As companies across all industries look compete in a fast-moving, digital world, the demand for computer and information scientists is expected to grow at a 19% clip, far faster than average compared to other positions. In order to stay ahead of their competitors, companies big and small will look for qualified CS workers to improve their data collection, cybersecurity, and technology — a considerable challenge given the already present tech talent gap. Hiring qualified CS professionals — from data miners to web designers to software engineers — is essential for any company. With their skills, knowledge, and innovative thinking, computer scientists help companies achieve their goals through analytics, programming, coding, testing, and problem solving.
As a result, the Vermont Technology Council recently advanced the Vermont Science and Technology Plan, a forward-looking approach to the Green Mountain State’s economic future. This plan recognizes STEM education — and specifically computer science — will play a major role in securing job growth, job creation, and prosperity in the coming decades. The core of the plan also demonstrates the state’s commitment to science and technology.
Higher Education in Vermont
Though small in landmass and population, Vermont’s reputation for higher education is far larger, as it features the highest number of colleges and universities per capita in the nation. Leading the way are five public and 18 private, nonprofit institutions — 20 of which offer undergraduate programs and 19 that confer advanced degrees. For doctorates, including computer science programs in Vermont, look no further than Middlebury College, the University of Vermont (in Burlington), and the Vermont Law School.
Vermont is committed to furthering STEM education and, according to the Vermont Higher Education Council, 30% of all bachelor’s degrees awarded in the state are in a STEM field. Given the state’s push for more STEM and CS learning, this already robust number is likely to rise quickly and spur the development of even more CS programs.
Hybrid and online courses are increasingly available at computer science schools in Vermont, accommodating busy schedules and providing a more affordable way to earn a CS degree. Online programs, such as those offered at UVM, are delivered 100% via LMS or a virtual learning management system like Blackboard, with many other classes taught asynchronously. As a result, students have more options available to them, while previous obstacles to earning a degree — such as geographic location — are becoming less of a factor.
Computer Science Careers in Vermont
Vermont’s leaders have recognized that discovery and innovation are the primary drivers in a tech-led economy, and the state has taken proactive steps to address its present and future. Tech talent, already facing a demand gap, is coveted across all industries these days, from healthcare to education to tourism.
Vermont, one of six New England states, has made strides in both STEM and CS fields, even before it implemented its tech and science plan. The Green Mountain State has reported significant growth in hardware and software development, R&D, and aerospace discovery, as well as advances in energy research and manufacturing.
Though Vermont is the second smallest state in the U.S., it is 27th in R&D intensity spending and has over 2,500 high-tech related firms. As for entrepreneurship, Vermont ranks 12th overall when it comes to five-year survival of businesses. According to an ITIF survey on innovation and the nation’s 435 congressional districts, Vermont is 14th in the U.S. for high-tech share of total workforce and fourth overall for patent filers per 1,000 workers. In other words, not only has Vermont invested heavily in STEM education, it is also an attractive location to earn an lucrative salary and/or build a business.
Median Salary for Computer Science Careers by Degree
Computer Science Employers in Vermont
- University of Vermont Medical Center: As Vermont’s largest employer, UVM Medical Center serves approximately 160,000 residents in the Chittenden and Grand Isle area and maintains 11 primary care clinics and over 100 outreach clinics. CS professionals help hospitals and healthcare networks organize data/records, build databases, solve cybersecurity, and improve communication.
- IBM: Facility in Essex Junction produces semiconductors and employs more than 5,400 Vermont workers. A global company, IBM operates in over 170 countries, and its entire business centers on computers: hardware, middleware, and software, hosting, analytics, nanotechnology. It ranks among the world’s leaders in innovation, brand awareness, and green efforts.
- Jay Peak Resort: Vermont is a prime spot for ski/snowboard resorts, and Jay Peak is one of the largest, employing roughly 2,000 workers. CS roles in the resort industry include IT system administrators, business intelligence analysts, and data miners and/or analysts. Other resorts that are top employers in the state include Killington Grand and Mount Snow.
How Much do Computer Scientists Make in Vermont?
Computer science professionals are in short supply; as a result, they usually command higher starting wages and salaries. The tech talent gap plays a big part in higher salaries, but location is also a major factor. The same job can vary in salary based on the state and the setting. While Vermont is investing more in its tech sector, its cities can’t yet be expected to match the likes of tech hubs Silicon Valley, Seattle, or Denver. It is also the 49th smallest state; Montpelier, with just over 8,000 residents, is the smallest capital in the U.S. by far.
