Computer Science Careers

Read on to learn about typical courses, resources, and careers in this field.

Staff Writer

2022-09-0825 min read

Every day the demand for computer science jobs increases exponentially, from computer programmers to network architects. Professionals in these fields have their pick of lucrative and fulfilling careers.

Thanks to the rapid digital transformation sweeping across industries and markets, there’s no better time than now to get a computer science degree. However, understanding this field and your job prospects after graduation is key to a rewarding career.

This guide deep dives into computer science careers, degree options, salary figures, job outlook, and other helpful information to help you improve your prospects.

Read on to find everything you need to start your computer science journey today.

Why Choose Computer Science?

Computer science is a vast field with excellent career prospects. Since technology and computers are integral parts of our lives, there’s a high demand for computer-related skills.

A degree in this field gives you a deep understanding of computer science theories and emerging technologies. With this knowledge and a few years of experience, you can develop cutting-edge solutions that solve multiple challenges.

It also helps that computer science careers command high-paying salaries. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the annual mean wages{:target="_blank"} for computer science professionals as over $80,000.

If you enjoy collaborating with others to develop systems and execute new programs, why not put these skills to good use?

How to Start your Computer Science Journey

The first step on this journey requires getting a degree from an accredited university or college. With an associate's or a bachelor’s degree, you have myriad choices in the computer science field.

A bachelor’s degree opens the door to lucrative career paths, while a master’s and doctorate in computer science offer advanced opportunities.

Education Requirements

Associate Degree

An associate's degree in computer science includes foundational knowledge of computer systems, IT, and programming. It’s a two-year program that qualifies you for entry-level roles like support specialist or web developer.

You can also transfer into a four-year program with an associate degree.

Bachelor’s Degree

This four-year degree program offers advanced instructions on data structures, database management, network administration, algorithms, and more.

You meet the basic requirement for most computer and IT-related roles like software developer, computer programmer, and system administrator with a bachelor’s degree.

Most bachelor’s degree programs provide hands-on learning experiences through capstone projects and internships in their senior year.

Master’s Degree

A master’s degree in this field provides advanced training in specialized roles like systems architecture, computing theory, data visualization, and more.

You can complete this computer science program in two years or less. An accelerated master’s degree takes 12-18 months.

Professionals with a master’s degree can move into managerial or administrative roles with increased responsibilities and compensation.

Doctorate in Computer Science

This terminal degree requires you to take advanced computer science classes and complete a dissertation. You can qualify for research and teaching positions in colleges and universities with a doctorate.

A doctorate in computer science demonstrates your competency and expertise in the field. It also gives you industry credibility.

The program usually takes around 4-7 years to complete.

Employment Prospects

Computer science graduates are qualified for various computing careers with high demand and job satisfaction. With an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, you can work in any entry-level position, with room for advancement.

And thanks to technological advancements, the field is projected to add over 600,000 new jobs before 2030. Demand for computer science professionals will emanate from greater emphasis on data collection and storage, information security, and cloud computing.

Computer Science Career Forecast

The BLS projects a 13% career growth for computer science occupations from 2020 to 2030. This rapid increase is thanks to the rise of technological development and innovation.

Most computer science jobs pay over $100,000, with various numbers of job openings annually. For example, software development and quality assurance analysts have around 180,000 job openings. At the same time, information security analysts have over 16,000 job openings yearly, with a 33% increase in employment rates.

Daily, companies require more experts to create processes and programs for data collection, storage, and security.

How to Boost your Computer Science Career

You can advance your computer science career in several ways after earning a college degree. While an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree opens the door to numerous opportunities, advanced certifications take you to greater heights in your career.

The broad nature of the computer science field means you can find various types of certifications for different disciplines. For example, certifications in information security management, project management, IT systems security, medical coding, etc., are great career boosters.

Some employers prefer candidates with specific certifications as it makes them look like masters in their fields. However, you should always conduct extensive research before making any decision.

Other ways to boost your career include:

  • Pursuing advanced degrees and taking more courses in your discipline to keep up with technological advancements
  • Forging relationships with other computer science professionals
  • Becoming a member of professional organizations
  • Attending tech conferences and building leadership skills.

