Though Ohio has traditionally been known as a manufacturing state -- indeed, as the nation's industrial capital -- there's much more to its economic story than its role in the 19th and 20th centuries. In recent years, the state has also started to become a hub for high-tech and computer-related jobs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the seventh most populous state in America had about 129,000 people working in computers and mathematics fields, and between 2010 to 2011, Ohio saw an average growth in tech jobs of 4.6 percent - nearly double the national average. As the nonprofit Technology CEO Council reported in 2013, Ohio's tech sector was responsible for 4 percent of the state's GDP in 2012, or about $19.7 billion.
True to its roots, Ohio is seeing tech jobs being added to its manufacturing heritage, with workers helping to create many high-tech products that are then used across the country and the world. The Technology CEO Council reported Ohio increased its exports of audio and visual equipment by $123.4 million between 2006 and 2012, for example. Trends in Ohio suggest that technology degrees in computers, both on the software side and the hardware side, as well as those that are useful for manufacturing, are definitely in demand in the state.
Computer Science Education in Ohio
There's no shortage of options when it comes to pursuing a technology or information technology degree in Ohio, with numerous post-secondary schools all across the state offering various programs, and ranging from those with shorter, more affordable programs to full four-year universities. In 2012, U.S. News & World Report ranked computer engineering as one of the best courses of study in terms of return on investment, with graduates earning a median starting pay rate of $61,800 and a median mid-career rate of $101,000.
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) College Navigator lists the following Ohio schools in 2015:
- 36 public two-year colleges
- 23 public four-year colleges
- 3 private nonprofit two-year colleges
- 35 private nonprofit four-year colleges
- 23 private for-profit four-year colleges
- 8 technical and vocational schools offering programs that take less than two years to complete
Ohio's schools offer a range of programs and various educational experiences. There are 13 public universities in the state, including as Ohio State University in Columbus, ranked 52nd nationally by U.S. News & World Report, and Ohio University, ranked 135th, as well as smaller colleges, like Cleveland State University and Kent State University, which is ranked 175th nationally. Cincinnati State Technical and Community College and Columbus State Community College, meanwhile, are community colleges with two-year course offerings, while the University of Northwestern Ohio and Case Western Reserve University are among the private schools the state offers.
Highlighted Computer Schools in Ohio
Ohio State University
Located in Columbus, Ohio State is the largest public university in the state and sports many of Ohio's top-tier programs. Offering computer science and engineering as well as electrical and computer engineering programs in its College of Engineering, Ohio State enjoys a U.S. News ranking of 52nd in the nation overall, as is ranked as the best engineering school for both undergraduates and graduates in Ohio. The College of Engineering sported a six-year graduation rate of 83 percent among students, up from 75 percent in 2009 and well above the national average of 57 percent.
U.S. News & World Report Rankings:
- Computer Science (2015): #34
- Engineering (2015): No. 32
Case Western Reserve University
Private institution Case Western Reserve University offer a variety of computer science programs both for undergraduates and graduate students, housed in its School of Engineering. The school itself is ranked 37th on U.S. News & World Report's list of national colleges and 70th in the nation in computer science, and it offers undergraduate programs in both computer science and computer engineering, which is focused more on the hardware side of computing, rather than software. On the graduate side, U.S. News ranks Case Western as the 47th best engineering school in the country.
U.S. News & World Report Rankings:
- Computer Science (2015): #70
- Engineering (2015): #47
Bowling Green State University
Ranked 185th among national universities by U.S. News, Bowling Green State University is a public school on the smaller end of the spectrum that offers programs in computer engineering and other tech areas, such as communications technology, as part of its School of Technology, Architecture & Applied Engineering. Bowling Green also offers numerous bachelor's degree programs online, and carries the 154th-ranked online graduate degree program in the country. Bowling Green also has the virtue of being a smaller, less expensive alternative to the likes of larger public and private schools in the state.
Tech Industries and Careers in Ohio
Ohio has seen its industries diversify over recent years, with an increasing number of technology-oriented companies growing their businesses in key cities like Dayton, Columbus and Cincinnati. Manufacturing and production, industries that have long called Ohio home, are also growing more technologically-oriented as modern systems change the way those companies operate. As a result, there's no shortage of companies in need of a variety of technology workers, ranging from networking professionals, software programmers, and IT pros. As the BLS reports, computer and mathematics professionals in Ohio earned an average annual wage of $74,160 in 2014.
