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The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that employment in the field of computer and information technology will increase by 13% through 2026, nearly double the rate of growth for the country's economy as a whole. On top of strong job prospects, these occupations offer exceptional compensation. In 2017, the national median wage for this field approached $85,000.
In Maine specifically, the state's Center for Workforce Research and Information projects that computer-related professional roles will trail only health care occupations in terms of overall growth. Demand for software application developers and information security analysts should increase by more than 20% in the coming years.
The vast majority of these jobs, however, require some form of postsecondary education. This page offers an overview of online computer science programs in Maine, including information on degree levels, possible career paths, and helpful professional organizations to join after graduation.
Computer-related professional roles will trail only health care occupations in terms of overall growth.
Higher Education in Maine
Maine's many colleges and universities provide students with a variety of opportunities to earn computer science degrees. The state's largest university system remains the University of Maine, which has its flagship campus in Orono and branches located in Augusta, Farmington, Fort Kent, Machias, and Presque Isle. The University of Southern Maine boasts the second-highest enrollment among Maine's universities. These two schools offer bachelor's- and master's-level computer science programs.
Project Login, a program supported by Educate Maine, encourages people to pursue education that will lead to careers in computers and information technology (IT). The in-state tuition rates for students in Maine makes studying computer science especially attractive to residents of the state. This benefit applies to both in-person and online programs at public universities. Online students can also subtract transportation costs, as well as room and board. Additionally, students attending colleges close to home can leverage professional networking connections upon graduation.
Computer Science Careers in Maine
Graduates of computer science programs in Maine can choose from among several career opportunities. Common careers for computer science majors include roles as software or web developers, database or network systems administrators, computer programmers, software or systems engineers, and software quality assurance testers. Startup tech companies employ graduates in computer science-related fields and increase the demand for workers with the educational background needed to fill those positions. Read on for a list of careers and their corresponding salaries in fields related to computer science.
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Mean Salary for Computer Science Careers by Degree
COMPUTER SCIENCE EMPLOYERS IN MAINE
- MaineHealth: As the state's largest employer, MaineHealth consists of clinics and hospitals located throughout Maine. Each of these facilities requires trained IT personnel to maintain their computer systems, manage hardware and software, preserve electronic medical records, and handle cybersecurity concerns, among other computer science tasks.
- University of Maine: The University of Maine exists as another large employer with locations throughout the state. In addition to academic jobs related to the university's computer science department, capable workers maintain the school's computer network, manage student records and other digital information, and oversee security.
- L.L. Bean: Headquartered in Freeport, Maine, L.L. Bean produces clothing and recreational equipment. While the company has retail stores in 20 states, the majority of its sales occur online. Trained workers maintain its e-commerce platform and keep order fulfillment functions running.
Computer Science Programs in Maine
Maine's colleges and universities offer promising on-campus degree programs. For example, the University of Maine offers a choice between a bachelor of science and a bachelor of arts in computer science, as well as master's and doctoral programs in the field. Undergraduate programs generally cover computer programming, network architecture and organization, software engineering, cybersecurity, ethics, and more, including laboratories and a capstone.
Available through the New England Board of Higher Education, students may receive tuition discounts for computer engineering technology programs offered by certain schools in Connecticut and Vermont.
Online programs allow greater flexibility in scheduling for students with full-time schedules and family commitments. Currently, no colleges in Maine offer online computer science programs. However, a few schools have related degree programs, such as cybersecurity or computer information systems.
As you research the best computer science schools in Maine, always ensure that the program maintains accreditation. An accredited school confirms that its academic credentials meet or exceed established standards, which remains crucial for potential employers who need to confirm candidates' qualifications. Specific areas in the country issue regional accreditation, which remains the most prestigious form.
The New England Association of Schools and Colleges serves colleges and universities in Maine. Other accrediting agencies focus on specific programs or fields. The Computing Accreditation Commission reviews computer science programs throughout the country, so look for this accreditation when you research computer science colleges in Maine.
