Nothing, it seems, can stop the technology sector’s growth in Texas. Not even a cataclysmic pandemic.
In April 2021, with the COVID-19 pandemic still curtailing most normal activity, the Texas Workforce Commission reported 23,436 open positions in computing (about half for software developers and half for ‘other’). While the state unemployment rate sat at 6.9 percent, unemployment rates in the state’s major tech hubs—Austin, Dallas, San Antonio—ranged from 5 percent to just over 6 percent (Houston, at 8 percent, was the most glaring outlier, although help is on the way—see below).
If you’re considering a Master of Science in Computer Science and you want to work in Texas during and/or after the program, it makes sense to pursue your degree at a school that’s well-regarded regionally. Not only will you benefit from the name recognition that SMU Lyle School of Engineering produces, but you’ll also plug into an alumni network disproportionately represented in the surrounding area. That’s because professionals—even those from schools with excellent national reputations like SMU—tend to remain relatively close to their school after graduation. Don’t be surprised if you discover that many hiring managers in the Dallas area are Mustangs.
Many tech giants relocate to Texas to benefit from the state’s friendly regulatory environment.
Texas employs millions in goods production and manufacturing, services, education, government and healthcare, all enterprises that require robust technological leadership and support. That helps explain how The Dallas Morning News could report in June 2020 that, despite the pandemic, Texas remained the state with the second-most job openings in technology, trailing only California. Dallas ranked third among metropolitan areas (trailing Washington DC and New York). The same article noted that Facebook had recently identified Dallas as one of its designated remote-work hubs and that the national unemployment rate in tech remained relatively low (3.7 percent) despite the pandemic. Tech jobs are fortuitously adaptable to the remote work COVID-19 requires, leaving the tech sector—in Texas and elsewhere—relatively unscathed by the disruptive health event.
The future looks promising as well, as many tech giants consider relocating to Texas to benefit from the state’s more friendly regulatory environment and—when compared to Silicon Valley, at least—significantly lower cost of living. Oracle was the latest to move its headquarters, announcing in December 2020 its plans to relocate to Austin. Oracle currently employs nearly 5,000; company co-founder Larry Ellison projected their Austin corporate campus could eventually employ as many as 10,000. Tesla also recently announced plans to shift some operations to the Austin area, while Hewlett Packard revealed plans to relocate its headquarters to a Houston suburb in the spring of 2021.
Why earn your MSCS-AI from SMU Lyle School of Engineering Online?
SMU Lyle School of Engineering offers one of only a handful of options to pursue an Online Master of Science in Computer Science with Artificial Intelligence Specialization. That’s significant because online study provides many conveniences on-campus programs don’t. You’ll be studying part-time, for one, allowing you the option of continuing to work full-time while you pursue your degree. That eliminates one of the great under-considered costs of full-time study: lost income. You also avoid the inconvenience of frequent travel to and from campus, saving yourself hours of weekly commuting time and hundreds of dollars in parking fees.
Not all online programs are the same. Some online programs are 100 percent asynchronous, meaning students and instructors never meet in an online live session. While convenient, 100 percent asynchronous study deprives students of interacting with faculty and networking with faculty and fellow students. SMU Lyle delivers some content asynchronously—anything that can be learned in a lecture class in which the professor does all the talking—but also includes weekly classes via a teleconferencing app like Zoom. This provides ample opportunities for interaction and gives faculty the chance to monitor student progress and intervene as necessary.
SMU Lyle School of Engineering offers other unique features within an online structure. The 30-credit curriculum includes only 12 required credits, allowing students an exceptional degree of freedom in designing their degrees (in contrast, many online programs offer few or no elective courses). Students can load up on artificial intelligence courses to develop a deeper understanding of the field or pursue study in other areas to fashion a unique AI-related specialization. Regardless, they will complete a holistic curriculum centered on practical, hands-on learning with real-world applications. A curricular emphasis on design thinking produces graduates able to innovate and implement solutions broadly and effectively. At the same time, the university ensures students consider the moral, economic and technological ramifications of their work.
The Lyle School of Engineering is recognized both regionally and nationally as a leader in engineering education. And unlike some degree programs that consider only high-level programmers, SMU Lyle’s online computer science program offers the programming training necessary to graduate.
The seven hardest-to-fill computer science jobs in Texas
Computer science is a broad field. Some jobs—especially entry-level jobs in help desk services, quality assurance and web development—fill pretty quickly. Others sit open for weeks or even months as employers scramble to find the right fit before that candidate accepts a better offer from someone else.
