What is Computer Science?
When people think of Oklahoma, they usually think of homesteaders, cattle ranches, and oil fields. However, the Oklahoman economy is more diverse than that. These days, the once-thriving oil and gas industry has been replaced by mining. Though Oklahoma still has oil fields, the state is also dotted with wind farms, creating the next wave of sustainable energy.
The Oklahoman economy is also dominated by industries such as real estate, manufacturing, professional services, and social services such as education and healthcare. To keep all of these industries thriving and competitive in both the national and global business communities, the state needs strong coders, database administrators, and other computer science experts.
A computer science professional is a person who builds their career in the high-technology realm. They typically work with software and computer code as part of their daily routine. While many are software developers, programmers, and software engineers, others may take their computer science skill into data science. While these computer science professionals may also work with code, they tend to use it as a tool for compiling and analyzing data.
Thus, computer science professionals spend their working days with computers. They typically work in an office setting and keep standard office hours. However, the pandemic seems to have shifted their profession dramatically. Since most computer science professionals were able to set up secure, remote workstations during the lock down periods, they have maintained this work environment. Of course, there have always been computer science professionals who worked as travelling consultants to various firms who needed their IT or coding expertise.
Online Computer Science Education in Oklahoma
Indeed, even mining for metals requires computers to run the machines, keep track of employees, and manage supply chains. Oklahoma also needs computer scientists to aggregate data for the promotion of public health, marketing, and more. For these reasons, Oklahoma supports its public and private colleges and universities. These institutions of higher learning educate wave after wave of bright minds who are able to innovate the fields of data science, artificial intelligence, and programming.
These schools strive to attract the best minds in computer science the world can create. They also look for computer science experts who have experience addressing issues specific to Oklahoma. For instance, the oil and gas exploration industry relies on computer modeling to determine where to start drilling. Schools also need strong computer scientists who may be familiar with other issues that may impact Oklahoma's business community, such as regulations or state rules governing specific business activity.
As Oklahoma's colleges and universities continue to strengthen their computer science departments, the overall economy benefits. In fact, many high-tech entrepreneurs may enjoy Oklahoma's low cost of doing business as they work on their start-up business.
Online Associate Degree in Computer Science (AS)
An online associate computer science degree is a terrific way to launch a career. In fact, there are some computer science programs at community colleges that can boast impressive credentials. A computer science department with ABET accreditation will deliver world-class instruction in the field.
Since much of computer science can, in theory, be self-taught, an associate computer science degree may be all that a person needs. The curriculum for an associate degree always includes the core college curriculum, which will help students with soft skills such as writing, communication, and general knowledge. They can also take more advanced mathematics courses that will be very helpful in their computer science career.
Upon graduation, a computer scientist can seek out their first entry-level position or even strike out as an independent contractor to firms that need their coding expertise. Some may even have a hot idea for a technology start-up that they can begin working on immediately. Naturally, if they want to continue with their formal education, the associate degree will provide ample foundation for a bachelor’s degree program.
Online Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science (BS)
Over the course of a four-year computer science degree students can also work to accrue experience in the field. While some will work full- or part-time in IT departments, others will take for-credit internships as an opportunity to gain experience while expanding their professional network. Over the course of their undergraduate degree, computer science students might also consider a minor concentration in a field such as mathematics, economics, business, or finance.
Online Master's Degree in Computer Science (MS)
A master's computer science degree is a sure-fire way to boost a career to the next level. During the two-year period it usually takes to complete the degree, students can dive deeper into their research and develop an even deeper skill set. Students should choose their program carefully, though, since they are not all alike. Some may place more of an emphasis on artificial intelligence, for instance, where others might focus on computer programming languages, including research into creating whole new languages.
An online master's computer science degree might even be paired with an MBA in a dual MBA scenario. These programs take an average of around three years to complete and result in two master's degrees. Students who master both business administration and computer science can look forward to a career in upper management or perhaps they will take their business knowledge and skill and create a high-tech startup of their own.
Online PhD Degree in Computer Science (PhD)
Given the breadth and depth of the computer science field, a PhD is a very good idea for students who want to be at the forefront of their field. With a PhD, computer science students can dive into subjects such as cryptography, quantum computing, and more. Some employers seek out computer scientists who have a doctorate to work in research for their firm. Researchers may be tasked with developing new tools for cryptography, data science, or cyber security. Some PhD students even take their research and build new firms from them.
