, and retail.
Online Computer Science Education in Ohio
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics also reported that computer and mathematical occupations accounted for 162,510 jobs in Ohio as of May 2021. This means the state is among the top ten for employment in the field. It also offers workers decent wages, with an annual mean wage of $85,970 for these professionals. This is well above the Ohio’s annual mean wage of $53,170 for all occupations. It is, however, below the median annual wage for computer and information technology occupations nationwide, which was $97,430 in May, 2021.
Many colleges and universities have computer science degree programs available. Online learning also offers flexible scheduling options and makes it easy to attend classes from anywhere in the world with internet access. Prospective students who plan to seek employment in Ohio, however, will likely benefit from giving preference to academic institutions within the state. This is because these schools often understand the employment landscape in the region. Not only are they familiar with the knowledge and skills prospective employers expect of graduates, but they typically have established relationships with nearby companies and organizations seeking qualified professionals. This can be extremely helpful when looking for internships and/or employment.
Prospective students should realize that earning degrees in computer science and related majors can lead to a wide variety of professional opportunities in Ohio. The knowledge and skills obtained are often considered highly valuable by most companies and organizations. In fact, graduates are capable of working in almost any industry. This means overall job outlook is good, but can make it difficult to narrow down exactly what these professionals do on a daily basis. Position descriptions can vary significantly, especially because employer size, goals, and preferences can differ as well.
At the basest level, most computer science jobs require the innovative use and creation of new and existing technologies. Many even move between multiple locations, providing differing services to multiple facilities. Professionals in this field also commonly test software and find ways to address complex computing problems. Additionally, coordination with other technology specialists around the world is often necessary. It’s also possible to specialize in certain areas of expertise. These individuals hone their knowledge and skills to meet the needs to various information technology sub-fields.
Some common concentrations include:
- Computer Programming
- Database Administration
- Hardware Engineering
- Information Research
- Network Administration
- Software Developing
- Systems Management
- Video Game Development
- Web Development
Work settings can also vary, from small offices to large research facilities. This often depends largely upon the employer. As previously mentioned, almost every industry hires computer science professionals, but the largest job providers are computer systems design service companies, educational institutions, and the federal government.
Degrees in computer science and related subjects are not always necessary for career success in this field, but they are the best way to qualify for many professional employment opportunities related to information and technology. While some individuals do manage to obtain entry-level jobs with self-taught knowledge and skills, most employers expect candidates to have at least some post-secondary education. At the very least, graduates tend to receive preference over other applicants.
As previously stated, there are many colleges and universities in Ohio that offer applicable programs. Prospective students can choose from degrees at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. Some academic institutions also have undergraduate and graduate certificate programs available as well. Higher education of any kind can be beneficial, but more advanced degrees will likely lead to better career prospects, especially for those planning to pursue top positions in data science, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, software engineering, and information technology (IT) management.
Online Associate Degree in Computer Science (AS)
Most online associate programs in computer science consist of 60 credit hours of coursework, which takes full-time students approximately two years to complete. Most programs require a mixture of general liberal arts education and subject-specific classes. Curriculums vary, but students usually receive a broad introduction to the field. Instruction also tends to help those enrolled develop object-oriented programming skills that can be applied to many different professions.
Graduates are often qualified for various entry-level employment, making this degree a good option for those seeking jobs in information and technology but who do not want to commit to a four-year degree. Common opportunities include computer support and web design positions.
It’s important to note that candidates with bachelor’s degrees do fair better when competing for these jobs. This is why many graduates choose to continue their education by enrolling in traditional degree programs. Fortunately, many colleges and universities accept up to 60 or 90 undergraduate credit hours of coursework from other accredited institutions. Assuming all credits are successfully transferred, those with associate degrees can enter bachelor’s degree programs as juniors instead of freshmen.
Online Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science (BS)
Online bachelor’s programs in computer science generally consist of 120 credit hours of coursework that takes full-time students approximately four years to complete. As with associate programs, students can expect to take a mixture of general liberal arts and major-specific classes. Curriculums vary, but most are designed to provide a slightly more extensive introduction to the field. Instruction typically focuses on key topics related to computer science theory, computer systems, and computer applications. Additionally, those enrolled are often offered opportunities to differentiate coursework by selecting concentration tracks. Some of the most common specialization options at this level include software engineering, network and security, and game development.
Most computer science professionals have bachelor’s degrees as this is the minimum education requirement for most professionals in the field. Graduates usually have the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful in a wide variety of entry-level information and technology professions. Some of the most common employment opportunities include computer programmers, information security analysts, software developers, and computer system administrators.
While bachelor’s degrees often serve as a sufficient start to computer science careers, many opt to continue their education by enrolling in master’s degree programs. Those interested in graduate school should be prepared to provide institutions with undergraduate transcripts, as well as meet minimum grade point average (GPA) and Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) test score requirements.
Online Master's Degree in Computer Science (MS)
Online master’s programs in computer science generally consist of 30 to 60 credit hours of coursework, which takes full-time students approximately two years to complete. Unlike undergraduate programs, these do not include any general liberal arts classes. Instead, students will enroll in either practical or research-based classes that focus solely on topics related to information technology. At this level, instruction covers advanced computer science and business administration concepts. Coursework is also often practice-oriented. As with bachelor’s degrees, many colleges and universities allow students to select concentrations. Common options include software theory and engineering, artificial intelligence, security, systems, and data science and analytics.
