Online Associate Degree in Computer Programming

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October 2, 2019

An online associate degree in computer programming — with its focus on basic computer science, coding languages, and operating systems — can launch you into a rewarding and lucrative career. Of course, earning potential depends on position, degree, and experience level, but on average, computer programmers earn an annual salary of $61,988. By understanding the basic concepts an associate degree provides, students can qualify for entry-level positions or continue on to a four-degree program.

Keep reading to learn more about what to expect from an online computer programming associate degree program.

What Will You Learn in an Online Computer Programming Associate Degree Program?

Components of an online associate in computer programming varies by school. Typical courses students may find as they explore programs include coding languages, operating systems, web design, and introduction to computer science. Additional courses may include calculus and algebra.

Completing an associate program may qualify individuals for entry-level positions in computer programming. Many programs also prepare students to transfer to a four-year program. Earning a bachelor's degree may qualify individuals for career advancement opportunities and increase their earning potential.

Common Courses

Programming in C++

This course teaches students how to use the C programming language. Coursework gives students the opportunity to design, document, debug, and execute C++ programs. Students also explore topics like objects, strings, iteration, variables, classes, arrays, pointers, and functions. Coursework may include an overview of the history of computer programming languages, data types, and structured programming.

Computer Operating Systems

This course develops proficiency in microcomputer operating systems. Students explore disk and file management, system configurations, menu-driven processing, and graphical user interfaces. Coursework may also provide an overview of the interaction between software applications and databases to give students a deeper understanding of a system's process and troubleshooting methods.

Web Design and Development

This course emphasizes the basic concepts of HTML5, cascading style sheets, accessibility, and responsive web design. Students practice web design skills through hands-on learning. Coursework requires students to create effective websites using appropriate text and graphics. This course typically includes an overview of operating systems and teaches students how to design web elements across multiple computing devices.

Introduction to Java Programming

This course teaches the basic concepts of the Java programming language. Students explore data types, operators, expressions, event-driven programming, and conditional statements. Students also learn how to create the proper environment to develop Java programs. Coursework may include an overview of string manipulation, array lists, or creating graphical user interfaces.

Introduction to Computer Programming

In this introductory course, students solve programming issues by developing coding programs that input data, process it, and generate an output or solution. Coursework may cover computer functions, the internet, binary numbers, and hexadecimal numbers.

Core Skills

An online associate degree in computer programming aims to build a strong foundation in core industry topics like database management, operating systems, and coding languages. Through coursework, students also develop key analytical, troubleshooting, and concentration skills.

The essential skills an individual needs to succeed as a computer programmer include proficiency in coding languages and an understanding of operating systems. By developing a competency in common programming languages, students may create and implement programs, applications, and websites across operating systems. Many associate programs include coursework in operating systems and database management to show students how programs, applications, and databases interact across multiple platforms.

An associate degree in computer programming also develops analytical, troubleshooting, and concentration skills. A computer programmer's job includes identifying network issues, coding solutions, and implementing updates or new systems. In short, attention to detail and an ability to focus are essential to being a successful programmer.

Students may use the skills they learn through an online associate degree to pursue entry-level positions in programming. However, a growing number of employers prefer candidates with a bachelor's degree. Most associate degree programs include prerequisite courses for bachelor's programs, making enrollment a simple process for students.

What Can You Do With an Associate Degree in Computer Programming?

Earning an online associate computer programming degree is the first step to launching a computer science career. An associate degree teaches students the basic concepts and skills needed to qualify for entry-level positions or to pursue a four-year degree program. Read on to learn more about potential industries, career paths, and bachelor degree programs open to graduates of an online associate program.

Potential Careers and Salaries

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that jobs in computer science and information technology could increase 13% by 2026. Due to the prevalence of technology today, computer science spans numerous industries including healthcare, education, entertainment, and retail. Graduates may work in small start-up companies developing applications or with large organizations managing websites.

An associate degree may qualify individuals for entry-level positions. However, many employers prefer candidates with a bachelor's degree in computer programming. The table below details potential career paths for those with an associate degree.

Web Developer

Average Annual Salary: $69,430

Developers create, test, and execute websites for clients. They typically use coding languages, such as HTML or XL, integrate graphics and other elements, and monitor website activity.

Computer Systems Analyst

Average Annual Salary: $88,740

A computer systems analyst studies industry trends to decide whether or not to implement new technologies. Other tasks may include overseeing software installation. They also design, test, implement, and train users on systems.

Computer Support Specialist

Average Annual Salary: $53,470

A computer support specialist tests and evaluates network systems. Other tasks include system maintenance, troubleshooting, and training users on system features. An associate degree is typically the minimum requirement, but some employers may prefer candidates with a bachelor's degree.

Computer Programmer

Average Annual Salary: $84,280

A computer programmer creates programs using common coding languages like Java and C++. A programmer also tests, maintains, and troubleshoots bugs in code. Programmers should possess strong attention to detail and problem-solving skills.

Network Systems Administrator

Average Annual Salary: $82,050

A network systems administrator organizes, installs, and supports an organization's network. Other tasks include training users, monitoring security, and solving systems issues. The ability to multitask and communicate is essential to this position.

Source: BLS

What's Next After an Online Associate Degree in Computer Programming?

An online associate degree in computer programming may prepare students for entry-level positions in computer science. However, many employers require a bachelor's degree. Because of this, individuals should consider enrolling in an accredited four-year program.

When researching programs, students should explore transfer-friendly associate degree programs. This section explains why transferring to a bachelor's program benefits students. It also provides tips on the process and offers degree options students may consider.

Transferring to a Four-Year Degree Program

As computer programming grows, so does the demand for experienced professionals. This shift may result in more employers seeking candidates with a bachelor's degree. Fortunately, most associate degree programs prepare students to transfer to four-year programs.

While researching programs, students should ensure a program is transfer-friendly. They should also determine whether their school holds transfer agreements with other universities. If unsure, they should meet with a program advisor early in the process to avoid repeating coursework and incurring additional costs.

What Degrees Can You Pursue After Earning an Associate in Computer Programming?

After earning an associate in computer programming online, students may pursue a variety of bachelor's degrees, including computer programming, web development, and software engineering. Students should consider their career goals or interests to determine which program is right for them.

Bachelor's in Computer Programming

Through advanced programming language and database management courses, this degree hones an individual's computer programming skills. Earning a bachelor's may increase earning potential and provide more career advancement opportunities.

Bachelor's in Web Development

Jobs within this field are projected to increase 15% by 2026. By earning a bachelor's degree in web development, individuals learn advanced skills and gain a competitive advantage over other candidates.

Bachelor's Degree in Software Engineering

The need for organizations to improve and implement new technologies for efficiency and security creates high demand for software engineers. This degree develops skills in industry trend analysis, program testing, and the implementation of new systems.


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