Programming Technology: Bachelor, Associate & Online Degree Info

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What will you learn in a programming technology degree program? Read about degree requirements, the pros and cons of an associate and bachelor's degree and potential careers.
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Studying Programming Technology: Degrees at a Glance

Programming technology professionals work in a wide range of business and information technology settings. Specialists in the industry work on systems, simulation and Web programming projects. The field requires employees experienced in the development and maintenance of complex technical projects. Employers look for candidates who possess skill at multiple programming languages, attention to detail, knowledge of emerging technologies and ingenuity.

The associate degree program delivers a foundation in logic, systems maintenance and programming techniques. The bachelor's degree program broadens the student's knowledge by offering multiple electives or concentrations. You might find that schools offer a bachelor's degree in computer science with a programming concentration or major. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that occupations in the industry would undergo slower-than-average through faster-than-average job growth. Web administrators would experience between 3% and 9% growth, while systems software developers would see more than 29% growth over the 2010-2020 decade.

Associate's Bachelor's
Who is this degree for? People seeking entry-level computer support or programming opportunities Individuals seeking a career in computer technology management
Common Career Paths (with approximate median annual salary) - Computer support specialist ($48,000)*
- Web administrator ($80,000)*
- Computer programmer ($73,000)*
- Information technology project manager ($80,000)*
- Software developer, systems ($97,000)*
Time to Completion 2 years full-time 4 years full-time
Common Graduation Requirements - Roughly 60 credit - Roughly 120 credits
- Internship
Prerequisites High school diploma or equivalent High school diploma or equivalent
Online Availability Yes Yes

Source: *O*NET OnLine (May 2011 figures).

Associate in Programming Technology

The associate degree program offers a well-rounded foundation in programming, technology and computer system concepts. Students learn the fundamentals of software development, Web programming or design and applications development. You can expect to spend substantial time studying technical subject matter, including complex programming languages, logic and algorithms. Keep in mind that programming requires a strong mathematics background and some programs only require a passing grade in business math.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Positions that required an associate degree paid relatively competitive median annual salaries; for instance, Web administrators earned a yearly median salary of about $80,000*
  • Some computer programmer positions are available to associate degree holders
  • Many schools design their programs to transfer to bachelor's degree programs

Cons

  • Competition against bachelor's degree holders will be keen for computer support specialist and computer programming opportunities
  • Outsourcing might influence job availability for computer support specialist positions and play a role in reduced wages in the United States
  • Maintaining certifications requires a commitment of time and financial resources over the lifetime of your career

Source: *O*NET OnLine (May 2011 figures).

Courses and Requirements

The associate degree program delivers a combination of business, general education and technical coursework. You will learn a range of concepts and theories related to computer science, software development or Web programming, depending on your selected career path. Programs emphasize knowledge of database systems, mobile applications and networks. Graduates will identify major programming language requirements, the coding and debugging process and the development life cycle. Following are some common courses offered by the program:

  • Networking theory
  • Object-oriented programming
  • Logic and design in C++
  • Advanced Visual Basic
  • Database applications
  • COBOL
  • Internet scripting

Online Degree Info

Several colleges offer an online associate degree in computer programming. Locating a programming technology degree might prove difficult, although the computer programming option delivers similar coursework. Programs explore database, security and networking concepts in addition to JAVA programming, Visual Basic and database programming. Some programs deliver a capstone project during the final year of training.

Stand Out with This Degree

Breaking into the programming field might present keen competition; many people are attracted to the competitive salaries and positive job outlook. In order to stand out, gaining relevant experience and pursuing industry-standard certifications might boost your marketability. Following are a few steps you can take to get ahead with this degree:

  • Consider taking the Associate Computer Professional (ACP) certification examination. The Institute for the Certification of Computing Professionals (ICCP) confers a range of credentials. The ACP certification requires that candidates pass an information systems core exam and specialty exam.
  • Participate in relevant internships or cooperative education experiences. Gaining hands-on exposure might provide the experience employers prefer.
  • Pursue business and technology courses to supplement your programming course load. Understanding a company's business processes will assist you with developing the appropriate programs or Web applications and delivering efficient support.

