Are you considering taking the plunge and earning an Associate’s degree in Computer Science? If so, you may be wondering if your efforts will pay off with a good job. The good news is an Associate’s degree can definitely be worth it, as it can open up many doors to exciting career opportunities.
In this article, we provide an overview of what jobs are available to those with an Associate’s degree in Computer Science, including salary information and industry trends. We also discuss the various paths available for furthering your education beyond this level. So read on to learn more about how you can use your Associate’s degree in Computer Science to get a great job!
Is an Associate’s Degree in Computer Science Enough to Get a Job?
So, is an Associate’s degree in Computer Science enough to get a good job in the tech industry? The answer is: it can be!
Just as with any other qualification, your education is only one part of your job application. If you have a Master’s degree in Computer Science, but haven’t done any personal projects or got only mediocre grades, you may very well be rejected from most of the places you send your applications to.
Conversely, even if you are a self-taught developer, but possess freelance programming experience, have participated in several open-source projects, and know a lot of relevant tech, many employers won’t think twice about your lack of formal education and will invite you over for an interview.
Thus, you should view an Associate’s degree education as a valuable addition to your overall application that signifies your knowledge base in computer science and programming. Nevertheless, you should make sure to have a polished resume and excellent interview skills to actually get that first job.
That said, there are many employers that simply have a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science as the minimum requirement for the job. These jobs will, unfortunately, stay out of your reach as a holder of an Associate’s degree, but stay assured that there are plenty of jobs that will not require a 4-year university degree. Even Google does not require most developers or product managers to have a university degree.
Pros and Cons of Getting an Associate’s in Computer Science
Just like anything in life, an Associate’s degree in CS comes with its own advantages and disadvantages. It is important to take into account all of the pros and cons before making your decision.
Affordability is one of the main reasons many computer science students choose to attend a community college in computer science and get an Associate’s degree. Compared to a Bachelor’s degree, Associate’s degree is severalfold cheaper in comparison.
2. Shorter Timeline
Another great advantage of Associate’s degrees is the shorter timeline, which allows students to quickly enter the job market and gain experience. Associate’s degrees can generally be completed in two years, while Bachelor’s degree programs typically take four years or more to complete.
3. Available Locally
Many community colleges offering an Associate’s degree in Computer Science are available locally, which means you don’t have to move away from your current home and can stay close to family while getting your degree.
4. Online Education Options
In today’s digital world, many community colleges have implemented online versions of their Computer Science degrees, which gives students the flexibility to learn and study wherever and whenever they want.
1. Less Comprehensive
The biggest disadvantage of an Associate’s degree in Computer Science is that the curriculum is not as comprehensive as the one offered in a Bachelor’s program. Students might not be exposed to the full range of topics, so they may lack some skills that are necessary for an advanced career in Computer Science.
2. Limited career options
Getting an Associate’s degree in Computer Science may limit your career options, as some employers require a four-year degree for higher positions. However, you always have the option to convert your Associate’s degree to a Bachelor’s by undertaking additional studies.
3. Less Recognition
An Associate’s degree in Computer Science is also not as widely recognized among employers and other educational institutions, so it might be harder to get into advanced programs or get a promotion at work.
In conclusion, an Associate’s degree in Computer Science can be an excellent choice for students who are looking for an affordable, quick way to get into the job market. While it may not be as comprehensive or widely recognized as a Bachelor’s degree, it still offers many benefits and can be a great first step in a successful computing career.
What Else Can You Do With an Associate’s in Computer Science?
An Associate’s degree in Computer Science doesn’t have to be an endpoint in your CS education. Due to its affordability and local availability, many students choose to start their education at a local community college and then transfer out to a Bachelor’s degree program at a larger university after getting their initial Associate’s degree.
This way, they get to save on tuition and rent as they take advantage of lower college costs and stay at home with their families for the first two years.
You can even start working in the industry after getting your Associate’s degree first and reevaluate whether you want to go back to school and complete a Bachelor’s degree later.
Either way, an Associate’s degree is a great gateway into the tech industry which provides you with the foundational knowledge and skills necessary to begin your career in computer science.
Associate’s in Computer Science Jobs
Wondering what jobs you can get with your Associate’s degree in Computer Science? That’s a great thing to wonder about. Despite what is usually thought of as the “classic” path after getting a computer science degree, a job in programming or software development is far from the only career choice you can choose from being a CS graduate.
So what kinds of jobs can you apply to as a holder of an Associate’s CS degree? Let’s review your options.
