For professionals who work with computers and technology, job requirements vary by position. The highest-paying roles in the field require a bachelor's or master's degree. For example, computer and information research scientists generally need a graduate degree. However, some employers hire candidates with only a high school diploma or associate degree. Technology jobs often emphasize skills-based training over college experience, which means professionals with any level of education can secure positions in the field.
Computers and technology education requirements also vary by position. Individuals with various educational backgrounds can pursue jobs including as computer network architects, programmers, web developers, personal computer technicians, and demonstrators and product promoters. Computers and technology job requirements differ by position.
Experience and education often lead to increased earning potential. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), computer support specialists, who do not need a college degree, earn a median salary of $54,760 per year. The BLS reports that computer programmers, who generally have at least a bachelor's degree, earn a median salary of $86,550.
Consistent growth in the technology field can lead to job opportunities. The BLS projects employment for computer support specialists to increase 10% from 2018 to 2028. College Choice provides detailed information about degree options in the computer and technology fields.
Recommended Schools for Computer and Technology Programs
High School Courses of Study
High school students interested in computers and technology careers can prepare for higher education in the field through math, science, and computers and technology courses. High school students may also take dual-enrollment courses in programming and web design, which may fulfill some computers and technology degree requirements.
Students can strengthen their college application by completing extracurricular activities. Learners who plan to study computers and technology can benefit from AP classes in computer science, chemistry, statistics, and calculus. Students who earn sufficient AP exam scores may receive college credit. Completing computers and technology degree requirements while in high school can help students save money and graduate sooner.
College Courses of Study
Learners should choose their program and select computers and technology courses based on their career goals. Many two-year schools offer majors in cybersecurity, information science and technology, information technology, and computer science. Bachelor's degree options may include computer science, computing, database and security, and information technology.
Computers and technology degree requirements depend on the specific program and major. However, degrees in the field typically require coursework in software systems analysis, programming and data structures, networking, database design and processing, and architecture of hardware and system software.
Students pursuing an associate degree or bachelor's degree may also take courses in programming and data structures, microcomputer systems architecture, and foundations of information systems. Associate and bachelor's programs in the field commonly require the following computers and technology courses.
Introduction to Networks
Students pursuing a two-year computer systems technology degree often take this course to hone their theoretical knowledge. The class also helps learners develop practical skills in architecture, structure, and LAN topologies. Students examine network protocol models and learn to build an Ethernet network. This class prepares students to work as computer support specialists, network system administrators, and computer systems analysts.
Introduction to Website Design and Development
Common in associate-level curricula, this class helps students gain the knowledge necessary to secure networks and identify hackings, cyberattacks, and data breaches. Students learn how to use cybersecurity tools and methods to prevent incidents. The course explores cybersecurity fundamentals and prepares students for careers as computer support specialists and computer programmers.
Bachelor's degree-seekers often complete this class, which provides students with a strong understanding of system hardware and software. Coursework focuses on RISC and CISC architecture, and learners study memory hierarchy and computer organization. Students can apply this knowledge to positions as system programmers and computer architects.
Graduate Degrees in Computers and Technology
For leadership roles and the highest-paying positions working with computers and technology, education requirements typically include a graduate degree. Graduate programs require at least two years and prepare students to work in system analysis, software design, IT management, and cybersecurity. Graduate students can major in areas such as computer information systems and information technology. Students can also earn an MBA in computer science and information security management.
Learners who aspire to college-level teaching positions can pursue a doctoral degree, which typically requires 4-5 years. Through labs and dissertation courses, Ph.D. students gain skills in academic writing and learn to perform advanced research. Doctorate-holders often work in academia and for private research companies. Graduates can pursue roles such as database administrator and data modeler.
Doctoral programs in computers and technology prepare learners to become scientists who conduct experiments and perform peer reviews for academic journals. Below are a few courses common to many doctoral programs in the field.
Information Retrieval and Web Search
During this graduate-level course, students master methods for designing information retrieval (IR) algorithms for search engines. Students learn to use advanced IR applications and techniques to build information systems. The class also covers text indexing, metadata usage, the vector space model, and document clustering and classification. Students gain skills necessary to conduct IR research.
Students earning a master's in computer science degree often take an operating systems course. Operating systems classes require prerequisite experience in testing, coding, and programming. This advanced course surveys the creation and implementation of operating systems. Students explore topics such as process synchronization, modes, deadlocks, and virtual memory.
Information Systems Analysis, Modeling, and Design
Learners in this course examine the systems development life cycle model. Students learn to apply modern methods and tools, including visual development and prototyping. This class helps students gain project management and technical skills they can apply to positions as system analysts.
Employers often prefer candidates who hold specialized certification. The training individuals receive during a certification program can lead to career advancement and higher earning potential. For individuals with various levels of education in computers and technology, certifications exist in niche areas of the field. Below are a few common certification options for technology professionals.
- Project Management Professional: This graduate-level certification demonstrates that the holder possesses the skills and knowledge to oversee a project from start to finish. Students can earn this credential in as little as 18 months.
- CompTIA A+ Technician: Early-career computer and technology professionals can pursue this credential to improve their employment opportunities. The certification requires two exams. Employers often require technicians and desktop support technicians to hold this certification.
- Certified Information System Security Professional: Candidates for this credential must pass a 250-question exam. The certification demonstrates competency in managing information security programs. Individuals with this certification often work as security analysts and information technology auditors.
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