Bachelor's in Computer Science

Schools generally offer the bachelor's degree program in computer programming technology through a school of information technology. The information technology degree delivers a concentration in programming, although many schools confer a bachelor's degree in computer science. Consequently, the bachelor's degree program offers slightly more flexibility; you can choose from courses that support software, Web or systems development. The course load requires that students possess strong analytical and problem-solving skills. Effective communication of highly technical topics is also an asset.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Several positions in the industry paid relatively competitive salaries; for example, systems software developers earned a median annual salary of about $97,000*
  • Many programs offer training in multiple programming languages, which might improve your marketability
  • Employers are looking for job candidates with higher education

Cons

  • Associate degree holders earned comparable salaries for some positions; Web administrators and information technology project managers both earned a median annual salary of about $80,000*
  • Information technology project managers could expect slower-than-average job growth of 3% to 9% over the 2010-2020 decade**
  • Outsourcing continues to influence job availability for computer programmers

Source: *O*NET OnLine (May 2011 figures), **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2010-2020 job growth projections).

Courses and Requirements

The bachelor's degree program emphasizes the development of software analysis, program development and programming validation skills. Programs provide training in a laboratory environment and students gain an understanding of database management concepts. You can expect to take courses in emerging technologies, including the development of applications delivered over mobile devices. Some common courses include visual programming, systems development, server administration, structured query language (SQL), communications and networking, Java programming and object-oriented programming.

Online Degree Info

Similar to the traditional bachelor's degree program, locating online programs in programming technology might prove difficult. Alternatively, some schools offer an online computer science degree program with an emphasis on programming. While the degree title differs, online programs offer similar courses, including SQL, Web programming, logic structures and Java. Schools generally design online programs for working professionals, which might lead to accelerated degree programs.

Stand Out with This Degree

Just like the case with associate degree programs, gaining relevant experience and seeking an appropriate certification might improve job prospects. The bachelor's degree program might make higher-level certifications available to you with less experience requirements. For example, the ICCP substitutes a bachelor's degree in computer science for 2 years of experience for the Certified Computing Professional credential. In addition to certification, pursuing internships related to your career path provides relevant experience. For example, consider webmaster internships if you plan to pursue a career in Internet programming.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. ECPI University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Software Development - Bachelor's
      • Bachelor's - Network Security
  • Campus and Online Programs
    2. Full Sail University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.S. - Mobile Development
      • B.S. - Web Design and Development
      • B.S. - Game Design
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.S. in Computer Programming
      • B.S. in Information Technology
      • B.S. in Information Technology with an Emphasis in Cybersecurity
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.S. - Software Development With No Declared Minor or Concentration
      • B.S. - Software Development: Computer Programming Concentration
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Colorado Technical University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.S. - Information Technology: Software Application Programming
      • BS - IT - Web Development
      • Bachelor: Information Technology
      • BS - Business Administration - IT
      • BS - IT - Security
      • BS - Management - Cybersecurity Management
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Keiser University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science - Cyber Forensics/Information Security
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Regent University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
      • Bachelor of Arts in Leadership Studies - Information Technology
      • Bachelor of Science in Information Systems Technology
      • Bachelor of Science in Information Systems Technology - General
      • Bachelor of Science in Information Systems Technology - Information Security
      • Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies - Information Systems Technology
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Utica College

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS in Cybersecurity - Network Forensics and Intrusion Investigation
      • BS in Cybersecurity - Cyber Operations
      • BS in Cybersecurity - Information Assurance
      • Online Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity
  • Online Programs Available
    9. American InterContinental University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Technology: Software Analysis and Development
      • Bachelor of Technology: Information Assurance and Security
      • Bachelor of Science in Information Technology
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS in Information Technology/Multiplatform Software Development
      • BSIT - Information Management
      • Bachelor of Science in Information Technology
      • BS in Cybersecurity
      • BS in Information Technology/Information Security and Assurance

Featured Schools

ECPI University

  • Software Development - Bachelor's
  • Bachelor's - Network Security

What is your highest level of education?

Full Sail University

  • B.S. - Mobile Development
  • B.S. - Web Design and Development
  • B.S. - Game Design

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Grand Canyon University

  • B.S. in Computer Programming
  • B.S. in Information Technology
  • B.S. in Information Technology with an Emphasis in Cybersecurity

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Herzing University

  • B.S. - Software Development With No Declared Minor or Concentration
  • B.S. - Software Development: Computer Programming Concentration

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Colorado Technical University

  • B.S. - Information Technology: Software Application Programming
  • BS - IT - Web Development
  • Bachelor: Information Technology

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Keiser University

  • Bachelor of Science - Cyber Forensics/Information Security

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Regent University

  • Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
  • Bachelor of Arts in Leadership Studies - Information Technology
  • Bachelor of Science in Information Systems Technology

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Utica College

  • BS in Cybersecurity - Network Forensics and Intrusion Investigation
  • BS in Cybersecurity - Cyber Operations
  • BS in Cybersecurity - Information Assurance

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