Lucrative Computer Science Career Paths

Computer science is a diverse and extensive field with several career paths and job prospects in multiple industries and sectors.

These are some of the high-paying roles in the field.

Computer Programmers

You can qualify for this role with a bachelor’s degree from a four-year college program. Although some employers hire professionals with an associate’s degree, many still require higher qualifications.

Computer programmers have expert IT skills, excellent communication, and problem-solving skills, are end-user-oriented, and possess high aptitudes for learning new technology.

Average Salary

According to the Labor Department, most computer programmers in the US earn a median annual salary of around $93,000.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Providing technical support
  • Coding and debugging
  • Writing computer instructions and scripts
  • Editing source code
  • Troubleshooting system errors
  • Managing database systems

Industries Employing Computer Programmers

Data service companies and software publishers provide high-paying roles for computer programmers.

Top-paying industries and organizations with the highest concentration of computer programmers include:

  • Scientific Research and Development Services
  • Software Publishers
  • Semiconductor and Other Electronic Component Manufacturing
  • Computer Systems Design and Related Services
  • Data Processing, Hosting, and Related Services.

Information Security Analysts

Information security analysts work to protect organizations and companies from data hacks and breaches. This role requires a minimum of a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution.

While information security is often confused with cybersecurity, the two fields differ in various aspects. For example, information security focuses on data protection in physical and electronic forms, while cybersecurity prevents cyberattacks from unauthorized electronic sources.

Average Salary

According to the BLS, most information security analysts earn a median annual salary of about $102,000.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Monitor network for vulnerabilities and security breaches
  • Plan and perform security measures on computer networks and systems
  • Create training programs to eliminate or reduce security breach
  • Collaborating with other professionals to execute best security practices
  • Research the latest IT security trends.

Industries Employing Information Security Analysts

Thanks to the increasing amount of data hacks and security breaches, many companies and organizations employ information security analysts to protect their networks.

Some of the largest employers include:

  • Computer systems design and related services
  • Information sectors
  • Finance and insurance
  • Management of companies and businesses
  • Administrative and support services

Computer Network Architects

Network architects work with various industries to design network systems that handle their business needs and requirements. Professionals in this field are detail-oriented and have extensive knowledge of computer networks and IT technologies.

Average Salary

Computer network architects earn median annual salaries of around $80,000 to $120,000.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Manage the organization’s information and network security
  • Design layouts and plans for data communications network
  • Upgrade hardware to support computer networks (i.e., routers, software, network drivers)
  • Research new networking terms and terminologies
  • Carry out maintenance and repairs of network equipment

Industries Employing Computer Network Architects

Top-paying industries and sectors with the highest concentration of computer network architects include:

  • Computer and Peripheral Equipment Manufacturing
  • Monetary Authorities-Central Bank
  • Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services
  • Data Processing, Hosting, and Related Services
  • Computer Systems Design and Related Services
  • Telecommunications

Computer Support Specialists

Professionals in this field are tech savvy and have strong interpersonal and communication skills. You can work as a computer support specialist in different organizations with an associate’s or bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution.

Computer support specialist roles are usually entry-level and need little to no work experience. However, some companies require support specialists to hold certifications in their software or products.

Average Salary

Computer network support specialists earn median wages of around $62,000. The highest 10% made over $100,000, while the lowest 10% earned about $38,000.

Computer user support specialists earn lesser wages at around $49,000 yearly. The lowest 10% made less than $34,000, while the highest 10% earned over $91,000.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Test network systems
  • Troubleshoot internet systems, wide area networks (WANs), and local area networks (LANs)
  • Analyze and diagnose customers’ computer issues
  • Repair computer equipment
  • Train users on new software or hardware

Industries Employing Computer Support Specialists

Support specialists work for various sectors, including IT, finance, education, healthcare, telecommunications, and more.

Computer and Information Research Scientists

This role requires a master’s degree as it deals with more theoretical and complex algorithms.

Computer and information research scientists are usually academics with interpersonal abilities, problem-solving, and analytical skills.

Average Salary

The Bureau of Labor Statistics cites this role as one of the highest-paying computer science jobs, with over 3000 openings yearly.

