Computer science professionals searching for high paying careers can find them in Alaska. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that southeast Alaska has one of the highest concentrations of computer programmer positions of any nonmetropolitan area in the country. The BLS also projects a 15% job growth rate for computer science jobs nationwide.
Alaska’s workforce is small, but the state offers plenty of opportunities for talented computer professionals to start careers in information technology. For students interested in pursuing these careers, schools offer online computer science degrees in Alaska for all levels of education including associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees.
The best candidates for online computer science programs in Alaska are people who adapt well to change, enjoy analytics and tackling complex problems, and thrive in challenging environments. Upon graduation, students find jobs like senior network administrator, computer network architect, or computer systems analyst, and can work for both public and private companies.
The BLS also projects a 15% job growth rate for computer science jobs nationwide.
Higher Education in Alaska
A few of the largest public universities include the University of Alaska in Anchorage and the University of Alaska in Fairbanks. Some top private universities in the state include Alaska Pacific University and Alaska Bible College. These institutions of higher education offer online, on-campus, and hybrid courses.
While Alaska may not have the most extensive network of public and private colleges, its smaller universities offer a more intimate and tailored educational experience. For instance, the average student-to-teacher ratio at the University of Alaska in Anchorage is 12-to-1 and the majority of classes do not exceed 20 students. These small class sizes allow each student to receive more individualized attention than they would get in the large lecture halls typical of public universities in other states.
Computer Science Careers in Alaska
Computer science degrees can be applied to several careers, including software engineering, computer and information research, information security analysis, and web development. As mentioned earlier, Alaska has one of the highest nonmetropolitan employment rates for computer scientists in the nation. However, salary can vary. The chart below shows a few average salary rates for computer science positions in Alaska.
Mean Salary for Computer Science Careers in Alaska
|Position||Mean Salary in Alaska||Mean Salary in U.S.|
|Computer Network Architects||$107,630||$104,650|
|Computer Systems Analysts||$72,860||$88,270|
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Computer Science Employers in Alaska
- Computer Task Group, Inc.: CTG provides a variety of information technology services with branches throughout the world. Some computer science-related positions within the company include application development manager and software engineer.
- Bering Straits Information Technology: BSIT provides information technology services to local organizations and companies in Alaska and state or federal institutions throughout the nation. Some computer science related positions in the company include cyber security analysis, web developer, and systems administrator.
- Resource Data, Inc.: Resource Data, Inc. is a consulting company that specializes in custom software, GIS, and IT issues. Some computer science-related positions in the company include programmer, lead systems architect, and GIS analyst.
Computer Science Programs in Alaska
Traditional on-campus computer science programs in Alaska are offered at all degree levels. Bachelor’s programs typically require 120 credit hours of coursework and a capstone project. Core courses cover computer programming, data structures, operating systems, programming languages, computer networks, and software engineering. Capstone projects often require students to develop a product, like a phone application.
On-campus master’s programs typically require 30 credit hours of coursework on top of a bachelor’s degree. Classes delve more deeply into topics of software development and programming. Regardless of degree level, learning takes place in the physical presence of peers and teachers at designated times during the week.
Online programs, on the other hand, offer more flexibility. While online computer science programs in Alaska generally feature the same course requirements as on-campus programs, they offer different course delivery options to accommodate busy schedules. Asynchronous classes allow students with other obligations, like work or child care, to listen to lectures and complete readings at their own speeds. Synchronous classes provide a real-time experience for interactive learners.
Remote learners also benefit from being able to attend class from anywhere rather than being confined to campus, where rent is often higher. The cost of education decreases when students don’t have to pay for a dorm room or commuting costs.
Online computer science programs can also be either regionally or nationally accredited. The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities is the regional accreditation agency responsible for the state of Alaska. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) also recognizes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) as a valid accreditation body for computer science programs. Students should look for these accrediting bodies when evaluating online computer science degrees in Alaska.
Types of Computer Science Degrees
Most major Alaska colleges and universities offer online computer science programs where students can specialize in computer research science, information security analysis, software applications, or systems software. Computer programmer jobs generally require a bachelor’s degree, though associate graduates also have opportunities.
The type of degree you pursue determines your coursework options. For example, a bachelor’s in science covers more math and science courses while a bachelor of arts contains more general coursework, and an associate only covers the basics. Students should consider their career goals carefully when choosing programs.
