What Can You Do with a Computer Science Degree?

Master of Science in Computer Science Program Page

If you’re fascinated by computers and love learning about the latest technology, consider leveraging your interests and talents into a well-paying IT career. As this article will discuss, the computing and IT fields are booming, offering a bright economic outlook with plentiful job opportunities and high earning potential. A computer science degree can give you a critical advantage in this competitive, rapidly growing industry, particularly if you complete a master’s or doctorate program.

So what can you do with a computer science degree? You might be surprised by how many types of careers a CS education empowers you to explore. This article will review eight popular jobs to pursue with a CS degree, including web developer, information security analyst, data scientist, and more. We’ll also discuss how to choose the right computer science degree program and alternative options to a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree, such as earning your certificate.

What Are the Advantages of Earning a Computer Science Degree?

Like any college program, studying computer science can have pros and cons. However, many students determine that the advantages of a CS degree greatly outweigh any potential drawbacks.

Ultimately, your choice of major comes down to your interests, skills, and goals. Therefore, if you want to answer the question, “Should you major in computer science?” there’s another question you should answer first: “Is computer science a good degree for you?”

Here are three reasons why computer science is an attractive major for many students:

  1. A CS degree offers high earning potential. Many popular jobs in the CS field, which we’ll review eight examples of later, offer above-average pay. As of February 2023, Indeed ranks IT among the top six highest-paying industries (along with healthcare and engineering), and specifically calls out the following careers as four of the best-paying IT jobs: IT manager, Network architect, Security analyst, and Software engineer.
  2. CS and IT jobs are expected to grow rapidly in the coming decade. Not only do CS- and IT-related careers tend to pay more than the national average, but many are also positioned to enjoy rapid growth in the coming years. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), “Overall employment in computer and information technology occupations is projected to grow 15% from 2021 to 2031, much faster than the average for all occupations.” Additionally, “This increase is expected to result in about 682,800 new jobs over the decade.”
  3. CS and IT skills are versatile and in high demand. This is a considerable advantage to studying CS since your skills are easily transferable between industries or companies if you decide to change career tracks. Examples of in-demand CS and IT skills include machine learning, cloud computing, user experience (UX), technical support, penetration testing, data analysis and visualization, Linux, and various programming languages, such as Python and Javascript.

What Kinds of Jobs Can You Get with a CS Degree?

All types of businesses and organizations need qualified IT and CS experts on their teams. That means you can enter virtually any industry with a background in computer science, from education and entertainment to law, finance, and medicine. You can customize your career path even more by specializing in a specific niche or subcategory of IT, such as becoming an expert in web design, software development, network architecture, or cybersecurity. Continue reading to learn about eight popular careers in the computer science field, including salary data and job outlook for each.

Person working at desk

A bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degree in computer science can be leveraged into a broad range of careers. Here are eight jobs you may qualify for with a degree or certificate in CS:

  1. Cloud engineer
  2. Computer and information research scientist
  3. Computer support specialist
  4. Data scientist
  5. Database administrator
  6. Information security analyst
  7. Software developer, tester, or quality assurance analyst
  8. Web developer
Web developer

Web developers create websites for businesses and other organizations, which includes technical maintenance and testing for optimal performance. According to BLS data, the median salary for a web developer was $78,300 per year as of 2021, the most recent data available. However, the top 10% earned over $168,000, with software publishers, financial organizations, insurance companies, and advertising/PR agencies ranked as some of the top-paying employers.

Computer support specialist

According to the BLS, “Computer support specialists maintain computer networks and provide technical help to computer users,” usually full-time, with some specialists working nights or weekends to provide 24-hour support. The median salary for a computer support specialist is nearly $58,000, with the top 10% earning above $102,000. Some of the highest-paying employers or industries for computer support specialists include telecommunications, finance, insurance, software publishing, and education.

Information security analyst

According to BLS data, information security analysts earn median salaries of $102,600, with the top 10% making close to $166,000 annually. This field is projected to grow 35% through 2031, which is “much faster than average.” If you’re interested in a role as a security analyst, you may be interested in exploring the Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity or Master of Science in Cybersecurity at NU.

Database administrator or architect

Database architects and administrators are responsible for designing and maintaining secure systems of organized data. The BLS reports that these professions have median earnings of exactly $101,000 annually, with the field expected to grow by 9% (“faster than average”) through 2031.

Data scientist

Data scientists collect, organize, and analyze data to provide actionable insights for businesses and other organizations. According to the BLS, the median annual salary for a data scientist is over $100,900, with the top 10% earning above $167,000. Moreover, this field is expected to grow by an astounding 36% through 2031.

Software developer, tester, or quality assurance analyst

Software developers, software testers, and software quality assurance analysts are grouped into the same category by the BLS, which reports that members of these professions earn median salaries of approximately $109,000. Additionally, these fields are expected to grow by an impressive 25% through 2031, significantly faster than the national average for all occupations (5%).

Computer and information research scientist

According to the BLS’ definition, “Computer and information research scientists design innovative uses for new and existing computing technology,” such as creating new software systems or computing languages. The median salary for this profession is over $131,400, with the top 10% earning over $208,000. The bottom 10% earned around $74,000, exceeding the national average ($45,760) by nearly $30,000 annually. Additionally, this field is expected to grow 21% through 2031, considered “much faster than average” by BLS standards.

Cloud engineer

The BLS does not supply information specific to cloud engineering. However, reports submitted to Indeed, and ZipRecruiter suggest that cloud engineers earn an average salary ranging from around $117,775 to $126,800. Reports submitted to Glassdoor are slightly lower at around $103,000.

Elizabeth V., Class of 2023

Is a Computer Science Degree Worth It?

All of this information leads to one question for students: are computer science degrees worth it in 2023?

Ultimately, each student needs to make that decision for themselves. However, as we’ve discussed throughout this article, there are numerous benefits and advantages that make a computer science degree strongly worth considering, especially at the master’s or doctorate level. Let’s recap a few of the reasons why a CS degree or certificate might be worth pursuing if you have an interest in, or aptitude for, technology and computing:

  • There is potential for significantly above-average earnings in many CS- or IT-related positions.
  • The IT field is expected to grow rapidly in the near future, creating numerous opportunities for work.
  • Many IT jobs can be performed fully or partially remotely, which is advantageous for anyone who needs to travel frequently, is interested in working from home, or wants to become a digital nomad.
  • CS skills are versatile and are needed at all sorts of organizations throughout the public and private sectors.
  • The need for knowledgeable IT experts will continue to increase as our systems grow more complex and our reliance on them grows.

What Computer Science Degree Should I Get?

Suppose you’re thinking about pursuing a career in the computer science field. In that case, it’s essential to determine what degree or types of degrees will best serve your professional development goals. For example, although a bachelor’s degree in CS is adequate for many employers, a master’s or doctorate will enhance your earning potential by making you eligible for a broader range of more senior or specialized positions.

A master’s or doctoral degree may even be mandatory for certain positions, which is one of the reasons it’s helpful to identify potential career paths before enrolling in a degree program. For example, according to the BLS, a master’s degree is the minimum education required to become a computer and research information scientist. By comparison, a bachelor’s degree meets the minimum education requirements for most other IT- and computer-related occupations, including computer programming or web development.

National University offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs to meet students at all stages of their academic and professional journeys. Here’s an at-a-glance comparison of the CS programs we currently offer as of the 2023/2024 academic year:

  • Bachelor of Science in Computer Science (BSCS) — The BSCS is an undergraduate degree designed to introduce CS fundamentals and equip students with a robust IT skill base that employers demand. Students in our BSCS program will study algorithm and database design, computer architecture, and programming languages, among other topics, with an option to concentrate in software development.
  • Master of Science in Computer Science (MSCS) — Expand your IT knowledge, widen your repertoire of skills, and master advanced concepts in CS with a graduate degree in computer science from NU. The MSCS covers advanced programming, user interface engineering, security in computing, and other topics that build on the BSCS.
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Science (PhD-CS) — Push yourself to the highest level of performance and achieve total mastery in your area of expertise by earning your doctorate degree in computer science. The PhD-CS at NU requires an average of 40 months to complete (60 credit hours) and covers topics including artificial intelligence, data curation, mobile computing, and parallel computing. The program culminates in a prospectus and dissertation, which students must complete following a qualitative, quantitative, or constructive research approach

Not sure if you’re ready to commit to a degree program? Consider earning a certificate as an alternative or a way to supplement a degree you already hold.

Many certificates can be completed in two years or less depending on factors like the program’s structure and your preferred learning pace — for example, studying online versus on-campus or full-time versus part-time. National University offers two certificates designed for CS students and IT professionals: the Certificate in Computer Applications, which covers QuickBooks, Photoshop, PowerPoint, and other apps, and the Certificate in Information Technology, which covers IT topics like network security, cloud computing, and cybersecurity.

Edward H., Class of 2021

Earn Your Bachelor’s, Master’s, or Doctorate Degree in CS at National University

Whether you’re just starting your CS career or an experienced IT professional looking to hone your skills and advance in your field, you’ll find flexible yet challenging programs at National University. Industry leaders teach our accredited computer science courses, which can be completed 100% online, and provide students with options for accelerated study. You can even earn credits for prior work experience or military service, helping you acquire your degree faster and more affordably.

Learn more about earning your CS degree or certificate at National University. Contact our admissions office for detailed program information, or start your application online today.

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