In today’s world, almost every kind of business relies on computers, and companies need skilled workers to create and maintain these systems. Large-scale data storage, data security, and cloud computing are all burgeoning areas of the technology field. In fact, computer-related jobs have been some of the fastest-growing occupations in West Virginia over the past decade.
Network systems and data communications analysts, computer systems analysts, and software engineers were all in high demand between 2006 and 2016 in West Virginia. Each of these job categories require a bachelor’s degree in a computer-related field. They also represent some of the highest-paying jobs anywhere in the state. This employment trend is expected to continue for the next several years, which means earning a computer science degree in West Virginia could prove to be a wise investment in your future.
Computer-related jobs have been some of the fastest-growing occupations in West Virginia over the past decade.
Higher Education in West Virginia
There are a number of options to choose from when looking at computer science programs in West Virginia. The West Virginia University (WVU) system is the state’s major higher education system, with a flagship campus located in Morgantown. This is the state’s largest university campus, with more than 28,000 students currently enrolled. WVU offers computer science degrees at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. Other West Virginia computer science schools that offer a bachelor’s option include Fairmont State University, Marshall University, and Bethany College. Additionally, several community colleges and technical schools offer associate degrees in computer science. These programs tend to be less expensive and let students earn credit that can be subsequently transferred to a four-year school to complete a bachelor’s degree.
If you live in-state, studying computer science in West Virginia may be an appealing option. Residents receive in-state tuition rates at public universities, which can help reduce the cost of an education. Going to school in West Virginia can also save students money on expenses such as room and board and transportation.
Computer Science Careers in West Virginia
Earning your computer science degree is the first step toward finding employment in a variety of computer and information technology (IT) fields. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the total employment in these fields will grow by 13% over the next 10 years. Potential jobs for people with computer science degrees include positions as computer programmers, software or web developers, software QA testers, security analysts, software or systems engineers, and database or network systems administrators.
Although many of these jobs are available at dedicated technology companies, computer and IT roles can be found at organizations in almost any industry. For example, a company may need a special database created to manage customer records and orders or custom software created to handle special processes. Additionally, most organizations employ trained workers to maintain hardware and install software, and data security is an increasing concern for companies of all sizes. While larger cities tend to have more of these jobs available, the universal need for computer skills means that smaller towns also have opportunities.
Median Salary for Computer Science Careers by Degree
Computer Science Employers in West Virginia
- WVU Medicine: Formerly known as West Virginia United Health System, this nonprofit is the state’s largest employer. It operates WVU’s network of teaching hospitals around the state. Each hospital needs skilled workers to handle its computer systems, including managing software and hardware, maintaining digital patient records, and monitoring data security.
- Charleston Area Medical Center: CAMC is a complex of hospitals in Charleston. It includes the state’s highest-level trauma center, its only kidney transplant center and dedicated children’s hospital, and boasts one of the nation’s top heart programs. This hospital complex requires personnel who can maintain its computers and data to ensure that patients receive the highest level of care.
- Mylan Pharmaceuticals: This pharmaceutical manufacturer is headquartered in the city of Morgantown but has additional facilities in other states and around the world. A strong computer network must be maintained to link all these locations and business units; as such, this corporation requires trained IT personnel.
How Much do Computer Scientists Make in West Virginia?
The average wage for a person in a computer science profession in West Virginia is lower than the national average. However, wages go further in the state because the cost of living in West Virginia is also below the national average; this is largely related to the fact that housing costs are dramatically lower in the state. In fact, West Virginia has the nation’s highest rate of home ownership. Utilities, groceries, and healthcare costs in the state are also lower than the national average.