Graduates often possess specialized knowledge and skills, setting them apart from those with undergraduate degrees. As a result, these individuals typically have access to more advanced mid-to-upper level computer and information technology jobs, such as computer and information research scientists. Graduates also tend to enjoy greater job security, more promotional opportunities, and higher pay potential.
Online PhD Degree in Computer Science (PhD)
Doctoral degree programs in computer science can vary significantly from institution to institution, but most take students between six and seven years to complete. It’s common for students to spend the first few years in traditional classroom settings before conducting independent research. Those enrolled must then write and defend original dissertations before qualifying for graduation.
Very few computer science professions require candidates to possess phd degrees. Completing one of these programs can, however, lead to some very exciting and prestigious career opportunities. Graduates are qualified for positions involving information and technology research, as well as higher education. Those who want to become professors in the field at regionally accredited academic institutions must have doctoral degrees.
Become a CIS Professional in Ohio
All prospective computer science professionals in Ohio should first identify their preferred professions. As there are many job available in the field, knowing your ultimate career goals will help you determine the best course of action. Your intended profession will likely dictate the type and amount of education necessary, as well as whether or not additional requirements must also be met. Additionally, it may be helpful to narrow your focus of intent to industries you are most interested in to ensure you obtain all the necessary knowledge and skills.
After meeting education requirements, it may be beneficial to obtain one or more certifications and/or licenses related to computer science. Professional certifications help demonstrate proficiency with important information and technology knowledge and skills. They can also serve as proof of expertise in more specific facets of the field. This means that most workers choose to pursue these credentials to distinguish themselves from others or demonstrate their capabilities in particular sub-fields. Benefits of this include improved your job prospects, more promotion opportunities, and increased salary potential.
Most certifications related to computer science are offered by technology companies, professional associations, or professional certification boards. Both vendor-specific and vendor-neutral credentials are available.
Some common options include:
- Certified Information Security Manager
- Cisco Certified Network Associate
- Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer
- Project Management Professional
- Certified Information System Security Professional
It’s important to realize that Ohio does not require computer science professionals to be licensed. In fact, certifications are not always necessary either. Some employers do, however, require candidates to possess specific certifications before hiring them. Others simply give preference to applicants who possess them. It also is not uncommon for companies and organizations to require new hires to obtain specific credentials shortly after being brought on. To ensure that you are adequately prepared to meet these expectations, always read job postings carefully before applying.
Those who do choose to obtain professional certifications will likely need to actively maintain them. Most certifying bodies require some form of continuing education to ensure professionals remain familiar with current information technology updates and trends. This is particularly important for people in this field, as various aspects of computer science are constantly changing and progressing. Continuing education requirements can generally be met by completing free and/or paid training programs, attending seminars at conventions, and/or enrolling in academic courses.
Careers for Computer Science Graduates
Computer science degree graduates will be qualified to apply for a wide variety of employment opportunities in Ohio. This is especially true for those who obtain optional certifications. While specific job titles, expectations, and salaries will differ, some common career options include the following.
- Computer Science Professor
Postsecondary and higher education professors who teach computer science courses are responsible for developing relevant curriculums for students studying at higher education institutions. These professionals possess a strong mastery over relevant content and spend a significant amount of time delivering lectures. They also grade assignments, meet with students, and may conduct related research projects. According to PayScale, postsecondary and higher education professors make an average base salary of $88,250 per year.
- Cyber Security Analyst
Cyber security analysts are responsible for keeping information technology infrastructures safe for companies and organizations. These professionals take various steps to ensure that data is secure, often performing assessments and offering advice to leadership. They also monitor networks and systems to detect potential security threats and analyze alarms, reporting any possible intrusion attempts so they are addressed quickly. According to PayScale, cyber security analysts make an average base salary of $76,650 per year.
- Data Scientist
Data scientists are responsible for analyzing, processing, modeling, and interpreting data. These professionals utilize computer science, statistics, and mathematics to prevent and solve problems. They may also make recommendations for more cost-effective changes to existing procedures. According to PayScale, data scientists make an average base salary of $96,550 per year.
- Cyber Analyst
Cyber network analysts are responsible for ensuring that computer networks, hardware, software, and peripherals are working properly. This often requires coordination with other technology experts, such as network engineers, to troubleshoot network-related issues. These professionals may also evaluate new vendor products. According to PayScale, network analysts make an average base salary of $60,200 per year.
- Network Architect
Network architects are responsible for designing and maintaining the networks utilized by their employers. These professionals often assessing system integrity, monitoring progress, and escalating issues to administrators to ensure network implementation is completed successfully. They may also initiate the use of new technologies. According to PayScale, network architects make an average base salary of $121,200 per year.
- Software Designer
Software designers are responsible for creating new computer software. These professionals often work with other programmers and testers and they also serve as resources to those who utilize the software by answering questions and troubleshooting issues. Software designers may also create reference guides detailing what certain software does and how it works. According to PayScale, software designers make an average base salary of $77,750 per year.
- Technical Support Specialist
Technical support specialists are responsible for identifying and troubleshooting technology issues. These professionals often work to improve the efficiency of current programs and, in some cases, write new programs to replace those that are obsolete. They 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.
- Web Developer
Web developers are responsible for creating web pages and websites for their employers. These professionals often write code and work to ensure materials are maintained in easily accessible databases. They may also test and modify 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.