Computer Science Degree & Career Guide
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What Is Computer Science?
Students in computer science programs learn how computers work, from the mechanics of hardware components to advanced algorithms that run software applications.
The curriculum not only ensures learners can work on the computer systems of today but develop the critical thinking and problem-solving skills necessary to create the technology of tomorrow. Popular specializations include artificial intelligence, information security, and software engineering.
Computer Science in the Classroom and Workplace
The computer science field will likely see strong growth in the years ahead. Dell Technologies and the Institute for the Future estimated that 85% of jobs available in 2030 have not yet been invented. Instead, these new fields will emerge from rapid changes in technology that impact every industry.
Additionally, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 13% growth in employment for computer and information technology occupations from 2020-30, which is faster than the average across all occupations. These careers paid a median salary of $97,430 in 2021, more than double the median income across all jobs ($45,760).
Graduates can find a variety of computer science jobs at all degree levels. Individuals with an associate degree may work in networking or as tech support specialists. Completing a bachelor’s degree in computer science readies you for careers in software or web development or as an information security analyst.
A master’s degree can prepare you for careers as a computer network architect, information security manager, database administrator, or IT project manager. Research scientists and postsecondary educators often hold a doctorate in computer science.
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Frequently Asked Questions About Computer Science
Is computer science a good major?
Technology continues to advance each day. The Pew Research Center found that 85% of Americans own a smartphone, and 93% use the internet. Every industry relies on information technology to maintain its networks and the computer equipment required to produce its goods and services.
Computer science graduates can find careers in almost every industry. The BLS projects a 13% growth in employment of computer and information technology workers from 2020-30. Within computer science, you can specialize in areas such as information security, data science, or software development.
Is computer science hard?
A computer science major involves many challenging courses. You must learn theories of algorithms, the design of mechanical components, and various programming languages. A strong background in mathematics can help prepare you for the coursework.
Earning a computer science degree also requires you to strengthen your analytical thinking and problem-solving skills. You'll have to learn how to apply your subject knowledge to address specific client needs and technical requirements.
Is a computer science degree worth it?
Choosing to study computer science can result in a career in a growing field with above-average wages. The BLS reports that computer and information technology workers earned a median salary of $97,430 in 2021, over $50,000 more than the median wage for all occupations.
Earning a computer science degree does require both a sacrifice of time and money. The National Center for Education Statistics reports that students paid an average of $13,900 per year for a four-year degree at in-state public institutions. This figure includes the cost of tuition, living expenses, and other fees after scholarships and grants are applied. Students often cannot work full-time while enrolled in classes.
What can you do with a computer science degree?
Almost every industry relies on technology, ensuring strong demand for graduates with a computer science major. And technology continues to evolve, which brings new careers.
Computer science allows you to combine methodical problem-solving with creative pursuits. You can choose computer science jobs in data science, helping organizations capture, store, and organize data they can use to improve or change their product offerings.
User experience designers focus on how people use technology and find ways to make it easier to adopt new products. Information security analysts guard against potential attacks that could steal sensitive data or cripple critical information systems like banking or power delivery.
How much money can you make as a computer scientist?
According to the BLS, computer and information technology professionals earned a median salary of $9,430 in May 2021. Salaries ranged from $57,910 for computer support specialists to $131,490 for computer and information research scientists.
Computer science salary varies depending on your education, experience, and specialization. Computer network architects earned a median salary of $120,520 in May 2021. However, network architects working in the insurance industry earned more, $127,710. The highest-paid workers in this field reported salaries above $168,890.