Is an Associates Degree in Computer Programming Worth It?

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Is an Associates Degree in Computer Programming worth it in 2021? Explore careers, salaries, job growth, & online degree options.

Is an Associates Degree in Computer Programming worth it in 2021? Let’s discuss what you can do with programming skills.

Is an Associates Degree in Computer Programming Worth It

Computer programmers with a traditional or online computer programming degree are known to shake up the world. In fact, you’ll be entering a field where the way has been paved by tech and cultural pioneers like Alan Turing and Bill Gates.

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Let’s talk about how an Associates Degree in Computer Programming can help you design a career that can withstand the future!

What Computer Programming Jobs Are Available?

Computer Programming Jobs Available

Programmers play vital roles in all industries because technology drives so much of our world today! Some programmers find themselves working for large tech or software firms.

It’s also possible to find a position outside of the tech sector at enterprises like marketing firms, hospitals, universities, investment firms, banks, and consumer brands.

Let’s talk about some actual roles that you could fill after completing your on-campus or online Associates Degree in Computer Programming. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, here’s a look at median pay expectations for some in-demand options:

Careers Annual Median Salary
Computer and Information Research Scientist $126,830
Computer Network Architects $116,780
Software Developer $110,140
Information Security Analyst $103,590
Database Administrator $98,860
Computer Systems Analyst $93,730
Computer Programmer $89,190
Network and Computer Systems Administrators $84,810
Web Developer $77,200
Computer Support Specialist $55,510

Depending on the employer, you may need additional education or work experience to qualify for some of these jobs. It’s not uncommon to work your way up to acting as a manager or team lead after entering the tech world in an entry-level position. The other thing to consider is that there’s quite a bit of consulting work available for professionals with programming skills.

Courses for an Associates Degree in Computer Programming

Associates Degree in Computer Programming students studying together

One of the perks of entering an Associates Degree program for Computer Programming is that you’re going to get right to the meat of learning highly marketable skills. That means your coursework will be focused on hands-on mastery of popular and useful programming systems and languages.

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Let’s take a look at some of the courses you’ll most likely take while studying programming.

  • Computer Security and Servicing demonstrates the methods and best practices for keeping computers and hardware secure and functioning.
  • Database Management covers how to program and manage databases. This course often utilizes SQL and other programming languages.
  • Fundamentals of Computer Networking introduces students to the basic principles of how computers communicate within networks. Students often build and manage networks of their own utilizing Internet protocols.
  • Introduction to Computer Programming is an introductory course that lays the groundwork for the principles of computer programming. The list of topics covered can include coding languages and programming logic. Successful completion of this program can help prime you for more complicated courses that focus on specific development skills.
  • Introduction to Java Programming teaches the fundamentals of the Java programming language.
  • Introduction to the Linux Operating System familiarizes students with Linux-compatible development and testing.
  • IT Troubleshooting is a course that equips students to be problem solvers by demonstrating the methods for addressing bugs, network errors, and faults within a system.
  • Programming II puts a tighter lens on programming methods. Learners learn how to build and test programs. A major project is often completed by the end of the semester.
  • Programming and Logic is another groundwork course that focuses on the complex fundamentals behind coding and development.
  • Systems Analysis and Design takes a holistic look at the performance and function of systems of networks.

As a student, you may be drawn to courses that are focused on specific coding languages or skill sets. Some programmers are interested in designing user-facing programs. Others prefer to manage complex networks that support back-end databases.

Associates Degree in Computer Programming Pros and Cons

computer programmer working in the office

Are you still weighing the benefits of entering an Associates Degree program in Computer Programming?

Let’s break down the pros and cons of using this avenue to pursue a career in tech.

Pros:

  • You should have highly marketable skills upon completion.
  • You can focus on courses that you enjoy.
  • Hands-on learning can help keep you engaged.
  • Learned skills can be used as jumping points for further certifications.
  • A two year associates program is often much less expensive than another degree option.

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Cons:

  • Most programs cover a lot of ground very quickly.
  • Most programs require you to complete high-level math courses like linear algebra and calculus.
  • Skills are not always transferable to other industries.
  • You may find that a two-year program doesn’t cover everything you’re interested in learning.

Most people who have a natural talent for coding often find programming courses to be very fulfilling. Of course, the coursework required to complete this degree path is rigorous. Be prepared to keep up with a fast-paced learning environment!

Computer Programming Professional Organizations

computer programmers meeting at a conference

Did you know that computer programmers actually participate in professional organizations that offer networking opportunities and training resources?

It makes sense that people with a passion for tech would want to keep up with what other pioneers in their field are doing!

Here’s a look at the professional organizations to watch if you see a future for yourself in the programming world:

  • Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) is an international society focused on the advancement of programming for the betterment of the world. With nearly 100,000 members, this highly respected organization connects game changers from around the word. In fact, ACM counts leaders from Pixar, Disney Animation Studio, and Stanford University among its members.
  • IEEE Computer Society is a professional society tied to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. The organization’s mission is to advance the theory, practice, and application of computer and information processing. Members enjoy access to resources related to white papers and job opportunities.
  • Computing Research Association ties together the worlds of computer science, computer engineering, laboratories, government, and academia throughout North America through professional collaboration. This is a premier organization for those looking to stay informed regarding policy, talent development, and research in the private, government, and academic tech realms.

