Last Updated on August 28, 2023
If you’ve studied computer science, you will have gained many technical and non-technical skills which are highly valued by employers, from leadership to programming. The increasing scope of computer science means you have plenty of choice in a wide variety of highly specialized areas.
Computer technologies are integral to modern life, so you’re likely to find your computer science skills in high demand across many different industries. These include financial organizations, management consultancy firms, software houses, communications companies, data warehouses, multinational companies, governmental agencies, universities and hospitals.
As always, it’s extremely beneficial to have completed relevant work experience. You should also consider compiling a portfolio of your own independent projects outside of your degree, which could be in the form of programming, moderating online or even building an app. This will demonstrate to employers your interest in the subject and your problem-solving skills, creativity and initiative.
Depending on what computer science specializations you studied during your degree, you may wish to specialize as a cybersecurity consultant or an information security specialist. Maintaining cyber security has become increasingly important, so in this role you will focus on understanding the risks to the security of information or data.
You’ll analyze where security breaches may occur or have occurred, and restore or reinforce systems against such breaches, to ensure that confidential data is protected. This role could include ‘ethical hacking’, meaning deliberately attempting to hack into your employer’s network to expose any weaknesses. Alternatively, you could work as a computer forensics analyst or investigator to combat the increasing phenomenon of cyber-crime.
Software applications developer
- Projected employment growth (2018–2028): 26 percent (much faster than average)2
- Median annual salary (2018): $105,5902
- Common job titles: Software development engineer, Java developer, applications developer
What do software applications developers do?
Think of how often you send an email, scroll endlessly on social media or stream media on your phone or computer. Practically everything we do with the help of computers is powered by software. Software developers are the people responsible for creating, testing and modifying these programs. Everything—from the front-and-center user interface to the unseen underlying code that ensures it performs as planned—is affected by software development professionals. In their day-to-day work, most software developers work as part of a development team whose work is segmented and guided by project managers. Their product must meet desired specifications and ultimately interface well with other segments of code—which is no small feat. Some software developers may specialize in areas such as quality assurance, where duties focus on testing software for issues, documenting them and assisting in resolving whatever’s gone wrong.
Computer systems analyst
- Projected growth (2018–2028):9 percent (as fast as average)2
- Median annual salary (2018): $88,7402
- Common job titles: Business analyst, business systems analyst, IT analyst, information systems analyst
What do computer systems analysts do?
Computer systems analysts roles are so versatile that there are many ways to answer this question. But at a high level, they’re the individuals responsible for merging business needs with IT initiatives. They use their expertise to analyze, improve and plan IT systems in order to meet the specifications needed for a business process.
So what does that look like? They’ll spend a considerable amount of time meeting with the “business side” of an organization gathering information about organizational needs—How will this system be used? Will this need to work at a larger scale in the future? Will this need to connect with other systems? Once the specifications are determined, computer systems analysts will work with the technical teams to develop plans for how they’ll deploy technology to meet those needs.
Systems software developer
- Projected growth (2018–2028): 10 percent (faster than average)2
- Median annual salary (2018): $110,0002
- Common job titles: Software architect, software developer, systems engineer, software engineer
What do systems software developers do?
Systems software developers have quite a bit in common with software application developers. They use their knowledge of programming, mathematics and computational theory to develop software to meet a specific need. That said, the work of a systems software developer is often focused on creating or modifying things like entire operating systems (Windows® being a prominent example) or industry-specific software systems.
With Microsoft and Apple dominating the desktop computing scene for operating systems, you might think a role like this would have a very narrow range of potential opportunities. The reality is that many systems software developers work for employers or clients that need specialized software the greater public would likely never see.
Industries like financial services, telecommunications, aerospace engineering and law firms all commonly employ systems software developers. Another growth area springs from the growing number of devices with internet connectivity—that touch screen menu on your fancy new refrigerator required someone to design the interface and the underlying system controlling it.
- Projected growth (2018–2028): 13 percent (faster than average)2
- Median annual salary (2018): $69,4302
- Common job titles: Front-end developer, back-end developer, web designer, web development architect
What do web developers do?
As you can probably guess, web developers are the tech professionals who build, maintain and design websites. Web development is a subcategory of careers that can cover a fairly broad range of roles. Some web developers focus primarily on “front-end” features like the design, layout and other surface-level functional elements of a website. Others focus on the “back-end” systems that ensure the site works as intended and communicates properly with other systems connect to the site—for example, inventory databases and customer relationship management systems for online retailers.
These roles focused on the “back-end” of a website are likely the best fit for computer science graduates. Their knowledge of database structures, programming logic and mapping information flows can help bridge the gap between desired website functionality and the systems an organization uses.
Network systems administrator
- Projected growth (2018–2028): 5 percent (as fast as average)2
- Median annual salary (2018): $82,0502
- Common job titles: Systems administrator, information analyst, information systems manager
What do network systems administrators do?
The role of a network systems administrator can be hard to pin down as job duties and descriptions will vary somewhat from organization to organization. That said, most systems administration roles will focus on the high-level management and maintenance of servers, storage and the associated operating systems and applications that run on top of them. Duties can include pushing out system-wide updates and patches, creating user accounts with appropriate levels of access and deploying new hardware systems as needed.
With cloud-based servers and storage becoming increasingly common these roles have shifted substantially—and in all likelihood will continue to evolve. Systems administrators who understand how to use scripting languages to automate processes are a valuable asset to an IT team.
- Projected growth (2018–2028): 9 percent (faster than average)2
- Median annual salary (2018): $90,0702
- Common job titles: Database administrator, database analyst, database developer, data architect
What does a database administrator do?
Data is essentially the lifeblood of technology. As both an input and output, it powers software and systems and helps us do things that would be mind-boggling 20 years ago. Every online purchase, restaurant review left, doctor’s appointment scheduled—the list goes on—depends on databases that are well-structured, secure and regularly maintained. That’s where a database administrator comes in.
Database administrators are tasked with tending to a key component of any information technology or software operation—the databases they use. In this role, they determine how to securely store and efficiently organize important data and ensure access is granted to the right users.
Computer and Information Research Scientists
Computer and information research scientists invent technology that solves complex problems in fields like science, medicine, and business. They also find new uses for existing technology that accomplishes the same goals.
Computer and information research scientists write algorithms that are used to detect and analyze patterns in very large datasets. Some computer and information research scientists create the programs that control robots.
According to the BLS, computer and information research scientists earned a median income of $122,840 in May 2019 and employment was expected to grow by 15% from 2019 to 2029—much faster than average