What Can You Do With a Computer Science Degree?
From machine learning and artificial intelligence to cloud computing and teaching, there are a variety of roles available with a computer science degree. You may lead development and implementation teams, or you may work on programming for computers, mobile devices and embedded software.
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You may be qualified to work in a position that blends business and technical expertise. With a computer science degree, you may find opportunities working in cybersecurity or work to create more efficient and effective ways of conducting business. Below, we look at computer science jobs in general and then examine several things you could do with a computer science degree.
Computer Science Jobs Overview
Employment for people in computer and information technology jobs is projected to grow 13% from 2020 through 2030, much faster than average for all occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Jobs are available for people with bachelor’s degrees and master’s degrees in computer science, but availability may vary depending on your location.
Median salaries range from $126,830 per year for computer and information research scientists with a master’s degree to $55,510 for a computer support specialist with an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. Overall, the median annual wage for computer and information technology positions was $91,250 in May 2020, compared to the average of $41,950 for all other occupations, the BLS reports.
Data scientists play an important role in managing and analyzing large amounts of data. They wrangle structured and unstructured data to process, analyze and model and then interpret results. Their role combines statistics, computer science and mathematics to reveal trends and create actionable insights for their organization.
They tackle data that is often messy and unstructured from various sources such as social media, mobile devices and emails that don’t fit into neat cells in a spreadsheet. Data scientists use algorithms to create and improve software and other computing tasks. Their work is being used to develop better networking technology, improve robotics and create new programming languages.
Data scientist positions that require a master’s degree had a 2020 median salary of $126,830 per year, according to the BLS.
A computer scientist is prepared for a range of positions that will vary between organizations and jobs. Computer scientists use various programming languages and have the ability to analyze algorithms for efficiency.
The role of the computer scientist is to apply key concepts to create effective solutions. Computer scientists typically have a home in academia, conducting research and educating people new to the field. They’re also found in corporate and government organizations, working as part of teams with software and hardware engineers and others to solve problems that involve computational theory. They examine fundamental issues regarding computer architecture and languages to improve how people work with computers.
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Another role that may be available with a computer science degree is IT consultant. Despite the name, this may be an in-house position or an outsourced or external role. In either case, the IT consultant works with clients to plan, design, install and use information technology systems. The role may be similar to a business analyst or systems analyst, depending on how the organization defines the position.
The goal is to provide advice and counsel on helping an organization improve its IT systems through policies, procedures, and procurement. An IT consultant may also be involved in customer relations and sales, so soft skills are just as necessary as technical skills.
This role may also be known as an information security specialist. This specialty focuses on protecting the security of the organization’s data and networks. Specialized skills for this role include “white hat” hacking or penetration testing, where you test the organization’s security for potential weaknesses.
You may also work as a computer forensics investigator to analyze cyberattacks and look for ways to stop them in the future. These positions are often found as consultant roles with cybersecurity firms. A cybersecurity consultant plays a key role in developing an organization’s business continuity plan, which outlines procedures in case of a successful cyber attack and the policies necessary to reduce the risk of such an event.
Information Systems Analyst
An information systems analyst is often the interface between the IT department and the business or operational side of an organization. The analyst helps modify current systems and designs new solutions to improve business efficiency and productivity.
It’s important that information systems analysts stay up to date on the latest features and upgrades that could impact the business. The analyst typically has an understanding of current business practices and may translate business needs to the rest of the IT department to develop new solutions.
For those with a creative side who are also interested in technology, a multimedia programmer may be another thing you could do with a computer science degree. This role involves creating multimedia computer products that include animation, audio, video, graphic design, 2D and 3D modeling, and text. It’s a collaborative role, working with designers, photographers, videographers and others to design and implement the product.
Being a multimedia programmer may involve writing code and running tests and supporting the product after it is deployed. Programmers may work in advertising, film and TV production, marketing, medical illustration, gaming and many other fields. Multimedia programmers may find a position with a creative agency or work as freelancers and contractors, as well as directly with organizations.
As a product manager, you’ll be responsible for shepherding a software solution through the development process to the marketplace. It’s an interdisciplinary role that involves management ability as well as technical aptitude.
The product manager must take a big-picture view of the project, work with various stakeholders and team members, and balance priorities and inputs for the good of the product. They usually spend less time on the technical aspects of the project. Product managers may work for internal teams or for software development companies that contract with clients.
A business analyst is like the mechanic of the corporate world. They are typically called in to fix things when they’re not running right. A business analyst should blend technical know-how with business acumen and administrative talent. Managers rely on them to lend a big-picture view of a problem and offer solutions.
Those solutions may or may not be IT-oriented. The job is to identify organizational problems, conduct analysis and recommend changes to people, processes and technology that address the issues. An analyst may have a business or analytical background or a technical education in statistics or computer science.
Computer Science Professor
Professors typically work at public and private colleges and universities, community colleges, and professional schools. A Ph.D. is often required for university-level positions, but a master’s degree backed by work experience may be adequate for undergraduate teaching positions.
Professors conduct research in their area of expertise and teach students in courses and lab settings. A computer science professor focuses on exploring fundamental issues in computer science and develops models and theories to support findings. Their work often leads to breakthroughs that improve how people work with computers. A professor will publish research in academic journals and present findings at conferences. They may also consult with organizations to develop and improve software systems and languages.
Software Application Developer
Software is behind all aspects of computing, from email to big data analytics to social media. Developers work as part of a team writing and testing code for databases, user interfaces and application programming.
Some developers may specialize in specific languages such as Java, C# and Python. Others focus on quality assurance, testing software for issues before it’s shipped to the end user. An application developer works on a specific application such as a game, productivity suite or custom software embedded in a device.
The BLS projects that employment of software developers will grow 22% from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations. A bachelor’s degree is required for most entry-level positions.
Behind every URL is a developer, a computer science professional who specializes in designing, building and maintaining websites. In this field, there are two categories of specialization: front end and back end.
The front-end developer works on the appearance and user interface of a site. The back-end developer works on the software behind the scenes, ensuring the site works properly for users and the organization. Those who work in both areas are called full-stack developers.
This role is responsible for maintaining the security, performance and integrity of a database. The administrator uses tools such as a database management system to ensure the data remains accessible and secure.
Typically this role works closely with IT staff, programmers and operational staff to ensure the organization uses the database effectively. The specifics of the position may vary by the organization, but will likely include user training and support and writing documentation and operation manuals and user reports.
Last updated: April 2022