Computer Science Career Track

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Updated on April 21, 2023
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  • Computer science careers span industries from healthcare and manufacturing to automotive.
  • Computer scientists develop computer systems, software, network architecture, and AI.
  • Popular career paths include computer programmer, data scientist, and web developer.

A computer science career offers opportunities in almost every industry, from manufacturing to weather forecasting. Computer science is the foundation of software and device development and information technology (IT). Computers and mobile devices are examples of how IT is part of daily life in the 21st century. Big data, the internet, and software are essential in business, and IT provides the infrastructure and processes.

A career in computer science could be in IT, designing software, or developing mobile apps, devices, or networks. In manufacturing, computer science is involved in design and simulation to create and improve products. Computer scientists can develop systems to analyze and predict trends or improve inventory management. In weather forecasting, computer scientists develop and interpret models that predict weather patterns. So, what is computer science?

What is Computer Science?

Computer science focuses on the science of computer systems and software, including application, design, development, and theory. It includes:

  • Artificial intelligence (AI) development
  • Computer and network architecture
  • Data structures
  • Information processing
  • Security systems development

Computer scientists solve problems with technology and create programs that power systems, networks, and applications. They may focus on specific areas in computer science, including software, management, or research.

Technology advances quickly, and computer scientists must keep up with the changes. For example, AI development spans:

  • Automation
  • Autonomous robots
  • Facial recognition
  • Machine learning
  • Natural language processing
  • Speech recognition
  • Self-driving cars

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Computer Science Career Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) identifies computer and information research scientists as some of the most in-demand roles today.

Job Growth | 2020-2030

Median Salary | 2021

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Computer scientists turn ideas into technology and write algorithms to help businesses process big data. They may help develop innovative cybersecurity software to prevent potential cyberattacks or develop new programming languages. What's more, becoming a computer and research scientist is only one of the possibilities for a career in computer science.

Popular Computer Science Career Paths

Computer Programmer

Computer programmers use computer languages to write and modify code and scripts. They often collaborate with software developers and software engineers to turn designs into usable instructions for computers to follow. In addition, computer programmers test applications and software to ensure they work as expected and modify the code as needed.

Data Scientist

Data scientists work across industries developing raw data into usable information using data-oriented programming languages, visualization tools, and software. They apply data mining, data modeling, and machine learning to extract and analyze information from large datasets. These professionals also interpret and visualize data and create data reports for various stakeholders.

Database Administrator

Database administrators design and organize data storage for data accessed from various sources, including customer records and company information. They also ensure data is available to authorized users. In addition, they are responsible for security to protect sensitive information. Database administrators develop procedures to prevent data loss and ensure databases operate efficiently.

Information Technology Specialist

Information technology specialists use the latest technology tools to design, repair, test, and maintain information technology products and systems. They develop databases, hardware, or software, depending on their skills and certifications, and they must commit to continuous learning. User experience, network architecture, or business development skills can mean higher salaries.

Information Security Analyst

Information security analysts plan, implement, and monitor computer network and systems security measures. They maintain software, including data encryption programs that protect sensitive data, and continuously check computer and network systems for vulnerabilities. Information security analysts also prepare reports to document attempted security breaches and recommend security enhancements to management.

Software Engineer

Software engineers collaborate with coders, designers, and programmers to develop how software functions and ensure it works as expected. They help map out programming tasks and functions throughout the software design and development stages. Software engineers typically have skills in various programming languages, including C#, Java, JavaScript, Python, and SQL.

Web Developer

Web developers create websites and mobile applications and often help maintain them for clients. They're responsible for performance, speed, or how a website handles traffic and content. Front-end web developers use program languages such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, while back-end web developers write code that forms the backbone of a website or app.

What Skills Are Needed for Computer Science?

1. Soft Skills

Emotional intelligence, attention to detail, communication skills, leadership, and innovation are some of the soft skills needed in computer science. Critical thinking is also essential to identify a problem, analyze it, and formulate a solution.

2. Data Analysis

Data is a big part of computer science, from developing artificial intelligence to conducting predictive analysis. Data analysis skills help computer scientists analyze what works and what needs adjustment.

3. Mathematics

A comprehensive understanding of mathematical theory is essential in computer science. Professionals need knowledge of calculus, linear algebra, statistics, and advanced mathematical techniques.

4. Programming Languages

Computer code runs computer systems and networks, so professionals need a deep knowledge of algorithms and data structures. Computer scientists use programming and markup languages such as C, HTML, Java, Python, and SQL to develop today's technologies.

Is a Career in Computer Science Worth It?

Yes. If you want to pursue a computer science career, it's worth it if you're willing to invest the time to develop your skills. Computer science career options are abundant across industries from education and retail to healthcare and automotive.

Computer and Information Technology Occupations

Job Growth | 2020-2030
667,600 new jobs yearly

Median Salary | 2021

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Frequently Asked Questions About Computer Science Careers

Is computer science hard?

Computer science can be challenging because the initial learning curve can last for four or five classes. If you're wondering which computer science career is right for you, consider your natural strengths and weaknesses.

Without a background in computer programming, computer science may be hard, and some students give up before they surpass the learning curve. For example, learning a programming language takes time if you've never had any experience with coding.

Computer science is a constructive discipline that requires flexibility, tenacity, logical thinking, keen attention to detail, and mastery of coding languages. It also requires creativity to accomplish tasks in different ways.

Is computer science just coding?

Knowing how to code is essential to computer science, but it's only part of what the job requires. Computer scientists use theory, design, development, and algorithms to analyze and solve problems.

They study computer hardware and software performance and design applications for computer systems, networks, and various devices. In addition, they may develop artificial intelligence, bioinformatics, database and security systems, programming languages, or software.

Computer science benefits many industries, and professionals may also need skills in specific areas such as data analytics or product development. For example, computer scientists are often involved in developing handheld devices or automobile technologies.

Is computer science a lot of math?

Math is the basis for computer languages. Computer scientists must be fluent in these languages, as it's how we communicate with machines. Understanding facts and figures is another essential component of computer science. For example, self-driving cars require mathematical equations to program acceleration, emergency braking, stops, and turns.

Most computer science degree programs require basic algebra, calculus, and statistics to help students develop foundational skills. There are many online resources and study options to help students meet math requirements, including tutorials and free and inexpensive courses.

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