Computer and information research scientists earn median annual wages of around $130,000.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Research and test new applications
  • Invent new computing methods, languages, and tools to improve user interactions with computers
  • Detect computing problems and collaborate with other scientists and engineers to solve it
  • Design and conduct experiments to test software systems

Industries Employing Computer and Information Research Scientists

Sectors with the highest employment rates for Computer and Information Research Scientists include:

  • Federal Executive Branch (OEWS Designation) Software publishers
  • Computer Systems Design and Related Services
  • Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools
  • Scientific Research and Development Services

Computer Systems Analysts

Systems analysts work with other IT professionals to design computer systems for specific organizations. They integrate new technology into current systems after performing in-depth analysis to determine if the solutions match the long-term goals of an organization.

You can qualify for a computer systems analyst job with a bachelor’s degree. However, a master’s degree in computer science or business administration increases your earning potential and improves your job opportunities.

Average Salary

Computer system analysts earn median wages of over $80,000 yearly.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Test systems and networks
  • Consult with clients
  • Analyze systems costs and benefits
  • Research and appraise new technologies
  • Write instruction manuals for networks

Industries Employing Computer Systems Analysts

High-paying industries that employ professionals in this field include:

  • Computer Systems Design and Related Services Insurance carriers
  • Data Processing, Hosting, and Related Services
  • General Medical and Surgical Hospitals
  • Scientific Research and Development Services
  • Oil and Gas Extraction

Web Developers

Web developers create and test websites for end users and management. They are involved in all aspects of website development and collaborate with graphic designers to ensure the website functions properly.

An associate’s or a bachelor’s degree in computer science is the starting point for most web developers.

Average Salary

According to the BLS, most web developers earn a median annual salary of around $77,000, with about 17,000 job openings projected yearly.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Write code using programming languages like HTML, CSS, or XML
  • Create interfaces, navigation menus, and test web applications
  • Monitor website traffic and evaluate performances
  • Troubleshoot website problems

Industries Employing Web Developers

These top-paying sectors have some of the highest concentration of web developers:

  • Management of Companies and Enterprises
  • Specialized Design Services
  • Advertising, Public Relations, and Related Services
  • Sound Recording Industries
  • Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services

Software Engineers

A career in software engineering is both fun and challenging. Professionals in this field work in nearly all industries since most businesses use different software to improve their operations.

You can work as a software engineer with a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field. However, some higher-paying roles require advanced education and certifications.

Average Salary

The median annual wage for software engineers and developers is about $110,000.

According to the Labor Department, software publishing roles have some of the biggest salaries in the industry.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Updating new technologies and software
  • Documentation of IT systems
  • Develop software to meet users’ needs
  • Software testing and maintenance
  • Monitor systems performance

Industries Employing Software Engineers

  • Software publishers
  • Insurance carriers
  • Manufacturing
  • Computer systems design and related services
  • Healthcare
  • eCommerce and retail

Hardware Engineer

Hardware engineers research and develop computer systems and components.

You can qualify for several lucrative jobs with a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering or related fields. Although, some large firms or specialized roles require candidates with a master’s degree or certifications.

Average Salary

Hardware engineers earn average salaries of $80,000 to $164,000 in different industries. In addition, some senior roles pay over $200,000 yearly.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Design and test computer hardware
  • Oversee manufacturing process
  • Analyze results and adjust the design where necessary
  • Recommend new hardware designs

Industries Employing Hardware Engineers

Sectors with the highest employment concentration for hardware engineers include:

  • Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences
  • Computer systems design and related services
  • Federal government
  • Computer and peripheral equipment manufacturing
  • Semiconductor and other electronic component manufacturers
  • Software publishers and other IT services

Database Administrators and Architects

Database administrators and architects work with various industries to create and organize data storage systems. Professionals in this field are detail-oriented and have extensive knowledge of computer networks and data structures.

Most database administrators and architects require a bachelor’s degree in computer science or related fields to qualify for high-paying roles.

