Careers, Jobs and Salaries for Master’s in Computer Science 2018-02-15T23:51:40+00:00

Careers, Jobs and Salaries in Computer Science

Whether you just recently graduated from an undergraduate CS program or you’re considering a career change, there are lots of opportunities in the computer science field—about a million opportunities, in fact. According to a fact sheet released by the White House, more than 50 percent of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) occupations will be in a CS-related field by 2020. This means there could be as many as 1.4 million computer science related jobs available for individuals with the right training, skills, and experience.

Number-of-science

The Value of a Master’s Degree in Computer Science

Although some entry-level computer science jobs don’t require a master’s degree, recent data suggests that professionals in the field who decided to go back to school are seeing the benefits. Among all master’s degree categories, computer science graduates are projected to be the top earners among the most lucrative master’s degrees, topping engineering, business, and math and sciences.

Broad Category 2017 Average Salary
Computer Science $81,039
Engineering $75,053
Business $74,066
Math & Sciences $70,061

A recent salary study of data scientists also points to the prevalence (and value) of master’s degrees in the field: 59% of early-career (level one) data scientists’ highest level of education is a master’s degree. The average median salary among level one data scientists, according to the study, was $96,000.

early-career-data-scientists

There are of course other ways to learn computer science skills, including coding boot camps and massive open online courses (MOOCs), but they may not provide the same level of instruction and preparation as a CS degree program. The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF) says that while boot camps and MOOCs are “useful for giving professionals basic computing or coding skills that complement other expertise…a brief coding seminar is no substitute for the years of education that an individual with a degree in CS possesses.”

Developing computer science skills may also help you even if you work within an industry or in a role not commonly associated with the CS field. Burning Glass Technologies analyzed the fastest-growing and highest-paying skills in jobs that don’t require a computer science degree. Among five job domains that value a hybrid skill set (data analysis, engineering and manufacturing, arts and design, marketing, and information technology), Burning Glass found that more two-thirds of the most important skills—in terms of growth and salary—are computer science related.

Career Paths in Computer Science

As a field, computer science includes a wide range of occupations, job titles, and responsibilities. That means there are a lot of career paths and entry points to choose from. According to the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the work of computer scientists falls into four categories:

  1. Designing, building, and implementing software
  2. Developing effective ways to solve computing problems
  3. Devising new ways to use computers
  4. Planning and managing organizational technology infrastructure

Identifying a career path that interests you is the first step to working in computer science. From there, you’ll be able to determine what skills you need (and what skills you need to work on) to get a job as a software developer, computer programmer, database administrator, or any other role. To help you get started, here are five popular computer science career paths you can pursue.

Career-Paths-in-Computer-Science

Database Administrator

The database administrators (DBA) is responsible for planning, designing, and developing database applications. DBAs are also concerned with data security and accessibility. The Occupational Information Network (O*NET) lists the following tasks for database administrators:

  • Test programs or databases, correct errors, and make necessary modifications
  • Plan, coordinate and implement security measures to safeguard information in computer files against accidental or unauthorized damage, modification, or disclosure
  • Modify existing databases and database management systems or direct programmers and analysts to make changes
  • Specify users and user access levels for each segment of database
  • Write and code logical and physical database descriptions and specify identifiers of database to management system or direct others in coding descriptions
Lowest 10% Median Top 10%
$47,300 $84,950 $129,930
DBA Salary by Industry Median Annual Wage
Computer systems design and related services $95,580
Management of companies and enterprises $92,410
Data processing, hosting and related services $89,370
Insurance carriers and related activities $88,190
Educational services; state, local, and private $70,470

Source: BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook

Job Outlook (2016-2016) 11%
New Jobs (2016-2026) 13,700

The BLS projects employment of database administrators to grow 11 percent from 2016 to 2026, mostly driven by the increased data needs of companies in all sectors of the economy. The job outlook for DBAs in two particular areas is even better:

  • The demand for database administrators at third-party cloud computing firms is projected to grow 17 from 2016 to 2026.
  • Employment of database administrators in the computer systems design and related services industry is projected to grow 20 percent from 2016 to 2026.