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Computer Science Programs in West Virginia
Students have a variety of choices among computer science colleges in West Virginia. Four-year schools typically offer a bachelor’s degree in computer science and teach most classes in computer labs, giving students plenty of hands-on experience. Each program’s curriculum covers much of the same material, some differences do exist. Some schools offer specific concentrations, certifications, or electives that might be relevant to your career goals. For instance, Fairmont State University has a bachelor’s in computer science with an optional cybersecurity concentration. Additionally, Bethany College and Davis & Elkins College each offer students a choice between a BA in computer science, for those who plan to work in a business environment, and a BS in computer science, for individuals who want to work in a scientific setting or at a software development firm. Among all of the computer science programs in West Virginia, WVU’s computer science program is the most robust, offering bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees.
Online degree programs have gained popularity in recent years. Many students enjoy the increased flexibility of these offerings, which can be convenient for those with full-time jobs or other commitments. Unfortunately, there are no schools currently offering online computer science programs in West Virginia, although some schools may have online programs that lead to a related degree or certification. While you may not be able to pursue an online computer science degree in West Virginia, you may qualify to pay reduced rates to take certain programs at out-of-state colleges through the Academic Common Market, which is offered through the Southern Regional Education Board.
The best computer science schools in West Virginia hold accreditation; you should always verify that a program is accredited before applying. Accreditation shows that a school provides a rigorous education that meets certain academic standards. It also assures any future employers that your degree is valid. The most prestigious type of accreditation is regional accreditation, which is granted to eligible schools based on their geographic area. The Higher Learning Commission is the regional accreditation organization that oversees colleges in West Virginia. Additionally, computer science programs in the U.S. may be reviewed and accredited by the Computing Accreditation Commission (CAC).
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 West Virginia?
We have compiled the following list, which details schools that offer computer science programs in West Virginia. This database can help you determine which school is best equipped to meet your academic and career goals. Each program listed here is accredited.
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Professional Computer Science Organizations in West Virginia
Professional organizations for computer science-related occupations offer a variety of resources to students and graduates alike. They typically help members keep up to date with recent developments in the industry through content such as journals, presentations, conferences, and other educational programming. These organizations also facilitate networking, which can help members find jobs and other career opportunities. Many of these groups also have membership levels specifically aimed at students. The list below contains a few computer science organizations students in West Virginia may want to consider joining while pursuing their degree.
- West Virginia Academy of Science: Founded in 1924, the WVAS is an organization for members of West Virginia’s scientific community, including computer science. WVAS chapters exist at many colleges across the state. The organization holds meetings and educational programs and publishes peer-reviewed research and reviews for its membership.
- CompTIA Association of Information Technology Professionals: The AITP is a national organization for IT professionals, educators, and students, providing its members with a variety of educational and networking opportunities. In West Virginia, the Greater Wheeling Chapter of the AITP meets monthly and has a variety of features, including a job board.
- Institution of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Computer Society: A computer-focused branch of the IEEE, this international organization publishes magazines and journals for its members and sponsors various educational programs and events around the world. The West Virginia chapter is part of IEEE Region 2 and offers local resources to members and students.
Additional Computer Science Resources in West Virginia
- Proceedings of the West Virginia Academy of Science: PWVAS publishes peer-reviewed papers and presentations from various fields of science, including computer science. These items are archived on the group’s website. WVAS members can access these materials at any time, and some are also available for free to non-members.
- ScienceDirect: ScienceDirect presents a searchable database containing open-access content, articles, journals, and more. These publications are from many sources and cover a wide variety scientific topics, including computer science. Users must create an account to access the site’s complete resources, which provide a wealth of information at no charge.
- USENIX Proceedings and Papers: USENIX, The Advanced Computing Systems Association: is an organization for computing professionals. Its goal is to share the latest research in the field and help keep the professional community up to date about cutting-edge technology topics. The group collects papers and presentations delivered at the organization’s educational events, including video recordings, and distributes them for free online.
- IEEE Computer Society Digital Library: This IEEE Computer Society maintains a digital library that is available to the group’s members. The archive contains peer-reviewed research articles and updates from the IEEE’s various publications. Non-members can also access some of this content.