Alabama’s technology growth makes the state a hub for computer science. Alabama has one of the highest computer programmer employment rates in the country, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The state’s commerce department projects continued job growth as computer science companies expand to Alabama. Alabama job growth mirrors nationwide trends. The BLS projects that computer science positions will grow 13% and add 557,100 positions by 2026, with the most demand in cloud computing, big data, and information security.
Many universities offer online computer science programs in Alabama that prepare students for this growing field. Learners can choose between an associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degree, depending on their career goals.
The BLS projects that computer science positions will grow 13% and add 557,100 positions by 2026, with the most demand in cloud computing, big data, and information security.
Higher Education in Alabama
The largest public university in Alabama 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 excellent places to obtain a higher degree. These institutions house professors who are experts in a variety of academic fields. The University of Alabama offers majors in 13 academic divisions, including doctoral programs in aerospace engineering, communication and information sciences, and computer science, some of which are unavailable in other parts of Alabama.
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. Salaries for computer scientists are more lucrative than the average, though they vary depending on factors like geographic location, experience in the field, and education.
Mean Salary for Computer Science Careers in Alabama
|Position||Mean Salary in Alabama||Mean Salary in U.S.|
|Computer Network Architects||$101,870||$104,650|
|Computer Systems Analysts||$81,960||$88,270|
|Software Developers, Applications||$92,360||$103,560|
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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 services, including online advertising, search engines, software, and cloud computing. They have offices in Huntsville, Douglas, and Stevenson.
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 doctorates. These programs provide students with an understanding of programming languages, computer systems, and software applications. Students enroll in foundational courses in mathematics, logic, design, and other topics that are needed 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 additional credit hours.
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. 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 obligations.
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 and other engineering and technology fields. When comparing computer science programs in Alabama, look for these accreditation agencies.
Types of Computer Science Degrees
Students may apply for a range of online computer science programs in Alabama. Programs offer degrees in information technology, data mining, computer science engineering, applications, and security. Students must decide whether to enroll in a BS or BA program. BS programs contain more science and math courses while BA degrees contain broader curricula. Graduates with an online computer science degree in Alabama find careers as software engineers, database engineers, web developers, network systems administrators, and computer support specialists.
Associate in Computer Science
An associate program uses introductory classes to prepare students for entry-level computer science jobs. Courses include programming languages, understanding operating systems, computer networking basics, and database design. Students take up to 66 credit hours and usually complete the program in two years.
Associate degree graduates qualify for jobs as support specialists who fix computer issues, information security analysts who protect networks from hackers, and computer programmers who write code. The BLS projects that web developer positions, which require an associate degree, will increase 15% through 2026.
Students with strong technical skills who are adept at analytics, math, and paying attention to detail make strong candidates for an online computer science program in Alabama. The degree type varies based on specialty, with concentrations available in information science, information technology, and information systems.
An associate degree is an excellent entryway into computer science careers in Alabama, though for some positions companies prefer candidates with a bachelor’s degree.
Bachelor’s in Computer Science
A bachelor’s degree prepares students for more advanced careers. Learners take courses in computer algorithms, the design and development of software systems, and computer architecture and systems performance. Students take up to 180 hours of specialized and general course work and complete the degree in 3-5 years.
Students graduate with systems development, security architecture, and hardware design specialties, and can find jobs as software developers, database administrators, and network architects after graduation. The BLS projects that jobs for software developers, which require a bachelor’s degree, will grow 24% through 2026. This robust growth correlates to the increased demand for computer programming skills.
Students who can adapt to an ever-changing and complex environment will do well in a computer science career in Alabama, but anyone interested in management or research positions should pursue a master’s degree.
Master’s in Computer Science
Master’s students often have an eye on management or leadership positions in computer science fields, or they want to pursue a narrow specialty. Curricula vary, but often focus on engineering and science skills with courses in data structures, algorithms, and computer operating systems. Students submit a thesis or complete a capstone project at the end of their studies.
Master’s graduates with an online computer science degree in Alabama find jobs in artificial intelligence, biocomputation, and game development, and they work as software engineers, data scientists, and senior developers. Ambitious students should consider dual degree options, which allow learners to obtain a computer science and MBA degree simultaneously, or to combine computer with actuarial science.
Completing a master’s program can take up to four years, depending on whether you go to school part or full time. Upon graduation, students find an encouraging employment outlook. The BLS projects that jobs in computer and information research will grow 19% through 2026. However, students interested in academia or high-level corporate positions usually pursue a Ph.D.
Ph.D. in Computer Science
Ph.D. candidates position themselves for fascinating careers in computer research and tech development. Doctoral programs are becoming more popular as more companies begin requiring a doctorate for employment. Ph.D. degree candidates should be organized, analytical people who can work independently or with a team.
Students must hold at least a bachelor’s degree to enter a Ph.D. program, though some institutions require a master’s degree. Students spend 4-5 years in a doctorate program and focus on a specialized computer science field. Companies hire Ph.D. holders to develop computer programs, maintain network performance, and study the latest computer trends.
Coursework for online computer science degrees in Alabama depends on the area of study. Ph.D. students can expect classes in advanced mathematics, networking, and data visualization, and must complete a dissertation project. After graduation, students can work in fields like quantum computing, nanotechnology, or machine learning, or become professors and work in academia.
Professional Computer Science Organizations in Alabama
Professional computer science organizations are excellent resources for computer science professionals and students. Computer science researchers and programmers can attend conferences, obtain research funding, and meet others doing similar work in the field, while undergraduate and graduate students look to professional organizations for mentorships, job opportunities, and scholarships. 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: ACM connects professionals in the computing field through networking events, conferences, and professional and student chapters. It also offers research fellowships and a journal containing the latest technological advances, research fellowships. Members of ACM also benefit from its code of ethics and special interest groups, where thought leaders can come together to advance the profession.
- Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence: AAAI promotes artificial intelligence research through their magazine and book publishing imprint. They also host an annual conference and symposium for the exchange of ideas, and are always seeking submissions from authors on AI topics. Members can access an exclusive job board.
- Institution of Engineering and Technology: The IET is a nonprofit engineering institution with members in 150 different countries. The IET helps students transition into engineering jobs, provides professional development opportunities, and supports studies on the latest technologies. The group publishes research journals and books and offers conferences, lectures, and social events.
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