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Computer Programming Major

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Computer Programming

1,560 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
145 Master's Degrees Annually
#6 in Popularity
$89,580 Median Salary

Types of Degrees Computer Programming Majors Are Getting

The following table lists how many computer programming graduations there were in 2018-2019 for each degree level.

Education Level Number of Grads
Basic Certificate 3,860
Associate’s Degree 3,787
Bachelor’s Degree 1,560
Undergraduate Certificate 1,334
Master’s Degree 145
Graduate Certificate 2

What Computer Programming Majors Need to Know

O*NET surveyed people in occupations related to programming and asked them what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important for their jobs. The responses were rated on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being most important.

Knowledge Areas for Programming Majors

Programming majors often go into careers in which the following knowledge areas are important:

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  • Computers and Electronics - Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
  • Engineering and Technology - Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  • Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.

Skills for Programming Majors

When studying programming, you’ll learn many skills that will help you be successful in a wide range of jobs - even those that do not require a degree in the field. The following is a list of some of the most common skills needed for careers associated with this major:

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  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Complex Problem Solving - Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
  • Judgment and Decision Making - Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.

Abilities for Programming Majors

Programming majors often go into careers where the following abilities are vital:

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  • Deductive Reasoning - The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Inductive Reasoning - The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
  • Problem Sensitivity - The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.

What Can You Do With a Computer Programming Major?

People with a programming degree often go into the following careers:

Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary
Computer Network Support Specialists 8.2% $62,770
Computer Science Professors 8.1% $82,220
Software Developers, Applications 30.7% $103,620
Software Developers, Systems Software 11.1% $110,000
Web Developers 14.9% $69,430

Who Is Getting a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Programming?

1,560 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
15% Percent Women
31% Percent Racial-Ethnic Minorities
This is one of the most frequently chosen computer science majors. It is the 6th most popular in the country with 1,560 students graduating with a bachelor’s in programming in 2019. This major attracts more men than women. About 85% of the graduates in this field are male.

Racial-Ethnic Diversity

At the countrywide level, the racial-ethnic distribution of programming majors is as follows:

Racial-Ethnic Diversity of Programming Students with Bachelor's Degrees
Race/Ethnicity Number of Grads
Asian 100
Black or African American 100
Hispanic or Latino 193
White 914
International Students 47
Other Races/Ethnicities 206

Geographic Diversity

Programming appeals to people across the globe. About 3.0% of those with this major are international students. The most popular countries for students from outside the country are:

  • India
  • China
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • Saudi Arabia

How Much Do Computer Programming Majors Make?

Bachelor’s Degree Starting Salary

The U.S. Department of Education found that students who graduated in 2015-2017 with a bachelor’s degree in computer programming made a median starting salary of $51,300 per year. During this timeframe, most salaries fell between $50,900 (25th percentile) and $51,300 (75th percentile).

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One thing to note here is that not all of these people may be working in careers related to programming.

Salaries According to BLS

Average salaries range from $75,580 to $108,080 (25th to 75th percentile) for careers related to programming. This range includes all degree levels, so the salary for a person with just a bachelor’s degree may be a little less and the one for a person with an advanced degree may be a little more.

To put that into context, according to BLS data from the first quarter of 2020, the typical high school graduate makes between $30,000 and $57,900 a year (25th through 75th percentile). The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $45,600 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,600 and $125,400.

Median Salary for a Computer Programming Major  ( 75580 to 108080 )
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250K
Median Salary for a High School Graduate  ( 30000 to 57900 )
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250K
Median Salary for a Bachelor's Degree Holder  ( 45600 to 99000 )
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250K
Median Salary for an Advanced Degree Holder  ( 55600 to 125400 )
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250K

Some careers associated with programming require an advanced degree while some may not even require a bachelor’s. In general, the more advanced your degree the more career options will open up to you. However, there is significant time and money that needs to be invested into your education so weigh the pros and cons.

Find out what the typical degree level is for programming careers below.

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Education Level Percentage of Workers
Less than a High School Diploma 0.6%
High School Diploma - or the equivalent (for example, GED) 2.0%
Post-Secondary Certificate - awarded for training completed after high school (for example, in agriculture or natural resources, computer services, personal or culinary services, engineering technologies, healthcare, construction trades, mechanic and repair technologies, or precision production) 4.9%
Some College Courses 3.8%
Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree) 9.3%
Bachelor’s Degree 58.0%
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Baccalaureate degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees carrying the title of Master. 1.3%
Master’s Degree 13.6%
Post-Master’s Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Master’s degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees at the doctoral level. 0.3%
Doctoral Degree 6.6%

Online Computer Programming Programs

In 2018-2019, 614 schools offered a programming program of some type. The following table lists the number of programs by degree level, along with how many schools offered online courses in the field.

Degree Level Colleges Offering Programs Colleges Offering Online Classes
Certificate (Less Than 1 Year) 352 67
Certificate (1-2 years) 211 28
Certificate (2-4 Years) 14 3
Associate’s Degree 398 83
Bachelor’s Degree 12 4
Post-Baccalaureate 352 67
Master’s Degree 14 8
Post-Master’s 0 0
Doctor’s Degree (Research) 0 0
Doctor’s Degree (Professional Practice) 0 0
Doctor’s Degree (Other) 0 0

Is a Degree in Computer Programming Worth It?

The median salary for a programming grad is $89,580 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 125% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $993,600 after 20 years!

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You may also be interested in one of the following majors related to programming.

Major Number of Grads
Computer Information Systems 76,482
Computer Science 47,906
Information Technology 33,399
Information Science 17,779
Computer Systems Networking 14,055
Computer Software & Applications 12,793
Computer Systems Analysis 2,472
Data Processing 2,138
Data Entry 1,382
Other Computer & Information Sciences 1,243

References

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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