The best careers you can start with a computer science degree – ZDNet

Computer science degrees qualify you for some of the most in-demand tech careers in design and development, analysis, and management. 

As many of the largest industries integrate more complex technologies, the number of jobs for computer science majors increases. Graduates can find computer science careers in healthcare, manufacturing, business, and the government. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 13% growth in computer occupations 2020-30, resulting from demands for improved technologies, security, cloud computing infrastructure, and big data applications. These professionals develop new and exciting ways to use technology, such as enhancing revenues, product quality, and health outcomes. 

Here, we explore the best careers with a computer science degree and what top candidates might look like.

Skills computer science employers want

There are many ways to advance your technology career. Aspiring computer science professionals can pursue degrees, industry certifications, and specialized training in areas like coding and data analytics. Additionally, candidates can pick up new soft skills and improve the ones they already have.

In the computer science field, soft skills can help professionals find new ways to tackle problems. They also help IT specialists communicate and collaborate. Below are some of the most useful hard and soft skills in this field.

Soft skills

  • Communication

  • Analytical

  • Problem-solving

  • Leadership

  • Time management

Hard skills

  • Mathematics

  • Coding

  • Technical writing

  • Software development

  • Networking

Best jobs for computer science majors

Computer science majors can access many of the most popular computer occupations. The widely applicable training provides a solid foundation, which professionals can leverage and build upon. Here, we look at the best careers with a computer science degree, ranking them to help readers identify the best opportunities available.

To create this ranking, we evaluated computer science careers based on salary, job demand and projected growth, remote work opportunities, work-life balance, and work satisfaction. Salary, work-life balance, and work satisfaction were weighted the most heavily.

1. Cloud engineer

Minimum degree required: Bachelor’s

Years of experience required: 5-10

Good fit for: 

  • Detail-oriented leaders with quality organizational and interpersonal skills

  • Analytical professionals with problem-solving abilities, creativity, and ingenuity

Cloud engineers create plans and development strategies for cloud computing networks. They base their designs on consumer needs and technological demands while upgrading and improving the existing network and systems. These engineers ensure the system is scalable and operable for all users.

2. AI research scientist

Minimum degree required: Master’s

Years of experience required: 0

Good fit for: 

  • Logical thinkers with mathematics, analytical, and problem-solving skills

  • Professionals with communication and interpersonal strengths

  • Leaders and innovators

AI research scientists look for ways to improve AI and use it in new and revealing ways. These scientists seek out problems that AI might help solve, conducting experiments and presenting and publishing the results of these tests.

3. Data scientist

Minimum degree required: Bachelor’s or master’s 

Years of experience required: 0

Good fit for: 

  • Analytical professionals with strengths in mathematics and problem-solving

  • People with a knack for creativity and ingenuity

  • Organized and detail-oriented leaders

Data scientists look for different ways to use data to help organizations and industries make more informed decisions. They create mining strategies, analysis methods, and various models and visualizations to make sense of the results. 

4. Mobile application designer

Minimum degree required: Associate or Bachelor’s

Years of experience required: 0

Good fit for: 

Mobile application designers create applications for organizations, websites, and software. They design based on consumer and user needs, run the application through testing, and make upgrades and improvements when necessary. 

5. Computer systems analyst

Minimum degree required: Bachelor’s

Years of experience required: 0

Good fit for: 

Computer systems analysts evaluate an organization’s technological needs and computer systems to identify possible improvements and inefficiencies. They then plan upgrades by developing budgets and projections, while also designing and implementing the new systems and training users and administrators.

6. Software developer

Minimum degree required: Bachelor’s

Years of experience required: 0

Good fit for: 

  • People with strong communication and interpersonal skills

  • Creative and analytical people with a knack for problem-solving

  • Detail-oriented professionals

Software developers design and develop software that works on various systems. They ensure the various applications within the software and those interacting with it all work together. They collaborate with coders, engineers, and testers.

7. Software engineer

Minimum degree required: Bachelor’s

Years of experience required: 0

Good fit for:

  • Engineers with math and computer skills

  • Creative thinkers with good analytical and problem-solving abilities

  • Ordered and detail-oriented people

People often struggle to distinguish software engineers vs. web developers. While software engineers tackle similar projects, they typically work more with consumers to create software that satisfies consumer needs. To become a software engineer, professionals need to understand the entire development process and have the skills to create many of the development tools used. 

8. Machine learning engineer

Minimum degree required: Master’s

Years of experience required: 0

Good fit for: 

Machine learning engineers work in a niche field of information systems research. They seek ways to use machines and artificial intelligence to solve complex problems, test systems, and make projections. They also develop ways for machines to process information and sensory data.

