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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

Seminole State College of Florida true View School Profile $ Sanford, FL 41% 19% 47% Seminole State College of Florida is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

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.

Daytona State College true View School Profile $ Daytona Beach, FL 37% 19% 53% Daytona State College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

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.

Lone Star College System true View School Profile $ The Woodlands, TX 18% 11% 40% Lone Star College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). 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.

Montgomery College true View School Profile $ Rockville, MD 22% 10% 28% Montgomery College is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

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.

Clark State Community College true View School Profile $ Springfield, OH 22% 38% 42% Clark State Community College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

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.

The motto of TheBestSchools.org is Finding the best school for you. Here is how we do it:

The value of any ranking list of schools and/or degree programs depends on having a methodologically sound assessment of each school’s/program’s characteristics, especially insofar as these can be objectively measured. A college or university is a complex entity, with numerous factors to consider, and distilling these down to the place where meaningful comparisons can be made to form a defensible ranking list becomes part science and part art.

To meet this challenge—and thereby provide you with the most useful and insightful educational rankings on the Internet — TheBestSchools.org formulates our rankings based on five informational categories (six, when considering online schools). The major metrics and qualities for which we rank are these (with expanded, detailed considerations and weights listed):

1. Academic excellence based on a school’s curriculum generally or within the selected discipline [weight = 25%]

  • Weighs school against known leading schools in that discipline
  • Weighs number of core curricula listed as advanced courses within that discipline and compares against introductory courses
  • Weighs school’s curriculum against known knowledge needs of major employers in that discipline
  • Considers number and types of specializations offered within that discipline
  • Considers faculty expertise in that discipline
  • Considers range of electives within that discipline
  • Considers quality of online environment offered to students (if applicable), particularly within that discipline

2. Strength of faculty scholarship [weight = 25%]

  • Considers education background of the faculty
  • Considers years of faculty experience both inside and outside of academia.
  • Considers faculty membership and leadership within relevant, prominent associations
  • Considers academic papers published by faculty in relevant, prominent periodicals
  • Considers awards and recognitions given to faculty members from prominent organizations and from other sources

3. Reputation [weight = 20%]

  • Considers a school’s reputation among academic peers and employers regarding the following:
    • Faculty
    • Curriculum
    • “Freshness” of academic knowledge
    • Adaptability to changes in employment sectors
    • Suitability of graduates for the workplace

4. Financial aid [weight = 10%]

  • Mandatory: Requires full accreditation from an agency endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education and listed on the federal register to accept student federal financial aid
  • Considers range of school-sponsored financial aid such as scholarships and grants

5. Range of degree programs [weight = 20%]

  • Considers range of degree levels: associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral and professional
  • Considers range of degree subjects offered, such as art & design, computers & technology, education & teaching, criminal justice, and business

6. Strength of online instruction methodology (if applicable) [weight = 25%; subtract 5% from each of the above for online schools/programs]

  • Considers the following of the online classes:
    • Types of online technology used to deliver content
    • Pedagogy style: asynchronous, synchronous, or both (depending on the degree)
    • Extent and quality of the online, community learning environment, including options for communication, interactivity, and collaboration between students and also between students and instructors
    • Variety, breadth, and depth of coursework, and its support, including project options and online tutoring
  • Considers the following of instructors:
    • Extent of training for teaching within an online learning environment
    • Amount of timely, consistent feedback to students
    • Extent of collaboration with prospective employers to ensure suitability of instructional materials for achieving desired skills
    • Ratio to number of students in a class
  • Number and quality of internships in a student’s geographical area for applicable degrees

Because students tend to review a variety of information when choosing a school, the weight a student gives any one criterion will vary. For instance, it’s not enough to offer a carefully constructed ranking of great schools if many are too expensive or too difficult to get into.

To better serve the needs of prospective students, we are therefore increasingly offering filters that help you better use our rankings to find the schools that match your specific needs. These supplement our ranking criteria and include:

  • Accreditation
  • Public or private status
  • Acceptance rate
  • Retention rate
  • Graduation rate
  • ACT/SAT requirements
  • Cost in-state / out of state
  • Undergrad, grad, or both offered
  • Region
  • State
  • City

Get the best rankings here AND get them to suit your personal needs. That’s TheBestSchools.org advantage!

If you have any questions about our ranking methodology, please contact us.

Citations: For a broader account of our ranking methodology, especially as it relates to TheBestSchools.org's underlying educational philosophy and, in other ranking articles, looks beyond academic excellence (as here) to such factors as return on investment or incidental benefit, see our article "Ranking Methodology: How We Rank Schools at TBS." Reputation of schools and degree programs can at least in part be gauged through the school or department's publishing activity, citations, and desirability. At TheBestSchools.org, we keep track of such social and peer validation: "Making Sense of College Rankings." For nuts-and-bolts information about colleges and universities, we look to the National Center for Education Statistics and especially its College Navigator. Insofar as salary and inflation data are relevant to a ranking, we look to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Finally, nothing beats contacting schools and degree programs directly, which our researchers often do, with the result that all the entries in this article should be considered as belonging to this citation!

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?

Yes

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?

No

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

true 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.

true 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.

true How Do You Become a Certified Computer Programmer?

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

true 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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