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Earning a computer programming certificate is an efficient way to learn to program or build on an existing skill set.

Have you ever wanted a career in computer science but didn't know where to begin? Computer programming — the science of writing code for websites, network systems, and software applications — may be an ideal pathway. Earning a computer programming certificate online is an easy way to kick-start a career in this specialized field.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that all computer-related occupations can anticipate an employment growth rate of 11% from 2019-2029. This is also true for professionals with certificates who have expertise in one or more programming languages. A computer programming certificate is a versatile, inexpensive credential that can help you pursue entry-level work and expand your skill set.

Read on for our primer on the advantages of online computer programming certificates, along with salary data and information on professional pathways for graduates.

The Best Online Computer Programming Certificate

  1. Seminole State College of Florida

    Sanford, FL



    A public university founded in 1965, Seminole State offers an online computer programming technical certificate. Students complete 33 credits, with most finishing in just two semesters.

    Required courses include network concepts and operating systems, systems analysis and design, and Oracle structured query language. Students also choose six credits in programming languages, including Python and C++.

    Applicants for certificates apply for admission through the college but do not need standardized test scores. Applicants must hold a high school diploma.

  2. Daytona State College

    Daytona Beach, FL



    A public college founded in 1957, Daytona State offers an online certificate in computer programming. Students complete 33 credits and become eligible to complete the network plus certified professional exam.

    Required courses include internet web foundations, principles of computer programming, and professional performance for technicians. Learners choose from elective courses to further specialize the certification. Students may apply all earned credits toward the school's associate of science in computer programming degree.

    Applicants need a Florida standard high school diploma or equivalent from another state to qualify for admission.

  3. Lone Star College System

    The Woodlands, TX



    p>A public community college founded in 1972, LSC offers an online level 1 certificate in computer programming. Students complete 21 credits entirely online.

    Course topics include an introduction to computers, Linus installation and configuration, introduction to computer programming, and introduction to MySQL. A capstone course offers learners the opportunity to demonstrate skills mastery.

    Students need a high school diploma or GED equivalent and must complete the TSI assessment to gain admission to the college.

  4. Montgomery College

    Rockville, MD



    A public college founded in 1946, MC offers an online certificate in computer programming. Students complete 18-20 credits entirely online.

    Course topics include computer concepts, introduction to programming, intermediate languages, and advanced languages. Students may also choose electives from the computer science department to further specialize their certificate.

    Applicants must possess a high school diploma or GED equivalent to qualify for admission. The school does not require placement tests for certificate programs.

  5. Clark State Community College

    Springfield, OH



    Founded in 1962, Clark State offers an online computer programming departmental certificate. Students complete 21 credits, and most students can complete the program in about one year.

    Students take courses such as programming fundamentals with Python, Javascript and jQuery, secure coding, and several courses in various programming languages such as C++. The program offers students the skills needed to design and develop computer software applications.

    Applicants need a high school diploma or GED equivalent and must complete a placement exam to gain admission to the college.

Best Online Certificate

Online Computer Programming Certificates Ranking Guidelines

We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.

Our Methodology

Here at, we take the trust and welfare of our readers very seriously. When making our school and program rankings, our top priority is ensuring that our readers get accurate, unbiased information that can help them make informed decisions about online education. That's why we've developed a rigorous ranking methodology that keeps the needs of our readers front and center.

Our proprietary, multi-criteria ranking algorithm analyzes key data indicators — as collected by the federal government — for each school or program. What data we use depends on the focus of each specific ranking, but in all cases, our ranking methodology is impartial: Schools cannot buy better rankings at TBS.

While specific criteria under consideration can vary by ranking, there are a few data points that we value most highly. They are affordability, academic quality, and online enrollment. Below, we break down our algorithm to help you understand what you're getting when you use one of our rankings.

  • Academics
  • Affordability
  • Online Enrollment

Data Sources

The data used in TBS rankings comes primarily from the federal government, and much of it is provided by the schools themselves. We aggregate and analyze this data to build our rankings.

The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) is our primary source. Its data comes from annual surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Every college, university, or technical school with access to federal financial aid must participate in these surveys, which include questions about enrollment, graduation rates, finances, and faculty qualifications. This is publicly available data, which you can access yourself through the College Navigator.

Additionally, because we value a personal touch and the professional experience of our staff and Academic Advisory Board, we vet all results and adjust rankings as necessary based on our collected knowledge of schools and degree programs. Depending on the ranking, we may obtain additional input from, subject matter experts, prior TBS ranking lists, or other sources we deem relevant to a particular ranking.

Breakdown of Our Rankings Methodology

About Our Ranking Factors

Here at TBS, we value what you value: quality education, affordability, and the accessibility of online education. These factors guide all of our program rankings.

Each of these factors are further broken down into weighted subfactors. For example, retention rates are weighted more heavily than availability of program options because they are a better indicator of student success.

We chose the following factors for our rankings because of their influence on learning experiences and graduate outcomes. However, students should always balance our rankings against their personal priorities. For instance, a learner who needs a fully online program may prioritize online flexibility more than our rankings do. Our rankings are designed to help you make a decision — not to make a decision for you.

Academics - 75%
Affordability - 15%
Online Enrollment - 10%

In all our school rankings and recommendations, we work for objectivity and balance. We carefully research and compile each ranking list, and as stated in our advertising disclosure, we do NOT permit financial incentives to influence rankings. Our articles never promote or disregard a school for financial gain.

If you have questions about our ranking methodology, please feel free to connect with our staff through contact page.