TYPES OF COMPUTER SCIENCE DEGREES
You can earn a variety of online computer science degrees in Maine. For example, if you hope to take on an entry-level role in IT support, you may consider earning an associate degree to enter the job market as quickly and inexpensively as possible. If, however, you want to begin a career in computer science research or computer and information systems management, you may instead need to complete a master's or doctoral program.
ASSOCIATE IN COMPUTER SCIENCE
An associate degree in computer science prepares you for entry-level roles, such as computer support specialist or web developer. These programs typically consist of about 60 credits, and full-time students usually graduate in about two years. Part-time students may need up to four years to earn their degree.
Expect to take foundational coursework in areas such as programming, the principles of computer networks, and cybersecurity fundamentals. Students must also take general education classes in subjects such as English composition and the social sciences.
To enter an associate program, you typically must first hold a high school diploma or GED. Many community colleges feature partnerships with state universities, allowing you to easily transfer the credits you earn while pursuing an associate toward a bachelor's program in computer science or a related field. Beginning your undergraduate studies at a community college often means you pay less in tuition. Flexible courses of study at community colleges also appeal to working professionals and single parents.
BACHELOR’S IN COMPUTER SCIENCE
A bachelor's degree prepares you for most computer science careers in Maine. These programs consist of 120 credits, and full-time students typically graduate in four years. If you plan to study on a part-time basis, you may need anywhere from 6-8 years to finish.
Like associate programs, earning a bachelor's degree requires coursework in general education and computer-related subjects. Within their major, students often explore topics such as software engineering, computer algorithms, and data structures. Through electives, students may also explore more specialized areas, including computer architecture and specific operating systems. Some schools also offer internships or field experience opportunities.
After completing a four-year program, you can take on jobs such as database administrator, information security analyst, or software developer. You may qualify for supervisory roles with just a bachelor's degree and many years of professional experience, though some employers prefer to hire managers with advanced degrees.
MASTER’S IN COMPUTER SCIENCE
A master's in computer science prepares students for leadership and highly specialized roles. These programs consist of 45-60 credits and usually require about two years of full-time study. Each applicant must possess a bachelor's degree, and some programs also require multiple years of professional experience.
Your specific coursework will vary, depending on your chosen area of focus. Students interested in jobs in computer and information systems management should supplement their technical expertise with classes in project management, organizational development, and financial administration. Learners aspiring to roles in research and development may instead study subjects like data mining, artificial intelligence, and machine learning.
At the graduate level, many online computer science programs in Maine require students to complete a capstone project. These projects give you the opportunity to apply your learning to a real-world issue in computer science. For instance, you may partner with a community health center to design a better system for collecting and utilizing patient data.
COMPUTER SCIENCE PH.D
Of all the online computer science programs in Maine, a Ph.D. offers the most advanced level of training. The length of these programs can vary considerably, but a typical full-time student earns a Ph.D. in computer science in 4-7 years.
To enter a doctoral program, you typically need to hold a master's in computer science or a closely related field. Some schools, though, allow students to earn their master's as they work towards a doctorate. While the makeup of a Ph.D. curriculum depends greatly on your chosen field of study, most students take coursework in statistical analysis and information science.
After completing roughly three years of coursework, doctoral students shift their focus to dissertations. The dissertation process requires collecting original research or analyzing multiple sources of existing data. Each student then writes a document sharing his/her findings and defends it before a faculty committee. Most Ph.D. graduates pursue careers in academia in roles such as college professor or research scientist.
Professional Computer Science Organizations in Maine
Computer science-related organizations offer helpful resources to students and graduates. Most organizations provide educational publications and conferences so that members can stay current on the latest information. These organizations also create networking opportunities online and in person through local mediums. They offer special memberships to students and job boards for employment seekers. Read on for a list of some of these organizations.
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