In general, careers in metropolitan areas have a higher salary than one based in rural surroundings. Employers factor in cost of living, relocation, and a candidate’s education and experience, and graduates should understand that their salary range will rise the more experience they acquire.
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Computer Science Programs in Vermont
Created by statute in 1961, the Vermont State Colleges System (VSCS) is the primary provider of postsecondary education in the state, serving more students than all other higher education institutions in Vermont combined. Through Castleton University, Community College of Vermont (CCV), Johnson State College, Lyndon State College, and Vermont Technical College, there is a VSCS classroom within 25 miles of every Vermont resident. All VSCS colleges offer hybrid and online degree programs.
CS programs in Vermont, such as the master’s degree in complex systems and data science from the University of Vermont (UVM), are gaining traction at all levels of learning. This is the direct result of the state collectively pushing for more STEM and CS development. In fact, the no. 1 strategy of Vermont’s tech and science plan was to “increase the number and diversity of students who will pursue STEM-related careers.”
A recent LinkedIn survey found that the top 10 skills employers look for were all CS, led by cloud and distributed computing, statistical analysis (data mining), and web architecture. Online computer science programs in Vermont explore these very tech skills; they impart the science of problem-solving at the undergraduate level, and zero in on concentrations (such as pattern recognition or cybersecurity) at the graduate level.
Accreditation is another consideration for students earning an online computer science degree in Vermont. Regional accreditation for the state is granted by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, the oldest accrediting association in the U.S. ABET accreditation is also an important factor when choosing a computer science degree. Vermont students, especially those in engineering, should check for this specialized (and voluntary) accreditation, which is awarded to applied science, computing, engineering, or engineering technology programs.
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 Vermont?
This list of computer science colleges in Vermont is likely to grow steadily as more STEM and CS programs are developed in support of the state’s commitment to science and tech education and job creation. Check out the current roster of Vermont computer science schools below for undergraduate and advanced CS degree programs — all of which are accredited.
schools that match your search
Professional Computer Science Organizations in Vermont
Professional organizations or associations offer its members — especially students and new grads — a valuable resource for industry insight, career development, employment search, and networking. By becoming a member, you signal to others you are serious about your chosen field. Membership in a professional organization is also mutually beneficial to you and the organization. While you add to the organization’s voice and power to affect change, you are given access to tools/resources for personal and professional growth. From mentorships to CE workshops to annual conferences, professional computer science organizations are there to help you succeed.
- Association for Computational Linguistics: Members are professionals in the CS field of natural language processing. Founded in 1962, ACL sponsors events throughout the year for its members, such as showcase demonstrations, workshops, tutorials, and conferences.
- Association for Women in Computing: AWC has been advocating for women in CS since 1978, providing opportunities for professional growth via networking, programs, and local/student chapters, with members hailing from all parts of the nation, including the best computer science schools in Vermont.
- Machine Learning Society: Founded in 2016, this global community of data scientists, engineers, and AI experts aims to advance scientific, tech, and cultural innovations. The first four chapters in the U.S. are San Diego, New York, Boston, and the Bay Area, and “digital chapters” are slated to launch in 2018.
Additional Computer Science Resources in Vermont
- Computer Science for Women: In 2011, women accounted for only 25% of computer and math professionals, though they made up 57% of the U.S. workforce. This is a resource for students interested in a CS major and eventual career in computing. They address the gender imbalance found in STEM and the tech industry overall. Find info on scholarships, jobs data, and ideas on how to inspire and encourage young CS enthusiasts who aspire to be savants.
- Harvard Extension School: A CS open learning course comprised of free lectures from Computer Science 50, an online course from the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Learn to solve problems more efficiently through computing. Topics include algorithms, software development, data structures, computer systems, and the function of computers in our daily lives.
- CS Unplugged: Collection of free learning activities that introduce computer science; made especially for teachers, but useful to anyone interested in the field. The Turing Test, for example, takes on Alan Turing’s test on AI, exploring the computer’s ability to exhibit intelligence and “think.” Activities cover all things CS, from binary numbers to Steiner trees.