Computer science is an incredibly popular college major, and with good reason. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), computer science and information technology jobs are projected to grow at a rate of 12% between 2018 and 2028. Collectively, computer programmers, information security analysts, and systems analysts will gain more than 500,000 new job opportunities over the next decade. But how can you turn your passion for programming, your intuition for infotech, or your aptitude for app design into a career? Well, just like the breadth of possibilities for technological innovation, your options are infinite.
Since we lack the server space for infinitude, we've narrowed the focus to a few of the most popular and exciting fields of growth in computer science and beyond. But here's the coolest part: these opportunities extend well beyond programming hives and web startups.
Computer geeks are everywhere: healthcare, law enforcement, finance, engineering...you name it. Not only that, but the resident computer geek is all-powerful. You hold the keys to the virtual kingdom for your organization. Please wield that power responsibility, and think kindly of us when you reach the top.
If you're planning to major in computer science but you're not sure where to start, find out What You Can Do With a Degree in Computer Science.
Otherwise, read on for a look at these awesome online degrees and the computer careers they can lead to:
Computer Programming and Web Development
Since you'e good with computers, we probably don't need to tell you this, but programming and web development are both options, and pretty good options at that. According to the BLS, in 2018, the median annual salary for programmers was $84,280; for web developers, $69,430. It may be the most obvious path, but the possibilities for applying your skills are endless, as is the array of places where you could apply them.
Get started with a look at:
- The 10 Best Online Bachelor’s in Computer Programming Programs
- The 10 Best Online Bachelor's in Web Development Programs
Information technology (IT) and information sciences (IS) are rapidly growing, increasingly complex areas of computer science. Every day, public companies, government agencies, social media networks, financial entities and even private individuals come into contact with enormous amounts of sensitive data. The demand is high for qualified professionals who can manage, protect, and innovate around that data. An IT/IS degree will typically provide grounding in systems and networks, as well as give you the tools to create solutions in cybersecurity and data protection. As for earning potential, the BLS projects the median annual salary of computer systems analysts to be $88,740 in 2018.
Get started with a look at The 25 Best Online Bachelor’s in Information Technology Degree Programs.
Video Game Design
If you're looking for a way to apply your computer skills that is both lucrative and super cool, you could build a career in the ultra-competitive world of video game design. Video game design integrates various multimedia disciplines, including graphic design and animation, computer programming, web applications, network systems, and computer hardware engineering. It's up to you to decide where your talents are best applied within the field. And you can make a good living doing it. The BLS calculated the median annual salary for multimedia artists and animators at $72,520 in 2018. But you'll need to level-up if you're going to succeed. While gaming is among the most rapidly growing economic sectors in the world today, this is also an area where only the most elite talents succeed.
Healthcare professionals and healthcare systems rely heavily on the efficient and secure transfer of data. Hospitals, insurance companies, and government agencies operate in a highly interdependent system where the flow of data can have a direct impact on the health and safety of patients, to say nothing of the billing practices, accounting, and research priorities that medical systems must also manage. This means that healthcare systems large and small depend on the work of qualified information technology and informatics specialists to analyze and protect data, as well as keep it flowing. This is a challenging job, so it's a good thing it pays well. According to the BLS, the median annual salary of medical and health services managers was $99,730 in 2018.
Get started with a look at The 20 Best Online Bachelor's in Health Informatics Degree Programs.
For those lucky few who are both technically inclined and artistically gifted, graphic design offers a wealth of opportunity. With a degree in graphic design, you could apply your gifts in countless professional areas, from marketing and web design to visual arts and even movie set design. Computer technology now plays a dominant role in areas such as illustration, animation, and videography. A degree in graphic design can make you a more versatile artist and significantly improve your career prospects. According to the BLS, the median annual salary for graphic designers was $50,370 in 2018.
Find an artful way to apply your technical talents with a look at The 15 Best Online Bachelor's in Graphic Design Degree Programs.
Financial technology (FinTech) is fast replacing traditional ways of banking, trading, and spending. Financial institutions now rely on computers, databases, and networks to manage vast amounts of extremely sensitive data. Countless transactions that once involved human oversight are now automated. These conditions create greater efficiency and opportunity, but they also create greater risk. This makes the work of information security professionals exceedingly important. The demand is high for qualified IT professionals and information security professionals in the financial sector. Incidentally, the compensation is also pretty high. According to the BLS, the median annual salary for information security analysts was $98,350 in 2018.
If you're interested in a career protecting and securing the sensitive data upon which our very economy is built — no pressure — check out The Best Online Bachelor in Information Assurance and Security Degree Programs.
Law Enforcement and Homeland Security
As long as we're on the subject of security, the worlds of defense and law enforcement are also in constant need of computer-savvy officers and agents. America is more vulnerable than ever to cyber-attacks by hackers, terrorist groups, and enemy nations. At the local level, law enforcement groups have come increasingly to rely on criminal databases, web-driven analytics, computer-mediated surveillance tools, and advanced forensic technology to investigate and prosecute crimes. Individuals with dual backgrounds in computer science and law enforcment are in high demand.
Contribute your technical skills to law enforcement or homeland defense. Check out The 25 Best Online Bachelor's in Cybercrime Programs.
Like computer science, computer engineering is kind of an obvious application for your computer skills. But we saved it for last. Why? Because it's the highest paying field on our list. According to the BLS, the median annual salary for computer hardware engineers was $114,600 in 2018. That's a solid day's work. But as you probably guessed, it's also not the easiest gig to land. If you're planning for a career as a certified professional engineer, you will be required to earn a master’s degree in your field. But if you have a mind for math, a sixth sense for systems, and a propensity toward programming, this could be a great path for you.
Get started with a look at The Best Online Bachelor's in Computer Engineering Programs.
Now that you've considered the wide range of career options that are quite literally at your fingertips, as well as the bachelor’s degrees that can lead to these careers, you may also want to consider a few essential computer science certificates. No matter how you plan to apply your computer skills, the following are certificates that any self-respecting computer geek should have: