Pick your Path: Computer Science
Pathways in Computer Science
What can you do with a Computer Science Degree? That’s the question I am here to answer. There are plenty of career options within the Computer Science world. We will explore the projections for demand in the field and which careers are in the highest demand. Then, we will go over the details of some of these careers, what they do on a day-to-day basis, what they get paid for, and what the job outlook looks like. Computer science careers are available in many different areas, like government, private sector, healthcare, and independent contracting. The opportunities are endless! It will be up to you to decide what you need to ensure the pathway you pick is fulfilling for you intellectually and monetarily. Let’s dig in!
Is there demand?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, overall employment in computer and information technology occupations is projected to grow 15 percent from 2021 to 2031, much faster than the average for all occupations; this increase is expected to result in about 682,800 new jobs over the decade. This Computer Science industry stayed consistent through Covid times and is hiring at rates even higher than in pre-pandemic times. With the increased demand, companies are looking to attract and retain talent, opening the doors for benefits like unlimited PTO, remote or hybrid work models, and healthy sign-on bonuses. The median annual wage for this broad field is $97,430, which is over double the median yearly salary for all jobs, coming in at $45,760.
Technology continues to evolve, creating more specialized areas. The need for workers in computer science will continue to climb steadily, making it a lucrative choice of career path. You might wonder where the best places to find computer science jobs are. According to Zippia, the top five places to be a computer science worker are Washington, California, Oregon, Idaho, and Delaware. Though salary is essential, it’s also important to remember that work can be fun! You could build social media platforms, protect a company’s most sensitive information, or even make it a breeze to order that fantastic sushi you love online! Let’s explore some of the most in-demand career options within computer science.
The chart below from Calvin University shows just how in-demand computer science workers are! It is the only STEM category to have more jobs available than graduates to fill them. With three times more jobs than qualified candidates, it leaves much room for negotiation at hiring time. Companies are also offering generous benefits to attract and retain computer science workers.
Have a creative mind? This job might be for you. Behind computer programs, Software Developers are the creative juice. To do this job, your knowledge of programming languages should be substantial, along with a solid understanding of the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC). Some responsibilities you would have as a Software Developer are:
· Updating software to eliminate errors, increase performance, and integrate it into new hardware.
· Perform testing and validation for systems.
· Working alongside engineers for software-hardware interface analysis.
· Data analysis for recommendations for system modifications or new systems.
· Developing and designing new software systems.
California employs double the amount of Software Developers than any other state in the USA. The median annual wage for this position in 2021 was $120,730 and is projected to grow 25% over the next ten years. Other top locations to find this type of career are Texas, Washington, New York, and Virginia.
If you like to analyze more than just the meaning of life, consider being a Data Scientist! It is one of the top-paying computer science careers, with a median annual wage of $131,490, and is projected to grow 21% over the next decade. They identify what questions a team should ask and determine how to use data to answer them. It’s common for them to develop predictive models to forecast and theorize. Here are some things you might do daily on this career pathway:
· Forecast outcomes by creating algorithms and data models.
· Provide recommendations to senior staff or other teams.
· Analyze data using SAS, SQL, R, and Python tools.
· Uncover insights by finding trends and patterns in datasets.
· Sourcing relevant data for business needs.
Data Analysts and Data Scientists seem very similar. Still, Data Scientists are generally expected to generate questions about their data, while the analyst may support the already defined goal. Scientists also use their time to use machine learning, create models, and dabble in advanced programming to analyze their data. Many of these positions require a master’s degree, but there are opportunities, even with the government, that do not require this. It’s not surprising that California would be the best place to start your journey on this pathway. They employ three times more Data Scientists than any other state in the USA. Following behind, for best places to find this position are Virginia, Washington, Maryland, and Texas.
Information Security Analyst
With companies in the news for data breaches becoming more common, the demand for Information Security Analysts continues to rise. Data breaches and leaks can be crippling to businesses, so this is a critically important position. How cool it must be to be an I.T. crime fighter! The U.S. Government employs many I.S. Analysts, so it makes sense! Their high-level mission is to protect the networks and systems of an organization by planning and carrying out security measures. The top state to find work in this Computer Science pathway is Virginia. The top five are Texas, Florida, New York, and Maryland. The median annual wage for this position is $102,600, with the outlook increasing by 35% between 2021 and 2031. Almost any business needs systems security, which keeps the outlook for this area of computer science heading upward at a considerable pace.
This position has many responsibilities that support the primary goal of keeping a business’s data and network safe. Here are a few that Glassdoor describes:
· Conduct penetration testing
· Gather and analyze feedback from users for system improvement.
· Asses and test new tech.
· Ensure installation and upgrades of antivirus software.
· Upgrade systems and deploy security software.
· Analyze system and I.T. requirements to provide informed advice on how to use I.T. security requirements.
Full Stack Web Developer
· Identify coding errors, then test, analyze, and fix them.
· Make sure sites are functional from various device types.
· Implement databases and servers for functionality.
· Create functional, clean code on both the back and front ends.
· Address both technical and consumer needs
While the median annual wage of a single-end developer is $78,300, it jumps to $94,260 if you go full stack. California is back in the top spot for employing Web Developers, which can be attributed to the infamous Silicon Valley. New York, Texas, Florida, and Wisconsin are other places to find a Web Developer position. The need for great websites will continue to grow and is forecasted to increase by 23% in the next ten years. This is an excellent career for someone who loves the technical side of coding and the creativity and artistic application of creating a website’s design.
Now, this career is perfect for those who love to code. A computer programmer must write and test code that directs computers to execute tasks like retrieving data. Programmers use computer languages like Java and C++ to manipulate program designs created by engineers and software developers into instructions that the computer can follow. Testing for bugs and fixing code issues are significant parts of this position. Every day is a puzzle, and it’s your job to complete it with all the pieces in the right place! Below are some of the duties of a programmer, according to Western Governors University.
· Write code for mobile apps or computer programs.
· Maintain existing programs by creating updates to improve performance or fix bugs.
· Rewrite programs based on how they work with different operating systems.
· Create and publish technical guides about how a computer program will work for users, software engineers, developers, and analysts.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has forecasted the demand for this job to decline by 10% over the next ten years. With the reality of the fact that they are many more jobs available than professionals to fill them, this is still a stellar career choice. The median annual wage for this position is $93,000. With no surprise, California is the top state for employment as a Computer Programmer. If the sunshine state doesn’t interest you, the best options are Texas, New York, Florida, and New Jersey.
Pick a Path!
Computer Science is a particular category to get into because there is something for everyone. It is for everyone, from the creative beings who love to design and make things functional and beautiful on the front to the coding genius making magic happen on the backside. This infographic from Popfizz is an excellent example of some careers that don’t generally pop into your head when thinking of Computer Science.
How awesome would it be to take your love of playing video games and turn it into a career of making them!? What about teaching? The world would have no Computer Science workers without the dedicated teachers and professors who shape students into the professionals who drive our tech-based world.
This article gives just a few of the many opportunities available in Computer Science. Before you decide, take some time to determine what you enjoy doing. While salary is a huge deciding factor in a career path, being content daily is critical to your morale as an employee. The real goal is to love what you do and get to make money while doing it. I wish you all the best of luck in your flourishing careers!