In addition to its diverse natural landscapes, Alabama is one of the states with the highest concentrations of computer programming jobs and location quotients in the nation. Employment growth for computer and information technology professionals in the United States is very positive; the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that job opportunities in this field will increase by 13% in the next decade.
In 2013, Alabama’s information technology industry consisted of 4,495 companies and 35,594 employees. According to the Alabama Department of Labor, state employment in computer systems design and management services will expand by more than 650,000 jobs in the next five years. If you are interested in pursuing a career in computer science, now is the perfect time to get an online computer science degree in Alabama.
According to the Alabama Department of Labor, state employment in computer systems design and management services will expand by more than 650,000 jobs in the next five years.
Higher Education in Alabama
Alabama has 129 public and private institutions of higher learning. The largest public university is the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, with over 35,000 students enrolled. Other well-known public universities include the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the University of Alabama in Huntsville, and Auburn University. Alabama’s colleges and universities offer both online and traditional on-campus programs.
Large state research universities are rich places to obtain a higher education degree. These institutions house professors and experts in a wide selection of academic fields. The University of Alabama offers majors of study in 13 academic divisions, some of which are unavailable in other parts of Alabama, including doctoral programs in anthropology, communication and information sciences, and romance languages. The University of Alabama also is home to the Crimson Tides, a star college football team in the SEC.
Computer Science Careers in Alabama
A computer science degree qualifies you for a variety of jobs in the information technology and computer systems design industry, including positions as a software engineer or software developer. In Alabama, software developers make up 18% of the computer systems design sector. Average salaries for computer scientists in the nation are relatively lucrative. Salaries vary depending on factors like geographic location, experience in the field, and education. Areas in Alabama with the highest employment and salary for computer programmers include the Birmingham-Hoover and Montgomery metropolitan areas.
As illustrated in the chart below, the median salary for a software engineer or developer also rises with increased education. Individuals in computer science positions who have master’s degrees typically make $12,000 to $14,000 more a year than those with bachelor’s degrees in the same positions. However, experience and specific position can sometimes count just as much as formal education. For instance, a senior software engineer with a bachelor’s degree who has been working in the field and has been promoted can make more than a software engineer with a master’s degree.
Median Salary for Computer Science Careers by Degree
Computer Science Employers in Alabama
With a booming computer industry, Alabama has no shortage of computer science employers, especially in Montgomery and Birmingham. Here are a few companies in Alabama that employ computer science graduates:
- Equifax: Equifax is a data solutions company that uses analytics and technological expertise to help businesses and consumers make informed decisions. Among other services, they provide credit reports, tax management services, and market analyses. While they are headquartered in Atlanta, they are establishing a Global Information Technology Talent Center at Auburn University in Alabama.
- Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base: The Maxwell Air Force Base is a US Air Force training center located in Montgomery. The base employs approximately 2,500 information technology professionals.
- Google: Google is a multinational company that specializes in technology and internet related services, including online advertising, search engines, software, and cloud computing. They have offices in Huntsville and Douglas and are currently constructing a $600 million dollar data center in Stevenson.
How Much do Computer Scientists Make in Alabama?
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Computer Science Programs in Alabama
Universities across Alabama offer traditional on-campus computer science programs, including associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees, certificate programs, master’s degrees, and doctorate degrees. These programs provide students with an understanding of programming languages, computer systems, and software applications. Students take foundational courses in mathematics, logic, and design necessary to solve complex computer science issues. Bachelor’s programs usually require 120 credit hours of coursework and a capstone project, while master’s programs require around 30 credit hours. These courses require the physical presence of the students at a certain time of day each week.
Online programs cover the same material and have the same general program requirements. However, online programs grant more scheduling flexibility. Asynchronous courses allow students to view lectures and complete readings on their own time as long as they still meet assignment deadlines. Online exams are timed, much like exams given in person, except students are presented with a window (usually a day) during which they may decide when to take the test. For students who crave an interactive learning environment, synchronous online courses allow students to respond to questions and participate in discussions in real time. The flexibility of online courses may be particularly appealing to students who have a full-time job or child care responsibilities.
Both online and on-campus degree programs are subject to accreditation. The regional accreditation agency responsible for Alabama is the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) is a national accreditation agency recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) that evaluates computer science programs among other engineering and technology fields. Look for these accreditation agencies when comparing computer science programs in Alabama.