Web development is one of the most common career paths that graduates with an Associate’s in Computer Science choose to pursue. Web developers create and maintain websites, manage web content, analyze user experience data and create test plans.
Web development has a relatively low barrier of entry and high demand, which makes it a great option for Associate’s degree holders.
Being a systems administrator involves both hardware and software work, since it is the task of maintaining and troubleshooting computer systems. As a system administrator, you will be responsible for installing and configuring software, maintaining databases, analyzing performance issues, and providing technical support.
Database administrators are responsible for creating, maintaining, and troubleshooting databases. This job requires a good understanding of database software, familiarity with SQL, and the ability to analyze data.
Network engineers are responsible for designing, implementing, and troubleshooting computer networks. This job requires knowledge of networking protocols, security principles, and hardware configurations.
Computer programmers are responsible for writing code to create software and applications. This job requires a good understanding of computer languages as well as algorithmic thought processes.
Computer Support Specialist
Computer support specialists provide technical assistance to computer users. They answer questions, help diagnose and troubleshoot computer problems and educate users on the proper use of hardware and software. This job requires a good understanding of computer systems as well as excellent customer service skills.
Software Quality Assurance Analyst
Software quality assurance analysts are responsible for testing software to ensure that it meets the standards of the company and its customers. This job requires knowledge of software development processes and the ability to identify and troubleshoot issues.
These are only some of the available career options for Associate’s degree in CS graduates. With a wide array of career options and the necessary knowledge to enter the tech industry, an Associate’s in Computer Science degree can clearly help you jump-start your career.
Associate’s in Computer Science Salary
So what can you expect in terms of salary after graduating from a 2-year Associate’s degree program in Computer Science? Here are some of the job titles and associated salary estimates for Associate’s degree holders, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- Computer programmer – $93,000
- Web developer – $81,320
- System administrators – $80,600
- Database administrator – $101,000
- Computer support specialist – $57,910
- Software developers and QA analysts – $109,020
- Data analyst – $73,168
- Data entry specialist – $35,940
As you can see, there are a number of positions that offer good salaries with an Associate’s in Computer Science.
Your salary will depend on factors such as the field you work in, your experience, and the company you are employed by. With a degree in Computer Science and some hard work, you can easily land a position with an above-average salary.
Data entry is probably the easiest and least-paid job among the ones you can get as an Associate in Computer Science graduate and software developer/QA analyst is among the highest.
How Long Does an Associate’s Degree in Computer Science Take to Complete?
Traditionally, an Associate’s degree takes two years to complete. However, depending on the program and the institution you choose, there may be different requirements or timelines.
Some schools offer online courses and accelerated programs that may allow you to complete your degree in less time. Additionally, many students choose to take more courses in order to graduate sooner and pursue employment.
On the other hand, some students choose to pursue their Associate’s degree in CS part-time due to working or some other commitments. In this case, it may take longer than two years to complete your degree.
No matter what kind of program you choose, the important thing is to ensure that it meets your educational goals and provides the skills and knowledge you need to succeed in your chosen career.
Taking the time to research and compare different schools, degree programs, and courses can help you choose the best option for you.
Associate’s in Computer Science Cost
Let’s talk about how much it costs to attend an Associate’s degree program in Computer Science in the United States.
As we have previously mentioned, the usual tuition for community colleges in the US is much lower than that of traditional 4-year colleges. This is one of the most attractive features of community colleges and one of the main reasons students choose to get an Associate’s degree.
According to Smart Asset’s analysis of 801 community colleges across the US, a year of tuition and fees costs an average of $4,578.
There usually is a significant difference in tuition for in-state and out-of-state students, so choosing a college in your state is often preferable.
Financial aid is often available at community colleges, so you should always check and apply for scholarships when applying for admissions as well.
Associate’s in Computer Science Curriculum
In order to graduate from an Associate’s in Computer Science program, you must successfully complete various courses in the field.
The curriculum differs from college to college; however, you can expect to take some of these courses during your program:
- Programming Fundamentals: This course focuses on the basics of programming, such as fundamentals of variables, logic, and data types.
- Computer Organization: You will learn about computer system architecture and internal components, as well as how to debug hardware issues.
- Algorithms & Data Structures: You will explore various algorithms and data structures used in software development.
- Data Analysis & Visualization: You will learn how to analyze data and create visual representations of it.
- Object-Oriented Design: This course teaches you how to design, create, and debug object-oriented programs.
- Database Systems: You will explore different database systems and learn how to perform queries and modify data.
