Jobs You Can Get with a Computer Science Degree
ITCareerFinder breaks down the most sought-after tech jobs you can get with a degree in computer science. Delve into each role for marketable courses, salaries, recommended degree programs and insider tips.
There’s never been a better time than now to pursue a career in IT. The proliferation of emerging technologies in mobile and cloud computing, soaring demand for data science, programming and cyber security skills, and the increased automation (for better or worse) of legacy roles in retail and manufacturing, are just some of the factors driving a golden age for tech employment. There are infinite paths to the IT job of your dreams, but whichever road you choose there’s a good chance that earning a degree in computer science (CS) will be your first step.
CS curricula and the jobs you can land with a computer science degree vary widely, but there are some core subjects shared by most undergraduate computer science programs. The core curriculum in a CS associate or bachelor’s degree typically includes programming and software development, data structures and algorithms, operating systems, and applied mathematics. There are many CS specializations that dive deeper into one or more of these core areas, and plenty of computer science majors designed to prepare you for a specific IT career path. Your personal passions, resources like time and money, and the job you’re shooting for will dictate the computer science program that’s right for you.
The curriculum in a graduate computer science program builds on the undergrad coursework above. Generally, a computer science master’s degree dives deeper into the technical skills you learned as an undergrad, with a greater focus on a specific career track and potential management roles. MBAs in computer science concentrate on the business side of things; here you will learn to use computing skills to set and achieve organizational goals. Doctoral and PhD degrees in computer science tend to focus on research and scientific advancement; these programs are geared toward jobs like computer research scientist and CS professor.
This article will lay out some of the best jobs you can achieve with a computer science diploma (“best” in this case means top-tier salaries, an aggressive hiring forecast, and a high rate of upward mobility). We'll also highlight the courses and electives you should pursue to maximize your job prospects in each role, recommended degree levels, and earnings.
Here are the best jobs you can get with computer science degree:
With a dramatic rise in the quantity and commercial value of business data, data scientists - specialists who use technology to mine this data for actionable intelligence - have joined the ranks of the top paying careers in IT. Data science jobs typically require a master's degree in computer science, business intelligence, or a quantitative science like mathematics or statistics.
Desirable courses in a computer science degree for data scientists include data mining, big data visualization, machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI), programming in relevant languages such as SQL, R and Python, and training in popular data science platforms like SAS, Alteryx and Microsoft Azure.
Salary Recommended CS Degree Level $121,000 Master of Computer Science (MCS) (MS)
These professionals create the software systems and applications that enable us to control our myriad electronic devices. As the pervasiveness of computerized devices continues to rise, so does the quantity and quality of job opportunities for software engineers. Most software engineer positions require a bachelor’s in computer science, software development, or another software-centric field of study. For those considering alternatives to a 4-year program, some entry-level software jobs can be achieved with a computer science associate degree or specialized coding certificate(s) plus relevant work experience.
Marketable courses to look for in a computer science degree program for software engineering include computer programming (focus on in-demand languages such as Java, Python, Ruby & PHP), secure software development, UI/UX (user interface/user experience) design, and soft skills training in problem solving, teamwork and time management.
Salary Recommended CS Degree Level $106,000 Bachelor of Computer Science (BCS) (BS) (BA)
Also called information research scientists, these professionals identify and solve complex computing problems to advance the science of computing. Computer scientists also work to advance other fields such as biology, medicine and environmental science. To get hired as a computer scientist, organizations typically require a computer science master’s degree. Job seekers looking for a CS professorship or an advanced research role will garner more opportunities with a PhD in computer science.
Desirable subjects for computer scientists in a CS degree program include algorithm development, applied mathematics, technical writing and scientific research, as well as soft skills training in verbal and written communication, analytical thinking and problem solving.
Salary Recommended CS Degree Level $99,000 Master of Computer Science (MS) (MCS) (MSCS) or Doctorate (PhD)
Mobile Application Developer
As smartphones, wearables and other wireless devices continue to permeate our lives, the developers who write the apps we use to interact with these devices will continue to see top-tier salaries and employment opportunities. Mobile development jobs typically require a bachelor’s degree in computer science, mobile development or software development.
When planning a computer science degree, aspiring mobile application developers should seek out courses and electives in the programming languages behind the leading mobile platforms (such as Swift & Objective-C for iOS, and Java & Kotlin for Android). Other marketable subjects include user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) design, needs-based application development, and mobile app marketing.
Salary Recommended CS Degree Level $107,000 Bachelor of Computer Science (BCS) (BS) (BA)
Computer Systems Analyst
Equipped with a deep understanding of an organization’s computer systems and procedures, systems analysts are tasked with devising technology-based solutions to boost productivity and maximize technology ROI. Because systems analysts work where business and technology converge, an MBA degree in computer science is an ideal fit for the job. Some systems analyst jobs only require a bachelor’s degree - a fitting major to consider in these cases is Management Information Systems (MIS).
Because of its top-level view of IT and business operations, this job can serve as a springboard to executive roles like IT manager, VP of Technology, and CIO. Keeping this upward mobility in mind, key coursework that systems analysts should seek out when choosing a computer science degree program include systems administration, IT project management and business analysis, along with soft skills training in leadership, collaboration and communication.
Salary Recommended CS Degree Level $89,000 Master of Business Administration in Computer Science (MBA) or Bachelor (BCS) (BS) (BA)
More Computer Science Jobs
In addition to the aforementioned career paths, here's a look at some other desirable jobs you can qualify for with a computer science degree:
|IT Career Path||Degree Level||Salary|
|Chief Information Officer||Master's or MBA||$165,000|
|Technology Manager||Bachelor's or Master's||$132,000|
|Cloud Engineer||Bachelor's or Master's||$119,000|
|IT Security Specialist||Bachelor's||$107,000|
|Web Developer||Associate or Bachelor's||$80,000|
|Computer Programmer||Associate or Bachelor's||$73,000|
What about "Computer Engineering?" While there is quite a bit of overlap, computer science is different from computer engineering. Generally, computer science degrees are more software-heavy while computer engineering degrees focus more on hardware; here’s a closer look at the differences between CS and CE programs.
Looking to save some money on your CS degree? Check out this list of the cheapest online computer science bachelor's.