What Can You Do With a Computer Science Degree

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If you love all things tech, then a computer science degree may be for you. It’s a great start for people who want to work for an established tech company or even those who would like to bootstrap their own startup in this booming industry. Either way, a computer science degree can be a great first step towards a high-salary career.

What Is a Computer Science Degree?

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Simply put, computer science is the study of algorithms. A degree in computer science will help you become an expert when it comes to the math and science of these algorithms. In practice, this means that you will learn how to design and code software, as well as the ins and outs of analyzing how these systems work.

When studying for a computer science degree, you will ideally become fluent in multiple programming languages, learn how to develop software, and become familiar with the basic workings of modern microprocessors.

In between all of that, you will be learning a lot of math. Computers talk to us in code, which is really just math that has been arranged in an algorithm, so you will be learning to “think” like a computer. Degree requirements often include calculus and discrete math, in addition to classes that tackle specific programming languages, such as Java, Python, or C.

Career Outlook & Salary

A computer science degree can potentially lead to a very lucrative career. “Computer science” is very general, so the specific jobs available under that umbrella are diverse—and most of them pay quite well. It’s not unusual to be able to land a six-figure job with a computer science degree, depending on the specific field you specialize in.

For example, a machine learning engineer can expect to make an average of $120,000 USD per year. As you can gather, this is rather specialized, and it targets an area of computer science that is very in demand. Right now, many tech companies are focused on building algorithms that will allow their own software to learn from experience and modify itself, which makes development much more efficient. Getting into a cutting-edge field like this will definitely improve your career prospects.

Even if you decide that you’d like to be something a bit more traditional, like a general software engineer, you can expect an average salary of about $104,000 USD. Software engineer jobs abound in this day and age, and while you will have to concentrate on learning many programming languages in order to be competitive, a computer science degree can help you build the foundation.

As you can see, the career outlook for someone with this degree is quite positive and can afford the degree holder a lot of room to pivot into many fields. The tech industry has continued to grow, and this explosion of innovation probably won’t be slowing any time soon. People with a deep understanding of computers are needed now more than ever. This is true all over the world.

What Can You Do With a Computer Science Degree?

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A computer science degree can encompass many sub-fields, so there’s a lot that you can do with it. From web development to systems architecture, there is most likely a niche that will suit you. Here are just some examples of what you can do with a computer science degree:

Mobile Application Developer

Mobile devices have taken over the world. Even in emerging markets, it’s hard to find someone who isn’t plugged into the Internet with a mobile device. This means that there’s a lot of opportunity in this field and that mobile software developers are extremely in demand. Think of all the apps that you’ve installed on your phone. Someone had to make those, and that someone could have been you!

A computer science degree gives you the basic tools for software development and this can easily be applied to mobile apps. For instance, just learning how to write code in C++ or Java—which are common degree requirements—will get you halfway there.

Since the demand for mobile app developers is expected to increase significantly in the next five years, this is also a sector with a lot of job security. The average salary for this career is around $91,000 USD and may increase in the future.

Game Developer

Are you an avid gamer? Maybe a career in game development is for you. Just like any other career in computer science, there’s a lot of math involved, but it also allows you to get creative. There are many different aspects of game development that you could specialize in:

  • ​Artificial intelligence
  • ​Graphics programming
  • ​Game engine programming

As the field expands and games become more complex, roles will likely become even more specialized. The average game developer salary is around $83,000 USD per year, which is comparable to other jobs in the tech field. Keep in mind that this kind of work can result in long hours and tight deadlines, just as in any other field in the entertainment industry. This is especially true if you take on a higher-level role, such as game designer.

Web Developer

The Internet runs on code, and so web developers are needed to build and maintain this infrastructure. Web developers are responsible for coding web apps, which have seen an explosion in popularity over the last few decades. This growth is likely to continue, and job openings are expected to increase as much as 13% by 2026.

Web development experience can also be easily transferred into other areas. For example, if you learn basic web development skills, you could apply this knowledge for building web games and become a web game developer. There’s also a lot of overlap between mobile software development and web development, so you could easily learn how to do both by teaching yourself just a handful of useful programming languages.

A full stack web developer—someone who understands all the layers of abstraction in a web app, both the front and back ends—can expect an average salary of about $88,000 USD per year.

Systems Analyst

A systems analyst is someone who comes up with tech solutions for businesses and organizations. For example, you could be responsible for building and maintaining the network that the business relies on. You may be trusted to choose the software that an organization will use to solve certain problems, or you may have to configure the hardware that will run the business’s processes.

This field can be very lucrative, but it involves a wide breadth of knowledge about all the different aspects of the IT field. It helps to familiarize yourself with networking, security, and the relationship between software and hardware. A computer science degree can be a perfect start when it comes to this.

The average salary for a systems analyst is roughly $88,000 USD per year, which makes it a great career prospect.

Data Engineer

With all of the information flowing though networks these days, this can lead to a massive amount of data that needs to be stored and processed. Many businesses need to parse this data in specific ways to make use of it—for example, in order to serve their customers better with customized offers or in order to peek at what their competition is up to. A data engineer is responsible for developing and maintaining the systems that will process this data. Usually, data engineers will work in a team environment.

Because of the specialization involved, data engineers can stand to make a hefty salary. The average is around $138,000 USD per year. The need for data engineers is only expected to increase over the next few years as the world is flooded with even more information and companies continue to collect even more data on their users.

Technical Writer

Finally, all of that technical knowledge can be pivoted into other interesting directions that don’t necessarily involve coding and engineering. When any field grows, the demand for communicators in that field also increases. With a background in computer science, you could use your expertise to write documentation for software or instructions for end users of products.

Being a technical writer might be for you if you find that you prefer to communicate in human languages rather than computer languages. For this career path, it’s helpful to have a good foundation as a writer, so make sure to pack your electives with communications and writing classes.

The average salary for a technical writer will vary depending on many factors, including the field that you work in or the specific products that you write about. However, the general average is around $58,000 USD per year, which is not bad considering that this career path veers away from the STEM field in many respects.

Conclusion

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A computer science degree may not be for everyone, but it’s a great qualification to have under your belt if you want to work for a big tech company or even make your own independent contributions to the field. Whether you’re looking to design your own games, build a web app, or become an expert in cyber security, a computer science degree can help you get your foot in the door.

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