What Can You Do with a Computer Science Degree?

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Computer science degrees are highly versatile, with jobs for computer science graduates available across industries. Some in-demand fields for computer science graduates include tech, entertainment, finance, and healthcare.

For many careers in the computer science field, education of a bachelor's degree or equivalent is expected, and some advanced jobs require a master's degree or above. In this article, we will explore what criteria to look for when choosing a computer science program, job opportunities and career path options, and financing your computer science degree. We will also answer some frequently asked questions about how to find jobs in computer science.

Here at Bold.org, we are committed to helping students eliminate student debt. Check out our Scholarship Blog for more information and learn how to apply for scholarships today!

computer-sciences

Types of Computer Science Degrees

At many colleges and universities, you can elect to specialize your computer science education according to your interests and professional goals. Specializing your computer science degree demonstrates expertise in a particular subfield of computer science, strengthening your candidacy for employment after graduation. What you choose to specialize in will also affect what computer science jobs you are the best fit for.

Some areas of specialization include:

  • Artificial Intelligence: This concentration emphasizes developing computer systems and machines that can perform tasks that typically require human intelligence. Topics involved in AI include machine learning principles, natural language processing, algorithms, and neural networks.
  • Machine Learning: As a subset of artificial intelligence, machine learning focuses on developing algorithms and models that enable computer systems to learn from existing data sets and make predictions or decisions. Statistical modeling, neural networks, deep learning, and data mining are essential to machine learning.
  • Cybersecurity: Cybersecurity is now a critical niche in the industry with our global reliance on technology. This specialization equips students with the knowledge and skills to protect computer systems and networks from unauthorized access, attacks, and security breaches.
  • Data Science: This field writes computer programs to make large and complex datasets more manageable, extracting insights and knowledge from the data. Analyzing data, applying statistical techniques, and using machine learning algorithms to extract meaningful information is the backbone of this concentration.
  • Human-Computer Interaction: This specialization focuses on the design and development of user-friendly and intuitive computer interfaces. Related topics include user experience design, usability testing, interaction design, and prototyping.
  • Computer Graphics: Computer graphics involves creating and manipulating visual content using computers. With this concentration, students learn about rendering techniques, 3D modeling, animation, virtual reality, and computer-aided design. Applications range from film and television to the game industry.
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How to Choose a Computer Science Program

When researching undergraduate programs to study computer science, it is helpful to check the post-graduation employment rates at each institution. Most colleges and universities conduct surveys to track career outcomes after graduation. Institutions usually publish what percentage of their students are employed full-time or in graduate school within six months to one year after graduation.

Some schools even track when recent graduates secured their jobs, whether it was prior to graduation through recruitment, within three months of graduating, or later after graduation. Understanding the career outcomes of recent graduates is important to choosing a computer science program.

Top computer science programs offer robust curriculums in addition to research and experiential learning opportunities to foster a culture of innovation and collaboration. It is essential to understand the program structure and curriculum of each institution you are interested in.

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Connecting with experienced and knowledgeable professors is essential to succeeding in computer science. They can provide valuable insights, mentorship, and guidance to navigate the complexities of the industry and job search. Faculty members who are actively involved in research can offer you opportunities to participate in cutting-edge projects and develop your experiential learning.

Institutional resources are important to a computer science degree. Access to state-of-the-art computer labs, software, and hardware can provide you with invaluable hands-on experience. Researching student life is essential to understanding whether an institution is a good fit for your social and academic interests and professional goals.

Finally, financial aid packages and costs of attendance can vary from one institution to another, particularly between public and private colleges and universities. Aspiring computer programmers should carefully review the financial aid policies and scholarship offerings of each college and university in their search. Scholarship programs can also reduce the burden of studying computer science.

When researching grants and scholarships, it is helpful to search for scholarships by major. Searching for scholarships by demographics like state, year, identity, and more enables you to find and apply to those for which you are a close fit.

Ahead, some jobs in the computer science field, with labor statistics on salary and occupational outlook.

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Software Developer

Software development is a subset of software engineering. Software developers design and develop software to meet the needs of computer users. Software developers create each piece of computer programs, websites, applications, and other computational systems to ensure the software runs smoothly. Software developers also recommend and design software upgrades for existing programs and systems in order to streamline their use and debug the programs.

