What Courses Are Required to Get a Computer Specialist Degree?

As technology becomes more and more advanced, both personal and business computer users need trained support specialists to help them get the most from their systems. Read on to learn about the courses included in a computer specialist degree program. Schools offering Computer Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Degree Program Overview

Computer specialist programs typically allow you to earn an associate degree or certificate. These programs may also be called computer support specialist and information technology specialist. They are designed to give you an introduction to a wide range of computer topics, and the vital hardware and software computer components. Some types of courses you might take include those in programming, operating systems, networking, databases, software and computer repair. General education courses and electives are also included.

Important Facts About This Field

Degree/Certificate Levels Typically undergraduate
Prerequisites High school diploma or equivalent, placement tests
Online Availability Some programs are available online
Possible Careers Help-desk technician, network support specialist, technical support specialist

Programming

As a computer specialist you probably won't design programs, but understanding programming languages is a step toward understanding the inner workings of computers. Some schools offer programming courses as general overviews that cover many languages; other schools will have you take courses on individual languages, from Java to Visual Basic to C++.

Operating Systems

As a computer specialist, you will need to be familiar with the variety of operating systems used by businesses and individuals. As with programming, courses on operating systems are general overview courses, or they relate to individual operating systems, such as Microsoft Windows, Unix or Mac OS.

Networks and Databases

Computers talk to each other via networks and store information via databases, and if one of these processes is not working properly, you will be called on to fix it. Most programs require introductory courses in both topics, although you may have to complete two or three courses on each subject. Your networking courses may specialize in a technology like Cisco. You might also study information security principles for networks and databases.

Software

These programs usually include courses in productivity software, such as Microsoft Office. You can expect to learn how to use word processing software, create spreadsheets and make presentations. You might also learn to use graphics software, web design software or business software.

Computer Repair

A computer support specialist program typically requires courses that prepare you to install, configure, maintain and repair computer hardware and software. You might also take a course in customer service skills and learn about what it takes to work at a help desk.

General Education

In addition to computer courses, computer specialist associate degree programs require students to complete general education. Typically, this will include one or two courses each in writing or literature, natural sciences, social or behavioral science and mathematics. You might also take some business classes, such as economics.

Electives

After you complete the required courses, you will be able to choose electives. These electives let students further their learning in specific topics that interest them and are usually divided between general education and computer-related topics. Examples of computer electives include hardware and software, peripherals, advanced programming and microcomputer operating systems. Preparation courses for certification and internships are also possibilities.

Career Overview

When computer users experience difficulty in getting their machines to function, they will generally consult a computer support specialist. As a computer specialist, you will be in charge of diagnosing the problem, then fixing it. You might also perform routine maintenance or cleaning on machines and educate computer users on how to use email or software programs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), formal education is helpful in obtaining a job as a computer specialist, although employers are flexible about the type of computer degree a candidate has earned (www.bls.gov).

The BLS expects the computer support specialist field will experience faster-than-average 17% employment growth between 2012 and 2022. Your salary will depend on whether you focus on user support or network support. In May 2014, computer network support specialists made a median annual salary of $61,830, while computer user support specialists made $47,610.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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