The Day-to-Day as a Computer Scientist
Computer Scientist is an umbrella term for anyone who works with computers, technology, and software. Computer Scientists understand the theoretical side of computer systems and develop hardware and software. Most Computer Scientists pick a specialization, such as theoretical computer science, computer systems, software engineering, or computer applications. Their team makeup will vary based on their position but they might work with other tech professionals including Developers, Engineers, IT professionals, Project and Product Managers, and data professionals.
Computer Scientists can find work remotely or onsite, full-time or part-time, and even freelance. The day-to-day tasks differ dramatically between specializations and employers for Computer Scientists. However, almost every workplace will have stand-up meetings, code reviews, emails, a ticket system, and either writing code or working with hardware.
What Skills Should Computer Scientists Have?
The skills required for a Computer Scientist will vary depending on their specialization.
A Computer Scientist specializing in theoretical computer science will need to understand: data structures and algorithms, the theory of computation, information theory, coding theory, programming language theory, and other formal methods. Work in this field focuses primarily on mathematical techniques.
A Computer Scientist who focuses on computer systems will need to understand: computer architecture and engineering, computer performance analysis, concurrency, distributed computing, networks, security and cryptography, and artificial intelligence.
A Computer Scientist specializing in computer applications will need to understand: computer graphics and visualization, user experience and user interface design, scientific computing, and artificial intelligence.
A Computer Scientist focusing on software engineering will need to be proficient in applying engineering to software development and coding languages.
Most positions for Computer Scientists will expect them to learn the basic tools used in the industry for day-to-day business including version control software like Git, project and team management tools, and developer tools.
Learn the Skills You Need to Become a Computer Scientist
Computer science is the study of the principles and use of computers. Computer science is the most common 4-year degree for Developers and Engineers. It involves studying theories, methods of processing information, and the designing and building of hardware and software.
Java is a class-based, object-oriented, general-purpose programming language that was designed to have as few implementation dependencies as possible. Java is used by Software Engineers to create computer applications. Java can also be used to build modules and applets for use within a web page.
Developer tools are tools typically created by developers to do tasks like debug code, edit code more efficiently, test code, test interface, and more efficiently build websites and applications.
Git is a distributed version control system that is standard in software and web development. Git allows multiple developers to work on the same project at once or a single developer to keep track of changes. It also creates a simple environment to conduct A/B testing. Git is designed to optimize speed, data integrity, as well as distributed and non-linear workflows.
Computer Scientist Salaries
A Computer Scientist in the United States makes, on average, $106,248 annually, according to Indeed.com.
Salaries for Computer Scientists vary by region within the the United States. Listed below are some Computer Scientist salaries for specific areas with the United States compared with the average national salary:
- U.S. Average $106K source n/a
New York City
Los Angeles, CA
Orange County, CA
- U.S. Average $106K source n/a
Typical Qualifications to Become a Computer Scientist
Computer Scientists usually enter the field by earning their bachelor’s degree in computer science or information and computer science. There are no required certifications for any of these positions, but Computer Scientists can choose to get certified in technologies that are useful to their employment. Some certifications that could be beneficial to Computer Scientists are vendor-specific certifications such as a specific database or vendor-neutral certifications like the ones offered by CompTIA.
Searching for Computer Scientist Jobs
Computer Scientists can find jobs in almost any industry. There are remote, freelance, and onsite jobs available for Computer Scientists. There are numerous job boards that are tech-specific and for each specialization that a Computer Scientist can choose from. There are also Job boards that feature positions requiring a specific coding language.
Computer Scientists can look for jobs on these sites:
- Authentic Jobs
- GitHub Jobs
- The Muse
- Career Builder
- The Ladders
Computer Scientists can find remote and freelance opportunities on these sites:
Tips to Become a Computer Scientist
The best way to secure a job as a Computer Scientist is to choose a specialization. This niche will help you determine which jobs you can apply for. Are you studying theoretical computer science? Then you should look for research and teaching positions. These roles will require great writing skills and consistent applications. It may be easier to attend graduate school to continue down this path.
