Individuals considering a career in computer science are often drawn to North Carolina, both for the large number of jobs available throughout the state and the significant research done at the many higher education and medical institutions. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that more than 125,000 professionals in North Carolina are employed in mathematics and computer science-related careers, with positions including computer systems analyst and professor of computer science.
In a ranking of careers with the largest employment in the state, roles for computer user support specialists were ranked as the 50th largest role, with almost 20,000 workers. In a ranking of the fastest growing occupations, computer analysts topped the list for computer science-related roles, with positions expected to expand by 29% between 2014 to 2024. If you’re considering an online computer science degree in North Carolina, this page provides the information you’ll need to find an educational program and a career after graduation.
Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that more than 125,000 professionals in North Carolina are employed in mathematics and computer science-related careers.
Higher Education in North Carolina
North Carolina is a premier destination for higher education in the United States. The state is currently home to 188 colleges and universities, including public and private institutions. Computer science in North Carolina is thriving, and postsecondary education options reflect the growing need for trained professionals in the field. In addition to a broad variety of campus-based computer science degrees, many computer science schools in North Carolina also offer online learning options.
Institutions that most frequently come up in searches for the best computer science schools in North Carolina include the large University of North Carolina system, which encompasses six campuses throughout the state. North Carolina State University is also well-known for its computer science offerings. Students seeking a private institution are often drawn to Duke University, Wake Forest University, or Davidson College.
Computer Science Careers in North Carolina
The market for computer science careers in North Carolina is extremely promising, with positions for computer systems analysts listed as the 27th fastest growing job in the state. Other rapidly expanding positions include roles for computer and information systems managers (projected to grow by 26% between 2014 and 2024), computer network architects (16%), and network and computer systems administrators (13%). When compared to national averages, the state far outpaces the rest of the country: the Department of Labor projects that roles for computer systems analysts will grow by 9% nationally, but will grow 29% in North Carolina.
When considering specific regions, an area known as the Research Triangle is where most of the developments in computer science are taking place. This area includes Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill. Other cities to research include Charlotte, Greensboro, and Winston-Salem.
Median Salary for Computer Science Careers by Degree
Computer Science Employers in North Carolina
- University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: With 30,000 employees, UNC-CH is the state’s largest employer by far. Aside from professors of computer science, the institution also employs individuals who can develop proprietary software, maintain network security, and continually strengthen existing hardware and software.
- Wake Forest Baptist Health: WFBH employees more than 15,000 North Carolinians. The medical center hires computer science graduates who can monitor the many types of software and hardware used to care for patients. These professionals also ensure all sensitive patient data is properly encrypted and and safely stored on the network according to HIPPA regulations.
- Carolinas Medical Center: As the third largest employer within the state, CMC currently provides work for more than 12,000 people. Like WFBH, this organization employs trained computer scientists who can ensure electronic files are properly secured and oversee maintenance of software and hardware.
How Much do Computer Scientists Make in North Carolina?
Salaries for computer science professionals can vary greatly based on a number of factors, including location. Because the cost of living in North Carolina is still cheaper than other technology hubs such as San Francisco or New York City, average pay in the state is slightly lower. Other factors that affect salary include levels of experience, highest degree attained, industry, and type of company.
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Computer Science Programs in North Carolina
Computer science programs in North Carolina are readily available both on campus and online, making it easy for students to find an option that is suitable for their unique needs. Amongst North Carolina computer science schools, North Carolina State in Raleigh is constantly hailed as a top choice. UNC Chapel Hill offers four different computer science degree paths. Students seeking a smaller campus may be interested in Elon University, which has two campus-based options.
For students who prefer distance learning, there are many online computer science programs in North Carolina. North Carolina State University offers a 31 credit master’s in computer science that is designed for working professionals and requires no thesis or campus-based residency. The institution also provides online master’s programs in computer engineering and computer networking. Degree seekers looking to complete a bachelor’s degree can take advantage of Gardner-Webb University’s bachelor’s in computer information systems.
Online degrees are beneficial to many types of students, particularly those who want to continue working while pursuing their education. Because the vast majority of programs are delivered asynchronously, learners are able to complete assignments on their own schedule. Before enrolling in any online program, however, distance learners need to ensure their chosen school is regionally accredited and, if possible, the department has programmatic accreditation. Students should look for programs accredited by the Computing Accreditation Commission, a subset of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology.
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 North Carolina?
Now that you know about online computer science programs in North Carolina, the next step is to find a school that perfectly suits your individual needs and goals. Prospective students can use the database below to research all accredited computer science colleges in North Carolina.
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Professional Computer Science Organizations in North Carolina
Whether you are at beginning of your career or have been in the field for decades, professional organizations can be a great resource. In addition to providing networking opportunities such as annual conferences, these groups frequently offer continuing education programs, career services, and job boards. Below are three organizations for computer science students and professionals.
- North Carolina Technology Association: NCTA is a statewide organization that provides a range of membership benefits, including regular events, networking opportunities, and computer science resources. The association also maintains an active jobs board.
- Computer Science Teachers Association: CSTA maintains two chapters in North Carolina – Piedmont and Triangle East. Members join a robust and welcoming community of local community science educators, including those working in secondary and postsecondary education.
- IEEE Computer Society: IEEE’s Computer Society maintains a large national presence, as well as a chapter for professionals in North Carolina. The Computer Society offers 3,500 self-paced courses, 15,000 training videos, and 24,000 reference books to its members.
Additional Computer Science Resources in North Carolina
- Women in Computer Science: NC State University maintains an active WICS chapter with regular events, networking opportunities, and coding workshops to helps learners build their skills. The society hosts the annual DiamondHacks hackathon in order to support females and other underrepresented populations in computer science.
- Computer Science Student Association: UNC Chapel Hill is home to this graduate-level student organization. In addition to planning regular events, the association represents students at faculty meetings, grants teaching awards, helps students to maintain web pages, and plans the annual Candidates’ Weekend. A mentorship program is also available.
- UNC Research Department: The Department of Computer Science at UNC Chapel Hill runs research laboratories, groups, and centers. Computer science students and faculty are currently collaborating with geneticists and oncologists in order to research bioinformatics.
- Computer Science Association of Graduate Students: This student-led organization on the campus of NC State University is a popular option for master’s and doctoral computer science students looking for both social and professional networking opportunities. Aside from holding regular trivia nights, the group also brings in leaders from the field to speak about potential career paths.