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High-paying computer and information technology jobs continue to grow across the United States, and North Dakota is no exception. While computer science professionals may earn lower mean wages in North Dakota than in other states, they earn higher salaries than other occupations in the state and remain in high demand by employers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer user support specialists -- a position that typically requires an associate or bachelor's degree -- earn $54,660 per year in North Dakota, while software applications developers earn $74,310. These salaries compare favorably to the state's mean wage for all occupations of $48,130.
The fastest-growing industries in North Dakota include mining and logging as well as construction. These industries require information technology professionals for support. Ten-year career projections of 18.1% for information technology jobs remain higher than all other career clusters in the state.
Ten-year career projections of 18.1% for information technology jobs remain higher than all other career clusters in North Dakota.
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Higher Education in North Dakota
Although North Dakota has a low population compared to other states, the state serves as home to 21 colleges and universities, 14 of which function as public institutions. The University of North Dakota in Grand Forks enrolls nearly 15,000 students, with North Dakota State University not far behind. Undergraduate students who prefer a smaller campus may consider the University of Jamestown, which offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in computer science. North Dakota also boasts five tribal colleges, four of which offer technical and vocational degrees.
North Dakota institutions deliver a variety of online and on-campus computer science programs, and many students appreciate the state's low cost of living and beautiful atmosphere. However, even students living outside the state can receive a quality education from the best computer science schools in North Dakota. Many schools, such as the University of North Dakota, allow online students to pay in-state tuition rates, regardless of state residency.
Computer Science Careers in North Dakota
Roles for graduates of computer science colleges in North Dakota continue to expand and offer significantly higher salaries than the national average. Graduates pursue roles as computer network architects, programmers, systems analysts, and information research scientists. The BLS projects jobs for computer scientists to grow 13% nationally by 2026. These jobs will also offer $35,000 more in annual salaries than the national average for all occupations. North Dakota's large cities offer the majority of computer science positions in areas like Fargo, Bismarck, Grand Forks, and Minot.
Mean Salary for Computer Science Careers in North Dakota
Computer Science Employers in North Dakota
- North Dakota State University: North Dakota's largest higher education institution also serves as its largest employer with more than 4,500 employees. Aside from computer science teachers, the institution also needs network analysts to ensure safety and security.
- Altru Health System: Altru's central office in Grand Forks employs more than 3,500 people. The health system needs qualified professionals to implement and maintain software and hardware, oversee data security, and manage internal networks.
- Microsoft: Microsoft employs 1,800 people at its Fargo office areas such as data and analytics, Azure apps and infrastructure, and business apps.
Computer Science Programs in North Dakota
Students considering computer science programs in North Dakota have many options. Major cities like Bismarck, Grand Forks, and Fargo offer campus-based programs. One of the best computer science schools in North Dakota, UND boasts bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees. NDSU also delivers a variety of computer science programs, including a popular bachelor's program. Students who prefer to attend a private institution can pursue computer science programs at the University of Mary and the University of Jamestown.
Several institutions also offer online computer science degrees in North Dakota. Minot State University features online bachelor's and master's degrees in information systems, and NDSU boasts an online master's in software engineering. North Dakota is a member of the Midwest Student Exchange Program, which allows students to pay discounted tuition rates for programs in other states, including Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, and Wisconsin.
Online learning is ideal for busy students with professional or personal commitments. Most online programs feature asynchronous formats and offer students the flexibility to watch lectures and complete assignments at their convenience. This flexibility also allows students to complete online programs at an accelerated pace.
Types of Computer Science Degrees
Formal training in computer science can open the door to better pay, increased job opportunities, and career advancement. Degree holders in computer science with expertise in software, security, networks, databases, and applications, for example, are in high demand and can command high wages. While many positions require an associate or bachelor's degree, a graduate degree can increase earning potential substantially. Any online computer science program in North Dakota may prove well worth the investment of time and money.
An associate degree in computer science is the minimum requirement for many entry-level computer science jobs. Ideal for high school graduates who wish to qualify for a well-paying computer science job, this degree offers an affordable path to employment or further study. The typical course of study includes general education requirements and training in basic computer skills and takes two years to complete with full time enrollment. Through required computer courses, students gain an introductory level of expertise with computer networks, operating systems, databases, and programming.
Associate programs can differ in the electives, specializations, and internships they offer. While associate degree holders may obtain computer science jobs such as web developer or computer support specialist, many finish their undergraduate degrees to qualify for the higher paying computer science jobs requiring at least a bachelor's degree.
Most computer science occupations require at least a bachelor's degree. Ideal for high school graduates or associate degree holders with interests in computers, programming, or software development, this degree can lead to a variety of high-paying computer science positions or graduate study.
Courses include general education requirements and classes that provide a foundation in popular programming languages, computer architecture, networking, software engineering, and operating systems. Many programs offer concentrations such as database management, security architecture, and software development. The typical bachelor's degree takes four years to complete if enrolled full time. High-paying occupations with high projected growth rates that are open to bachelor's degree holders include information security analyst and software developer.
Experienced computer science professionals with a bachelor's degree who seek career advancement opportunities may benefit from completing a master's degree in computer science. This degree typically takes about two years to complete full time; however, some programs offer flexible part-time options for working professionals. Schools tend to tailor master's degrees in computer science to specific specializations, such as systems engineering, cybersecurity, and systems architecture. Programs also typically include a final capstone project or master's thesis.
Graduate degree holders in computer science are in high demand and can earn six-figure salaries, depending on their location and area of expertise. Computer and information research scientists, for example, must possess at least a master's degree and earn $114,520 annually on average. The BLS projects a 19% growth rate for this occupation.
Ideal for experienced computer scientists seeking greater responsibility, more creative input, or higher pay, a Ph.D. in computer science can qualify degree holders for a variety of advanced, well-paying jobs. Degree holders qualify as researchers, college professors, program and project directors, and top executives. Senior positions in computer systems security, network architecture, software engineering, and IT management can prove especially lucrative and often require a Ph.D. A doctorate in computer science typically takes four or five years to complete and mandates that applicants hold a bachelor's or master's degree. Degree requirements include advanced coursework and independent research in an area of specialization leading to a dissertation.
Professional Computer Science Organizations in North Dakota
Students, recent graduates, and experienced professionals benefit from joining professional organizations. These groups provide networking opportunities, such as annual conferences or monthly events. Members also receive access to continuing education opportunities, career guidance, and job boards. Below, we provide a list of computer science organizations open to students and professionals in North Dakota.
- North Dakota Society of Professional Engineers: This professional society represents the interests of the state's engineers, including electrical engineers. The society encourages licensure for engineers and advocates for legislation that promotes the professional status of engineers. NDSPE holds an annual meeting and grants several awards. Local affiliates host additional networking events across the state.
- IEEE Computer Society: As part of IEEE's Region 4, North Dakota IEEE members may take advantage of regional activities as well events and resources offered at the national level. This society promotes the benefits of computing technology. Regional activities include awards, educational activities, professional webinars and events for engineers, and activities for students.
- Computing Research Association: As an association of computing research organizations, CRA seeks to promote the quality and funding of computing research and education. CRA publishes white papers and best practices, holds conferences, educates policymakers, and offers mentoring and networking opportunities. Job seekers and employers can utilize CRA's job announcement board.
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