Sounds interesting, right? But is computer science a good choice for a major? Are there jobs available?
Fortunately, yes. In fact, computer science occupations are expected to have more rapid growth over the next ten years than most others. So, if you’re majoring in computer science (or want to) but are unsure what your career options are, keep reading to find out how you can put your computer science degree to use.
Computer Network Architects ($109,020 per year)
Computer network architects build networks to pass data back and forth. For example, you might design and build a connection between two office networks. Or you could design the next data-storing cloud (think Google Drive or Microsoft OneNote).
As you’re busy building these networks, you’ll need to keep information security considerations in mind. You’ll also research new technologies to see what’s best for your organization. Finally, you should be prepared to defend any choices you make to management in a clear and easy to understand way.
Expect to spend most of your time in an office or a server room. You’ll probably work full-time, although 25% of computer network architects reported working more than 40 hours a week in 2016.
Software Developers ($105,590 per year)
This is probably the first job that comes to mind when you think of computer science. However, working as a software developer, or software engineer, is so much more than just coding.
You’ll have to figure out what your users need so you can design it for them. You might have to work with other software developers to build specific parts of an application. As you code, you’ll be expected explain your code and its function, as well as how it fits into the larger code base. You’ll also have to test your code frequently for bugs.
While a software developer is stereotyped as a single coder rapidly typing all alone, the reality is much different. This is a collaborative career where you’ll frequently work with other people. You should expect to work full-time, and sometimes more than 40 hours.
Tech is ever evolving, so even after you graduate, you should keep up with the latest technologies and tools. After being a software developer for a couple of years, you might decide to become a project manager.
Information Security Analysts ($98,350 per year)
Being an information security analyst is like being a reverse hacker – it’s your job to figure out how to keep a company’s computer system and data safe at all costs.
That generally involves a process called penetration testing, or simulating an attack on the system. This is done to figure out the system’s weaknesses and fix them before an actual hacker can exploit them. You might also expect to do smaller tasks like helping employees practice safe strategies to avoid things like phishing.
You should be current on the latest security practices and methods of attack so that your company is never blindsided. Expect to work normal business hours, but you may be on call in case of an emergency.
Most employers look for someone with previous experience, so you might consider looking for internships focusing on information security.
Database Administrators ($90,070 per year)
Database administrators (DBAs) store and organize data for a company. This data can be anything from usernames and passwords to credit card information.
The job is a precarious balancing act: making data available for users with the right permissions, but not for anyone without them. As a database administrator, you’ll be expected to produce backups of data, make sure that company data is secure, and maintain the company’s databases. Some database administrators specialize as system DBAs or application DBAs.
You can expect to work full-time in an office.
Computer and Information Research Scientists ($118,370 per year)
Computer research scientists dig deep into the theory of computer science to solve complex practical problems.
They regularly invent new languages and tools for software engineers and developers. They also design experiments to test how effective their new systems are, and publish and present their findings to the world.
If you’d like to join the cutting edge of computer science as a computer research scientist, you’ll need at least a master’s degree in computer science. If you’re working in a specific field, you might also need specialized knowledge of that field (for example, robotics).
You should expect to work with a diverse group of people from many different teams. You’ll most likely work full-time, although 30% of computer research scientists reported working more than 40 hours in 2016.
Now that you’ve seen some options for careers in computer science, you can also see that this is one of the most lucrative career paths available right now. It’s also a career path that encourages lifelong learning.
Regardless of what you decide to do with your computer science degree, rest assured that you’ll be contributing to the future of technology, protecting valuable data and information, and making a tangible difference in how people live their lives.
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This post was written by Arlena McClenton, a senior at Barnard College studying comparative literature and web development. In her free time, she can be found drinking tea, scoping out the best campus study spaces, and exploring the city.