What computer science jobs do Texas employers have the most challenging time filling? To determine the answer, we consulted the labor-data collection expert Labor Insight, pulling data on the number of job postings in the previous year, the number of days it takes to fill each position, salary and projected job market growth.
Employers posted 10,797 job listings for software developers and software engineers with a master’s degree between February 1, 2020 and January 31, 2021. Those jobs sat vacant for 47 days before employers could find the candidate they wanted. It’s only likely to get worse: demand for software developers and engineers will grow 33.3 percent in the coming decade.
The average salary in Texas for software development and software engineering roles is $97,375. Top employers for this role include Capital One, Citi, Amazon, Lockheed Martin, Dell, USAA, Charles Schwabb and Visa. According to the job listings, the most sought-after certifications are security clearance, IT infrastructure library, Certified Scrum Trainer (CST), Certified Information Systems Security Professional and project management.
Cyber security analyst
Over the past year, Texas businesses and institutions listed 1,809 positions for cyber security analysts with a master’s degree; the jobs sat vacant for 46 days on average before employers filled them. Lone Star professionals in cyber security earn an average annual salary of $98,115, and Labor Insight expects demand to increase by 33.5 percent in the next ten years.
Top Texas employers of cyber security analysts include USAA, Leidos, Samsung America, IBM, Deloitte, Amazon, Citi and Ernst & Young. Most-desired certifications for this role include Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), Certified Information Security Manager (CISM), SANS/GIAC and security clearance.
There were 1,211 systems analyst job postings in Texas last year, and they took 44 days, on average, to fill. Demand for systems analysts in Texas will grow by 14.6 percent over the next decade, and the average base salary (which is $97,375) is likely to increase as well.
Which Texas employers are looking for systems analysts? Citi, the city of Houston, Deloitte, Wells Fargo, Upbring and Toyota Motors, among others. Job listings indicate a preference for these certifications: project management, security clearance, IT infrastructure library, Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP) and Six Sigma. Many employers prefer candidates with proficiency in SQL and Oracle.
Business intelligence analyst
Business intelligence analysts scanning the Texas job boards would have found 908 relevant postings last year; they stayed open for an average of 43 days. The average annual salary for a business intelligence analyst in Texas is $87,688. Demand should grow by 15.8 percent over the next decade
USAA was far and away the most aggressive seeker of these analysts, accounting for nearly 20 percent of last year’s postings. Other employers looking for BI analysts included Deloitte, Anthem Blue Cross, Wells Fargo, Santander and Toyota Motors. Job postings most often listed these skills: SQL, Tableau, data visualization, project management, SAP, Python and SAS. Certified Scrum Trainer (CST) was by far the most-often mentioned certification, followed by Certified Public Accountant (CPA), project management and IT infrastructure library.
Texas employers posted 656 listings for technology consultants last year; the postings stayed up for 42 days on average. Technology consultants in Texas earn an average salary of $86,947, although that value shoots up to $133,000 if you restrict it to master’s holders. Demand in Texas for technology consultants should grow at a 15.8 percent rate over the next 10 years.
Nearly half the listings in this field last year were posted by Deloitte; other companies seeking technology consultants included Ernst & Young, Guidehouse, IBM, KPMG and Microsoft. Among the top most-requested skills: SAP, project management, business process, Microsoft Visio, thought leadership and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP). Top certifications: Project Management Professional (PMP), Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA).
Chief information officer/director of information technology
Texas employers posted listings for Chief Information Officers (CIO) and directors of information technology 500 times over the last 12 months. CIOs—who accounted for 199 of those listings (more than half located in Dallas-Fort Worth)—earned a median salary of $134,638. Directors of information technology earned a median salary of $115,322. Labor Insight projects 19.1 percent growth in Texas for these positions over the next decade.
Charles Schwabb, Raytheon, Ascension Health, the city of Houston, Humana, USAA and Oracle were among the employers posting for these positions. Certifications that appear most frequently in the postings’ requirements include project management, IT infrastructure library, Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) and Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA).
Labor Insight counted 144 job postings in Texas for computer scientists over the last 12 months. Those job postings remained active for 55 days. The average annual income for Texas computer scientists is $88,105, which increases to $103,700 when limited only to those with a master’s. Demand for computer scientists in Texas should grow by 24 percent by 2030.
Computer scientists work primarily in academics and research. Employers seeking computer scientists in the previous year include: Southwest Research Institute, University of Texas, Applied Materials, CACI Samsung and Baker Hughes. Academic credentials and accomplishments are most important in this field.