Graduates in computer science careers in Alaska find work as senior developers, software developers, and software engineers. The state’s two metropolitan areas, Fairbanks and Anchorage, hold the highest concentrations of these jobs, though there are plenty of opportunities in rural areas, too.
Associate in Computer Science
An associate degree from an online computer science program gives students basic knowledge in the computer science field. Program names and course content vary based on specialization, but the most common coursework includes introduction to computer programming, personal computer operating systems, and introduction to application software. Some programs impose minimum grade requirements to pass.
Alaska colleges offer associate degrees in information technology, office computer information systems, computer and networking technology, and computer networking systems. Students take as many as 69 credit hours and complete the degree in two years. Graduates often work as web developers — a sector the BLS projects will grow 15% nationwide through 2026.
Graduates with an associate degree in computer science earn an average annual salary of $59,000, according to according to PayScale. An associate degree is also a solid foundation for those who plan to go on to higher levels of education.
Bachelor’s in Computer Science
A bachelor’s in computer science offers higher pay and more job opportunities than an associate. PayScale notes bachelor’s degree graduates earn an annual average salary of $82,000. Graduates can find work as computer support specialists, computer network architects, or information security analysts.
Students can spend up to five years taking 180 credits covering both core and specialty courses. Coursework includes ethical hacking, computer programming fundamentals, malware analysis, operating systems, and network security. Students who adapt quickly to change usually do well in computer science careers in Alaska.
After graduation, computer science professionals enjoy robust job opportunities. The BLS projects software developer positions will increase 24% by 2026 — much faster than the average for all professions. Students who obtain their bachelor’s degree may also go on to pursue a master’s degree.
Master’s in Computer Science
Associate and bachelor’s programs teach students to work with computers. Master’s programs teach students to design systems and invent new languages. Students learn advanced algorithms and languages, data structures, operating systems and networking, and professional software development strategies.
When enrolling in an online computer science degree in Alaska, master’s students pick a concentration of study. Specialties include computer information research, artificial intelligence, mobile and internet computing, and cybersecurity. Programs usually require a capstone project or thesis and students take up to three years to complete their degrees, depending on whether they attend school part time or full time.
The BLS projects that jobs for computer information research scientists will grow 19% through 2026, reflecting the employment sector demand. However, students interested in executive corporate jobs or working for a college or university should pursue a Ph.D.
Ph.D. in Computer Science
A Ph.D. in computer science prepares graduates for jobs at the top of their profession. Professionals can work in academia, perform computer research, or compete for senior-level software engineering jobs. Their advanced skills in human-computer interaction, language and information technology, and robotics make them attractive across a number of employment sectors.
The number of students obtaining advanced computer sciences continues to rise. The National Science Foundation (NSF) notes that math and computer science degree recipients have more than doubled since 1987. Similarly, computer and information sciences Ph.D. recipients have increased 340% in that same period, the NSF reports.
Ph.D. candidates complete course work in subjects like advanced mathematics, machine learning, or quantum computing. Students examine case studies, write papers, and work in a classroom setting. Obtaining a Ph.D. takes 4-5 years.
Professional Computer Science Organizations in Alaska
Professional computer science organizations provide invaluable resources and networking opportunities, including career development workshops, continuing education training, academic conferences and publications, and job boards. For undergraduate and graduate students, they may offer scholarships or internships, publication opportunities, and guidance from established leaders in the field. Many organizations have local chapters and networks. Below are three professional organizations students studying computer science in Alaska can join.
- IEEE Computer Society: This computer science and technology group focuses on networking, information, and career development. It produces 17 scholarly journals, 13 magazines, and offers members a digital library with more than 550,000 articles. IEEE offers student scholarships and awards programs, holds technical conferences and events, and engages members through local and regional chapters.
- Computing Resource Association: CRA focuses on computer research and partners with academic, governmental, and private companies to foster innovation. Other resources include a jobs board, best practices memos, and regular conferences. CRA’s government affairs arm partners with other organizations to advocate for policy at the state and national levels.
- Association for Women in Computing: AWC offers networking, mentoring, and continued education opportunities for women. It has professional and student chapters nationwide, plus a membership option designed for professionals who can’t attend chapter meetings. In addition, AWC partners with other technology-related organizations and nonprofit groups to further technology-related research and advocacy.
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