The top technology skills frequently included in job postings for database administrators include Apache Cassandra, Microsoft .NET, NetSuite ERP, and jQuery.

Technology Example
Database management systems software
  • Apache Cassandra
  • Greenplum Database
  • Quest SharePlex
  • SentryOne SQL Sentry
Development environment software
  • Apache Maven
  • Microsoft .NET Framework
  • Microsoft PowerShell
  • Prolog
ERP software
  • Ab Initio
  • Ellucian Banner ERP
  • Microsoft Dynamics
  • NetSuite ERP
Object/component oriented dev. software
  • jQuery
  • Microsoft Visual C# .Net
  • Python
  • SAP PowerBuilder
Web platform dev. software
  • Apache Struts
  • Apache Tomcat
  • Drupal
  • Spring Framework

Source: O*NET Summary Report for Database Administrators

Computer and Information Research Scientist

A computer and information research scientist, also known as a computer scientist, develops computing solutions for complex problems in business, science, medicine, and other applications. Computer scientists are theorists, designers, and inventors.

O*NET summarizes some of the top computer scientist tasks:

  • Analyze problems to develop solutions involving computer hardware and software.
  • Assign or schedule tasks to meet work priorities and goals.
  • Evaluate project plans and proposals to assess feasibility issues.
  • Apply theoretical expertise and innovation to create or apply new technology, such as adapting principles for applying computers to new uses.
  • Consult with users, management, vendors, and technicians to determine computing needs and system requirements.
Lowest 10% Median Top 10%
>$64,950 $111,840 <$169,680
Computer Scientist Salary by Industry Median Annual Wage
Software publishers $125,860
Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences $123,180
Computer systems design and related services $115,890
Federal government, excluding postal service $105,970
Colleges, universities, and professional schools $72,030

Source: BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook

Job Outlook (2016-2016) 19%
New Jobs (2016-2026) 5,400

The BLS projects employment of computer and information research scientists to grow 19 percent from 2016 to 2026 thanks to demand for newer and better technology, especially in data collection and cybersecurity.

The top technology skills frequently included in job postings for computer scientists include MATLAB, Apache Hadoop, Microsoft Visual Basic, and Linux operating system knowledge.

Technology Example
Analytical or scientific software
  • Rice Simulator for ILP Multiprocessors (RSIM)
  • SAS
  • SPSS
  • MathWorks MATLAB
Database management system software
  • Apache Flume
  • Apache Hadoop
  • MySQL
  • Oracle DBMS
Database user interface and query software
  • Apache Hive
  • Microsoft SQL Server
  • Structured Query Language (SQL)
Development environment software
  • C
  • IMB Rational Rose
  • Microsoft Visual Basic
  • Verilog
Operating system software
  • Linux
  • Sun Microsystems Solaris
  • Ubuntu
  • UNIX

Source: O*NET Summary Report for Computer Scientists

Computer Systems Analyst

Computer systems analysts, sometimes called systems architects, bring business and IT together to help organizations operate more efficiently and effectively. They study how to improve computer systems for better business functions and organizational processes.

0*NET summarizes some of the top computer systems analyst tasks:

  • Test, maintain, and monitor computer programs and systems, including coordinating the installation of computer programs and systems.
  • Troubleshoot program and system malfunctions to restore normal functioning.
  • Expand or modify system to serve new purposes or improve work flow.
  • Use the computer in the analysis and solution of business problems, such as development of integrated production and inventory control and cost analysis systems.
  • Consult with management to ensure agreement on system principles.
Lowest 10% Median Top 10%
>$53,110 $87,220 <$137,690
Computer Systems Analyst Salary by Industry Median Annual Wage
Computer systems design and related services $90,260
Finance and insurance $88,830
Management of companies and enterprises $88,280
Information $88,100
Government $77,050

Source: BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook

Job Outlook (2016-2016) 9%
New Jobs (2016-2026) 53,000

The BLS projects employment of computer systems analysts to grow 9 percent from 2016 to 2026, with additional job growth expected in the healthcare field to accommodate the increased use and implementation of electronic health records, e-prescribing, and other forms of healthcare IT.