The skills required to work as a software developer include training in software engineering using a range of computer programming languages. The specific coding languages required for software development depend on the specific project. It is helpful to develop a working knowledge of a range of coding languages when pursuing a career as a software developer or any other type of software engineer. Problem-solving skills are essential to work as a software developer.

The median salary for a software developer is about $124,000, while the growth rate for this profession is 25%.

If you're interested in software engineering, check out these engineering scholarships today!

Web Developer

Web developers are programmers who concentrate on designing and developing websites, focusing on coding their functionality and layout. Web developers possess advanced knowledge of coding languages for website building, including HTML/CSS and JavaScript. It's also helpful to have graphic design knowledge and collaboration skills, as web developers typically work with other designers on projects.

Web developers are detail-oriented, like other types of computer programmers. Web development also requires the ability to anticipate user needs, web design skills, a strong understanding of web back-end, an awareness of search engine optimization principles, and testing and debugging skills. Front-end developers work on the user-facing side of websites, while back-end developers focus on the functionality of the website.

The median salary for web development is around $81,000, and the growth rate for this profession is 16%.

If you're a woman pursuing web development or other related STEM majors, check out these scholarships for women now!

Application Developer

Application developers design and code mobile applications, software, and other programs for mobile devices or specific operating systems. Application developers work in almost every industry, building applications and performing routine updates to these programs.

As a subset of software engineers, application developer roles require a knack for solving problems as well as training in a range of computer programming languages, like JavaScript, Python, C++, Swift, and Java. Application development attracts full-stack developers with expertise in both front-end and back-end development because both aspects are equally essential to application development.

Like software developers, the median salary for application developers is around $124,000, while the growth rate for this profession is 25%.

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AI and Machine Learning Engineer

Another subset of software engineering, AI, and machine learning engineers design and build complex computing systems modeled after neural networks using algorithms and other principles of machine learning and artificial intelligence. AI and machine learning engineers possess advanced knowledge of Python, R, and other programming languages, as well as database analysis and data science skills.

A master's degree or PhD, in addition to a bachelor's degree, can be helpful when pursuing a career as an AI and machine learning engineer since these computer programmers are highly specialized. Neural network architecture, data modeling and evaluation, and natural language processing are some specialized skills you can expect to develop in graduate degree programs.

The median salary for these engineers is around $136,000, while the growth rate for this profession is 23%.

Video Game Developer

Video game developers write code that enables video games to run on game console systems and computer systems. Video game development requires proficiency in the C, C#, and C++ programming languages, as well as a knowledge of game engines.

Video game developers work closely with video game designers, who focus on the structure of the game and the overall look. Video game developers often possess the ability to conceptualize both plot and game design, so storytelling skills and creative vision are key to this role.

Though the Borough of Labor Statistics doesn't collect data specifically for video game development, software developers (including game developers) earn an average of $124,000 annually, while market researchers project the global video game industry to grow by nearly 74% by 2027.

IT Project Manager

Information technology project managers plan, budget, and oversee companies' IT goals and initiatives. This position requires strong leadership skills, as typical duties involve heading up a team, hiring tech staff and other developers, and making business decisions in the best interest of the company.

IT project managers set project goals for their teams and devise plans to meet these goals. Whether it's building a particular product or overhauling existing systems, IT project managers implement new IT strategies, maintain project timeframes, manage resources, coordinate team members and meetings, track performance, and conduct risk assessments.

Since this is a leadership position, IT project managers earn an average of $164,000 per year, with a growth rate of 15%.

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Information Security Analyst

Information security analysts implement systems of safety to protect a company's computer networks. These analysts work closely with network security engineers, often in a team. Knowledge of top cybersecurity languages, including Java, JavaScript, Python, SQL, PHP, PowerShell, and C, is necessary.

Most information security analysts work for computer companies, consulting firms, or business and financial companies. Orientation to detail is essential for success in this role, as the security measures of the entire company and its customers are at risk in this line of work.

These cybersecurity professionals earn an average of $112,000 per year, with a growth rate of 32%.

Systems Architect

Systems architects analyze a company's existing IT strategy and needs, then design the ideal IT strategy to meet the company's goals. These architects define and design the new system's architecture to create an optimized experience. Oftentimes, this role requires an understanding of computer hardware and computer systems engineering, in addition to proficiency in coding languages like Python.

