Advancement in the field of computer science extends far beyond the Silicon Valley hub. This broad discipline, which blends all STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and math), impacts a wide range of industries, from computers to fashion to sports. Computer scientists work to develop modern technologies and improve existing ones. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the number of computer and information research scientists will grow by 19% by the year 2026, which is well above the national average for all jobs.
Additionally, there is currently a talent shortage in this field, and efforts are being made to close this gap over the next decade. Schools in Florida are working to meet this professional need by creating new programs focused on computer science. By earning a degree in computer science, students prepare themselves to enter a dynamic digital landscape with positive job prospects across the Sunshine State.
The BLS projects that the number of computer and information research scientists will grow by 19% by the year 2026, which is well above the national average for all jobs.
Higher Education in Florida
In addition to Florida’s favorable weather and paradise-like surroundings, the state is also a leader in postsecondary education, featuring many schools with relatively low tuitions and high graduation rates. In terms of enrollment, Florida is home to three of the top 10 U.S. public colleges and universities: the University of Central Florida (64,435 students), Florida International University (55,111), and the University of Florida (52,367). It also educates the sixth-most international college students in the U.S.
Florida has over 225 institutions of higher learning, with 40 belonging to the Florida College System (FCS) or the State University System of Florida (SUSF). While the Florida College System is the choice of 65% of the state’s graduating seniors, 300,000 students from around the world take classes from the SUSF. Florida’s private institutions consist of 77 nonprofit schools and 108 for-profit entities, which include technical/vocational colleges.
Florida schools have supported distance learning for decades. In 1997, the Florida Virtual School was founded as the first statewide internet-based high school in the U.S. The technological reach of postsecondary education in Florida is also strong, with many colleges and universities offering dozens of flexible online degrees and/or certificates. For example, Gainesville’s University of Florida has more than 200 programs for distance learners, while Orlando’s UCF has a catalogue of 80 programs.
Computer Science Careers in Florida
Given the ubiquitous nature of computer science, graduates can pursue diverse career paths, from coders to QA testers to data analysts skilled in machine learning, business intelligence, and SQL.
Innovation keeps technology evolving, helping processes run more efficiently and networks, robots, and machinery operate in optimal ways. Computer scientists are responsible for much of this development and problem-solving. The BLS says that more than 4 million jobs in the U.S. fall under the “computer and mathematical” category, providing ample opportunities for graduates of computer science programs in Florida.
Students pursuing a computer science degree in Florida can choose from several colleges and universities that offer four-year undergraduate computer science programs, as well as master’s and doctoral degrees. Additionally, Forbes recently named Florida as the top state in the nation with regard to growth prospects in the field of business. Many of these businesses require workers skilled in the special language of computers.
Median Salary for Computer Science Careers by Degree
Computer Science Employers in Florida
- Boeing: Boeing is the largest aerospace company in the world, with aircraft, defense products, and technology used in over 150 countries by private entities and governments. Engineers and professionals with computer science backgrounds are in high demand for data testing, evaluation, and research.
- State of Florida: Executive departments of the government of Florida, such as the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the Department of Health, and the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, require computer programmers, data analysts, database administrators, and other computer science professionals to write code, manipulate data, and provide IT guidance on systems and networks.
- Greenway Health: This health information technology vendor has more than 85,000 partners, covers over 40 healthcare specialties, and reaches more than 100 million customers. Professionals with computer science degrees at Greenway Health work with engineers on testing, debugging, and documenting software applications for computerized systems and the overall management of health data.
How Much do Computer Scientists Make in Florida?
The salaries of professionals with an online computer science degree in Florida are influenced by a variety of factors, including the level of a worker’s degree, their company, and their location. Ultimately, a state’s computer science job outlook and salary range depend on local supply and demand. For example, the BLS projects that the number of computer and information research scientists in Florida will grow by 10.5% by 2024, which is less than the U.S. average for these positions. Alternatively, the number of computer systems analysts is expected to grow dramatically by 33.7%.
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Computer Science Programs in Florida
The Florida College System and the State University System of Florida contain many of the best computer science schools in Florida. Along with general bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer science, students also have the option to pick from a variety of specialty fields. These include computational biology and combined five-year BS/MS programs. Most bachelor’s of science tracks in computer science hold ABET accreditation. Alternatively, bachelor’s of arts in computer science degrees may lack this important accreditation.
Online computer science programs in Florida offer students a more flexible and affordable learning format than traditional schooling. Through distance learning, students can earn their online computer degree in Florida while continuing to work and meet family commitments. Computer science colleges in Florida rank among the best attended in the nation, with the regionally-accredited University of Florida in Gainesville leading the way.
Board of Governors’ regulation 3.006 stipulates that all institutions in Florida’s public university system hold accreditation from The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), which is the regional accrediting body for the southeastern United States. Aspiring computer science majors should also make sure that their program is ABET-accredited. This is a specialized form of accreditation for applied science, computing, engineering, and engineering technology programs. Although this accreditation is voluntary, it is an important distinction for programs offering STEM-related fields. ABET also accredits computer science programs that are delivered entirely online.
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 Florida?
Computer science in Florida is a versatile major. Given the nation’s current (and projected) shortage of qualified talent in this field, students should find success finding employment after graduation. To get started on this rewarding professional path, it may be helpful explore the following list of accredited online computer science programs in Florida.
schools that match your search
Professional Computer Science Organizations in Florida
Professional organizations help students and recent graduates from computer science schools in Florida in a myriad of ways. Organizations can provide access to industry insights, mentorships, job postings, and annual conferences. Computer science majors can pick from hundreds of professional organizations. When determining the best organizations to join, consider your degree focus and find groups that closely align with your career goals, ambitions, and interests in the field.
- Association for Computing Machinery: This association advocates for educators, researchers, coders, developers, and computational theorists. Members gain access to continuing education opportunities, original research, practical content, and conferences throughout the year.
- ACM Council on Women in Computing: This group celebrates women in the computing field and supports members at the national and local levels. ACM Celebrations of Women in Computing is a regional event that helps connect members from the same geographic location, such as students from Florida computer science schools, for networking, work/study, and the sharing of research and ideas.
- Computing Research Association: This organization helps develop future leaders in the computing field, cultivate talent, and promote policy to advance research. Research opportunities, financial aid awards, and career services are available for undergraduate and graduate members. The association also hosts a biennial mentoring workshop in the District of Columbia.
Additional Computer Science Resources in Florida
- Introduction to Computer Science and Programming: This is an archived (spring 2011) online computer science course from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Office of Digital Learning, complete with lectures, textbooks, assignments, and recitation videos. Intended for those with little or no programming experience, this eLearning course of independent study allows students to learn at their own pace.
- Theory of Computing: ToC is an open access journal offering the widest dissemination of research papers in theoretical computer science free of charge. This journal is an all-volunteer operation hosted on a server provided by the University of Chicago’s computer science department.
- Ars Technica: Founded in 1998, this website offers the latest news/op-ed pieces about technology and science, from gadget reviews to tech policy analysis.
- Google Research Blog: This blog details the latest research from the Google Brain team. It discusses how new research and product development overlap and interact, turning theory into practice.