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Computer Software Associate's Degree

An associate's degree in computer software will teach you the skills to work in entry-level positions in computer programming. Learn about courses in this field and what jobs you can get with this degree.

Why Should I Pursue a Computer Software Associate's Degree?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a bachelor's or even master's degree is the norm for many jobs related to computer programming. However, the BLS also states that an associate's degree may be sufficient to secure an entry-level position.

An associate's degree educates you in the basics of computer software and can help you understand its makeup. In many cases, once you've earned your associate's degree and have decided to develop a career in software engineering or programming, all or most of the credits you've accumulated can be transferred toward a 4-year degree.

Skills Acquired Knowledge of the basics and makeup of computer software
Common Courses Web design, network administration, software engineering, programming
Online Availability Hybrid and fully online programs available
Potential Careers Software applications engineer, systems engineer, programmer

What Should I Expect in a Program?

A program leading to an associate's degree related to computer software can take you about two years to complete and consist of 60-90 credits. Completion can lead to an Associate of Science or Associate of Applied Science degree in an area such as computer software engineering or computer information science.

According to the BLS, in the field of computer software engineering, there are two main divisions; applications engineers and systems engineers. Simply put, applications engineers analyze an organization's needs and design software applications accordingly, while systems engineers coordinate the operations of an organization's computer systems.

Typical courses you might encounter in a program could include systems analysis and design, Web design, network administration, software engineering, programming, Java, Linux, C++, C# and Cisco. There is a large proportion of lab work in addition to didactic courses. Programs may contain an externship, which can be served at a school-partnered independent facility.

What Are Some Online Opportunities?

There are numerous opportunities for you to pursue an associate's degree either fully or partially online. Programs are often delivered asynchronously, which allows you to access them 24/7 at your convenience. Communication and submission of assignments are usually accomplished by way of a course management system such as Blackboard. While some online programs may include an externship, which must be completed in-person, others may substitute a supervised capstone independent research project.

What Can I Look for Regarding Employment?

An associate's degree may qualify you for a number of positions, including applications engineer, systems engineer, programmer, systems or network analyst, designer or computer support specialist. In 2018, the BLS projected employment opportunities for software applications engineers and software systems engineers to increase 31% and 11% respectively from 2016-2026.

Opportunities for programmers were projected to decrease 7% over the same time period. This disparity is due in part to outsourcing programming responsibilities and the growing tendency for users to perform their own programming.

The most recent salary statistics are also from 2018 and include individuals who hold associate's, bachelor's and master's degrees. The mean annual wage for applications engineers was determined to be $103,620, while systems engineers came in at $110,000. The mean annual salary for programmers was determined to be $84,280.