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Associate Degrees for Aspiring Computer Specialists

Higher Education Articles April 18, 2013

Students who want to become a computer specialist should consider earning an Associate of Science (A.S.) in Computer Programming, an Associate of Science in Information Technology, an Associate of Science in Computer Science, among other associate degree programs. Computer specialists’ careers may include information technology specialist, computer network specialist, and computer programming.

A.S. in Computer Programming

While associate degree program in information technology and computer science may provide students with the academic background necessary to specialize in any aspect of the information technology field, computer programming associate degree program will prepare students to become programming specialists. Students who are enrolled in an associate degree program in computer programming will learn how to create computer programs and applications using source code and programming languages. The majority of associate degree programs in the field include elective courses related to networking, mathematics, computer-aided design, and software support. Applicants are required to have some experience in high school dealing with computers, as well as holding a GED certificate or high school diploma.

Program Course Topics

Most computer programming associate degree program courses take place within a computer laboratory and extremely hands-on. Students learn how to test, implement, write, and design their own computer programs by investigating the following topics:

•Database development
•Project management
•Object-oriented programming
•C++ programming
•Systems design and analysis
•Computer programming introduction
•Computer science introduction

Salary Information and Employment Outlook

In 2009, computer programmers held over 367,000 positions with individual businesses across the nation, software publishing companies, and computer system design firms, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS – During 2009, computer programmers earned an annual average salary of approximately $70,000. Computer programmers who worked for computer equipment manufacturing companies earned the highest salary.

Certification Options

Different certification options are available primarily from businesses that distribute and create computer software for profit. For instance, computer programming specialists may obtain certification from an organization that offer software related to a particular computer language, such as Visual Basic (Microsoft) or Java (Sun Systems).

A.S. in Information Technology (IT)

Information technology associate degree programs are designed to provide students with an introduction to computer hardware, including telecommunications equipment, computer systems, and networking equipment. Also, the degree programs will introduce students to the basics of computer application and computer software. Students are required to have a general knowledge of keyboarding and computer operating systems, along with a general educational development (GED) certificate or high school diploma.

Program Course Topics

Along with completing core courses in computer science and information technology fundamentals, students are required to select from a series of information technology electives. Electives will prepare individuals to specialize in a specific branch of the IT field, including computer networking and programming. Electives and core courses may include the following:

•Database development
•Website development
•Visual basic
•Introduction to programming
•Microsoft Office Suite
•Information systems introduction

Career Options

Individuals who are computer specialist may obtain different career titles because it is possible to specialize in several different fields within the computer industry. Students who have graduated from an associate degree program in information technology may obtain the following career titles:

•Database administrator
•IT manager
•Computer support specialist
•Network manager
•Computer programmer

A.S. in Computer Science

A computer science associate degree program is one of the most general, entry-level programs available for prospective computer specialists. These programs are designed to give students an introduction to computer applications, networks and operating system, as well as an overview of computing theory.

Computer science associate degree program usually comprised of both computer laboratory experiences and classroom lectures. Students will learn how to troubleshoot standard computer issues, develop webpages, write source code, and more. Depending on the institutions, students may be able to transfer credits earned from an associate degree program to a four-year bachelor degree programs in computer programming, software development, network administration, or similar programs.

Education Requirements

Students who want to become computer specialists are required to complete prerequisites in physics, pre-calculus, geometry, and algebra. Students must have a basic understanding of computers and earned their high school diploma.

Program Course Topics

Computer science associate degree program will offer courses related to general education, science, and mathematics; in addition, students will take introductory-level courses in computer technology. The following are courses students may take:

•Linear algebra
•Discrete mathematics
•Web development
•Data structures
•Database applications
•Standard computer programming
•Introduction to computer science

Popular Careers

The majority of computer science associate degree programs are designed to enable graduates to transfer credits from an associate degree program to a four-year bachelor degree program in computer science. However, there are several entry-level positions available to graduates working for consulting services, manufacturing firms, insurance companies, banks, and hospitals. Possible positions may include:

•Computer programmer
•Computer systems specialist
•Computer maintenance technician

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