Average Salary

Database administrators and architects earn median annual wages of around $75,000 to $150,000.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Design and create new databases
  • Back up data to avoid data loss
  • Maintain data quality standards
  • Prepare reports for management teams
  • Monitor system performance

Industries Employing Database Architects

  • Computer systems design and related services
  • Educational sectors
  • Insurance carriers
  • Data processing, hosting, and affiliated services

##Pros and Cons of Computer Science Careers

A computer science degree program opens the door to numerous opportunities, from lucrative salaries to high job demand. But as with everything else in life, there are a few cons.

Here are some upsides and downsides of exploring a career in computer science.


  • Flexible hours and remote-friendly jobs
  • Job stability and career advancements
  • You develop transferable IT skills for different industries
  • High salary and numerous job prospects.


  • Prone to health issues from prolonged sitting and staring at a computer screen
  • Working overtime and under pressure
  • It involves several repetitive tasks and activities.

Skills You’ll Develop While Studying Computer Science

A computer science degree provides you with various skills to navigate the program and enjoy a successful career after graduation, from tech skills to leadership and analytical skills.

Here are some of them:

Problem-Solving Skills

Problem-solving is one of the core skills of computer science. Every discipline in the field requires mastery of this ability to solve complex problems.

Troubleshooting and ticket resolution are part of the job description for computing jobs. And you need to hone your problem-solving skills to handle these issues effectively.

While you can learn some of it from your college courses, most of this skill involves utilizing creativity and logical thought processes. There’s more to computer science than algorithms and programming languages.


To say communication is essential for a successful computer science career is an understatement. Without effective communication, we wouldn’t have technological advancements today.

Computer science students must develop communication skills to share ideas and knowledge and build effective relationships.

Communication is essential in information technology jobs, administration, and management. For example, professionals with good listening skills can investigate and solve IT projects by listening to user problems, issues, and concerns.


Many computer science programs help students to hone their research skills to gather data for informed decision-making.

With adequate research skills, you can identify problems, gather the necessary resources to solve them, analyze them, and develop solutions.

Research skills facilitate learning processes and provide tools for effective knowledge-building.


Most computer science fields and IT jobs require you to learn at least one programming language, from Java to Python or C++.

An extensive programming skill qualifies you for several high-paying roles in the tech space. It also teaches you abstract thinking and improves your problem-solving skills.

Database Administration

Database administration involves managing and maintaining data within a specialized management system. Computer science programs offer introductory courses on database administration and best practices, preparing students for jobs in this field.

Most information technology jobs require professionals to work closely with databases and organize sensitive datasets.

How to Prepare for a Computer Science Career

1. Ensure Your University Program is Accredited

Before choosing any computer science program, you should ensure that the college or institution you're enrolling in is accredited by computer science professional bodies.

Accredited programs follow high standards of course development and undergo regular external assessments.

One of the benefits of studying a computer science program with professional accreditation is the numerous job offers you get after graduating. Most employers prefer hiring candidates from ABET-accredited institutions.

2. Gain Interpersonal Skills During Your Studies

Interpersonal skills such as effective communication and teamwork are essential in any successful career. They play pivotal roles in many computer science roles, especially management and administration.

With this in mind, you should ensure that your degree program offers opportunities to develop interpersonal skills that would improve your computer science career.

Joining a supportive community can help you develop relevant skills that help you succeed during your academic career and after you graduate.

Some colleges offer orientation programs that ensure students develop social connections and bond with other professionals.

3. Apply for Internships During Your Program

Gaining relevant work experience while completing an undergraduate program improves your chances of a successful career in almost any field. In addition, it shows employers you have theoretical and practical knowledge in your area of specialization.

Most schools require students to complete a one-year paid internship program to gain relevant work experience as part of their course. While most placements are at local businesses within the school, you can stand out by securing an internship position with a renowned company.

Internships offer immersive work experience opportunities to develop your skills further and gain an in-depth understanding of the industry. They also add significant value to your resume and sometimes help you secure your dream job.

4. Avoid Specializing too Quickly

The computer science field is quite broad, with different areas of specialization and disciplines. Therefore, it makes sense to have a clear idea of the path you want to specialize in before enrolling in any program.

However, you need a solid foundation before diving into a specialized course. Doing this helps you avoid missing essential elements that make up a successful computer science career.

Start with an introduction to all the core subjects before going down specialized pathways. This strategy allows you to develop deep knowledge in different areas and increase your job prospects in multiple industries.

