Computer science is among the fastest-growing occupational areas nationwide. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects employment in computer and information technology to grow 13% from 2016 to 2026 nationwide. In Tennessee, computer science professionals can also expect rapid growth for occupations in this field.
According to the state Department of Labor and Workforce, software developers specializing in applications will see a total employment increase of 52% from 2016-2026, the highest growth rate of any occupation statewide. Occupations in the field like computer systems analysts and computer programmers are likewise predicted to grow steadily.
Software developers specializing in applications will see a total employment increase of 52% from 2016-2026, the highest growth rate of any occupation in Tennessee.
Higher Education in Tennessee
Tennessee's higher education system includes a long list of public, private, and technical institutions, with many postsecondary options for traditional and nontraditional prospective students. Tennessee also offers higher education initiatives designed to increase enrollment and retention and expand access to learners of all types and backgrounds.
For example, the Drive to 55 program highlights Tennessee's commitment to raising the percentage of adults in the state with a postsecondary degree to 55% by 2025. Additionally, the Tennessee Promise program offers graduates of state high schools free tuition at community colleges and technical institutions across the state.
Tennessee's public colleges and universities serve an ever-growing number of students; in 2016, over 136,000 students enrolled full time in the state's university system. During that same period, enrollment at the community college level reached 86,000. The largest university system in the state is the University of Tennessee, which consists of three major campuses and a medical school. In addition to its popular athletic program, UT offers over 900 programs of study, including several computer science degree paths.
Computer Science Careers in Tennessee
The number of computer science positions continues to increase rapidly across the nation. For example, the BLS projects software development positions to grow 24% within the next few years, and jobs in web development look to increase by 13%. Both of these rates exceed the national average for all occupations. Jobs in computer science in Tennessee are in particularly high demand.
The healthcare field typically serves as one of the largest employers of computer science professionals in Tennessee. These jobs include data security, software development, and information management.
Mean Salary for Computer Science Careers in Tennessee
Computer Science Employers in Tennessee
- HCA Healthcare: Headquartered in Nashville, this healthcare organization provides services across the state, nationally, and abroad. In Tennessee, this organization employs over 10,000 individuals and offers consistent job openings in a number of positions, including health information and medical records management.
- Fedex: This international shipping company resides in Memphis and boasts more than 10,000 employees in Tennessee. The company hires computer science professionals to fill technical roles like management analysts, database architects, and office machine managers.
- Vanderbilt University: Vanderbilt University is a private institution based in the city of Nashville. The university employs a large number of workers in its medical facilities and research centers. The school often needs qualified computer programmers and specialists to work in a variety of capacities.
How Much do Computer Scientists Make in Tennessee?
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Computer Science Programs in Tennessee
Tennessee's extensive higher education system offers students the opportunity to pursue degrees on campuses in many different parts of the state. The University of Tennessee system harbors campuses in Knoxville, Chattanooga, and Memphis, and offers multiple on-campus computer science degree paths. Students can also choose to pursue a five-year BS-to-MS program, allowing them to earn multiple computer science degrees in Tennessee.
Students interested in online computer science schools in Tennessee can visit the TN eCampus, which provides a wealth of information regarding how to pursue online degrees through schools in the state. Community colleges, four-year universities, and technical schools offer online programming through the TN eCampus.
Online programs prove ideal for working professionals, returning nontraditional students, and other learners; the distance learning format provides a higher level of flexibility, letting students earn a degree at their own pace and on their own time. Additionally, resident students can take advantage of state incentives and financial aid programs when attending online Tennessee computer science schools.
All of the online programs and schools endorsed by the Tennessee Board of Regents hold accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, which ensures accredited institutions meet strict academic standards. Additionally, many of the computer science-related programs in Tennessee hold accreditation from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology.
Types of Computer Science Degrees
Different online computer science programs in Tennessee meet the needs of professionals at different stages of employment. An associate degree helps graduates gain entry-level employment. A bachelor's degree program helps graduates with upward mobility into mid-level career paths. Graduate and postgraduate degrees prepare graduates for positions in technology development research, executive positions, or careers in academia.
