Software Programming Certificates: At a Glance
Software programming teaches students how to create programs and applications using various computer programming languages. Certificates in this area may focus on the overall programming cycle or a specific programming language, such as C++, Java or Python. Students can also learn about programming for specific platforms like mobile devices and video games. Programs may also be offered under titles like software development, software design or computer programming.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) predicted that employment for software developers would have a higher-than-average growth between 2010 and 2020. This growth may be due to the increasing importance of information technology in our day-to-day lives and businesses.
|Who is this degree for?||Individuals who wish to increase their programming knowledge|
|Common Career Paths (with approximate mean annual salary)|| - Web developer, information security analyst or computer network architect ($82,000 - salary common for professionals with 1-5 years of experience)*|
- Systems software developer ($100,000)*
- Applications software developer ($92,000)*
|Time to Completion||1.5-2 years|
|Common Graduation Requirements|| - Roughly 5-12 programming courses|
- Completion within a certain timeframe
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).
Certificates in Software Programming
Certificates in software programming are available for undergraduate and graduate students. Programs offered at the undergraduate level are designed to give students a basic understanding of the software development process. If you already have a foundation in software programming, you may be more interested in a graduate certificate program. Programs at both levels are primarily offered at community colleges, universities and through continuing education departments.
Most programs take between a year and a half and two years to complete. Some programs may require that you finish all necessary coursework within a certain timeframe. Some programs may also offer courses in an accelerated format that will allow you to finish quicker.
Pros and Cons
- Programming careers typically earn above average salaries*
- Potential careers are growing quicker than average (e.g., 30% from 2010-2020 for software developers)*
- A variety of software programming programs are available at the undergraduate and graduate levels
- Many employers require applicants to have a full degree
- Some positions typically require experience in addition to training
- Continuing education may be necessary to stay current with trends in programming
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
The courses you are required to complete will vary with the software programming certificate you choose. For example, if you're getting a certificate in a specific programming language, the courses will primarily focus on that language. However, if you are getting a broader certificate, the courses will cover a variety of languages and other applications. Typically, certificate programs include at least five courses. Some may require you to have taken a few prerequisite courses before completing the certificate program.
Some courses you may take include:
- Visual Basic
- Computer restricted electives
- Object-oriented programming
- Database development
- Web programming
- Fundamentals of programming
Because software programming can be done from anywhere, many programs offer online options. You can find programs that offer some or all of your software programming certificate coursework online. In general, online or hybrid programs are identical to on-campus ones, which means you will study similar computer-related topics, such as systems analysis, and gain the same training.
Keeping up with new programming languages and changes in technology will help you get a job in this field. Several certification options are available. For example, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) offers two different certifications depending on your level of experience. Also, you may become certified in a specific program, such as Java. Program-specific certifications are typically offered directly from the manufacturer of the programming language. Java certification, for instance, is offered by Oracle.
If you would like to deal with computers, but aren't interested in creating programs and other applications, you might consider getting a certificate in information technology. Coupling an information technology certificate with a degree and experience can prepare you for an advanced position, such as an information systems manager. In this position, you would direct the computer-related goals for an organization. According to BLS, computer and information systems managers earned an average of about $126,000 in 2011.