Technology is one of the most valuable fields on the planet, especially near the major tech hubs in the United States. You don't need to be living in Silicon Valley to get good money from a Computer Science degree, though. Here are some of the career options an online Computer Science degree can open for you.
#1: IT Consultant
An IT Consultant provides clients with information and guidance on the planning, design, installation, and use of technology to overcome problems, improve efficiency, or meet business objectives. This can include things like deciding whether to buy servers or use cloud services, selecting an Operating System and calculating the cost of a proposed setup (both immediately and over time).
The position of IT Consultant is a social role, and it's most suitable for you if you're outgoing and enjoy talking to people about technology. On a typical day, you'll do things like discuss requirements with clients, produce reasonable timescales to set a system up in, and create guides for the intended use and maintenance of a system.
You'll also spend a fair bit of time examining existing systems to determine the best way to maintain, upgrade, or replace the company's existing technology. In many cases, you'll provide answers in both written and oral form, and you may even branch out into sales and marketing.
This position requires a good grasp of scheduling because you'll often be expected to deliver results on a timetable that meets the client's needs. You can reduce some of the pressure by being clear about your timeline from the start. Once you've done a few jobs and have a better sense for how long it takes to do your job, you can give quotes to clients that include some wiggle room.
#2: Information Systems Manager
Unlike the IT Consultant, who usually gets paid on contract, an Information Systems Manager is a full-time employee responsible for the security and effective operation of computers within the company. Chances are you'll have some employees under you to help, but ultimately, this job involves maintaining the entire technological infrastructure of the business.
On an average day, you'll do things like install systems and software, ensure all vital information is backed up in a secure location, and monitor security reports to ensure no hacking attempts are getting through. At times, you may go out to buy hardware and software for the company, set up remote access for employees, or provide advice for less technologically-adept employees.
You'll also need to make sure the technological infrastructure meets your company's needs while staying within a given budget. Chances are you'll also be responsible for managing any software licenses and ensuring they don't expire until the company is ready to let go of them.
#3: Database Administrator
Database Administrator is a more focused job than Information Systems Manager. In this position, you'll be responsible for the use, development, and performance of an electronic database. The exact nature of this job varies by company, but you'll probably spend most of your time on development or maintenance.
The essential task in this job is ensuring that all of the data within the database remains consistent, easily searched, easily accessible with the right credentials, easy to recover in an emergency, and adequately secure. Keeping things safe may involve protecting private information, ensuring financial transactions meet the strictest security standards, and otherwise ensuring the system runs smoothly.
This is a more social job than the name suggests. You'll interact with programmers, operators, project managers, and technical support staff on a regular basis. You can also expect to provide some user training, write reports, create operating manuals, and generally do whatever is necessary to ensure people can use the database as it's intended.
In your spare time, you may work on ways of searching the database better. This gets into the realm of data analytics, one of the most potent sources of information for companies operating in the modern economy. By knowing what questions to ask and how to get the answers, you can ensure your company receives the full value from its database of information.
#4: Multimedia Programmer
Multimedia Programmers have one of the most creative positions offered by an online Computer Science degree. In this job, you'll spend time designing and making multimedia products for the company. You'll work with text, audio, images, digital photographs, digital modeling, animation, video, and more to create useful material for the company.
In many cases, your job will involve working closely with other departments within the company. For example, the marketing teams may often ask you for specific logos, images, and web page designs as part of their effort to find new customers, while project managers may ask you to create a visual model of a proposed product.
All of these are multi-step processes that involve working to understand the concept of a design, deciding how to implement it best, creating efficient code to make it work, and often running tests of an established product to ensure it's as free of bugs as possible.
You can also expect to provide service and support. Expect to perform work across a wide variety of platforms, ranging from web pages to information kiosks to gaming consoles.
#5: Data Analyst
This math-heavy job focuses on analyzing data to extract useful information from it. You may spend some time creating programs to gather information and generate meaningful results, though, at other times, you'll translate existing reports for your audience.
This type of translation is, in many ways, your most important job. As any expert in the field can tell you, data is only valuable when you can use it to answer a question or make a prediction.
For example, the company's marketing team may want to know which of their marketing efforts is most effective. With the right data analysis, you can find out. Once they see what's popular, they can make a good guess as to why it's popular and use that information to plan the next marketing campaign.
At other times, you may be asked to provide more information on costs and budgets. This could range from figuring out the return on investments to searching the company's ledgers for evidence of fraud and employee theft.
In effect, you are the gatekeeper to what businesses prize most: answers they can use to improve profits. This job involves a lot of statistical math and a fair bit of programming, so if you like working with numbers to see what happens, this is a great job to get with an online Computer Science degree.
#6: Web Developer
Web developers specialize in creating content for the internet. This position used to focus on desktops and laptops, but in recent years, the web environment on smartphones has become just as important (or even more so) to many businesses.
This job is part programming and part art. Companies expect you to make content that runs well, looks good, and provides a great user experience. It's not always easy to deliver a consistent experience across different platforms with wildly different inputs and displays, but figuring that out is your job.
You may also be asked to create custom code for the company.
If you don't want to stick with one business all the time, you can do work as a freelance web developer. Many such people work with job sites that help find customers for you - all you need to do is make a bid that potential clients will like.
Tip: Start with small, fast jobs to build up a good reputation. Once you have that, it will be a lot easier to get accepted for big tasks.
#7: Information Security Analyst
As an Information Security Analyst, your main job will be creating and monitoring systems that protect your company's infrastructure from security breaches and cyber attacks. This may involve creating new security programs, developing security standards for use within the company, or monitoring software to detect signs of intrusion as early as possible.
Expect to spend a significant amount of time researching trends, anticipating problems, and installing issues. Your goal is to stop problems from occurring, not to fix them after they've happened.
However, sometimes problems occur despite the best efforts of your team and best practices of the industry. When this happens, you'll need to use various problem-solving skills to investigate breaches into your system, figure out exactly what happened, and find the best way to stop the problem from happening again.
This is less social than some of the other jobs you can get with an online Computer Science degree, making it a good choice if you prefer to spend your time with machines instead of people. However, you should expect to occasionally present reports to C-suite members of the company, explaining any problems that have happened and what you've done to address them.
Part of the secret to success in this job is keeping a record of all your communications. That way, you can try to show that any problems are not because you were slacking off.