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
- C++ programming
- Java programming
- Windows programming
- C programming
- PHP programming
- Mobile device programming
- SQL database design and programming
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
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
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
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
||Median Salary (2020)
|Computer and Information Research Scientists
|Computer Network Architects
|Information Security Analysts
|Computer Systems Analyst
|Network and Computer Systems Administrators
|Web Developers and Digital Designers
|Computer Support Specialists
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.