Human Computer Interaction (HCI): Is a Degree Worth It?
People are fascinated by the connection between humans and computers. Today, several fields of study are now dedicated to developing new algorithms and technology that help computers improve our everyday lives, especially as the Internet of Things, (IoT) continues to grow.
With these advancements, more and more individuals are considering a career in Human Computer Interaction (HCI).
Question is: Is a degree in HCI necessary to land a job in this field? And what are the costs and benefits of studying HCI?
In this guide, we compare college costs to earning potential, college alternatives, and other factors to determine whether an HCI degree is worth it.
What is Human Computer Interaction (HCI)?
Human-computer interaction (HCI) is an area of study that involves better understanding the connections and interfaces between humans and computers. HCI professionals research how users interact with computers and then design programs and technologies that help users use computers to their full potential.
What Can You Do with a Degree in Human Computer Interaction?
In today’s technologically enhanced landscape, we humans rely on computers to communicate, complete tasks, and make our lives easier. So, a degree in HCI can be highly useful to any individual wanting to pursue a career in computer science and technology.
A degree in HCI allows you to understand how to improve the human computer interaction experience. This is a valuable skill to the end users, as well as the companies that serve them.
Types of HCI Jobs:
- HCI Research Scientist
- User Experience (UX) Consultant
- UX Designer
- Product Designer
- User Interaction (UI) Designer
- Information Architect
- Software Engineer
- Systems Engineer
- Project Manager
- Computer Programmer
- Tech Startup Founder
Is HCI a Good Major?
HCI is a great major in that it gives you a wide range of career options and equips you with many of the skills you need to enter a variety of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields.
At University of Advancing Technology, for example, a HCI degree accomplishes several objectives, including:
- Gaining an understanding of fundamental computer design concepts and practices associated with human computer interactions.
- Evaluating the impact of security, authentication, identification and automation on the design of UX and human computer interaction.
- Analyzing human behavior factors such as cognition and how they impact UX and relate to the development of HCIs.
Why Study Human Computer Interaction?
You might want a degree in HCI if you:
- Want to understand how people depend on and interact with computers
- Want to learn more about human behavior
- Love solving complex problems
- Enjoy working with computers
- Are interested in designing human-focused systems, networks, or software
- Are looking for a field that is challenging yet fulfilling
- Are searching for a field with endless job opportunities
- Want to make an investment in your future by entering a potentially lucrative field
Is It Worth It Getting a Degree in HCI?
When considering whether any college degree is worth it , you should weigh the costs of the degree versus the earning potential in your chosen field.
Fortunately, when it comes to HCI, the projected earnings far outweigh the costs of earning your degree – particularly if you attend a technology-focused university like UAT.
What You’ll Learn in an HCI Degree Program
Human Computer Interaction majors are immersed in a holistic, hands-on course program that not only gives them fundamental HCI skills but also in-depth experience to prepare them for a career in HCI.
In most HCI programs, you’ll learn to:
- Synthesize the human elements of technology
- Create new user interfaces
- Produce your own innovative methods
- Drive fusion with UX, AI, and IoT
- Develop and manage digital assets
- Develop use cases with devices and software
- Create virtual environments
Beyond these skills, you’ll have access to a range of resources to help you prepare for and advance your career. These resources might include career counseling, internships, advanced degrees, study groups, and more.
Skills to Find Success in HCI
A college degree will teach you the ins and outs of HCI, but there are other intrapersonal skills you’ll want to develop to see real success in your career. This is why UAT students are required to participate in individual and group projects that solve real-world problems. This requires innovation and creativity, as well as communication skills and critical thinking.
At UAT, we help students reach their full potential. Most students go on to complete internships, community projects, and apprenticeships to better cultivate their ability to succeed in the workplace.
How Much Do HCI Jobs Pay?
A degree in Human Computer Interaction opens many doors to a variety of technology-focused careers. HCI experts transform the way humans interact with technology, not just computers. Jobs require real-world skills to tackle the evolution of IoT and UX infused hardware, software, mobile and more.
The highest paying careers in human computer interaction as listed by bls.gov are:
- Front-End Designer/Developer: $77,200
- Computer Hardware Engineers: $119,560
- Computer Network Architects: $116,780
- Computer and Information Systems Managers: $151,150
How to Get a Job in Human Computer Interaction
Earning a Human Computer Interaction Degree is one of the best first steps you can take to set yourself up for a successful career in HCI. Not only will you acquire the skills you need to prepare you for an HCI job, but you’ll have a marketable degree that makes you attractive to employers.
A bachelor’s degree in HCI studies remains the industry standard for entering the field of HCI and landing a lucrative job. Plus, at institutions like UAT, you’ll gain valuable career counseling to help you ace interviews, fine-tune your resume, land an internship, and more.
Applying for HCI Jobs
Once you’ve earned your HCI degree or have otherwise gained experience in the field, you can begin applying for more advanced HCI jobs.
Your best bet is to check your college job board, attend career fairs, search for “HCI jobs” online, and check online job boards like LinkedIn, ZipRecruiter.com, or Indeed.com.
Here are some tips for applying to HCI jobs:
- Read job descriptions thoroughly and write your cover letter to match the requirements the company is looking for.
- Have a friend or advisor review your resume, checking for errors, and providing tips on how to make it more appealing to hiring managers.
- Look into additional certifications to improve your skills and appeal to employers.
- Practice your job interviewing skills to master your interviews.
- Follow up with employers via email to keep your name top of mind and thank them for their consideration in interviewing you.
At University of Advancing Technology, we offer an HCI degree that incorporates real world applications and a deep understanding of human-computer interactions. This includes the study and development of novel uses of computer technologies, intelligent interfaces, augmented reality environments, new I/O devices, and more.
“UAT Students in the HCI Degree program will develop use cases with software and devices, create virtual environments, develop digital assets, and synthesize the human elements of technology.”
If you believe a career in Human Computer Interaction may be right for you, request more information. We’re passionate about helping students enter STEM fields and acquire the skills they need to land a lucrative and rewarding career in HCI.