What can I do within the computer science field? If this question has crossed your mind, we have the answer: There’s a lot you can do. Computer science is an increasingly popular field that includes a variety of related careers with thousands of new jobs being added every day.
In this career guide, we explore the top 12 computer science jobs (in no particular order) in addition to requirements needed for a successful career. Plus, we’ve compiled a list of well-known companies looking for skilled computer science professionals that could become your next employer.
Top 12 Computer Science Careers
- Software Developer
This may very well be the most popular computer science career and, as the name indicates, a software developer is responsible for designing and developing computer applications and programs.
As LiveAbout.com explains: “Software developers are the creative minds behind software programs, and they have the technical skills to build those programs or to oversee their creation by a team. They create software that enables users to perform specific tasks on computer devices.” These tasks are likely ones you’re already probably familiar with: playing a game, watching a movie, building a spreadsheet, etc.
There are also different areas of software development, such as mobile app development, video game development, etc.
- Software Engineer
The responsibilities of a software engineer may overlap with a software developer, but there are some distinct differences, as highlighted by DevMoutain: Software developers build the software, whereas software engineers work with the customer or client to determine exactly what they want before implementing the design.
“Computer software engineers apply engineering principles and systematic methods to develop programs and operating data for computers,” according to ComputerScience.org.
- Data Scientist
Ranked within the top 10 on U.S. News & World Report’s lists of Best Technology Jobs, Best STEM Jobs and 100 Best Jobs, the role of a data scientist is an increasingly popular one. Data scientists use a combination of advanced skills in coding, mathematics, statistics, analytics and machine learning to create data-driven insights and solve problems for their organizations.
“Data scientists use technology to glean insights from large amounts of data they collect,” according to U.S. News & World Report. “It’s a field that requires statistics, quantitative reasoning and computer programming skills. On top of all that, you need to be a good communicator so you can report your research findings and explain how they address a larger question you’re trying to answer.”
Data Scientist is also listed as #3 (out of 50) in Glassdoor’s ranking of 50 Best Jobs in America for 2022.
- Database Administrator
Another career in the computer science field is that of the database administrator. In this position, skilled professionals use specialized software to store and organize data, often working in firms that offer computer design services or in industries with large databases, according to the BLS. Examples include educational institutions and insurance companies.
U.S. News & World Report ranks database administrator #7 in Best Technology Jobs, #15 in Best STEM Jobs, and #38 in 100 Best Jobs.
- Computer Hardware Engineer
If you’re looking for more of a technical, hands-on computer science position, consider the career path of a computer hardware engineer. These skilled professionals “research, design, develop, and test computer systems and components,” according to the BLS. As CareerExplorer explains, responsibilities include designing computer hardware, creating blueprints, testing computer hardware models, analyzing test results, modifying designs and more.
They often work in research laboratories building and testing various types of computer models and can also work closely with software engineers.
- Computer Network Architect
People who hold this position design and build data communication networks, including local area networks (LANs) and wide area networks (WANs). As the BLS explains, these networks can range from small to large; in addition, computer network architects must also understand a company or organization’s business plan in order to help achieve key goals and objectives.
Responsibilities typically include creating plans and layouts for data communication networks, presenting these plans to leadership and management, upgrading hardware, researching new technologies and more.
- Web Developer
Web developers are responsible for the creation of websites and all that goes with it — including colors, graphics, animation and navigation. “Web developers create and maintain websites and web applications, and they use web-facing technology to build software,” according to U.S. News & World Report.
While some employers prefer a bachelor’s degree in a related field, certifications may also be important. (These include Certified Web Developer and Certified Internet Webmaster.) In other cases, prior experience may be more of a factor than education and certifications.
Web developer is ranked #6 in Best Technology Jobs, #13 in Best STEM Jobs, and #32 in 100 Best Jobs by U.S. News & World Report.
- Information Security Analyst
An information security analyst is very similar (and perhaps may be the same in some cases) as a cybersecurity analyst. The main responsibilities of an information security analyst are to protect a company or organization’s networks and systems by planning and implementing certain security measures. This includes monitoring networks for security breaches, installing and using firewalls and encryption programs, researching the latest IT security trends, consistently updating securing measures and standards and more.
Ranked #1 in Best Technology Jobs, #1 in Best STEM Jobs, and #1 in 100 Best Jobs by U.S. News & World Report, information security analyst employment is expected to grow 35% from 2021 to 2031, which is much faster than the national average.