The top technology skills frequently included in job postings for computer systems analysts include Apache Maven, HP LoadRunner, AJAX, and Google AngularJS.

Technology Example
Database management system software
  • Apache Hadoop
  • Apache Hive
  • MongoDB
  • MySQL
Development environment software
  • Apache Maven
  • IBM Rational Rose XDE Developer
  • Microsoft PowerShell
  • Symantec Visual Cafe
Object/component oriented dev. software
  • C++
  • Objective C
  • Python
  • Swift
Program testing software
  • Compatibility testing software
  • Defect tracking software
  • Usability testing software
  • HP LoadRunner
Web platform dev. software
  • AJAX
  • Enterprise JavaBeans
  • Google AngularJS
  • PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor

Source: O*NET Summary Report for Computer Systems Analysts

Software Developer

Software developers design, implement, modify, and document computer programs. Within software development, there are two primary roles: 1) applications software developers, who design software for the general public as well as for commercial uses, and 2) systems software developers, who create systems that keep computers functioning properly. The BLS projects that demand for software developers over the next 10 years will primarily be for applications software developers.

O*NET lists the following application software developer tasks:

  • Modify existing software to correct errors, allow it to adapt to new hardware, or to improve its performance.
  • Analyze user needs and software requirements to determine feasibility of design within time and cost constraints.
  • Confer with systems analysts, engineers, programmers and others to design system and to obtain information on project limitations and capabilities, performance requirements and interfaces.
  • Store, retrieve, and manipulate data for analysis of system capabilities and requirements
  • Design, develop and modify software systems, using scientific analysis and mathematical models to predict and measure outcome and consequences of design.
Lowest 10% Median Top 10%
>$58,300 $100,080 <$157,590
Applications Software Developer Salary by Industry Median Annual Wage
Software publishers $111,250
Manufacturing $107,280
Finance and insurance $101,520
Management of companies and enterprises $98,020
Computer systems design and related services $97,720

Source: BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook

Job Outlook (2016-2016) 30%
New Jobs (2016-2026) 253,400

The BLS projects employment of software developers as a whole to grow 24 percent from 2016 to 2026. Broken down by type of developer, the job outlook looks like this:

  • Employment of systems software developers is projected to grow 11 percent
  • Employment of applications software developers is projected to grow 30 percent

The main drivers of growth for applications developers, according to the BLS, is the need for new smartphone and tablet applications as well as demand for innovative software to help manage healthcare policy enrollments and administer existing policies digitally.

The top technology skills frequently included in job postings for application software developers include Apache Hadoop, Oracle Java, jQuery, and LAMP Stack.

Technology Example
Database management system software
  • Apache Hadoop
  • MongoDB
  • Oracle PL/SQL
  • Talend Big Data Integration
Development environment software
  • Adobe Systems Adobe ActionScript
  • Advanced business application programming
  • Apache Maven
Object/component oriented dev. software
  • Apache Spark
  • C++
  • Oracle Java
  • Python
Program testing software
  • Defect tracking software
  • Source code editor software
  • Usability testing software
  • HP LoadRunner
Web platform development software
  • AJAX
  • Google AngularJS
  • jQuery
  • LAMP Stack

Source: O*NET Summary Report for Application Software Developers

Web Developer

A web developer builds and maintains websites. Specific job tasks depend on the type of web developer you become. Back-end web developers are responsible for the overall technical construction of a website, while front-end developers are responsible for creating a site’s layout and content. Web developers may also serve as “webmasters,” ensuring that sites operate correctly.

According to O*NET, the top web developer tasks include:

  • Write supporting code for web applications or websites.
  • Design, build, or maintain website, using authoring or scripting languages, content creation tools, management tools, and digital media.
  • Back up files from website to local directories for instant recovery in case of problems.
  • Write, design, or edit website content, or direct others producing content.
  • Select programming languages, design tools, or applications.
Lowest 10% Median Top 10%
>$35,390 $66,130 <$119,550
Web Developer Salary by Industry Median Annual Wage
Publishing industries (except Internet) $67,660
Computer systems design and related services $66,970
Advertising, public relations, and related services $65,650
Management, scientific, and technical consulting $64,020

Source: BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook

Job Outlook (2016-2016) 13%
New Jobs (2016-2026) 21,300

The BLS projects employment of web developers to grow 13 percent from 2016 to 2026, mostly due to the expansion of ecommerce around the world. Demand for web developers is expected to grow as retailers expand their online offerings. Organizations will also require web developers to create new sites or convert existing sites to work on mobile devices, which accounted for 43.6 percent of all website traffic worldwide in 2016.