The BLS found that the following Ohio regions have a relatively high percentage of people working in its Computers and Mathematics category:
- Cincinnati, OH
- Columbus, OH
- Dayton, OH
- Cleveland- Elyria-Mentor, OH
- Akron, OH
Northeast Ohio in particular has seen significant growth from the technology industry, according to a study from the nonprofit Engine Advocacy and as The News-Herald reported in 2013. Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor area saw a 9.1 percent rise in high-tech jobs between 2010 and 2011, which ranked it 16th nationally in the study. Ohio was also the only state to have three metropolitan regions that ranked in the top 25 areas for tech job growth.
Ohio is also positioning itself to be a major hub for the growing big data industry. As JobsOhio notes, there are more than 8,000 data-driven companies already located in the state, and the state received a shot in the arm for its big data initiatives after Amazon located three major data centers in the Central Ohio. Also among the state's major computing and data assets are its Ohio Super Computer Center and Ohio Academic Resources Network, both of which work to support both academic and industrial researchers.
Among technology jobs in Ohio, here are the top five in terms of average annual income according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:
|Occupation||Average Annual Salary|
|Software Developer, Applications||
|Computer Systems Analyst||$81,650|
|Computer User Support Specialist||$47,350|
|Network and Computer Systems Administrator||$70,400|
|Computer Network Support Specialist||$54,840|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014
The educational requirements for these jobs can vary greatly so doing research ahead of choosing a school or program can be very important for students, especially when they find they are pressed for time or money. Investing in a four-year education, for example, is a good way to be sure to have important foundations for a variety of information technology and computer technology jobs, but it's also not for everyone - and on-the-job training and experience can often be just as important. Meanwhile, some career paths, like Software Development, are education-intensive, but are generally worth it thanks to their high average income levels, even for new graduates.
When considering an IT degree, it's also important to remember that they can include long-term educational costs in the form of certifications and other additional education and training. Graduate degrees also serve some occupations particularly well, but many IT jobs use certifications to help keep staffers up to speed with the latest technologies throughout their careers. And some jobs will often require more certifications than others, especially in segments of the industry that see constant or rapid changes in tech standards, like networking and security.
On the plus side, there are just as many educational options for certs as there are for degrees in computer science, information technology, or computer engineering, and it's possible to find roles in the IT industry that are actually less education-intensive, where certifications and experience might be more applicable than a four-year or two-year degree. It often depends on the views and work environments of employers.
College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics, https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
"May 2014 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates - Ohio," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_oh.htm#15-0000
"College Majors With the Best Return on Investment," U.S. News & World Report, September 12, 2012, http://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/articles/2012/09/12/college-majors-with-the-best-return-on-investment?page=2
"Dayton ranks third in high-tech job growth," Dayton Daily News, December 6, 2012, http://www.daytondailynews.com/news/business/economy/dayton-ranks-third-in-high-tech-job-growthdayton-t/nTPc3/
"High-tech industry formidable in Ohio," Dayton Business Journal, April 28, 2014, http://www.bizjournals.com/dayton/blog/morning_call/2014/04/high-tech-industry-formidable-in-ohio.html
"Exports and American Information and Communications Technology Companies and Workers," Technology CEO Council, March 18, 2014, http://www.techceocouncil.org/clientuploads/reports/Exports%20for%20American%20ICT%20Companies%20and%20Workers-FINAL2_150DPI.pdf
"Computer Science and Engineering - About the Department," Ohio State University, https://engineering.osu.edu/computerscience
"Case Western Reserve University," U.S. News & World Report, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/case-western-reserve-university-3024
Case School of Engineering, Case Western Reserve University," http://engineering.case.edu/
"Bowling Green State University," U.S. News & World Report, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/bowling-green-state-university-3018
Engineering Technologies Department, Bowling Green State University, http://www.bgsu.edu/technology-architecture-and-applied-engineering/engineering-technologies.html
"Information Technology," JobsOhio, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CvxFLec0yP4