What is Computer Science?
In today’s business environment, the industries in Oregon need skilled, knowledgeable computer professionals. Whether they are database administrators, software engineers, or cyber security professionals, the work they do in Oregon companies is invaluable.
The top 10 industries in the state range from real estate, rental, and leasing to the information sector. The real estate sector earned $38.8 billion in a recent year, making Oregon’s real estate sector #22 out of all states. And the information sector earned $8.8 billion.
In between these two sectors are manufacturing; professional and business services; educational services; healthcare and social assistance; wholesale trade; retail trade; finance and insurance; construction; and arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation, and food services. These sectors have earned a range of annual revenues but are all strong industries throughout the state.
Over the past three decades, Oregon has become an even stronger economy, and their reliance on technology has grown just as it has everywhere else, with the internet, E-commerce, and more advancements pulling every sector into the high-tech world. The state’s top commodities are all in farming and agriculture: greenhouses, hay, grass seed, wheat and potatoes, cows, and milk.
Online Computer Science Education in Oregon
A computer science professional has usually gone through several years of learning and practice before they graduate and begin their first job. However, it didn’t seem to be this way. Not so long ago, many computer science professionals were self-taught, and that has left its mark on the computer science profession as qualifications and abilities tend to mean more to employers than just your education.
No matter how you learned about computers, becoming a professional in this field will require that you have a knowledge and understanding not just of general computer programs, but of programming languages, coding, networks, troubleshooting, and more. “Computer science professional” is a vague, umbrella term for what are often highly specialized jobs and careers. Thus, it’s hard to specify what your day-to-day responsibilities will be when you do find a job in this career.
Some professionals in this arena create software applications to solve specific problems or perform certain functions. They will work with their company or clients to figure out exactly what the program needs to do, program it to those specifications, and ensure that it is functional before delivery. Others work in entry-level positions where they help users to solve basic problems with software, hardware, and bugs. They may work with a team and be called out to solve these problems with various users throughout their workday.
The important thing to know about computer science professionals is that they must have a love of technology. These jobs can be entry-level support all the way to managing an entire IT department for a company or creating entire video games on your own or for a major company. The sky is the limit.
Online Associate Degree in Computer Science (AS)
Most associate degrees are available from community colleges, though there are some you can earn from four-year institutions. You can earn a degree in computer science, information technology, or even a specialty like information assurance or cyber security at this level from schools all over the state. If you know that you want to earn an associate degree and then become a transfer student and earn a bachelor’s, then it’s best to find a school that has a transfer agreement with a four-year institution, or you must at least attend an accredited institution, which you should do no matter what. At this level, most programs focus on teaching students the basic, foundational knowledge they will need in the field, as well as how to use or develop their creative problem-solving skills in technology.
As students move through these programs, they begin to develop skills in using their existing science and math knowledge to solve problems using logic. They may learn the processes of software development. By the time they graduate, they should be ready to find an entry-level position whether or not they choose to transfer into a four-year degree program.
Online Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science (BS)
Computer science majors at any private or public university or college are likely to have more options when it comes to earning specialized degrees in computer science or choosing concentrations to support their computer science or information technology degree. After all, a bachelor's degree lasts around twice as long as an associate degree, so you will have more time to complete core courses and a more well-rounded curriculum.
Earning this level of degree, whether you choose a specialization or not, can expand your career opportunities. You’re also more likely to have access to internships and hands-on learning experiences, though there are also many online programs available if you are looking to attend a program far away or just want to save some money on gas and on-campus fees.
In these programs, students learn the skills they’ll need in a computer science career. Because many of these skills are multi-disciplinary, most degrees from various schools will have similar courses. Core course subjects are likely to include programming, mathematics, fundamentals of computer science, web development, algorithms and data structures, software design, databases, networks, computer security, data science, statistics, and more.
For those students who choose to earn specializations, they will be able to choose to learn about concepts such as machine learning, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, UX design, graphics and animation, video game design, and more. By learning these skills, students can graduate with not just a good foundation in computer science, but with an excellent, focused degree that will provide them with access to many jobs under the umbrella of computer science.
Students should also have opportunities to gain real-world experience through internships and portfolio creation available for some specialties. Open-source projects may also be available, allowing computer science students to work with students in other disciplines.
Online Master's Degree in Computer Science (MS)
Graduate students working toward their Master of Science in Computer Science will embark on a comprehensive educational program which, when they graduate, should offer them the opportunity to achieve success through advanced studies, research, or engineering practice.