The top technology skills frequently included in job postings for web developers include Apache Maven, C++, Ubuntu, AJAX, and JavaScript.

Technology Example
Database management system software
  • Amazon Kinesis
  • Apache Hadoop
  • NoSQL
  • Teradata Database
Development environment software
  • Apache Maven
  • C
  • Integrated development environment (IDE) software
  • Microsoft PowerShell
Object/component oriented dev. software
  • Apache Spark
  • C++
  • Oracle Java
  • Python
Operating system software
  • Android
  • Linux
  • Oracle Solaris
  • Ubuntu
  • Web platform dev. software
  • AJAX
  • Drupal
  • JavaScript
  • Ruby on Rails

Source: O*NET Summary Report for Web Developers

Computer Science Career Tips

Top programming languages and skills to learn

Learning how to program can be a huge benefit to your career, even if you end up working in a non-CS role or field. “Every field is becoming an information field, and if you can program at a level beyond an intro course, it’s a huge value to you,” said Ed Lazowska, the Bill & Melinda Gates Chair in Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington, in an article for GeekWire analyzing the demand for computer science education.

But which programming languages are the best to learn for career growth in computer science?

Every year since 2011, Stack Overflow has asked developers how they learn, which tools and languages they’re using, and how they level up in their careers. If you’re looking to break into the computer science field, Stack Overflow’s Developer Survey can provide insights that will help you determine which programming language(s) you need to learn based on your intended career path. The following table lists the most popular programming languages among different types of professional developers:

Based on this information, you might decide to learn JavaScript or SQL (if you don’t already know either one) since they’re the top two programming languages for each occupation. Or you might decide to pick up an additional language, such as Java or Python, to improve your chances of getting a job as a web developer or systems administrator.

And how exactly do professional developers go about learning a new programming language? Stack Overflow’s Developer Survey answers that question, too. Professional developers recommend the following for learning programming:

  • Take online courses
  • Buy programming books and work through the exercises
  • Contribute to open-source projects
  • Attend conferences/meet-ups
  • Enroll in a coding boot camp
  • Get a job as a QA tester
  • Participate in online coding competitions
  • Participate in hackathons
  • Go back to school

In addition to programming languages, there are other skills you may decide to develop while you work toward a career in computer science. Below is a list of the 10 fastest-growing computer science skills based on growth in demand by employers from 2014 to 2016, according to Burning Glass Technologies.

Rank Skill Growth (2014 – 2016)
1 AngularJS 339%
2 Tableau 259%
3 Machine Learning 228%
4 Chef 219%
5 Data Visualization 217%
6 Revit 196%
7 Puppet 196%
8 Marketo 185%
9 NoSQL 184%
10 Python 182%

Networking in computer science

Whether you’re trying to break into computer science as a new career or advance in your current CS role, the value of networking cannot be understated. According to Stack Overflow’s 2017 Developer Survey, the most common way developers found their most recent job was through a friend, family member, or former colleague who told them about it.

Here is a list of professional computer science organizations to help jumpstart your development and provide opportunities for networking:

Grow in a Career with a Master’s Computer Scientist Degree

Studying computer science helps diverse professionals who are interested in the field. A master’s degree may indicate more knowledge and advance analytical and strategic-thinking skills to employers. Someone who wants to obtain a more prominent role in an organization or apply at a new company in a higher role may gain more credibility with higher education. Often, upper-level positions like computer and information systems managers, which are among the highest paid positions in the field, may require a master’s degree in computer science for the candidate to be considered.

Studying the curriculum of online master’s in computer science programs may inspire students to create their own career paths. The ability to work with bright minds in school and apply that knowledge in work helps master’s in computer science degree students to advance more quickly as they gain increased skills.

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