As a computer scientist, you will work with computers and computational systems. Unlike computer and electrical engineers, most of your work as a computer scientists deals primarily with software systems and software. This normally includes the design, theory, development and application of software systems.
Computer scientists can study things such as artificial intelligence, computer networks and systems, computer databases and security, human computer interaction, numerical analysis, programming languages, theories of computing, software engineering and more.
Understanding how to program software is important as a computer scientist, but it is just one part of the field. Computer scientists also analyze and design computer algorithms to solve computer problems and study how computer hardware and software perform. The problems that you will work on can range from very abstract, such as what problems may be solved with computer and algorithms, to the more tangible, such as designing software applications that can perform well on smartphones and other electronic devices.
What Is Computer Science?
Computer science is a computer discipline that spans both practice and theory. It is a field that requires you to think in abstract and concrete ways. Computer science is at its core a science of solving problems. Computer scientists have to be very adept at modeling, analyzing and solving problems with computers and software.
Some of the major duties that computer scientists do on a daily basis include the following:
- Consult with management and customers to determine the IT and software needs in the organization
- Thinking about and conceptualizing math and computational related challenges in an organization
- Developing new products and solving practical computing issues
- Conducting hardware and software research that involves modeling and experimentation
- Working as part of a computer science research team with IT professionals, programmers, and software engineers to solve computer science problems and devise new products
- Working to improve how current computer and software systems operate
- Develop new computer and hardware systems and materials.
Computer Science Degree Opportunity
There is a strong need for a variety of computer and information technology professionals today who are skilled in computer science and related fields. The BLS states that jobs in this field will increase by 13% from 2016 to 2016. This is faster than average for all occupations. In total, it is anticipated that there will be 546,100 new jobs added in this sector by 2026. Demand for more computer science-related workers is stemming from a greater interest in cloud computing, collection and storage of data and information security.
As a computer scientist, such as a computer systems analyst, you can expect to work more than 40 hours per week in many jobs. Computer systems analysts held 600,500 jobs in 2016. They primarily worked in these fields:
- Computer systems design and related services: 28%
- Insurance and finance: 13%
- Management of companies and enterprises: 9%
- Information: 8%
- Government: 6%
Computer systems analysts and related computer scientists can work either directly for a company or as subcontractors. Many of these workers are employed by an IT contracting company. It is becoming more commonplace today for companies to outsource their computer science, computer programming and IT needs to contracting organizations.
Some of the related occupations in the computer science field are:
- Computer network architect
- Computer programmer
- Computer support specialist
- Computer and information research scientist
- Computer and information system managers
Computer Science Degree Salaries
The BLS reports that all computer and information technology professionals earned a median salary of $82,800 in 2016. This was much higher than the median salary for all occupations at $37,000 per year.
Computer and information research scientists earned a median salary of $111,800 in 2016. The top 10% earned more than $169,000 per year. Top industries in terms of salary for these computer scientists were:
- Software publishers: $125,000
- Research and development in sciences: $123,100
- Computer systems design: $115,800
- Federal government: $105,900
- Colleges and universities and professional schools: $72,000
Some of the best cities in America for computer science-related jobs are:
- San Jose, California: $130,000
- Huntsville, Alabama: $92,600
- Seattle: Washington: $108,000
- Durham-Chapel Hill, North Carolina: $94,500
- Boulder, Colorado: $99,000
- San Francisco: $113,000
- Washington DC: $104,000
- Raleigh, North Carolina: $95,000
- Austin, Texas: $84,300
- Boston, Massachusetts: $101,000
Computer Science Degree Employers
With a computer science degree, you will have the education and skills to work at some of the best tech companies in America. Below are some great ones to consider:
- Texas Instruments
- Citrix Systems
- SAP Americas
Computer Science Online Degree Option
A popular option for students interested in computer science who work is to earn a degree in the field online. Computer science degrees are generally well suited to learning entirely online. This is advantageous because you can continue to work full time in many cases while earning your degree. Also, you can often apply what you are learning to your current computer science projects at work.