If students are planning to be promoted into a higher position, a master’s degree will give them an edge when they list it on their resume. However, those who are looking to work at higher levels in business, perhaps as an IT director, might want to consider earning an MBA with a concentration in IT, computer science, or cyber security rather than a regular master’s. An MBA can provide you with stronger, in-depth business knowledge, which will come in handy as you aim to ascend through the ranks. It will help you to communicate with businesspeople who do not have your expertise in IT and to manage those you supervise.
Online PhD Degree in Computer Science (PhD)
Computer science professionals who earn a PhD in computer and information science not only show that they have a full understanding of computer science, but also that they have the skills needed to engage in creative research and that they can teach at a high level.
In these programs, a doctoral student completes required courses, which often takes around two years, and then embarks on extended original research. Once they have decided on a topic, usually based on their studies, they research that topic and write a dissertation, which they must defend in order to gain their full degree.
Many times, students engage in research that can be published, allowing the student to earn their first publication along with their degree and sometimes leading to the presentation of their research at a professional conference. Students may also write other research papers, with some papers being co-authored by their dissertation advisor and other candidates in the PhD program.
Become a CIS Professional in Oregon
Once a student has earned their degree in computer science, they may expect that they are done with academic learning. However, if you want to advance in your career, you may find that you need to earn professional certifications in computer science in order to gain full access to professional opportunities in your specific field. You might start by figuring out what certifications your favorite prospective employers require, or you can choose based on the type of work you want to do. There are a huge array of courses and certifications across every level of computer science that can help you to achieve more in your career. Here are just a few options.
- EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
This certification helps one of the most valuable members of a cyber security team. An ethical hacker hacks into a system with an organization’s permission. An ethical hacker should have at least two years of work experience in this field in order to gain this certification.
- CompTIA Security+
This certifications may be one of the best for a computer science professional to earn. By doing so, they demonstrate their understanding of core security functions and can gain access to more IT security careers. For this certification, there is no minimum work experience requirement. You could earn the certification immediately after graduation. The exam covers security governance, incident response, network security architecture, and more.
- IBM Certified Administrator
This certification is vendor specific, proving that database administrators who earn the certification can work with IBM’s technology. It is most valuable for data specialists who are looking to work with a company that uses an IBM database management system. Professionals will an exam consisting of 60 questions, which covers database design, security, operation, and installation.
Careers for Computer Science Graduates
- Systems Analyst
A systems analyst researches software programs and makes recommendations to their organization. They may work for several companies as consultants and may even help them get the systems running. Valuable systems analysts are critical thinkers, pay attention to details, and are highly creative.
- Business Analyst
This professional works with data to develop insights into a company’s efficiency and a breakdown of various departments, strategies, projects, and more. They will use these to suggest changes to the organization. A business analyst should be able to identify issues in any part of the organization including IT, human resources, accounting, and more.
- Cyber Security Analyst
This security professional oversees computer networks, looking for security issues, investigating breaches, vulnerabilities, and cyber-security attacks. They may install security measures, such as firewalls or data encryption programs, which helps to protect the network and infrastructure.
- Application Developer
Application developers create software. They develop and update, or modify, source code for various programs to ensure they meet client or organization specifications.
- IT Project Manager
An IT project manager must have deep subject matter knowledge that allows them to address issues and correct them. They plan, organize, and divide resources as needed throughout the life of the project. They might oversee software and app development, network upgrades, hardware installations, and more.
- Senior Database Administrator
This professional maintains the organization’s databases, running backups and performing disaster recovery when needed. They also monitor access and patch or upgrade management. They supervise tuning and performance, so the system operates as smoothly as possible.
- Security Analyst
This professional focuses on protecting an organization’s network to protect any proprietary data or information. The biggest part of this professional’s job is to find and correct security system flaws, though they may also develop procedures for IT employees to follow.
- Data Scientist
Data scientists have skills in computer science and mathematics, making them an invaluable resource in the new world of big data. They examine data to find usable patterns, trends, or information that an organization can use in decision-making and planning.
- Software Engineer
Software engineer may inspect current software and make modifications, or they can create new software from scratch and test end-user applications that are customized to each individual client.
- Security Consultant (Cyber Security)
This professional is responsible for analyzing and inspecting an organization’s computer network security and any measures they may have in place for the protection of their data. As they are assessing the network, they take stock of potential threats, and help the company develop plans to stop breaches from taking place.
- Computer Science Professor
This professional educator develops curricula to help new students learn all about computer science. They learn about its history, theory, and practice, and all the skills they will need when they graduate and begin working in their chosen careers. A professor wants to see their students engaged in the material and will prepare hands-on exercises so that they can see that students understand what they are learning in theory when it is applied to the real world.