We thank you for your readership and trust.

Featured Online Computer Programming Certificates

What to Expect From a Computer Programming Certificate

Details vary, but most computer programming certificates have ismilar timelines, costs, and requirements. Most programs comprise 12-20 credits and take 6-12 months to complete. Schools usually offer online coursework asynchronously or through a blend of asynchronous and synchronous formats.

A computer programming certificate usually costs around $2,000-$5,000. At the end of the program, learners typically complete culminating projects rather than final exams.

Common courses for computer programming certificate programs include:

  • Computer and information technology concepts
  • Computer operating systems
  • Systems analysis and design
  • Software development fundamentals
  • Data structures and algorithms
  • Coding
  • Python
  • C++ programming
  • Java programming
  • Windows programming
  • C programming
  • PHP programming
  • Mobile device programming
  • SQL database design and programming
  • CSS
  • HTML

What's the Difference Between a Computer Programming Certificate and Computer Programming Certification?

Before pursuing a computer programming certificate, students should carefully compare the credential with certifications. There are several key differences between programming certificates and computer coding certifications, including who confers these credentials and the function they serve.

In short, certificates are educational credentials while certifications are professional credentials, usually in a specialized subfield. Some professional organizations allow candidates to earn a computer coding certification online, though details vary by credential.

The two credentials tailor to different careers, as outlined below.

Computer Programming Certificate

Bestowed By

Colleges and some professional organizations

Passing Exam Score Required?


Best Suited For

  • High school graduates who want to earn a conventional computer science credential
  • People looking for entry-level work in computer science and information technology
  • Students who recently completed computer science-related degrees

Computer Programming Certification

Bestowed By

Companies, professional associations, and independent organizations

Passing Exam Score Required?


Best Suited For

  • Established professionals in computer programming who want to learn a specific programming language
  • Learners with computer programming-specific degrees
  • Professionals in computer science who want to change industry or specialty

What's the Difference Between a Computer Programming Certificate and a Degree in Computer Programming?

Computer programming certificates differ considerably from a two-year or four-year degree in computer science or programming. A computer programming certificate takes around 12-20 credits to complete, while associate and bachelor's degrees comprise 60 and 120 credits, respectively. These extra credits encompass more computer science-related coursework, along with general education requirements.

The broader scope of a computer programming degree typically leads to more career opportunities after graduation. Individuals with associate and bachelor's degrees have better chances of working in higher responsibility roles, like software engineer, hardware engineer, and data scientist. While a certificate is a vocational credential that prepares learners for entry-level programming roles, a degree provides a more well-rounded education and more career opportunities.

Choosing an Online Program

Students exploring prospective online computer programming certificate programs should carefully weigh factors that can influence their learning experience.

First, consider whether a program's cost is realistically manageable for your budget, both before and after graduation. Also investigate program length and whether course offerings reflect your career plans and interests. Finally, check the accreditation status of each prospective program.

Weighing these concerns can help you identify the program that best fits your unique learning needs.

Computer Programming Careers

Students with computer programming skills can pursue many careers, including software developer or information security analyst. Skilled programmers are in high demand in many job sectors, including the computing and information technology sectors.

The table below lists the most common careers open to graduates who have a computer programming certificate or degree. Keep in mind that computer programming is a versatile major that can apply to other careers beyond those listed below.

Computer Programming Career Information
Median Salary (2020) Degree Required
Computer and Information Research Scientists $126,830 Master's
Computer Network Architects $116,780 Bachelor's
Software Developers $110,140 Bachelor's
Information Security Analysts $103,590 Bachelor's
Database Administrators $98,860 Bachelor's
Computer Systems Analyst $93,730 Bachelor's
Computer Programmers $89,190 Bachelor's
Network and Computer Systems Administrators $84,810 Bachelor's
Web Developers and Digital Designers $77,200 Associate
Computer Support Specialists $55,510 Associate
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Computer Programming Organizations

Computer programming students should consider joining professional organizations. These associations offer networking opportunities, job assistance, and education, and they help connect members with a wider community. With the STEM field being such a male-dominated sector, professional organizations that advocate for equity, diversity, and inclusivity within computer programming are especially important.

Founded in 1978, AWC advocates for women in computing professions. Membership allows computer programming students to access scholarships and professional awards designated specifically for women in STEM. CODE2040 works toward racial equity in tech, primarily emphasizing Black and Latino/a tech students. The organization offers several programs that connect Black and Latino/a computing majors with partnering companies. Established in 1963, IEEE is the largest organization representing technology professionals in the world. Computer programming students in IEEE can join a specialized society that focuses on computing and computer science, or they can access the organization's broader resources. ACM advances the field of computer science through research and professional development services. This organization serves 100,000 members and offers a digital library, numerous publications, local chapters, and professional conferences.

Frequently Asked Questions

What's the Difference Between a Coding Bootcamp and Certificate?

Intensive coding bootcamps usually take weeks to complete rather than months, focusing more on web development than other aspects of computer programming.

How Long Does It Take To Get a Computer Programming Certificate?

Earning a programming certificate usually takes a year or less, though credit requirements and completion timelines vary between programs.

How Do You Become a Certified Computer Programmer?

Individuals can become certified computer programmers by earning certifications for specific programming languages from professional organizations.

Do You Need a Certificate To Be a Programmer?

You do not need any specific credential to become a programmer, but many employers expect candidates to be able to demonstrate computer programming abilities. This usually means having a degree or certificate in computer programming and completing a coding test to demonstrate your skill in common programming languages and theory.

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