Computer Science Careers

Discover in-demand jobs in computer science and the skills needed to excel. Explore career paths and degree options for a successful career in technology.
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Updated on March 25, 2024
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Portions of the following article were drafted using an in-house natural language generation platform. The article was then reviewed, fact-checked, and edited by multiple members of our editorial team prior to publishing.


Have you ever thought about pursuing a career in technology? As a broad and rapidly evolving field, computer science offers many exciting jobs with competitive pay rates that cater to various skill sets.

Computer science continues to expand with new technological advancements, creating a continuous need for skilled professionals. There is high demand in this field, especially in cybersecurity, data science, and artificial intelligence. Each role requires specific skills and certifications to thrive in the competitive tech marketplace.

Read on to learn more about the computer science discipline and its career prospects.

Featured Online Bachelor's Programs in Computer Science

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

What Is Computer Science?

Computer science is all about studying computers and how they work. There are many sub-areas, such as machine learning, natural language processing, computing systems, networking, operating systems, and AI. The field also investigates how people interact with computers (i.e., human-computer interaction).

Mathematics plays a vital role in computer science, which requires a strong foundation in abstract reasoning, critical thought, and logical deduction. Computer scientists use algorithms, coding procedures, and programming skills to study computer processes and develop new software and systems. Knowing this, it is unsurprising that computer science is a key part of STEM.

Some may confuse computer science with computer engineering, but they're actually different. Computer science is all about studying computers as a whole, especially software systems. On the other hand, computer engineering is more about creating and constructing the hardware.

What Skills Are Needed to Succeed in Computer Science?

To succeed in computer science, you need both technical and soft skills.

Technical Skills

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    Proficient coding abilities with languages like Java, Python, C++, JavaScript, and C#
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    Strong understanding of algorithms and data structures
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    Competence in managing databases
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    Knowledge of operating systems
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    Familiarity with the software development lifecycle

Soft Skills

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    Effective communication skills
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    Strong problem-solving and analytical thinking abilities
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    Appreciation for lifelong learning
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    Strong bias toward teamwork and collaboration
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    Good attention to detail

Types of Computer Science Career Paths

There are many career paths within the computer science domain. Each career requires a different set of computer science skills and specialties. Here are a few examples:

Jobs Computer Science Degrees Can Get

A computer science degree offers many career path options. Whether you're interested in data science, quality assurance, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, or user interface design, a degree in computer science can help you gain the technical knowledge and skills needed to excel.

Salaries vary based on experience, location, and industry demands. Specific job roles and titles also differ at different companies, and some positions may require additional certifications or experience.

With an associate degree in computer science, you can explore many entry-level jobs in the tech industry. However, earning a bachelor's degree in computer science can expand your job prospects significantly. And earning a master's degree in computer science can prepare you to pursue high-level and specialized roles. Check the table below to see what careers are typically possible at each degree level.

Possible Jobs With Computer Science Degrees
Job Associate Degree Bachelor's Degree Master's Degree
AI Engineer
AI Specialist
Bioinformatics Specialist
Business Intelligence Analyst
Cloud Solutions Architect
Computer Support Specialist
Computer Programmer
Computer Operator
Computer Science Professor
Cybersecurity Analyst
Cybersecurity Engineer
Data Analyst
Database Administrator
Data Scientist
Game Developer
Graphic Designer
Help Desk Analyst
Information Security Analyst
Information Systems Manager
IT Consultant
IT Director or Chief Information Officer
IT Project Manager
IT Support Specialist
IT Technician
Junior Project Manager
Machine Learning Engineer
Mobile App Developer
Network Administrator
Network Support Specialist
Quality Assurance Tester
Software Architect
Software Developer
Systems Administrator
Systems Analyst
Systems Engineer
Technical Writer
User Experience (UX) Designer
Web Developer

Is a Ph.D. in Computer Science Worth It?

The benefit of a doctorate in computer science depends on your career goals and personal interests. If you'd like to pursue a career in academia, conducting research, or leading advanced projects, a doctorate can be extremely valuable. It can allow you to become a faculty member at a university, lead your own research projects, or become a top specialist in a tech company.

If you're more interested in software development, programming, or other technical roles, a bachelor's or master's degree may be sufficient. Many tech companies value skills and experience over formal education, and additional years in the workforce can sometimes be more beneficial than additional years spent in education.

And don't forget to consider the investment of time and money needed for a doctoral degree. A Ph.D. program can take several years and present financial challenges.

Certifications to Advance Your Career

Many certifications can help advance your career in computer science, depending on your specific field of interest. Here are some popular credentials:

Frequently Asked Questions About Computer Science Careers

How do I know if computer science is right for me?

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Think about whether you enjoy problem-solving and puzzles or have a logical approach to tasks. Traits like being organized and detail-oriented or having a hobby that requires attention to detail are good indicators that computer science might be right for you. Success in the field also requires resilience and the ability to learn from your mistakes.

What is the highest-paying job in computer science?

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Many of the highest-paying jobs in computer science include management or leadership jobs. For example, Payscale numbers for March 2024 show that software engineering managers and chief technology officers make average salaries of about $149,000 and $176,000, respectively. To qualify for these types of jobs, you'll likely need a graduate degree and/or many years of experience.

Do computer science students get internships?

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Computer science students frequently secure internships to hone their skills and gain practical experience. You can find internships through universities, online job boards, and professional networking sites. Many of these positions are paid, offering exposure to real-world projects and opportunities to build a professional portfolio.

Is a master's degree in computer science worth it?

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Earning a master's degree in computer science can be a valuable investment. This degree can pave the way to leadership roles, higher-paying jobs, and specialized knowledge in areas like AI and machine learning.

You should always consider the degree's cost, time commitment, and alignment with your career goals. Online programs may provide more flexibility and affordability than on-campus options.

Is it hard to find a job in computer science?

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While the field of computer science is growing and many jobs are available, the market can be competitive with a significant number of applicants for each opening. Recent industry layoffs have tightened the job market in some areas, making it tougher for new graduates. Despite that, the diverse variety of job types within computer science continues to expand due to technological advancements.


Note: The insights on this page — excluding school descriptions — were reviewed by an independent third party compensated for their time by BestColleges. Page last reviewed March 13, 2024.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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