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Central Minnesota Geek Out

central-minnesota-mapApril 2016 -There was a time when I thought my path to success involved pursuing a bachelor’s degree in computer and information science. After a semester’s worth of classes I realized that I wasn’t enjoying the educational or career path I was in. While learning a new language (Java) and applying myself the way I should have during Spanish classes in high school was very rewarding, it just wasn’t a good fit for me.

I changed paths and found my way to a different career, but looking at DEED’s Graduate Employment Outcomes and Occupational Employment Statistics reminds me of one of the reasons I was attracted to computer sciences in the first place. It’s clear that success in computer-related occupations isn’t limited to Silicon Valley (Table 1).

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The outcomes for Minnesota students who graduated from a computer and information sciences educational program include higher median annual wages than what is typical for other graduates in Minnesota at every award level. Just two years after graduating, median annual wages for computer and information sciences graduates ranged from just over $41,000 per year at the associate degree level to more than $80,000 for graduate-level programs.

One interesting detail is the higher median wage earned by certificate graduates versus the comparable associate degree. Although more education often provides higher wages for graduates within the same program, the broad computer and information sciences and support services educational program yields exceptional results for certificate completers. Factors such as prior work experience and specific technical skills gained through higher education can also boost wages for recent graduates.

The most common computer-related occupation in Central Minnesota is computer user support specialists, with 820 jobs that pay a median hourly wage of $20.99 per hour. Job options don’t stop there, with a variety of occupations that all pay a healthy wage, ranging all the way up to $41.92 per hour for systems software developers (Figure 1).

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Unless you’re convinced computer technology is a fad that will go the way of eight-track tapes and flip-phones, data show that computer-related occupations are an excellent path to economic success in Central Minnesota. Current projections estimate that computer-related occupations will grow 10 percent in Central Minnesota, a growth rate exceeded only by the Twin Cities (10.7 percent).

For More Information

Contact Luke Greiner at 320-308-5378.

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