- Computer and Information Systems Managers
A computer and information systems manager has a relatively broad job description: plan, coordinate and direct computer-related activities. Often referred to IT managers or IT project managers, these professionals help a business or organization develop IT goals, analyze needs, plan and direct the installation and maintenance of hardware and software and work with third-party vendors to obtain the necessary technology, according to the BLS.
Many employers require a bachelor’s degree in a computer- or information-related field, and some require an advanced degree. A Master of Business Administration is common, according to Zippia.
- Computer or Multimedia Programmer
Computer programmers write and test code, allowing applications and programs to work correctly. As LiveAbout.com explains: “A computer programmer creates the code for software applications and operating systems. After a software developer designs a computer program, the programmer writes code that converts that design into a set of instructions a computer can follow. They test the program to look for errors and then rewrite it until it is error-free. The programmer continues to evaluate programs that are in use, making updates and adjustments as needed.”
This position was ranked #11 on U.S. News & World Report’s list of Best Technology Jobs.
- Systems Analyst (or Computer Systems Analyst)
An analyst’s job title may seem self-explanatory, but there’s a lot more to the systems analyst position, including not only studying computer systems but also finding more efficient, effective computer solutions for a company or organization.
“They incorporate new technology into current systems after doing cost-benefit analyses to determine whether it is financially sound and will serve the entity well,” according to LiveAbout.com. “There are three types of computer systems analysts. Systems designers or architects find technical solutions that match the long-term goals of companies or organizations. Software quality assurance (QA) analysts test and diagnose problems in computer systems. Programmer analysts develop and write code for software that meets their employers’ or clients’ needs.”
- Information Researcher/Computer and Information Research Scientists
These professionals design innovative uses for new and existing computing technology, according to the BLS. They explore programs, develop theories to address those problems, and work with other scientists and engineers. They also develop new computing languages, software systems and other important tools for those people who often work with computers.
In other words, as ComputerScience.org explains, information researchers study and solve problems in the world of computing.
Other Related Job Titles
If you search “computer science” jobs on LinkedIn, Indeed, or another job site platform, you may also see a variety of different job titles that we haven’t mentioned, including:
- Computer Network Analyst
- Data Analytics Manager
- Digital Forensics Engineer
- Editor – Computer Science
- Software Quality Engineer
- GIS Specialist
- IT Technician
- Implementation Specialist
- Computer Programming Teacher
- Computer Systems Analyst
Two other careers related to computer science include UX Designer (also known as a User Experience Designer) and Blockchain Developer. A UX Designer “monitors the user experience of digital products, identifies areas for improvement and boosts digital offerings to ensure they’re user-friendly.” Responsibilities of a Blockchain Developer include “creating or testing code for applications that interact with and utilize the blockchain in financial, business, or data processes.”
Salary Ranges for Computer Science Careers
Salary will depend on a number of factors, including the position, job responsibilities, location of the job itself, and your education and professional experience. Some entry-level positions pay in the $40,000 range, while senior-level/director/executive positions can net upwards of $180,000 or more. Here are some average salaries to keep in mind:
- Quality Assurance Analyst – $109,020
- Computer and Information Research Scientists – $131,490
- Computer Programmer – $93,000
- Computer Systems Analyst – $99,270
- Data Scientist – $98,230
Career Outlook for Computer Science Graduates
The career outlook for computer science is quite favorable with employment in computer and IT occupations projected to grow 15% from 2021 to 2031 (much faster than the national average), according to the BLS.
Greg Law, co-founder and chief technology officer at the Undo software company, was quoted in a recent U.S. News & World Report article as saying: “I’d recommend computer science to anyone who feels they have or may have an affinity with it. Programming is a creative and fun endeavor – it’s the act of creation and problem solving. And unlike most other creative roles, demand for good programmers far outstrips supply; the opportunities are diverse and the financial rewards can be significant.”
Education Required for Computer Science Careers
In most cases, a bachelor’s degree in a related field is preferred or required (computer science or engineering). In some cases, a master’s or Ph.D. may be preferred (or even required) in computer science, engineering or a related field, such as data science. With some positions, experience may be accepted in lieu of an advanced degree.
Companies Hiring for Computer Science Positions
Computer science positions are available across nearly every industry, including technology, government, retail, food and beverage, business, education, healthcare, sports and entertainment. In other words, if you’re interested in computer science and a particular industry, chances are you can likely find an open position in that sector – plus more jobs are coming on the market every day.
- DraftKings Inc.
- Quest Diagnostics
- Johns Hopkins University
- Raytheon Missiles & Defense
- Capital One
- Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command (NAVFAC)
Frequently Asked Questions
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