Shenell Tyson of Pooler, Georgia has always loved technology, particularly the way it enables people to connect and communicate.
After serving in the U.S. Navy for 11 years as a generator technician, she decided to earn a college degree and chose Saint Leo University's online computer information systems program. Ideally, she'd like to launch a new career in programming or cyber security working for the government or a military contractor.
"I love to travel and would like a career that gives me the flexibility to move from place to place and not struggle finding a job," she says. "I also enjoy learning new things and a degree in CIS gives me the ability to do all of this."
Multiple programs and career paths
While Saint Leo's computer information systems degree program is the right fit for Shenell's career goals, the university additionally offers several undergraduate online degree programs that can lead to careers – both technical and managerial – in computer science and information systems.
Blending core business courses with computer systems fundamentals, the Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems is for students looking to manage computer, network, and hardware and software purchases and computer facilities.
The Bachelor of Science in Computer Science-Information Assurance is for those who want to learn about computer hardware, architecture, networks and databases. The program also includes key areas of cyber security.
And the Bachelor of Science in Cyber Security* provides a broad set of skills and knowledge to prepare students for careers developing security products or programming security applications, as well as for working as cyber security analysts, penetration testers, vulnerability analysts, or cyber-legal analysts. Saint Leo also offers an on-ground and an online master's degree in cyber security.
"Now and in the foreseeable future, it's critical that for businesses to succeed, that they implement information technology in very effective ways," says Saint Leo's Dr. Vyas Krishnan, assistant professor of computer science.
"They must have access to the latest technology, well-trained professionals, and the ability to combine these two to accomplish their goals. All three majors – CIS, computer science, and cyber security –prepare students for exciting careers in high-demand fields."
Did you know?
While it's common knowledge that computer occupations are among the fastest-growing career fields in the United States, here are four additional facts about this exciting field that you might not have thought of before.
1. Many computer and information technology positions are considered among the top 25 best jobs in America.
It's no surprise that the U.S. Department of Labor projects computer and information technology occupations to grow above the national average at 12 percent by the year 2024.
What may surprise you, however, is that by earning a bachelor's degree from Saint Leo in computer science, computer information systems or cyber security, you could be setting yourself up for one of the best jobs in the country.
According to Glassdoor's annual 25 Best Jobs in America report, weighting three factors equally – earning potential, career opportunities and number of job openings – 10 of the top 25 jobs are in computer science and related fields.
These jobs, their ranking, and the degree programs that could prepare you for them are:
|Solutions Architect||#3||Computer Science, Computer Information Systems|
|Mobile Developer||#5||Computer Science, Computer Information Systems|
|Product Manager||#8||Computer Information Systems|
|Software Engineer||#9||Computer Science|
|Software Development Manager||#12||Computer Science, Computer Information Systems|
|QA Manager||#15||Computer Information Systems|
|Business Development Manager||#17||Computer Information Systems|
|UX Designer||#18||Computer Science, Computer Information Systems|
|Consultant||#21||Computer Science, Computer Information Systems, Cyber Security|
|Software Architect||#25||Computer Science, Computer Information Systems|
2. You don't have to live on the West coast to earn a great salary.
Long gone are the days when all tech jobs lead to Silicon Valley or even the Northeast. Jobs are plentiful in nontraditional cities. Take software positions, for example. In 2007, 10 U.S. cities accounted for more than 50 percent of all software occupations. By 2012, that figure dropped by 7 percent as the demand in the rest of the country grew three times faster than in traditional markets.
Now cities including Detroit, Baltimore and Phoenix are among some of the cities with the greatest growth in software positions. And counties that boast some of the highest-paying computer science jobs may surprise you, including:
Kidpa Area District – Louisville/Jefferson County, Kentucky
Lakewood City and Dakota Ridge County, Colorado
Nassau County, New York
Waukesha County, Wisconsin
Union County, New Jersey
Upper West Side, New York
Mount Pleasant Town, South Carolina
Dallas and University Park Cities, Texas
Marshall and Madison Counties, Alabama
3. Career success requires creativity.
Do you need to be an artist or a poet in your off-time to have a successful career in computer science, computer information systems or cyber security?
Of course not.
But you do need to be able to tap into your creative resources.
In today's fast-paced, dynamic business environment, new problems and needs are continuously demanding new and unique solutions. At its core, that's exactly what computer science is about: facing challenges and solving problems by devising new programs, products, services and ways of doing business.
In essence, creativity is the jet fuel for developing new processes and procedures. In fact, research shows that companies that embrace creativity outperform peers and competitors significantly in revenue growth, as well as in market share and talent acquisition.
Harvard Business School Professor Teresa Amabile, who has researched and written extensively on creativity and innovation in organizations, says creativity is the production of new and useful ideas in any domain, and innovation is the successful implementation of those creative ideas.
4. Strong writing skills are essential.
You may have heard the real estate agents' mantra, "Location. Location. Location." All things begin equal, the same house has significantly more value if it's in a prime location.
In the business world, the mantra could easily be, "Communication. Communication. Communication."
And while oral communications skills are also critical, here we're talking specifically about written communication.
Technical skills and abilities being equal, the same computer scientist, programmer, analyst, data base administration, etc. is going to have significantly more impact on an organization if he or she is able to communicate ideas to management by writing clearly, concisely and competently.
According to a Burning Glass study, "Clear communication, particularly writing, is at a premium in nearly every occupation," including occupations which are not typically thought of as requiring literary talent. The study says that writing is the second-most-requested non-specialized or foundational skill next to communication.
So if you're still a student in an online computer science degree program or computer information systems program, taking an extra humanities elective where you will be required to write is a smart way to further sharpen fundamental writing skills. And that means more than basic grammar and punctuation knowledge; it includes the ability to organize your thoughts intelligently, synthesize information, and write with conviction and confidence.
Ideal timing for computer science jobs
While Shenell's future is coming into focus, for those considering a career change and entering the computer science, cyber security and information systems fields, there are seemingly endless paths to follow.
"Whether you would like to create products and develop software, help an organization protect its records and client data from intrusion, or work as a systems manager finding technical solutions to business problems," says Dr. Krishnan, career opportunities have never been more plentiful."
*Saint Leo University's Bachelor of Science in Cyber Security program degree meets the standards set forth by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security required of a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education.
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Image credits: lassedesignen on Shutterstock, courtesy Shenell Tyson and Saint Leo University Communications