Outside of the major metropolitan tech hubs, southeast Iowa boasts the fourth highest employment in computer and mathematical occupations. The state of Iowa employs 2,740 people with a mean annual salary of around $68,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Computer science careers in Iowa could increase with the passing of legislation which funds computer science education across the state for every student in kindergarten through twelfth grade. The Bill SF 274, which takes effect July 1, 2019, also establishes a computer science professional development fund of $250,000 for 2018-2019.
Working professionals looking for online computer science degrees in Iowa can find jobs as software and web developers, network architects, and computer system and information security analysts — the leading occupations in the state according to the CompTIA Cyberstates 2019 report. To learn more about online computer science programs in Iowa, keep reading this guide.
Computer science careers in Iowa could increase with the passing of legislation which funds computer science education across the state for every student in kindergarten through 12th grade.
Higher Education in Iowa
The Iowa Board Of Regents oversees all higher education institutions in the state, which includes three state universities: the University of Iowa, Iowa State University, and the University of Northern Iowa. These schools offer some of the best computer science programs in Iowa.
Students at the University of Northern Iowa can choose a specialization in software engineering, systems and traditional computer science, or information science. Additionally, the University of Iowa and Iowa State University both offer combined five-year accelerated programs in which students can graduate with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in computer science. University of Iowa students can also pursue a Ph.D. in computer science.
In 2017, the Iowa Board of Regents also rolled out a distance education strategic plan that aims to align distance education programs with the economic needs of the state and expand access to said programs for state residents. The plan also endeavors to improve education technology, making it easier to deliver high-quality online courses.
Schools like the University of Northern Iowa use the Blackboard learning management system to deliver online instruction, and Iowa State University offers a fully online master’s in computer engineering. Distance courses may be taught synchronously or asynchronously, depending on the structure of the program. Students take classes at their own pace in asynchronous programs or login during a specified time for synchronous participation.
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Computer Science Careers in Iowa
According to a recent CompTIA Cyberstates report, the U.S. boasts close to 12 million tech jobs, and the tech industry contributes $1.6 trillion annually to the U.S. economy. The BLS projects a 19% increase in the number of computer and information scientist jobs between 2016 and 2026. The aforementioned CompTIA study also reports that the tech industry adds roughly 200,000 IT jobs to its sector each year. Online computer science programs in Iowa prepare graduates for careers in software engineering, data analytics, and system administration. The most common IT jobs in Iowa are software developers, systems analysts, and computer support specialists.
Median Salary for Computer Science Careers by Degree
COMPUTER SCIENCE EMPLOYERS IN IOWA
- Collins Aerospace: Collins Aerospace offers high-tech aviation solutions to companies in the commercial and military sectors. They deal with cabin electronics, information management, and mission communications. The company works closely with local students and offers fellowships, internships, and opportunities for co-op employment. Collins Aerospace routinely hires software engineers, systems engineers, and software technicians.
- IBM: IBM started out as a company that mostly built computers, software, and hardware, but now this multi-billion dollar corporation also provides cloud-based solutions to help companies outsource work or manage information and employees. IBM also offers site-hosting and builds healthcare applications. The company employs a large number of software and application security engineers with computer science backgrounds.
- Wells Fargo: Wells Fargo is a financial services company founded in 1852. Today, the company helps customers with banking, investing, loans, insurance, and wealth management. To handle its many computer-related duties, the company hires multiple IT professionals, including information security engineers, data architects, and information security analysts.
Computer Science Programs in Iowa
Computer science schools in Iowa offer students a comprehensive educational experience. On-campus students meet at regularly scheduled times to attend classes, and schools like the University of Northern Iowa emphasize smaller class sizes to encourage better student-teacher interaction; computer science classes contain no more than 30 students.
Many on-campus learners schedule meetings with their instructors before or after class and have access to a wealth of student services, such as computer labs, tutors, and academic advisors. Students also have direct access to on-campus student organizations that specialize in computer science. They can join these associations and serve as board members to coordinate activities on campus.
Students pursuing an online computer science degree in Iowa have a slightly different experience. Schools typically have an entire department dedicated to online learning and distance education with advisors, administrative staff, and faculty members. School credentials provide access to coursework through an online learning management system, where students can view the syllabus, coursework, and interact with their peers and instructors.
Some online computer science programs may use a hybrid format for their courses. Hybrid courses may require students to attend periodic on-campus meetings or scheduled online lectures, while fully online classes have zero in-person class attendance requirements.
