Across the country, information technology occupations represent some of the most accessible and lucrative career options for new graduates. In Pennsylvania, the technology landscape looks promising. According to the 2018 CompTIA Research Report, the state hosts one of the largest technology workforces and continues to take great strides to improve innovation. Financially, Pennsylvania’s tech sector contributes approximately 7% to the state economy and pays average salaries that nearly double the national average.
Companies throughout the state invest in technology and innovation. Several colleges and universities boast online programs in computer science to support growth in the tech sector, and many of the country’s biggest tech companies call Pennsylvania home, including Google and Amazon.
A majority of the state’s computing professionals workforce find roles as computer systems analysts, network administrators, and software developers. The following page outlines the state of computer science in Pennsylvania, highlighting the different available degree types and the employment outlook for computing graduates.
Pennsylvania hosts one of the largest technology workforces and continues to take great strides to improve innovation.
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Higher Education in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania remains home to one of the largest state university systems in the country, which comprises 14 universities and enrolls more than 112,000 students. The state university system includes respected institutions such as Bloomsburg University, Edinboro, and Mansfield. The state university system’s Strategic Plan 2020 involves expanding the number of awarded STEM degrees and certificates. Computer science colleges in Pennsylvania consistently offer rigorous programs that produce qualified graduates.
For students pursuing computer science degrees, Pennsylvania institutions offer a variety of respected on-campus and online programs. In 2017, Penn State commissioned 163 computer and information sciences and support services courses, and Temple University offers dual majors in mathematics/physics and computer science. Carnegie Mellon University, one of the best computer science schools in Pennsylvania, finds its home in Pittsburgh.
Computer Science Careers in Pennsylvania
The national technology industry continues to proliferate. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 19% increase in demand for computer and information scientists by 2026. The majority of tech positions reside in major cities, such as Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Pennsylvania remains home to more than 300 tech startups, in addition to Fortune 500 companies such as Comcast and PNC Financial Services.
Mean Salary for Computer Science Careers by Degree
Computer Science Employers in Pennsylvania
- Infosys: Infosys, founded in India in 1981 as a consulting and IT services company, creates artificial intelligence platforms and data clouds for small and large businesses. Infosys hires senior systems engineers, technology architects, and technical leads.
- Comcast: Comcast delivers internet, cable, and telephone services. One of the largest telecommunications organizations in the world, Comcast owns broadcast network channels including MSNBC and The Weather Channel. Comcast employs data scientists, software developers, and software architects.
- Amazon: Amazon serves as the world’s largest and most profitable eCommerce site. Incorporated in 1994, the billion-dollar retailer boasts thousands of employees. Its subdivision, Amazon Web Services, supports app and software developers to employ software development engineers, quality assurance engineers, and Android engineers.
How Much do Computer Scientists Make in Pennsylvania?
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Computer Science Programs in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) works to improve computer science programs in Pennsylvania and increase the number of computer science graduates in the state. PASSHE projects that 57% of Pennsylvania jobs will require a postsecondary degree by 2018 and works to increase on-campus and online enrollment. PASSHE plans to develop a clearinghouse for additional online courses, which will help busy students earn degrees.
Most computer science schools in Pennsylvania offer online programs, which meet the same educational standards as those offered on campus. Carnegie Mellon allows students to transfer into an online program after their first year. Villanova University offers a flexible online computer engineering program where students take one course per semester and graduate within three years.
When researching on-campus or online computer programs in Pennsylvania, look for regional or national accreditation. Pennsylvania institutions receive regional accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Accreditation ensures that programs meet standards of academic rigor and faculty expertise.
Types of Computer Science Degrees
The various online computer science programs in Pennsylvania offer students different levels of study options and career opportunities. Whereas associate and bachelor’s degrees both allow students to pursue entry-level positions, the latter requires lengthier study times and may qualify graduates for more advanced positions with better growth potential.
Similarly, while master’s degrees and doctorates permit graduates to take on management positions, doctorates typically take graduates toward careers in research and academia. The following section covers these degrees in more detail, highlighting the benefits of the programs and the available computer science roles in Pennsylvania for students that pursue them.
With an associate degree in computer science, analytical students with problem-solving skills can turn interests in computers and technology into lucrative and challenging careers. Aspiring computer science students benefit from a great selection of program options and delivery types, most of which require fewer than two years of study. In these programs, graduates acquire the knowledge and skills to access several IT-related positions. According to the BLS, associate degrees qualify candidates for roles in web development, computer support, and programming.
Associate degrees also act as solid educational and professional foundations. With training in programming and networking fundamentals, graduates can put their prior learning and credits toward a bachelor’s degree in computer science. Professionally, these core courses in computer science provide graduates with the entry-level skills that qualify them for meaningful IT careers.
By choosing bachelor’s degrees in computer science, students can access a variety of careers in the computer and technology industries. Typically equipped with critical-thinking skills and a strong interest in computers, bachelor’s degree students move from foundational computer courses into more advanced courses in software engineering and computer architecture. Depending on their interests and specializations, graduates find employment in areas such as computer network architecture and hardware engineering.
Bachelor’s programs vary in length and structure, but the typical degree takes 3-4 years to complete. Many of these programs offer concentrations that students can take to hone their interests and alter their professional paths. A bachelor’s degree also provides graduates with future opportunities for career growth and professional development.
After completing master’s degrees in computer science, graduates qualify for many leadership positions in the fields of computing and information technology. These programs build on the foundational courses from undergraduate degrees to develop specializations in areas such as artificial intelligence, security, and data analytics. Equipped with superior research and design skills, many graduates take on positions as computer research scientists or within some of the larger and more reputable technology companies around the country.
While a master’s degree in computer science typically takes fewer than two years to complete, the rigorous research and training demand that students possess the right amount of determination and drive, along with the necessary analytical and critical-thinking skills. Some candidates seek master’s degrees right after completing an undergraduate degree to enhance their computer science background or concentrate in a specific field. Other candidates use a master’s degree to advance in their current profession or within an organization. From there, students can pursue certifications or even progress into a doctoral program.
In addition to most technology careers and management positions within technology organizations, a professional with a Ph.D. in computer science qualifies for positions in academia, executive positions, and research and development. The ability for doctoral students to specialize in fields like nanotechnology and forensic science enables them to develop an expertise in an advanced discipline unlike any other online computer science program in Pennsylvania.
For many computer science doctoral students, research represents the most appealing factor. Working professionals looking to advance their research in the field or for master’s students should consider roles in research and development, where a three- to five-year doctoral program constitutes a valuable option.
Professional Computer Science Organizations in Pennsylvania
Both students and professionals in Pennsylvania with online computer science degrees benefit from joining professional organizations. Organizations facilitate networking among like-minded students and professionals. Professional organizations also provide career services and job boards to help members secure employment. Pennsylvania’s computer science organizations host annual conferences, offer scholarships, and provide continuing education programs.
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