If you’re studying computer systems, computer applications, or computer science, you might find the job search a bit competitive, but you can hone your skills to stand out. Try contributing to an open-source project on GitHub or picking up a few small freelance projects. Make sure your code is well organized and readable for other people who are working on the projects. This factor is a big plus for employers with large teams. If you have time, you should also work on a passion project of your own, using the code in which you’re most proficient. You can use this code to determine whether you’d like to apply for back end, front end, fullstack, software engineering, or information technology positions.
Whether it’s a web, desktop, or mobile application, build the app from start to finish. Put your passion project apps, any code you’ve written for open source projects, and any freelance work you’ve done, in a clean portfolio site to make it easy for employers to see how you code. Consider writing up a case study about one or two projects to demonstrate how you solved problems, what you’re passionate about, and where you thrive as a Java Developer.
To get the work experience needed to excel on a team by trying to get some pair-programming time in. If you attended a bootcamp, reach out to your cohort-mates. If you did a four-year program at a college or university, you may be able to find a club or a few classmates who are willing to pair program with you. If you attended neither, you can find Developer groups on Facebook, LinkedIn, Reddit, and other social media sites. You might be able to make some friends who are at a similar level of coding proficiency to practice with, who are also on the job hunt. If you’re truly having trouble finding another person to code with, you can always find someone on Codementor.
You can also use these pair-programming buddies to prepare for your job interviews! Mock-interviews are the very best way to prepare for a technical interview. Practice interviewing and coding while you apply for jobs and connect with people at those companies on LinkedIn. Be consistent with practicing, networking, and applying as much as possible. Once you gain some momentum making a handful of connections and well-written cover letters each week, you’ll start to see some results.
What Job Titles Would a Computer Scientist Hold?
Computer Scientists have many job titles to choose from. The job titles they should look for will depend on their specialization. Currently, the most in-demand areas of expertise are computer applications and software engineering.
Computer Scientists focusing on theoretical computer science can look for these job titles:
- Theoretical Computer Scientist
- Professor of Theoretical Computer Science
- Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science
- Computer Science Tutor
- Quantum and Classical Computer Science Theorist
- Theoretical Postdoctoral Fellow
- Research Staff Member
- Theoretical Quantum Informational Scientist
- System Architecture Computer Scientist
Computer Scientists specializing in computer systems can look for these job titles:
- Computer Systems Engineer
- Computer Systems Architect
- Computer Systems Analyst
- Computer Systems Security Analyst
- IT Systems Administrator
- Computer System Validation Engineer
- Quality Assurance Engineer
- Professor of Computer Information Systems
- Assistant Professor of Computer Information Systems
- GPU Computing Systems Specialist
- Computer Systems Technician
- DevOps Architect
- Systems Analyst
Computer Scientists focusing on computer applications can look for these job titles:
- Application Software Engineer
- GPU Engineer
- Application Developer
Computer Scientists specializing in software engineering can look for these job titles:
- Software Developer
- Software Engineer
- Back End Engineer
- Front End Engineer
- Back End Developer
- Front End Developer
- Junior Engineer
- Associate Engineer
- Senior Engineer
Computer Scientist is a broad term and any of the job titles listed in the “job titles” section would be great positions for a Computer Scientist to look into trying out. If you like working with low-level programming languages, Software Engineer is the job for you. If you’re a computer Scientist who enjoys working on websites exclusively, you should try out Web Developer or Full Stack Developer positions. If you’d prefer something in between, you could try your hand at only back end development by learning Java or Ruby and securing a Java Developer, Ruby Developer, or Back End Developer role. These positions all have great salaries, but Software Engineers and Full Stack Developers are currently the highest paying, with Java Developer coming in a close second. They all require the same education as a Computer Scientist.
Salary Comparison to Computer Scientist
Software engineers use their extensive knowledge of user experience design, operating systems, and programming languages to develop software. They can create different types of software, from games to operating systems. After analyzing a client's needs, they design, develop, and test software to meet that need. Software engineers can be divided into two distinct career categories: application engineers and systems engineers.Learn about becoming a Software Engineer
Full Stack Developer
Full Stack Developers build web applications for both the visible front end that users see and the back end that powers the applications.Learn about becoming a Full Stack Developer
Back End Developer
A Back End Developer builds the server-side of a web application and integrates front end development components.Learn about becoming a Back End Developer