Computer Science Resources that Help your Career

You can find several educational resources online to help advance your computer science career. Most of them are free, while a few others require you to subscribe to a particular service or platform to access them.

Resources from professional organizations include:

  • IEEE Computer Society
  • CompTIA
  • Upsilon Pi Epsilon
  • Association for Computing Machinery
  • Computer Science Teachers Association

You can also leverage free online courses from accredited universities and courses without enrolling in a program. Platforms like Coursera, Codecademy, edX, Udacity, MIT OpenCourseware, and more provide massive open online courses (MOOCs).

Computer science journals and publications are also great resources for professionals looking to advance their careers. For example, the Journal of Computer Science provides peer-reviewed articles on cutting-edge and innovative research.

How to Switch to a Computer Science Career

It’s normal to want to change careers at some point, especially with the recent technological advancements and job prospects in tech.

Switching to a computer science discipline is easy, especially if you already have a bachelor’s degree in a related field. You can enroll in a certificate program or join a coding Bootcamp to learn skills for entry-level tech positions.

You could also pursue advanced degrees in computer science to compete for high-paying managerial roles.

So, you can go the immersive route and pursue a four-year undergraduate degree, a master’s degree, or join a Bootcamp program. Of course, each option has its pros and cons, so you must decide what works best for you.

Undergraduate Degree

Choosing the undergraduate degree route is effective if you want a theoretical and in-depth understanding of various computer science concepts. However, you’ll only learn foundational topics and graduate with broad experience.

This route also takes longer before you can start applying for jobs.

Graduate Degree

A master’s degree takes half the time an undergraduate program takes. So it’s a logical choice if you already have a bachelor’s degree.

And even with the shorter program duration, you’ll get a solid computer science education and gain core skills in your chosen discipline.


This option is effective if you want a quick exit from your previous career and a quick entry into the tech space. Most Bootcamps last about six months or more and offer hands-on learning experiences.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is computer science?

Computer science explores computing principles, their theoretical and algorithmic foundations, software and hardware, and how computers process information.

The field draws its foundations from mathematical and engineering techniques like probability and statistics, queuing theory, and electronic circuit design.

Computer science's fundamental concern is discovering what processes can or can't be automated.

What certification do I need for a computer science career?

There are different types of computer science certifications, usually divided by areas of specialization. Here are some of them:

  • ISACA Certified Information Systems Auditor
  • Oracle Certified Professional
  • CCIE Data Center
  • CompTIA’s Security+
  • CompTIA Cloud Essentials
  • CompTIA Cloud+
  • Apple Certified Support Professional
  • HDI Technical Support Professional
  • Certified Information Security Manager

Computer science certifications help verify your skills to potential employers and qualify you for more advanced job positions. The best ones depend on your education, experience, skills, and more.

Can I get a computer science degree online?

Yes, you can.

Most accredited colleges and universities offer online computer science programs, from associate to postgraduate degrees. An online associate’s program in computer science teaches entry-level coding skills, while a four-year bachelor’s cultivates advanced techniques.

An online master’s degree allows you to specialize further and acquire a few management skills for managerial positions.

What fields can computer scientists work in?

Computer scientists can work in various fields depending on their education and skill sets. Some lucrative computer science careers include software development, cybersecurity, computer programming, system engineering, data architecture, AI engineering, video game development, and more.

Is there a high demand for computer science majors?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer science careers are in high demand, with a 13% growth estimate from 2020 to 2030. As a result, the field has a faster than average growth rate than all other occupations.

Some other computer science roles, like computer and information research scientists, are estimated to grow even more quickly than others.

Final Thoughts

The computer science field is a broad one. There’s something for everyone, from programming jobs to data and information research. You can start your journey with an associate’s or bachelor’s degree and advance further with postgraduate degrees and industry-specific certifications.

The employment prospects in this field are promising, with several thousand job openings yearly and impressive career growth. With the pros outweighing the cons, it’s no surprise that computer science is a lucrative career option.

So, are you looking to start your computer science journey with an undergraduate degree or thinking about switching careers? Whatever option you choose, this guide will set you on the right path with everything you need to break into the industry.

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