Systems architecture requires the skills of a computer systems analyst, as these professionals must analyze the objectives of a business and identify the scale of resources it requires on all sides. Troubleshooting skills and the ability to assess consumer needs and translate these needs into business strategy are essential to this role.

Systems architects earn an average of into$127,000 per year, with a growth rate of 4%.

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Computer Hardware Engineer

Computer hardware engineers design, research, develop, and build new computer components and systems. These engineers innovate and optimize all the parts of a computer or other technological device like storage, chips, and circuit boards.

Successful hardware engineers possess advanced abilities in circuit design, computer-aided design platforms, a deep understanding of operating systems, and knowledge of computing languages like C, C++, and hardware description languages. Solid technical and analytical skills are essential, as well as a collaborative attitude when working with other types of engineers on developing projects.

Computer hardware engineers earn an average salary of $132,000, with a growth rate of 5%.

Data Scientist

Data scientists use analytical tools to organize data and extract meaningful insights. Data science requires knowledge of programming languages that can manage big data, like Python, R, SAS, and SQL. Database management is essential to this role, and cloud computer skills are often helpful.

Analyzing data requires an understanding of statistics and probability, as well as a knack for data visualization using tools like Tableau, Microsoft Excel, and PowerBI. Interpersonal skills are essential to communicate data science information to coworkers without the same background.

Data scientists earn an average of $103,000 per year, while the growth rate for this position is 35%.

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UX Designer

UX designers focus on human-computer interaction, designing the interfaces of platforms, software, and applications for ease of use. If you are interested in full-stack development, UX design enables you to work on both the front-end and back-end sides of development.

UX design requires an understanding of user needs and habits and an eye for aesthetics, as well as strong prototyping skills. Knowledge of programming and computer systems makes collaborating with a UX design team much easier.

UX designers earn an average of $78,000 annually, though the earning potential increases with additional computer science skills and experience.

Financing a Computer Science Degree

Though the field of computer science pays higher than most, the steep cost of a computer science education can be a major financial burden. Fortunately, a plethora of scholarship and financial aid opportunities exist for computer science students. Degree-specific scholarships lessen the financial strain of achieving a computer science degree. Searching for scholarships by major enables you to hone your scholarship research to those most relevant to your academic and professional goals.

Merit-based scholarships are awarded based on academic achievements, extracurricular involvement, and other criteria. Exceptional performance as a student can earn you substantial financial support.

To begin your scholarship search, check out these computer science degree scholarships that you can apply for today! Sign up now to apply for scholarships with Bold.org

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Frequently Asked Questions about Computer Science Degree Career Paths

Are computer science jobs going away because of AI?

Overall, AI is more likely to transform job roles rather than eliminate them entirely. Since computer science careers are responsible for building AI, it is unlikely that these jobs will be totally eliminated. Rather, the responsibilities of tech jobs will evolve, and job opportunities and growth rates will shift.

Do you need a computer science degree to get a job in tech?

There are many jobs in tech that do not require a bachelor's degree in computer science. Positions like marketing, writing, and public relations are essential to any business—tech companies included—and require specialized training rather than a computer science degree.

UI and UX designers often have backgrounds in graphic design and then learn the software needed to apply their skills in the tech industry. Many project management positions do not require a computer science degree because leadership and interpersonal skills are far more important in these roles. Also, some analyst positions do not require computer science degrees.

What are the highest-paying computer science jobs?

Computer scientists enjoy lucrative salary ranges, as even entry-level positions offer six-figure salaries. Software engineers specializing in machine learning and AI are among the top-paid computer scientists. High-paying work opportunities are available to software developers across industries, and specializations in a particular subfield will help you stand out to employers. Senior roles like IT project management also pay well.

As computer scientists gain work experience or additional graduate-level degrees, their earning potential significantly increases. Graduate degrees also enable computer scientists to further specialize their education into subfields with high job demands and salaries, like machine learning and artificial intelligence. 

Here at Bold.org, we are committed to helping students eliminate student debt. Check out our Scholarship Blog for more information and learn how to apply for scholarships to fund your computer science degree!