- Software Engineering: You will learn about software development, project management, and user experience design.
- Computer Security: You will gain knowledge about network security, coding techniques for secure applications, and principles of computer forensics.
- Network Technologies: You will explore the fundamentals of computer networks and learn about different protocols and architectures.
- Operating Systems: You will understand the fundamentals of operating systems and gain knowledge about file management, memory management, and process scheduling.
In addition to these core classes, many schools also offer elective courses to give students the opportunity to explore new technologies and further specialize in specific areas of Computer Science.
By the end of your Associate’s in Computer Science program, you will be well-equipped to pursue entry-level positions or enter a Bachelor’s program. You will have the skills and knowledge to build software applications, design and deploy networks, manage databases, and create secure systems.
Which Associate’s Program in Computer Science Should I Attend?
If reading this article makes you want to take action and move towards applying for Associate’s degree programs in Computer Science in the United States, we would like to be of help with choosing the right school for you.
There are several things you should consider when deciding which community college to attend for your Associate’s degree.
1. Availability of a CS program
Not every community college has a computer science degree program. Thus, you should make sure that the college you’re considering has the right courses and classes available to get your degree.
It is important to make sure that the college you choose is properly accredited. Accreditation ensures that the courses and credits can be transferred to other universities if you decide to pursue a Bachelor’s degree.
3. Cost of tuition and fees
The cost of attending college can differ significantly between different schools. Be sure to look into tuition and fees for the program you’re interested in before applying.
4. Financial aid
Financial aid can make it significantly easier to pay for college. Some colleges offer more generous financial aid packages than others, so be sure to look into what is available at the college you’re considering.
Location is an important factor to consider, as living expenses can add up quickly when attending college. Make sure that the school you’re considering is in an area where you can afford to live and feel comfortable.
If location is not a factor for you, or you would like to attend the best community colleges in the country, consider looking into our list of the best community colleges for computer science in the United States.
Is It Better to Get an Associate’s or a Bachelor’s in Computer Science?
Associate’s in Computer Science is a good option for those who want to get foundational college education in CS without the time and financial commitment of a 4-year college degree.
However, let’s be clear that a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science provides a lot more in terms of opportunities and depth of knowledge in the field.
If you do have the means and the time to complete a Bachelor’s degree, we certainly recommend opting for it. Financially speaking, the money you invest into your education will return results fairly quickly.
Moreover, you will be much less likely to experience significant challenges in finding your first job after graduation as a Bachelor’s degree student. You will also be in a better position to move up the ranks and leverage your knowledge and experience when you have a Bachelor’s degree.
There is, of course, a third option: an accelerated computer science degree. These degree programs take as little as 1-2 years to finish and may result in a Bachelor’s or even Master’s degree in CS.
Associate’s Degree vs. Coding Bootcamp: Which Is better?
This review would also not be complete without the discussion of how an Associate’s degree in Computer Science compares to a coding bootcamp training.
Both of these programs are relatively quick and easy ways to get a fundamental training in programming. However, which is the right choice for you?
A coding bootcamp is an intensive programming training that takes 2-3 months to complete and costs an average of $13,000. This means bootcamps are fairly expensive, yet very rigorous.
Associate’s degree in CS, on the other hand, will take two years of study and cost around $5,000-10,000. Although less intensive than bootcamps, it also provides a much more comprehensive training in programming fundamentals.
In terms of employment perspectives, both programs provide good options. Employers may differ in their preferences, but either way you should be able to secure a job with the right combination of skills, qualifications, and experience.
At the end of the day, you have to decide what is best for you and your career. Consider the cost, duration, and curriculum of both options before making a final decision.
In conclusion, an Associate’s degree in computer science is a great way to get started and get a job in the technology field. It prepares students with the practical skills they need to be successful in the workforce while also giving them a good base of knowledge.
With dedication and hard work, those with an Associate’s degree can find a great job in the computer science field and make a good living.
With the right attitude, even those without prior experience can find success in the tech industry. So, if you’re looking for a career in computer science, an Associate’s degree may be the perfect path to get you there. Good luck!
Elmar Mammadov is a software developer, tech startup founder, and computer science career specialist. He is the founder of CS Careerline and a true career changer who has previously pursued careers in medicine and neuroscience.
Due to his interest in programming and years of past personal experience in coding, he decided to break into the tech industry by attending a Master’s in Computer Science for career changers at University of Pennsylvania. Elmar passionately writes and coaches about breaking into the tech industry and computer science in general.