Upskill With Computer Science Education, Training, and Certificates

Computer Science, and IT are some of the fastest growing industries in Arizona. Younger students, adult professionals, and career changers have access to multiple certificates, training, and education programs to help propel their career in these high-demand career paths.

As our computer science career page highlights, some of the potential computer science career paths someone can pursue, along with the average salary, include:

Computer science-related careers pay higher salaries, on average, compared to the 2021 annual mean wageof $58,260 for all occupations. Computer science professionals are also in high demand. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports employment in information technology and computer occupations is expected to grow 15% between 2021 and 2031, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. 

If you’re curious what kind of education is available for those who want to work in computer science, here’s a look at the options.

What Is Computer Science Education?

Computer science is the study of computers, including physical hardware components, computer software, programming languages, cybersecurity and other computer-related topics. Computer science education includes everything from short online courses in computer science, to 4-year bachelor’s programs, all the way up to master’s in computer science and computer science doctoral programs. 

Computer science is a unique field where you can develop computer skills without formal classroom training – all you need is a computer. There are countless entry-level computer positions available, many of which are skills-based.

Since computer science deals directly with computers, it’s also a field that’s a great fit for online education. Unlike hands-on fields like manufacturing or healthcare, you can do all your work directly from a computer. That’s why it’s an ideal field for career changers to explore, since you could work a full-time job while taking courses away from work, in a convenient location, from any connected device.

Computer Science Certifications

Computer science certifications are short courses that focus on a specific topic related to computer science. These may take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to complete and provide graduates with a computer science certificate. Some certifications are widely recognized in the industry and can be added to a person’s title. You can also add computer science certifications to a resume, LinkedIn profile, or your Pipeline AZ user profile.

Because computer science certification programs are shorter, they’re also typically less expensive to complete compared to a 2- or 4-year computer science program. These may be ideal options for:

  • Working professionals who want to try out a computer science topic to see if the field interests them
  • Computer science professionals who want to add to their credentials and skillset
  • High school students who feel like they’re qualified for a certification and want to get a head start on their education
  • Community college and 4-year college students who want to learn something that’s not in their program

Some jobs will require specific certifications, like those from CompTIA. A computer science certification can help someone advance their career in computer science, find a different job or move into a different role at their company.

Computer Science 2-Year Programs

Computer science 2-year programs typically take place at a community college. These programs may provide an associate’s degree in a computer science topic, as well as help graduates get credits for prerequisites if they plan to attend a 4-year college afterward, or continue on within a 4-year program at the Community College. (Many Arizona Community Colleges are offering 4-year programs now – check your local college for more.)

Community colleges are typically less expensive than the average yearly cost for 4-year schools. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the 2020-2021 average cost for public 4-year institutions was $9,400, compared to $3,900 for public 2-year institutions. 

Cost savings are a major reason why students go to community college for a couple years before finishing their bachelor’s degree education at a 4-year college. Community colleges may also offer classes on a flexible schedule, such as online classes or night classes. This can be a cost-effective education choice for both recent high school grads and for career changers who want flexible education that results in an associate’s degree.

Computer Science 4-Year Programs

Computer science 4-year programs provide graduates with a bachelor’s degree. Many computer science jobs will require a bachelor’s degree in a computer science-related field in order to be considered. 

In a 4-year program, some schools will also provide a liberal arts education, where students will be required to take classes on subjects not related to computer science, like foreign language or English. 

Computer science degree programs typically have math courses in addition to computer-related programs, since mathematical principles are frequently used in computer science work. Students may also take classes like communication, which is also a typical part of many computer science jobs.

Some schools will allow students to pursue specialized areas of study in computer science, by taking classes on subjects like cybersecurity and software development. All computer science students in a 4-year program typically get introduced to all types of computer science programs, but they may be able to take advanced classes to specialize.

Computer Science Master’s and Doctorate Programs

Beyond a 4-year degree, there are also master’s and doctorate programs available for students with a bachelor’s degree to apply to. Some of these programs will require that an applicant has completed computer science coursework, but others will take computer science-related professional work into consideration if an applicant doesn’t have a computer science degree.

These advanced programs can increase earning potential and open up more job opportunities for computer science professionals. These degrees may be desirable when hirers are considering applicants in managerial, director and executive roles.

If you majored in computer science previously, but you want to advance your knowledge in a specialized area and expand your career possibilities, a master’s or doctorate degree program may appeal to you. 

Computer Science Self-Study

In addition to formal education programs, there are lots of free resources that share knowledge about how to develop computer science skills. These include:

There are also shorter, intensive computer science bootcamps and certificate courses available with tuition payment, from providers like Udemy. You can also find them offered at various universities.

Should You Pursue Computer Science Education?

As we’ve mentioned computer science professionals are in high demand. They work for every type of industry imaginable, so if you have a passion for education or want to work in government, there are computer science jobs available. 

You can try out computer science education by taking a short course or working towards a certificate. You might find you’re interested in the field and want to further your education, whether that means studying while working a full-time job, or going back to school full-time. 

Find computer science education options here.

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