Types of Computer Science Degrees
There are many types of degrees students can choose when pursuing education in computer science: associate degree, bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and doctorate degree. In general, further formal education within a field results in a higher salary. In addition, some positions require a certain level of degree. For instance, many research positions or teaching positions at the university level require at least a master’s or doctorate degree. The table below features descriptions and basic data about each degree type.
An associate in computer science provides students with foundational knowledge in computer languages and programming. In addition to learning about computer systems, students will emerge with general education courses usually required by four year colleges. Graduates with an associate degree qualify for entry-level computer science positions in the job market.
Average Program Length – 2 Years
Median Salary – $32,897
A bachelor’s in computer science provides students with knowledge of operating systems, a variety of programming languages, database management, and computer systems and architecture. These programs typically require 120 credit hours of coursework and a capstone project. Many employers in the industry are increasingly hiring individuals with a bachelor’s degree.
Average Program Length – 4 Years
Median Salary – $60,835
A master’s in computer science provides students with a deeper understanding of computer systems, design, and programming languages. Some master’s programs may provide specializations for those who wish to concentrate further in a specific area. Individuals with a master’s degree typically earn a higher salary upon graduation than those with a bachelor’s.
Average Program Length – 1-2 Years
Median Salary – $104,269
A doctorate degree in computer science is designed for individuals who wish to pursue research in the field. These intensive programs often require students to narrow their field of study and design and carry out a specific research project that culminates in a dissertation. Graduates with a Ph.D in computer science often go into academia as computer science professors.
Average Program Length – 4+ Years
Median Salary – $126,744
What Schools Offer a Computer Science Degree in Alabama?
Computer science degrees will differ from institution to institution. Some Alabama computer science schools may offer concentrations within the larger field of computer science; some may provide a broad foundation in information technologies. As you are evaluating computer science schools in Alabama, select a program and university that offers the course delivery method, course content, and tuition cost that suit your needs and interests. Below is a list of accredited universities offering online computer science programs in Alabama and a brief description of each.
schools that match your search
Professional Computer Science Organizations in Alabama
Professional computer science organizations provide networking, mentoring, career development, publication, and continuing education opportunities to computer science professionals and students. Computer science researchers and programmers might participate in professional organizations to attend conferences and meet others doing similar work in the field. Undergraduate and graduate students might look to professional organizations for mentorship, job opportunities, and funding for research projects or their education. These organizations can also be a source of support for underrepresented populations in computer science colleges in Alabama. Below are three of the professional organizations for computer scientists in Alabama and nationwide.
- Association for Computing Machinery: This computing society brings developers, researchers, programmers, and educators together in order to advance the computing field. The organization offers a variety of networking and career development opportunities for their members.
- Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI): AAAI is a nonprofit scientific organization dedicated to investigating, understanding, and innovating artificial intelligence technology. The association hosts multiple conferences a year and publishes a magazine on artificial intelligence research and news.
- Institution of Engineering and Technology (The IET): The IET is a multidisciplinary engineering organization with members from all over the world. The institution is dedicated to advancing the global engineering community. The IET hosts conferences, seminars, lectures, and courses.
Additional Computer Science Resources in Alabama
Below are four additional resources for computer science professionals or students studying computer science in Alabama:
- African American Women in Technology (AAWIT) This is a network of African American women working or seeking employment in technology fields. AAWIT provides support in the form of networking and career development opportunities to their members. Members help each other find employment and advance their careers.
- ACM Council on Women in Computing (ACM-W) This council is a subsect of the Association for Computing Machinery. It supports and advocates for the success and engagement of women in the computing field. ACM-W hosts international summits such as the womENcourage summit, which included a hackathon, lectures and workshops, and career fair.
- The Computer Resource Association (CRA) Job Announcements The CRA shares job postings for computer scientists, engineers, computing educators, and researchers. Most of their postings have an academic and research focus, but other positions are also available. This is a great resource for computer science graduates who are looking for a job.
- Codango Codango is a web resource that provides guides, tutorials and coding practice for a variety of programming languages. It is an excellent resource for computer science students who may need some extra practice or help or for web developers who need a refresher in certain programming languages.