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Computing and Technology

“Whether you want to uncover the secrets of the universe, or you just want to pursue a career in the 21st century, basic computer programming is an essential skill to learn.”

Stephen Hawking

Each of the above quotes represents a commonly head view: one, that computers and technology are an essential part of society on a practical, everyday scale as well as on a revolutionary, world-changing scale; and next, that such ubiquity is not a guaranteed good thing. That being surrounded and dependent on something we don’t know much about – or worse, being dependent on something we think we know more about than we actually do – can be detrimental to society, or as science fiction reminds us, even dangerous.

Still, dystopian thinking won’t do us any good, either. Technology has been a part of civilization since the beginning (some would argue technology is the beginning.) Throughout history we’ve adapted to each technological revolution. We’ve learned the pros and cons of our tools, and learned that the tools themselves are often less hazardous than their users.

Of course, the challenge today is the rate of technological change, which leaves us increasingly less time to learn how to use our technology. On occasion, it even feels like the tables have turned: the technology is using us. How do we reclaim agency? How do we make technology work for us again?

The obvious answer is education. It may feel like the rate of technological change is too fast, but that feeling is largely the result of technological illiteracy. Think, for example, how fast a foreign language sounds to someone who isn’t fluent: not only fast, but overwhelming and unintelligible – foreign. Repeat exposure won’t solve the language barrier: either the listener receives the language as mere sound without meaning, or the listener stops listening altogether.

This is, very roughly, the present state of computer science. A large portion of society either has a superficial knowledge of tech, gleaned through repeat use, or has simply stopped paying attention. The only recourse to understanding is education. The only way to harness technology is to learn how it works.

Why Study Computing and Technology?

  • Computing and technology degrees are highly customizable. As the need for numerous information technology jobs grows, so do the varieties of tech specializations, from information systems to data science, cyber security, AI, mobile and internet computing, biocomputation, human-computer interaction, and more. While core courses follow a standard curriculum, CS students have the opportunity to tailor both bachelor’s and master’s degrees for career purposes or general interest.
  • Computing and technology graduates can pursue any career. Tech is only one option. Plenty of computer science grads have successful careers in areas like healthcare, improving hospital administrative services or developing biotech products. Others work to increase operations efficiency in government and business, or develop innovative solutions in transportation, energy, logistics, and other industries. Though computing and technology course work is specialized, CS degrees offer unlimited career opportunities and long-term flexibility.
  • Computing and technology graduates make an impact. As the above Stephen Hawking quote attests, computer science graduates work on the cutting-edge of nearly every profession, and will continue to do so in the future. The work is challenging and carries serious responsibilities, but the rewards can be extraordinary. Tech is home to some of the most influential entrepreneurs, activists, and leaders in the world.

Job Prospects and Salaries for Computing and Technology Graduates

“We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology.”

Carl Sagan

Of course, one of the biggest reasons to enroll in a computer science program is job security and pay. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer and information technology occupations are expected to grow 13% over the next decade, creating more than 550,000 new jobs. Still, with only about 60,000 computer science grads entering the labor force each year, demand for talent is far greater than talent supply – good news for aspiring tech workers. The other good news? The median annual wage for computer and information technology roles is $82,860, over twice the national median.

Let’s take a closer look at what kind of jobs computing and technology graduates can pursue, from entry-level to senior positions, with an emphasis on tech-centered titles.

Types of Jobs for Computing and Technology Graduates

  • Computer Support Specialist: Provide IT support to individual users and organizations
    • Median Annual Salary: $52,160
  • Web Developer:Design and create web sites; optimize performance and capacity
    • Median Annual Salary: $66,130
  • Network and Computer Systems Administrator: Manage and monitor the day-to-day operations of an organization’s network, including security, maintenance, bug fixes, and more
    • Median Annual Salary: $79,700
  • Computer Programmer: Write and edit code to ensure functionality of software and applications
    • Median Annual Salary: $79,840
  • Database Administrator: Use specialized software to store and organize data
    • Median Annual Salary: $84,950
  • Information Security Analyst: Plan, develop, and implement cyber security measures to protect an organization’s computer networks and systems
    • Median Annual Salary: $92,600
  • Computer Network Architect: Design and build data communication networks, including local area networks, wide area networks, and Intranet
    • Median Annual Salary: $101,210
  • Computer and Information Research Scientist: Study complex problems in computing for business, medicine, science, and other fields to develop innovative IT solutions
    • Median Annual Salary: $111,840

Undergraduate Degrees in Computing and Technology

The two most popular undergraduate degrees in computing and technology are the BS in Computer Science and BS in Information Technology. The former is the more traditional of the two, with course work in Web Page Development, Information Systems and Analysis Design, Internet Programming, Web Development Tools, Data Structures and Algorithms, Operating Systems, and Software Engineering. Nevertheless, the bachelor’s in IT is a degree that is perpetually in-demand as organizations need networking and IT staff, as well as specialists for dealing with hardware.

Graduate Degrees in Computing and Technology

There are numerous master’s degrees in computing and technology. First, check out our ranking of the top master’s in Computer Science. (In 2017, the National Association of Colleges and Employers reported that CS graduates overtook engineers to become the highest-paid master’s degree holders.) We’ve also ranked the best master’s degrees in IT.

Depending on your career, you might be interested in specialized tracks, like a master’s in Data Science or MEd in Education Technology. Or if you’re more interested in an accelerated DIY approach, we’ve compiled helpful guides for the 50 Most Popular MOOCs of All Time and the 80 Highest Rated On-Demand Online Courses, each of which include dozens of excellent programming and computer science courses.

Popular Online Schools Offering Computing and Technology Degrees

Find the Right Computing Degree

Peruse the most popular online computing programs as well as our rankings of the best computing schools above.

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