What Is the Best Degree Path for Becoming a Computer Scientist?

If you enjoy working with both numbers and computers and like the challenge of using logic to analyze and solve problems, a career as a computer scientist could be the perfect choice for you. Computer and information research scientists, or simply computer scientists, are professionals in the field of computer and information technology who design new technological solutions for computing problems in every field. They devise and revise the algorithms that control computers and create new software, tools and programming languages. Computer scientists earn a high median salary of $102,190 per year, but they must earn a formal education before they can begin this lucrative career. An undergraduate degree is necessary for virtually all computer science positions, while many roles require a Ph.D.

Undergraduate Computer Science Studies

The first step to fulfilling your dream of becoming a computer scientist is to earn an undergraduate degree in the field. A Bachelor of Computer Science or Bachelor of Science in Computer Science degree will prepare you for a career with the federal government, which employs more than one-quarter of all computer scientists, and for some entry-level jobs in fields such as software applications, computer programming and web development.

Bachelor’s degree programs in computer science typically include a great deal of coursework in both mathematics and computers. Students should expect to put their math skills to work in subjects like calculus, statistics, trigonometry, linear algebra, discrete mathematics, analytical geometry and differential equations. Computer courses might include operating systems, information technology, algorithm design and analysis, programming methodology and languages, data communication and structures, computer systems architecture, database administration and management, computer security, software design and artificial intelligence.

The Ph.D. in Computer Science

Though some jobs are available to graduates of bachelor’s degree programs, most computer scientist positions call for candidates with Ph.D.’s, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.

If you aspire to attain a research or high-level position in computer systems design, research and development, software publishing or academics, then you should expect to spend four or five years in a doctoral degree program after you earn your bachelor’s degree. Early on in your doctoral education, you will take various courses in more general computer science studies. After the first couple of years in such a program, you can specialize in a field that interests you and complete research in that specialty.

Computer science is one of the top ten degrees for the future.  Not only are job opportunities for computer scientists likely to increase by 15 percent over a decade, according to the BLS, but opportunities for a wide range of other computer occupations will grow even faster, by 18 percent over the same time period. A background in computer science is good preparation for any number of careers in computers, data processing and robotics. Because computers are now widely used in every industry, a degree in computer science will likely continue to be in-demand for the foreseeable future.

Further Reading:

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