Computer programming is a very popular field and one that will always be in demand, which has many aspiring students wondering if a degree from a two-year school will help get them a job as a programmer. While most computer programming jobs require a bachelor’s degree, some employers will hire a candidate with a degree from a two-year college, especially if the candidate has work experience in that area. Computer programs not only have a good career outlook but also offer the potential for good wages. Students eager to join the workforce as programmers often find a two-year degree to be the ideal choice.
How to Become a Computer Programmer
Computer programmers generally have at least a bachelor’s degree, which is a four-year program. The major is generally in computer science, but it can also be a related topic. One popular option is computer science with a concentration in programming. Some computer programmers are hired with an associate’s degree. This is especially true if the programmer has programming experience and/or is knowledgeable in various programming languages.
Programmers who work in specific industries may also take computer courses related to that industry. In addition to completing coursework, programming students often complete internships to gain some real work experience. Programmers may also obtain certifications either through the college or through software vendors.
What Computer Programmers Do
Computer programmers are the masterminds behind almost every computer program ever written. When users go to a website, they see graphics, texts and fonts, all of which make the website functional and convenient. What many don’t realize is that underneath all these fonts, graphics and texts are codes, which are written by computer programmers. They not only write the codes but also test it to ensure it’s operating correctly.
Software engineers and developers create different programs, but the programs are non-functional until a programmer writes codes that make the games do what is required to make them functional. Computer programmers are generally knowledgeable of various programming languages, such as Java, Python and C++ to name just a few.
What a Two-Year Degree Entails
Schools that offer two-year computer programming programs generally offer them in the form of associate’s degrees. Students in an associate’s degree in programming or computer science will take major-related courses as well as general education courses. Students may be required to complete an internship in a business environment where they will be doing computer programming. At the end of the program, students will have the skills to maintain computer systems and have a knowledge of basic programming.
The programming associate’s degree program may be offered in a few different majors, including information technology, information science, computer information systems, information sciences and technology, technical studies and computer technologies. Computer science and computer programming programs may also be offered through distance learning. Course topics include:
- Intro to Computer Programming
- Computer Programming II
- Principles of Operating Systems
- Computer Networking Basics
- Database Processes
Advantages of an Associate’s Degree in Computer Programming
Trying to decide to earn an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree can be a big decision for students. Here are a few of the advantages of choosing the associate’s degree.
- Less time – Associate’s degree take two years to complete rather than four, which allows the programmer to join the workforce in half the time.
- Less money – College generally charge per-credit tuition. Since associate’s degrees require half as many credits as bachelor’s degrees, they’re a lot less expensive.
- Beginning education – Associate’s degree programs provide students with the training and education to advance to bachelor’s degrees if they so choose.
Upon completion of the associate’s degree in computer science, graduates may seek positions as computer programmers, information technology specialists, database administrators, system and network administrators, and software architects or engineers.
Career Outlook for Computer Programmers
The job outlook for computer programmers is expected to decline seven percent during the decade of 2018-2028 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Despite programmers always being in demand, many industries and businesses are choosing programmers from other countries in an attempt to save money. Computer science jobs overall are expected to experience job growth of 12 percent during that same period.
Computer programmer wages ranged from $48,790 to $134,630 as of a May 2018 BLS report. The average annual wage across the nation was $89,580. Certain factors like degree level, work experience, employer and location can also play a part in the wage potential. Programmers may be hired with a two-year degree, but they typically don’t earn as high of a wage as programmers with a bachelor’s degree unless the candidate has extensive programming experience.
Below are the average annual wages for programmers from the highest-paying states followed by the lowest-paying states.
- Washington – $126,920
- District of Columbia – $105,200
- California – $97,470
- Arizona – $95,900
- Massachusetts – $95380
- South Dakota – $57,060
- Arkansas – $71,540
- Wyoming – $71910
- Kentucky – $72190
- New Mexico – $72,770
As long as we have computers in our lives, we will always have a need for computer programmers. It’s the talent of computer programmers that allow new computer games and programs to be developed and marketed every day. Earning a degree from a two-year college is a great way to begin work as a programmer as quickly as possible.