Since the birth of Microsoft in the 1970s, Washington state has transformed into a hub for technology companies of all types. Today, Washington is a top destination for aspiring software developers and computer programmers from across the U.S. and around the world. Some of the biggest companies in the technology sphere are headquartered in Washington, including Amazon, Expedia, PayScale, and Zillow. Internet juggernauts like Google, Facebook, and Twitter also have offices in Seattle.
The sheer number of tech companies in Washington provides enormous opportunity for skilled programmers. As large internet companies continue to expand, and as smaller startups crop up, the demand for people with computer science degrees continues to grow. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 37.5% increase in the number of software developer jobs in the state over the next seven years. This translates to an average of 3,310 job openings per year for software developers. Most other jobs related to computer science in Washington are also experiencing a similar upward trend.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 37.5% increase in the number of software developer jobs in the state over the next seven years.
Higher Education in Washington
Due to its strong public university system and wide selection of private universities, thousands of students choose to study in Washington state each year. Washington’s public universities, including the University of Washington, Washington State University, Western Washington University, Eastern Washington University, and Central Washington University, serve more than 100,000 students combined. With dozens of private, two-year, and technical colleges to choose from, Washington has programs that fit the needs of just about any student.
In addition, many of Washington’s larger schools have extensive online programming, meaning that students can earn an education while balancing other career and family-related obligations. For example, the University of Washington has more than 20 online bachelor’s, master’s, and certificate programs to choose from. Washington is best-known for its tech industry, but the state is also home to many other large corporations that employ skilled professionals. For example, Starbucks, Costco, and T-Mobile are all headquartered in Washington state. A thriving private sector, plus a wide range of higher education offerings, make attending one of Washington’s computer science schools especially appealing. Read on to learn more information about the different computer science programs in Washington.
Computer Science Careers in Washington
As businesses large and small become increasingly dependent on the internet for day-to-day operations, the job prospects for technologically adept professionals continue to grow across the nation. Today, nearly every office relies on a team of systems managers to oversee their IT infrastructure; even businesses outside of the tech sphere often employ software engineers, computer programmers, and web developers. Earning a computer science degree can provide access to nearly any industry. In the coming years, the BLS projects the U.S. to add around 185,000 software developer positions, 118,000 computer systems analyst positions, and 40,000 web developer positions.
Thanks to its healthy tech industry, Washington state is a good place to begin a career in computer science. Seattle is known as the center of Washington’s tech scene, but successful companies are headquartered all over the state. If you want to earn a computer science degree, Washington might be the ideal place to pursue this goal.
Median Salary for Computer Science Careers by Degree
Computer Science Employers in Washington
- Microsoft: Founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen in the mid 1970s, Microsoft rose to prominence as one of the first providers of computer software. Since then, it has been on the forefront of video gaming, social networking, cloud computing, and consumer electronics. It has continued to expand its extensive operations by acquiring companies such as Skype and LinkedIn.
- Amazon: What started as an online marketplace for books in 1994 has since become one of the largest internet retailers in the world. With subsidiaries like Audible.com, Whole Foods, and the live streaming service Twitch, Amazon offers computer science graduates jobs in a variety of fields.
- Zillow: Zillow is an online database of real estate listings founded by two former Microsoft executives. The site allows users to browse real estate listings from dozens of newspapers and generated close to $1 billion in revenue in 2016. Founded in 2006, Zillow is younger than some of its competitors in Washington, but it is still a tech powerhouse.
How Much do Computer Scientists Make in Washington?
A variety of factors can affect a person’s wages. For example, the type of companies and industries prevalent in an area as well as the cost of living can impact a professional’s expected salary. Washington is a relatively high-cost area with a large proportion of successful tech companies and offers higher salaries relative to the national average. According to the table below, graduates of computer science colleges in Washington who go on to work in-state can expect to earn significantly more than their counterparts in other areas.
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Computer Science Programs in Washington
There is a wide selection of computer science programs – both undergraduate and graduate – to choose from in Washington. BS programs in computer science typically begin with courses related to programming fundamentals. Later, students learn about algorithms, database management, and software engineering. Students enrolled in computer science programs also take advanced math courses like calculus, discrete math, and logic. Washington State University, Central Washington University, and the University of Washington are among the many schools that offer computer science programs.
Earning an online computer science degree in Washington is a good option for students who want to work full-time while pursuing their degree. Online programs afford students a greater degree of flexibility, making it easier to balance schoolwork with other obligations. Online programs often allow students to take courses and submit assignments at their own pace. The City University of Seattle, for example, offers an MS in computer science that can be completed fully online. Colleges and universities with online degrees typically offer remote students the same resources available to on-campus learners, including career and academic advising and one-on-one meetings with professors.
All of the best computer science schools in Washington hold accreditation, so you should make sure to check a school’s credentials before applying. Schools in Washington receive regional accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. Additionally, the best computer science programs also hold accreditation from 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 Washington?
Differentiating between the many computer science programs in Washington can feel daunting, but consulting the following list, which includes all of the online computer science programs in Washington, should help make your search easier. All of the programs mentioned below hold accreditation.
schools that match your search
Professional Computer Science Organizations in Washington
Professional organizations are essential to most industries, providing a way for workers in a field to discuss the state of the industry, network, and find employment. Professional organizations can also provide immense value to students and recent graduates. The list below contains a few organizations open to computer science professionals in Washington.
- Washington Technology Industry Association: WTIA seeks to improve technology education and influence legislation to benefit the technology community. Members enjoy perks such as access to the WTIA job center and free or discounted admission to the more than 50 major events organized by the WTIA each year. The association also hosts an apprenticeship program that helps match young workers with companies seeking additional help.
- Association for Computer Professionals in Education: The ACPE is an organization dedicated to supporting professionals who teach in the computer technology field. Members gain access to annual conferences and networking events.
- Data Management Association: The Puget Sound chapter of this association seeks to advance the field of data and information management in the Pacific Northwest. Members can attend monthly meetings where they can converse with like-minded professionals.
Additional Computer Science Resources in Washington
- WTIA Events Calendar: This Washington Technology Industry Association page helps students and professionals find meetings and networking events that can advance their careers. Events occur nearly every day and include interview practice sessions, information sessions about various startups, and weekend career development classes.
- University of Washington “Advice from Students”: This page is on the University of Washington’s website, but it can be of immense value to computer science students at any school. The page features advice from current students about a variety of issues, including tips for taking difficult courses, how to avoid common beginner’s mistakes, and ways to join extracurricular activities related to computer science.
- Technology Alliance: The Technology Alliance is a nonprofit organization made up of leaders from Washington’s tech industry. Through this site, computer science students can learn about the organization’s programs and events, as well as about the state of technology and entrepreneurship in Washington.
- ACPE Scholarships: The Association for Computer Professionals in Education maintains a list of its annual scholarships. These awards are granted to high school seniors interested in studying technology. The deadline for submitting applications is March 1.