A PhD has an added benefit of enabling students to pursue a new career in academia. They can pursue a tenure-track position as a professor, or they might find a spot on the research faculty of a university. Research faculty can earn tenure, and thus job security, while pursuing their passion projects in computer science research.
Become a CIS Professional in Oklahoma
Computer science is a hot field right now. Even though we have been working with computers for decades, there is still much to learn about them. Some are now talking about a third stage in the development of the internet. To help facilitate this evolution, high-tech industries need more and more computer scientists. The question, though, is how to become a computer science professional in Oklahoma.
After all, the Sooner state is not exactly known for its high-tech industries. Nevertheless, students in Oklahoma all have the internet and access to the tools they need to dive into computer science. Anyone with a bit of desire and motivation can start learning the skills they need to thrive in computer science. There are many free or affordable outlets on the internet that enable youngsters to start learning the basics of programming while developing their own video games. Then there are also outlets for learning robust computer programming languages that are in high demand. In fact, a motivated and determined high school student can start a career as a software developer after graduating.
However, most students will want to enter into a community college computer science degree program, if not a four-year undergraduate computer science degree program. A full, four-year college degree is probably the best choice since it offers students the opportunity to explore minor concentrations and develop soft skills through core courses as well as extra-curricular activities. In fact, college is not only a great place to learn a discipline it’s also a great opportunity to meet like-minded individuals who may later be very important in one's career path.
Whether or not a student opts for a college degree, it will be vital to continue learning more about computer science. Most computer science professionals land their first jobs and then start pursuing certificates. These professional certificates help them not only develop new skills but will provide the credentials they need to advance professionally. Resumes are always improved when a computer scientist can list certificates they've earned for proficiency in specific coding languages, technologies, etc.
Careers for Computer Science Graduates
- Software Tester:
This is a terrific job for a computer scientist. Testers with a computer science degree can try software out from the perspective of a typical user but then can identify how, exactly, a problem might be manifested in the code.
- Technical Support Specialist / IT Support Specialist:
This profession can range in importance and complexity. While some tech support specialists might set up and troubleshoot PCs in a workplace, others may have more difficult problems. Some support specialists, for instance, troubleshoot complex server issues that require deep knowledge of operating systems, coding languages, and more.
- Cyber Security Analyst:
Cyber security is a booming field that every firm needs to heed. After all, since we are all becoming so connected via the internet, hackers are increasingly able to exploit weaknesses in a cyber security system. Cyber security analysts evaluate security systems and research new ways to strengthen them against black hat hackers.
- Application Developer:
To succeed in this position, it is vital to have a complete mastery of multiple computer coding languages. However, each project will probably require different languages. It will also be vital to work effectively on a team of other coders who bring unique skills to the project.
- Computer Science Professor:
Computer scientists with a PhD might consider a career in academia where they work with students ranging from first-year students to those seeking a master's or even a PhD. Computer science professors can find work that involves lecturing and instruction, but they also work as research faculty members who rarely see students at all. This is a great career path for those who wish to continue learning for its own sake.
- Web Designer & Developer:
These are often separate job descriptions, but a computer science professional who can master both may be a double threat on the job market. To excel as a designer, tech professionals will need to have more of an artistic eye as well as a logical mind for organizing a website's information. Web developers, on the other hand, are more engaged with the back-end code that runs a website.
- Data Scientist:
This is a booming field right now. Data scientists work to find patterns and meaning in the data sets they work with. Some may work with public health organizations, including hospitals, to help keep diseases under control or to determine what makes certain treatments more effective. Data scientists may also work in high finance where they analyze trends in the markets. Some even write algorithms that seek to maximize trading activity based on theories of market movement.
- Big Data Analyst:
This job involves working with huge sets of data in order to find and exploit patterns therein. For instance, a big data analyst may have terabytes of data that details web browsing activity. They will then seek to parse it so as to find patterns of activity related to consumer activity, human psychology, or other metrics.
- Senior Database Administrator:
To gain this title, computer scientists likely need to spend at least five years working as a database administrator. Many employers will also want to see either a master's degree in database administration or relevant professional certificates that attest to skills in SQL, database security, or database engineering.