9. Computer programmer

Minimum degree required: Bachelor’s

Years of experience required: 0

Good fit for: 

  • Professionals with computer and troubleshooting knowledge

  • Detail-oriented people with strong concentration skills

  • Analytical problem-solvers

Computer programmers write the code for software developers, fix faulty application code, and test programs and applications for errors. Programmers may have a hand in the design process and provide input on functionality. 

10. Computer science professor

Minimum degree required: Ph.D.

Years of experience required: 0-3

Good fit for: 

Computer science professors teach classrooms of computer science students, plan lessons, develop curriculums, and oversee lab work. Teachers also conduct their own research projects, leading teams of researchers, and publishing their findings.

11. Computer hardware engineer

Minimum degree required: Bachelor’s

Years of experience required: 0

Good fit for: 

Computer hardware engineers design and develop new computer components and equipment. They research hardware needs and create solutions and upgrades for automobiles, computers, and other technologies. They also test the hardware and provide input during the manufacturing phase.

12. IT project manager

Minimum degree required: Bachelor’s

Years of experience required: 3-10

Good fit for: 

  • Professionals with strong leadership, communication, and interpersonal skills

  • IT experts with business acumen and decision-making and organizational abilities

IT project managers oversee information technology maintenance, installation, and development projects. They manage other IT professionals, such as developers and programmers, and handle project budgets and scheduling.

13. Computer and information research scientist

Minimum degree required: Master’s

Years of experience required: 0

Good fit for: 

  • Curious academics with analytical, problem-solving, and logical thinking skills

  • Professionals with strong communication and interpersonal abilities

Computer and information research scientists seek out new and improved uses for technology. They research new applications and test out possible solutions using existing technologies, publishing and presenting their findings. 

14. Network and computer systems administrator

Minimum degree required: Bachelor’s

Years of experience required: 0

Good fit for: 

  • Multitaskers with analytical mindsets 

  • Problem-solvers with strong communication and interpersonal skills

  • IT professionals with broad technological skill sets

Network administrators oversee the daily operations of an organization’s networks. They perform upgrades, regular maintenance, and troubleshooting whenever necessary. They also train users and look for opportunities to improve network performance based on organizational needs. 

15. Web developer

Minimum degree required: Bachelor’s

Years of experience required: 0

Good fit for: 

  • Creative-minded professionals with coding and problem-solving skills

  • People with strong communication and customer service abilities

  • Detail-oriented professionals

Web developers create websites for consumers based on the requirements of management and end users. They write code, integrate graphics and applications, and evaluate performance, traffic, and user concerns. Becoming a web developer requires professionals to regularly refresh their skills and application knowledge to keep websites updated and intuitive.

16. Video game developer

Minimum degree required: Associate or bachelor’s

Years of experience required: 0

Good fit for: 

  • Programmers with communication and interpersonal skills

  • Problem-solvers with original and creative thinking

  • IT professionals with diverse technical abilities

Becoming a video game developer requires versatility. Video game developers create various aspects of video games, including applications, coding, gameplay mechanics, and user interfaces. They work with the game management, production staff, and user test groups to develop the most user-friendly end product. 

17. Computer network architect

Minimum degree required: Bachelor’s

Years of experience required: 5

Good fit for: 

Computer network architects design networks based on organizations’ needs and business goals. They may need to upgrade the hardware, install applications, troubleshoot, and secure the networks. They also research new solutions to improve network performance and outcomes.

18. Information security analyst

Minimum degree required: Bachelor’s

Years of experience required: <5 years

Good fit for: 

Information security analysts secure organizational data and information from threats. They test networks and systems to identify potential attacks and weaknesses, put protections in place, and monitor suspicious activity. They also report malicious activities and prepare backups.

19. Computer support specialist

Minimum degree required: Associate or bachelor’s

Years of experience required: 0

Good fit for: 

Computer support specialists provide users with assistance, troubleshoot technical problems, and test systems to identify issues. They may work directly with networks, specific applications, or an array of services. These specialists may also provide technical services within organizations.

Freelance careers in computer science

Modern technology allows IT professionals to access devices remotely. In many cases, technical problems can be diagnosed and solved from anywhere, paving the way for freelancers to take on previously in-house computer science careers.

According to IEEE Computer Society, most of the biggest computer science professions — including programmers, computer system analysts, and computer support specialists — offer freelancing opportunities. Freelancers can manage their own projects and schedules and build their own network of clients through professional organizations and events. 

Here are some possible pros and cons of freelancing compared to traditional full-time employment. 

How do I start a career in computer science?

The computer science field welcomes professionals from various backgrounds. According to the BLS, most computer occupations require a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field.

What fun jobs can I get with a computer science degree?

While fun is subjective, computer science degrees can lead to many exciting careers. Some possible examples may include web developers, video game developers, and professionals working with artificial intelligence. 

Which branch of computer science is in demand?

According to the BLS, the most in-demand branches of computer science are cybersecurity, cloud computing, and big data. 

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