What Can I Do with a Degree in Computer Science?

Learn more about what you can do with a degree in computer science. Find information on computer science careers, job outlook, salary, and recommended schools. View popular schools that prepare students for careers in computer science.

Overview

Computers have become ubiquitous in modern society. As a result, there is a need for innovative individuals who design, create and invent new computer technology. Computer scientists work with a vast array of technologies and individuals across disciplines. Some computer scientists work with hardware architecture, discovering new ways in which computers can process and transmit data. These are the individuals who create new computer chips and processors, those microscopic devices that allow your PC to run faster. Other computer scientists are working at the forefront of virtual reality, inventing games and simulators that engulf the user in a real world invented environment. Still other computer scientists work in robotics, not plotting the downfall of mankind, but inventing machines that perform specific task both in industrial settings and in the home. Still others are involved in academia and pure research, training new generations of computer scientists and pushing the theoretical limits of computer technology.

In addition to significant mathematical aptitude, most professional computer scientists hold a Ph.D. in the field. Individuals seeking this level of education are best advised to earn a Bachelor’s degree in computer science or computer engineering. Years of classroom work and advanced, hands-on research are required for entry into the job market.

Careers

There are a number of options with significant job potential for computer scientists. The top, fastest growing job titles for individuals in computer science are: Computer Scientist, Computer/Information Systems Management, Software Engineer, Network Administrator, Network Systems Analyst, Computer Support Specialist, Database Administrator, Computer Systems Analyst, Computer Systems Designer, and Computer Programmer. Individuals who wish to design new ways to use computers may, after advanced graduate work, seek out a job at a research facility or private corporation. Several years experience may allow this individual to pursue a more entrepreneurial track. The dot-com bubble of the 1990s saw many computer scientists striking out on their own to make fortunes on the Internet. Business skills, combined with experience in computer science can go a long way towards career success in management positions. Many large and small software companies still seek out qualified computer scientists. Also, for individuals with a Ph.D. in computer science, academic teaching and research positions exist.

Salary

Although an individual’s salary will vary greatly due to education level, experience, and even geographical location, Computer scientists are among the top earners in the country. In 2008, the annual median wage for a computer scientist was $97,970. Most earned between $75,340 and $124,370, although top earners in the field can make in excess of $150,000 per year. Computer scientists in the computer systems design industry had an average annual salary of $99,900. Software developers have an annual average salary of $80,500. Web developers earn $58,000 a year on average. Systems developers make slightly more, $93,800. A software architect commands $116,000 in annual salary on average. Senior software engineers can make $98,000. A software development manager, a senior level scientist with business experience, can earn $115,000 per year. At the lower end of the spectrum, network administrators average $59,000 annually, while web developers make $58,000. But an IT Program Manager has an average annual salary of $111,000.

Job Outlook

Computer scientists should see excellent job prospects in the coming decade. Ph.D.s in computer science and computer engineering are in high demand, and many companies report that they cannot find enough qualified candidates to fill all of the needed positions. In 2008, there were some 28,900 individuals working as professional computer scientists. It is expected that there will be a need for 35,900 such positions in 2018, a 24 percent growth rate. There were also 33,080 computer science teachers at the university level in 2008. As demand for computer scientists increases, this is one additional career path with excellent job outlook. Individuals wishing a career as a computer network, systems or database administrator will also find better than average job prospects, as this segment of the industry is expected to expand by 30 percent in the coming decade. Job openings for network systems and data communications analysts are expected to be one of the fastest growing segments of the job market in the near future.

Recommended Schools

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