Many computer science professionals earn an associate in computer science degree as the first step toward completing a bachelor's degree. An associate in computer science qualifies a graduate for entry-level positions in web development and computer support. These programs cover the basics of computer programming and maintenance.
Curriculum often includes introductory courses on programming, followed by more intensive coursework on databases and operating system fundamentals. Many courses emphasize projects that students can later incorporate into an academic portfolio. Learners sometimes need to complete an internship or capstone as a culminating project. An associate in computer science program typically takes two years, or around 60-66 credits to complete.
A bachelor's in computer science grounds students in the different languages, programs, and applications comprising the field's basic concepts. Learners hoping to advance in the computer science field eventually need to earn at least a bachelor's degree. Many employers only consider applicants with bachelor's degrees for computer programmer and computer systems analyst positions. Coursework can include topics such as introduction to algorithms, software engineering, and data structures. Some bachelor's in computer science degree programs offer concentrations in topics such as web development, cybersecurity, and systems development.
Computer science professionals seeking a job in research often pursue a master's in computer science. A master's degree enhances a computer science professional's skills and informs them on contemporary issues in computer language theory and similar topics. Courses include topics such as computer systems, algorithm analysis, and human-computer interaction. Some schools offer master's degree specializations in innovative, theoretical topics such as game and simulation development, machine learning, and bioinformatics -- giving learners a choice between a capstone or a thesis in an area of interest. A master's typically takes 1-2 years and 30-45 credits to complete.
A Ph.D. in computer science typically prepares learners for a advanced positions, such as a college or university teaching jobs in computer science. It also prepares students for work in innovative fields such as nanotechnology and biocomputation. Ph.D coursework emphasizes the theoretical subset of computer science focused on mathematics, and courses can include topics such as fundamentals of chemistry, interactive computer graphics, and revolutionary molecules. Degree specializations cover topics such as nanotechnology, forensic science, and artificial intelligence. Most programs culminate with a final examination and thesis project in an area of interest relevant to the learner's career path. A Ph.D. in computer science typically takes 4-5 years and 72-90 credits to complete.
Professional Computer Science Organizations in Tennessee
Joining a professional organization while attending one of the computer science colleges in Tennessee is a helpful way to learn more about local industry. These organizations offer members valuable benefits, including networking opportunities, continuing education, annual conferences, career services, and job boards. Some also feature speaker series, weekly or monthly meetings, and other ways to stay actively involved in the field. Computer science students in Tennessee can join the organizations discussed below.
- Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers: With over 400,000 members worldwide, the IEEE promotes professional excellence among those in electrical and electronic engineering on a global scale. The East Tennessee Section of the IEEE hosts a job site, several chapters, and affinity groups on special areas of interest within electronic engineering, including one for engineering in medicine and biology.
- Technical Society of Knoxville: Founded in 1921 by the first Dean of the UT College of Engineering, the Technical Society of Knoxville serves as an outlet for deep discussion of technology's effects on society, especially through social events such as its weekly Monday Luncheon, which features guest speakers on technical and scientific issues such as biomechanics, aerospace engineering, and nanotechnology.
- Association for Computing Machinery at UTK: The Knoxville chapter of ACM, the largest educational and scientific computing society worldwide, facilitates educational events, a speaker series, and professional networking opportunities with companies such as Google, Caterpillar Financial, and Epic. Members of the UTK chapter can also access the ACM's extensive digital library, which features full-text articles from all ACM publications, among others.
What Schools Offer a Computer Science Degree in Tennessee?
Students looking for computer science programs in Tennessee enjoy many options, both on campus and off. However, deciding among the best computer science schools in Tennessee may feel like an overwhelming and complicated task. To help prospective students with this decision, the following list consists of the top online computer science programs in the state. All of these institutions hold accreditation.
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