This guide dives into computer science careers. It outlines the steps you need to take to become a computer scientist, and then it examines some of the opportunities that a career in computer science can bring.
Computer science is a complex and ever-expanding field. With everyday technology and businesses increasing their reliance on technology, computer science is a lucrative field that offers variety in the industry and job stability.
Computer science covers a wide range of technology, from alarm clocks to iPhone applications to fintech and data security. Computer science touches almost every aspect of the modern world in some way.
The degrees by which students can become computer scientists are equally broad and varying. The most common degrees in computer science include:
- Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science (BA/BS)
- Bachelor’s degree in Information Technology (BA/BS)
- Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics (BA/BS)
- Bachelor’s degree in Engineering (BA/BS)
There are many other degree options well-suited to becoming a computer scientist.
Because computer science is such a broad field that touches almost every industry, students should carefully research which degree curriculum is most aligned with their career goals.
How to Become a Computer Scientist
Becoming a computer scientist is an exciting endeavor that opens up the world of information technology to students. There are so many facets that professionals can apply a computer science career to the modern world. There are also many different paths for students to become computer scientists.
Many students pursue the traditional route of earning a bachelor’s degree to become computer scientists. As discussed above, the right degree path will be contingent upon the students’ career goals.
Other students become computer scientists by completing a certificate or computer science bootcamp. Again, because there are so many focus areas in computer science, choosing the right certification or bootcamp should be done after carefully researching the curriculum and how this best aligns with the student’s career goals.
What Does a Computer Scientist Do?
Computer scientists solve problems and improve how computers solve problems in various fields, industries, companies, and professions.
Computer scientists have been a part of architecting almost every interactive electronic device.
Computer scientists translate the problem into a language that computers understand. Most people know this language as computer code or just code.
Code helps computers interpret the functions and conditions under which a computer should solve a problem. Innovation, problem-solving, and creativity are core attributes of a successful computer scientist.
An example of how computer scientists solve problems can be demonstrated through an alarm clock on a cell phone. When should the alarm go off? What are the parameters for setting the alarm? What happens when the user presses snooze?
Computer scientists use code to translate these instructions so the computer can perform the task.
A far more complicated application of computer science problem solving would be creating an algorithm through which banks can implement security for their processes and their customers’ accounts.
Because of the vast and varied applications of computer science, professionals in this field enjoy an equally broad selection of career opportunities. Some computer scientists like to work on mobile app development, while others are passionate about data security. Others choose to follow an IT path to become a network administrator or even an IT director.
Some professionals in computer science enjoy being at the forefront of the field’s evolution and seek to share it with others. Becoming a computer science instructor or professor is another exciting career opportunity in computer science.
The world of computer science is not only varied. It is also ever-changing and evolving. This makes it especially important for professionals to engage in continuing education opportunities.
Becoming a computer scientist is as rewarding as it is exciting. Students who earn a computer science degree will enjoy high pay, an outstanding work-life balance, and endless growth opportunities.
Moreover, a computer science career allows professionals to work in any industry, and often remotely–meaning that computer scientists can often travel and live wherever they prefer.
Computer Science Job Descriptions
The wide variety of computer science industries leads to many different opportunities for those who decide to become computer scientists.
Some of the most common job descriptions for a professional with a degree in computer science are listed below. However, this is not an exhaustive list, and students and professionals are encouraged to research more about the career opportunities that are most interesting to them.
Full-stack Developer: A full-stack developer is a developer of web, software, app, or another system that has mastered both the friend end and back end development.
Information Security Analyst: These professionals are constantly tracking the security of their organization’s database. This is a gratifying career, rated #4 on the list of best technology jobs by U.S. News & World Report.
According to GlassDoor.com, full-stack developers make an average of $99,020 annually.
Computer Science Professor: Professionals that would like to stay in the academic world can use their skills to teach others how to become educated computer scientists. These professionals enjoy the best of both worlds, with one foot in academia and the other in computer science. Computer Science Professors are also always at the cutting-edge of technological development and enjoy access to a wide range of university resources.
GlassDoor.com reports that computer science professors make an average yearly salary of $67,132 per year.
Research and Development Scientist: Another profession that provides endless opportunities to stay on the cutting edge of technology. Research and development scientists focus on updating and improving technology and systems.
According to GlassDoor.com, research and development scientists make an average of $93,144 per year.
Information Technology Specialist: These specialists manage and troubleshoot software, apps, networks, and more.
Information technology specialists bring in about $67,198 annually, according to GlassDoor.com.
Software Developer: Writing code, testing software, and managing teams all fall under the purview of a software developer. Moreover, software developers look for ways to improve software, such as making them more user-friendly.
GlassDoor.com reports that software developers earn an average annual income of $96,411.
Computer Programmer: Like a software developer, computer programmers translate code and other functions into computer-based languages to enable computers to read the code.
According to GlassDoor.com, computer programmers make an average salary of $72,321.
Computer Science Career Paths
The above computer science job descriptions outline some of the more common ways that graduates use their degrees in computer science.
Each career above and most computer scientist positions have career paths that professionals can follow, depending on their passions, interest, and career goals.
The most common career paths for professionals in computer science are listed below. As with the job descriptions for computer science, these career path options are not exhaustive and simply outline some of the opportunities for professionals in the field.
Management: Many computer science professionals work their way up into management positions. In these management positions, professionals are responsible for an expanded scope of work. Instead of focusing solely on the deliverable of their portion of the product, managers focus on managing the product’s deliverables as a whole and the management of team members responsible for the delivery.
Professionals with strong interpersonal skills and project management skills may find themselves drawn to a management position.
Subject Matter Expert: Some professionals desire to apply their expertise to a broader scope than their discipline, such as becoming a subject matter expert. Subject Matter Experts (SME’s) join companies to help guide their vision and stay true to the information in their field. SME’s can consult on product development, write white papers, and a whole host of other exciting opportunities to apply their knowledge of their craft.
Specialist: Some professionals choose to become even more specialized in their field, preferring to stay focused on product development and honing their expertise.
There are many career paths available for professionals in computer science – from management to specialization.
Computer Science Job Outlook
The field of computer science is rapidly growing, which leads to countless opportunities for jobs and advancement. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), computer science is expected to grow 11 percent in the next ten years, which is considered faster than average.
High pay, ample opportunities for advancement, and a growing industry are reasons why students choose to pursue a career in computer science. Work-life balance, the opportunity to work remotely, and the ability to be at the forefront of changing technology are other factors that make this field popular and satisfying.