Many tech professionals join professional networks specifically for the events and awards ceremonies that take place around the country. Being active in a professional organization straight out of college is a smart idea if you’re interested in making lifelong professional connections.

Accreditation

Associates Degree in Computer Programming Accreditation

Have you had a chance to consider accreditation when researching colleges that offer Computer Programming degrees? This might be something that you want to shift to the forefront.

One of the big questions to get out of the way relatively early on is if you want to attend a college with regional accreditation. No, regional accreditation isn’t required. However, it could increase your career or degree prospects going forward.

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The simple way to look at it is that a school with regional accreditation from a designated regional agency is simply viewed as being more prestigious. Regionally accredited schools generally provide the benefit of offering credits that are easy to transfer.

Financial Aid

financial aid for computer programming students

Regional accreditation isn’t necessary for federal financial aid. Only federal accreditation is required for that!

You have a variety of options to consider when financing your Associates Degree in Computer Programming. This includes federal loans, private loans, work-study programs, and scholarships.

Yes, many future tech leaders of today are beginning their studies with help from generous scholarships. Here’s a list of the ones you need to know about:

  • ESA Foundation Scholarship Program assists women and minority students who are pursuing degrees leading to careers in Computer and Video Game Arts. This scholarship program currently awards up to 30 scholarships valued at $3,000 each year. Both graduating high school seniors and current college students can qualify.
  • Gates Millennium Scholars Program is a program funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It awards scholarship funds to 20,000 outstanding students of color each year!
  • Microsoft Tuition Scholarship is open to full-time students who demonstrate satisfactory progress toward an undergraduate degree in computer science, computer engineering, or a related STEM discipline.
  • Regeneron Science Talent Search is the nation’s oldest and most prestigious competition for science and mathematics. Close to 2,000 students enter by submitting original research each year. Past participants have gone on to win everything from Nobel Prizes to MacArthur Foundation Fellowships!
  • SMART Scholarship is a Department of Defense (DOD) program that offers full scholarships and internship opportunities to talented and innovative students in STEM fields.
  • Wayne V. Black Memorial Scholarship Award is a private scholarship opportunity sponsored by the Energy Telecommunications & Electrical Association.

The bottom line is that the world is rooting for programming and STEM majors! In fact, they need you to push the next big breakthroughs in tech and computing.

That’s precisely why you’re going to find many possible scholarship and funding opportunities along your educational journey.

Can You Be a Computer Programmer With an Associates Degree?

computer programming student studying at home

Yes, it’s entirely possible to get a programming job with an associate’s degree. This degree path can help prepare you for a number of entry-level positions.

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It’s quite likely that you’ll be able to use certifications, a more advanced degree, and on-the-job training to move into highly specialized or leadership roles.

Is It Worth Getting an Associates Degree in Computer Science?

computer programmer working at a cafe

Yes, it is worth getting an associates degree in computer science for many undergraduate students. Computer Science is a degree path that holds a lot of weight.

In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports an 11% job growth in the computer and information technology field for the next 10 years, much faster than the average for all occupations.

Many people find that an associates degree equips them with the actionable skills needed to enter the tech field.

How Much Do Computer Programmers Make With an Associates Degree?

The median annual wage for computer and information technology occupations stands at $91,250, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Your ability to harness your skills and passion toward a specific tech niche will ultimately determine just how much you’ll be able to demand from employers.

What Can I Do With an Associates Degree in Programming?

As a graduate of a Computer Programming program, you can apply your skills for both front-end and back-end systems design and management.

It’s possible that you’ll want to work for a software or tech firm upon graduation.

Don’t forget that organizations and companies in all industries often need IT professionals who are capable of managing and updating databases and systems.

Should I Get an Associate Degree in Computer Programming?

computer programmer studying online

Do you have a passion for building worlds within worlds using logic and technical languages? People who have the “gift” of programming often know long before they enter into degree programs.

Yes, you should strongly consider pursuing an Associates Degree in Computer Science if you have a passion for programming and technology. This can be a path to a fulfilling, in-demand career.

Most companies do want to see proof that you have the dedication and perseverance to graduate from a program. Keep that in mind as you explore training options!

Is a Computer Science Degree Worth It?

computer programmers working in the office

Yes, a computer science degree is worth it for many students. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in the computer and information technology sector is projected to grow 11% over the next 10 years, much faster than the average for all occupations. Common careers in this field include computer support specialist, web developer, computer programmer, and computer systems analyst.

STEM degrees are universally regarding as being among the most valuable degrees in the past year. Yes, it’s true that a computer science degree may set you up for a good career.

However, there’s a good chance that you simply desire the opportunity to play around with code and design things that have never been brought to life before! That can make you a natural fit for this field!

Let’s talk about how to begin a career in tech. An Associates Degree in Computer Science is a great starting point for making sure your skills are where they need to be. There’s also a good chance that being introduced to new courses will help you pinpoint the specific programming or tech specialty you want to pursue.

Why wait any longer to jump on the tech wave? Start researching associates programs that can help you to harness your tech skills today!

Ready to start your journey?
Joy Cromwelle
WRITTEN BY
Joy Cromwelle
Joy is pursuing her Ph.D. in Public Policy & Foreign Policy and holds a Master of Business Administration in Strategic Management, as well as a Bachelor's in Business Administration. Joy's focus is helping non-traditional students find accelerated degree options and credit for prior learning opportunities.