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What Are the Career Options in Computer Science?

By Taryn Wagner on Aug 1, 2022

The future is bright for career options in computer science with remote work opening up doors that weren’t present before. Trying to navigate through computer science career options can be overwhelming what with all the options at your disposal. While we won’t go through every job option in the field today, we have a list of common yet crucial jobs to help you get started on finding the career that’s right for you. But first…

Salary

Career paths for computer science students are promising when it comes to making money, as the need for workers in the technological field is continually expanding. Carefully weighing your expenses and lifestyle choices against the income you can make it a critical part of deciding on a career path. While not all job options will put you at six figures, computer science jobs should leave you making enough for a sustainable lifestyle.

Work Life Balance

Work-life balance is a critical benefit to consider when career hunting. Don’t plunge head-long into a new career without thinking about the toll it will take on your lifestlye. Different fields in computer science allow for you to find the perfect job that suits your individual needs, whether it’s a full time job for a large corporation or a simple part time, remote job for the stay at home parent. A job in computer science will alow for you to work fulltime or as a freelancer.

Education requirements

Programming jobs vary in their educational requirements. Depending on the position, certifications, associates or Bachelor’s degrees may be necessary. Most positions however simply require that you know what your’re doing, and that you can complete the programming tasks required of you. A portfolio of side projects is a great way to break into the industry.

In some cases it may be beneficial to seek out internships or to consider a coding bootcamp in order to gain the coding knowledge necessary to be hired for a job. When it comes to the level of education needed, make sure you research what the specific position you’re interested requires. For example, machine learning specialists may require more formal training that front-end developers.

So what are the career options in computer science?

This isn’t a comprehensive list of all your job title possibilities if you choose to study computer science, but I think I’ve hit all the big ones.

Front-End Web Developer

Front-end web development focuses on the user side. Specifically, what the user will see and interact with on their device. They create a fine balance between aesthetic and functionality, creating layouts, buttons, graphics and animations as needed. Front end also handles content organization and makes it easy for users to navigate websites and apps. Front end devs typically know how to code in:

However, depending on the platform, they might instead be using native mobile languages like:

Many front-end developers have a computer science degree, but others have graduated from bootcamps or are self-taught. It’s rarely a requirement for front-end devs to have a computer science degree, but CS skills are always useful.

Salary on Average: $133,000

Backend-End Web Developer

Back end developers on the other hand, focus more on what’s on the opposite side of the screen. They build the code required for the framework, on top of managing databases, troubleshooting and debugging as needed. They typically specialize in 1-3 backend languages - backend is distinct from front-end in that almost any coding language can be used. Popular ones include:

Backend developers will also have to get cozy with other technologies that their backend systems interact with. Here’s a short list of major examples:

Again, back-end developers don’t need to be familiar with everything on this list, but they need to be able to use whatever specific technologies a given position requires. If you’re interested ib becoming a backend developer, check out Boot.dev’s full backend learning path.

Salary on Average: $150,000

Full Stack Web Developer

Full stack developers cover both the front and back end of different websites. They develop software for both servers and clients. Oftimes, full stack developers will need to be able to fully design, develop and maintain browsers, servers and databases, which requires them to have strong knowledge of numerous coding languages.

Full Stack developers will need to know front end languages such as HTML and CSS, and backend languages such as Python, PHP, node, and Javascript. Such knowledge can be obtained through obtaining a degree in Computer Science or Computer Engineering–though obtaining certifications and life experience is also an acceptable way to break into the industry.

Salary on Average: $140,000

It’s interesting to note that full-stack devs make less than back-end engineers on average, but more than front-end developers - even though they’re required to do both jobs! In reality, this is because fullstack devs are often “jack of all trades, master of none”. They don’t need to go as deep on either the front-end or the back-end. Full-stack developers typically work on more simple projects at smaller companies. As a result, the salary isn’t higher than that of back-end devs who work at larger, more well-paying companies.

Data Engineers

Data engineers design and build systems for collecting, storing and analyzing data. They make data accessible for data scientists and analysts to do their jobs. They develop algorithms and analysis tools that transform raw data into useful information. You can think of data-engineers as developers who build tools for machine learning engineers to use.

It’s more likely that a data engineer will need a bachelor’s degree in computer science, software or computer engineering, statistics or a related field. Internships and real world experience are often required as well. Data engineers tend to use programming languages such as: Python, Golang, Java, C and C++.

Salary on Average: $150,000

Security Engineer

Security engineers build safeguards to protect systems from malware, hacking and cybernetic threats. The work of network security engineers includes testing and configuring hardware and software systems. There is a lot of room for upward momentum, as NSE’s are needed from entry level up onto executive levels.

Network security engineers are often expected to have around two years of learning experience under their belt and/or a degree in Computer Science, IT or a similar field. Languages such as Java, JavaScript, Python, SQL, PHP, PowerShell, and C may be required. Many developers get started in backend development then go on to specialize in security engineering.

Salary on Average: $156,277

Game Developer

Depending on the company and game being developed, a developer may be given a single task, or follow a game from concept to final release. Developers can come up with new ideas for game design and translate those visual ideas into code. During the course of a project, developers may collaborate with designers, producers, artists, and quality analysts in order to ensure a quality product. Oftentimes, developers will monitor the stability of a game across different platforms, review existing code, recommend improvements as needed, and be able to transport full games or elements of game from one system to another.

Skills in video game development can be learned independently, or through obtaining a degree in computer science, interactive media or game design. Customarily, developers work most prominently in the C# and C++ languages.

It’s worth noting that many game developers are “indy” devs - meaning they develop their own games from start to finish. While more risky without a steady paycheck, if your game does well you can make outsized returns on your time!

Salary on Average: $140,000

Project Manager

While project managers aren’t unique to development, project managers in tech oversee budgeting, scheduling, planning, and executing projects from beginning to end. It is a great choice for those with not only analytical tendencies, but those with strong leadership skills. Most project managers tend to have a background in development, especially at smaller companies. In other words, you might want to start your career as a indivudal contributor, and later move up" to management.

Oftentimes, it is required of a project manager to have knowledge in data management and related systems, security, programming basics, and the principles of project management, some of which are: setting clear project goals, managing risks, establishing a performance baseline, maintaining healthy communication and defined accountability.

Becoming a project manager typically requires a bachelor’s degree in computer science, IT project management, or information technology. Managers typically need to be on top of knowing basic HTML, Javascript and CSS.

Salary on Average: $140,000

Business Intelligence Analyst

Business Intelligence Analysts review data in order to track trends and understand patterns in markets.They then take that newfound knowledge to their respective company and make recommendations that will improve the business and aid it’s growth.

Becoming a Business Intelligence Analyst requires a strong knowledge of data collection protocols and software. Analysts require proficiency in programming languages such as SQL, Python and Hadoop.

Salary on Average: $125,000

So, is computer science a good career option for you?

Now that you’ve had a chance to look over different computer science career options, take time to weigh out the different variables that are needed for a job. Answer some of the following questions for yourself:

Once you weigh all these options, ask yourself again:

Is computer science a good career option for you?

Good luck out there!

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