Iowa computer science schools receive regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission. Regional accreditation affords many benefits, such as federal financial aid and easier credit transfer between universities. Additionally, many employers only hire workers who hold a degree from an accredited institution. Computer science programs in Iowa can also earn programmatic accreditation from the Computing Accreditation Commission.
TYPES OF COMPUTER SCIENCE DEGREES
Students can pursue four different online computer science programs in Iowa, including an associate degree, bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and Ph.D. Generally students earning an associate degree in computer science go on to earn a bachelor’s degree, often the minimum requirement to land entry-level jobs. Those who want to advance to the management positions or more complicated roles earn a master’s degree or a doctorate. in computer science. Every degree differs in cost and time commitment. Explore each degree option below.
An associate degree in computer science serves as the foundation students need to earn a bachelor’s degree. Employers in programming, systems analytics, and cybersecurity may hire graduates with an associate degree and work experience in the field. However, some employers prefer or only accept candidates with a bachelor’s degree in computer science for entry-level positions.
While earning an associate degree in computer science, students learn the basics of computer programming and operating systems. The ideal candidate for an associate degree wants to break into the industry or later pursue a bachelor’s degree in computer science. At minimum, an associate computer science degree takes two years to complete.
A bachelor’s degree in computer science offers a versatile degree that lets students study specific areas of interest. This gives students the necessary skills to land the career of their dreams or pursue a master’s degree later.
In addition to elective courses and core classes in data structures, software engineering, and computer architecture, students also hone specialties. Students can concentrate in areas of computer science such as databases, data mining, animation, hardware design, and robotics. A bachelor’s degree in computer sciences takes about three to five years to complete, depending on the number of credits students take per semester or quarter.
Every college offers a different program with unique curriculum. Schools may offer a bachelor’s in computer science, a bachelor’s in information technology, a bachelor’s in computing, or a bachelor’s in computer security. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree, graduates can work as software developers, computer hardware engineers, or computer systems analysts.
The degree a graduate earns typically corresponds to their annual salary. That means as a working professional advances in their education, so does their pay. Graduates with a master’s degree in computer science earn some of the highest salaries in the industry. They can work as computer and information research scientists, who earn an annual median salary of $114,520, or as software developers with an annual median salary of $103,560.
A master’s degree in computer science takes on average two years to complete when students attend classes full time. While enrolled in online computer science programs in Iowa, students study computational science and engineering, data analytics, bioinformatics, computer security, and computer networks. Each degree offers different variations; some focus on robotics, game development, and creative technologies. Working professionals who want to advance in their careers benefit from earning a master’s degree in computer science.
A Ph.D. remains the highest degree a computer science professional can earn, but in the future more and more professionals in computer science may need to have a doctorate to land their dream jobs. The BLS projects that by 2022, more employers will require candidates to have a Ph.D., a 15.3% jump from 2012. With a Ph.D. in computer science, graduates can work as computer science professors or software developers. The salary a graduate earns depends on their degree, work experience, and job location.
From start to finish, a Ph.D. in computer science takes four to five years to complete. Writing and researching a dissertation remains the most time-consuming part of the degree. Students complete about 72-90 credits. A comprehensive computer science Ph.D. program allows students to focus on computational biology, human-computer interaction, combinatorics, or language and information technologies.
Professional Computer Science Organizations in Iowa
Joining a computer science organization benefits students in all stages of their pursuit of computer science degrees. These organizations offer learners the chance to network with other computer science majors and professionals in the industry. Most on-campus student organizations also help members find internships with local companies and attend computer science-related events. Professional organizations typically arrange annual conferences, help members with job placement, and provide continuing education services. Below are some popular organizations available to students pursuing a computer science degree in Iowa.
- Technology Association of Iowa: TAI brings together Iowa professionals who work in technology. By joining, members get free access to TAI’s job board, networking opportunities, discounts to events, and access to a members-only online forum. Members also receive PR and marketing support with the ability to post events on the website’s calendar.
- Iowa Association of Business and Industry: Founded in 1903, ABI unites people from various business sectors in Iowa to educate, collaborate, motivate, and advocate on behalf of its members. Members can also connect with business leaders from around the state and receive discounts on everything from office furniture to UPS shipping services.
- Association for Computing Machinery: With a University of Iowa student chapter, the Association of Computing Machinery offers professors, researchers, students, and educators in the computer industry an opportunity to connect. The student chapter provides an opportunity to attend the UI Computing Conference, workshops, socials, and speaking engagements. ACI also offers a career and job center and a learning center where members can take online courses.
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