Earning a degree in computer science will give you the technical skills that you need to qualify you for many high paying computer science positions – from software developer to IT manager. With enough education in computer science and related disciplines, you will have ample career options for many years in the future.
As you are considering this career, you obviously will want to know what your potential salary could be.
Below are major factors that will determine your salary with a computer science degree:
- Whether you get a master’s or bachelor’s degree
- The type of computer science career you choose
- How many years of work experience you have
- Geographic location
After you have all of this critical information, you will have a better idea of the salary you can earn with a computer science degree.
Level of Computer Science Degree
It is common for people to consider getting a master’s degree to earn a higher salary. There is ample research indicating that getting a master’s degree can give you a higher salary.
For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics or BLS states that people with a master’s degree have an average salary of $68,000, while those with a bachelor’s degree have a salary average of $56,000. While not every worker in every field will earn a premium such as this, many will. In an area in high demand such as computer science, it is likely you will earn a higher salary with a graduate degree.
BLS reports the following wage premiums for different technical careers for those who earn a master’s degree:
- Statisticians and mathematicians: $60,000 salary with bachelor’s and $80,000 with a master’s, for a $20,000 premium
- Network and computer systems administrators: $70,000 salary with a bachelor’s and $88,000 with a masters, for an $18,000 premium
- Web developers: $61,000 with a bachelor’s and $75,000 for a master’s for a $14,000 premium
- Information security analysts: $85,000 with a bachelor’s and $100,000 with a master’s, for a $15,000 premium
Payscale.com also shows the following salaries for computer science related professionals with bachelor’s degrees:
- Software engineer: $66,400
- Software developer: $58,800
- Senior software engineer: $95,000
For a master’s degree, these are the salaries for similar positions:
- Software engineer: $86,200
- Senior software engineer: $98,400
- Software developer: $64,200
Type of Computer Science Career
The career you choose will affect your salary with a computer science degree.
Below are some of the most common and in demand jobs for computer science majors and what they earn:
A software developer is the creative mind behind all computer programs that run all of our electronic devices. Some developers develop applications that allow people to do tasks on their mobile devices, while others develop the systems that run the devices or control the networks.
The median salary for software developers for applications was $102,700 in 2017. The top 10% earned more than $160,000 per year. The median salary for software developers for systems was $107,600 in 2017. Salaries for software developers varied in these industries:
- Software publishers: $112,000
- Manufacturing: $109,000
- Finance and insurance: $105,100
- Management of companies and enterprises: $100,400
- Computer systems design: $98,400
Information Security Analyst
Information security analysts plan and carry out cyber security measures for companies to protect their systems and networks. Security analysts are heavily involved in the disaster recovery plan for a company, which is the procedure that all employees involved with IT follow if there is an emergency.
The median salary for information security analysts was $95,500 in 2017. The top 10% earned more than $153,000 per year. Salaries will vary based upon which industry you work in:
- Computer systems design and related services: $98,100
- Finance and insurance: $97,600
- Information: $96,200
- Administrative and support services: $91,500
- Management of companies and enterprises: $90,900
Computer programmers both write and test code that allows computer applications and software programs to work as they are designed to do. Computer programmers transform the program designs that developers create and turn them into instructions that the computer can obey. Programmers also test new programs and applications to ensure they are working as they are supposed to.
The median salary for computer programmers is $82,200 with the top 10% earning more than $132,000 per year. Salaries vary in these industries:
- Software publishers: $97,300
- Finance and insurance: $88,300
- Manufacturing: $81,700
- Computer systems design and related services: $81,200
Computer and Information Systems Manager
These professionals are often called IT managers or IT project managers, and they are responsible for planning, coordinating and directing computer related activities for a company. They are responsible for determining the IT goals of a company and then implementing the computer systems to make these goals.
The median salary for computer and information systems managers was $139200 in 2017. The top 10% earned more than $200,000 per year. Salaries varied based upon working in these industries:
- Information: $153,000
- Computer systems design and related services: $146,400
- Finance and insurance: $146,300
- Manufacturing: $141,000
- Management of companies and enterprises: $140,000
- Computer and information research scientists: Invent and design new ways to approach computer technology and find uses for current technology. Median salary is $114,500.
- Computer network architects: Design and build communication networks, such as LANs and WANS. Median salary is $104,600
- Computer support specialists: Provide advice and help to computer users and companies. Support computer networks or offer assistance to users. Median salary is $52,800.
- Computer systems analysts: May be referred to as systems architects. They study the computer systems and procedures for an organization and devise solutions to help them operate more efficiently. Median salary is $88,200.
Computer Science Work Experience
Work experience is a major factor in how much money you will make with a computer science degree.
Payscale.com reports the following salary information for software developers with varying levels of experience:
- Less than five years of experience – $65,000
- Five to 10 years of experience – $81,000
- 10 to 20 years of experience – $92,000
- More than 20 years of experience – $99,000
For IT managers, the salary levels by experience are:
- Less than five years of experience – $59,000
- Five to 10 years of experience – $76,000
- 10 to 20 years of experience – $91,000
- More than 20 years of experience – $99,000
Computer Science Geographic Location
The last major factor that influences salary with a computer science degree is where you live in the United States. For example, for IT manager, the national average salary is $84,800. But you can earn more or less than this amount as an IT manager with a computer science degree in different cities. Consider:
- Minneapolis: +34%
- San Francisco: +33%
- Chicago: +30%
- Washington DC: +30%
- Atlanta: +21%
- Boston: +21%
- Denver: +17%
- New York City: +16%
- Dallas: +15%
- San Diego: +3%
- Miami: -16%
It is important to keep in mind that some cities have a higher cost of living than others, as well.
The above data shows that several factors can influence how much you earn with a computer science degree. Hopefully, you will be able to make a better choice about your computer science career with this information.
- Should I Get a Master’s Degree? (2016). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2015/article/should-i-get-a-masters-degree.htm
- Computer and Information Technology Occupations. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/home.htm