Is Computer Science Right for Me? Everything You Need to Know to Decide
As technology continues to advance, we’re left navigating unknowns. How will artificial intelligence change the makeup of the American workforce? Will blockchain technology help prevent deception in the business world? Despite these big questions, one thing is for sure—in the fourth industrial revolution, technology jobs are thriving. Employment of computer and information technology (IT) occupations is projected to grow 13 percent by 2026—that’s nearly double the average growth rate of all occupations nationwide, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).1
With optimistic growth projections and high salaries, it’s hard to find a more promising field than computer science. If you’re drawn to the idea of working in tech, now is a great time to start asking questions about what it would look like to actually earn a degree in technology. You have lots of options in the field of technology—information technology, software engineering, web programming, cybersecurity and computer science.
Maybe you’re intrigued by computer science and you’re wondering, “Is computer science right for me?” Good news! You’re in the right place.
What about information technology?
Before we dive into computer science, let’s break down the difference between computer science and information technology. Maybe you’ve always been interested in technology and you find yourself struggling to choose a path in this promising field. Let’s consider the basic difference between computer science and information technology.
Computer science degree holders typically work in jobs that require good amounts of math, theory and creativity like programming or software development. Those with degrees in information technology are usually employed in more hands-on roles that involve designing, configuring and maintaining network hardware and services.
Looking for a more in-depth comparison? Check out our article “Computer Science vs. Information Technology: Decoding the Differences” to learn more.
Should I major in computer science?
Though that’s a tough question to answer, we’ve researched and rounded up all the info we can on what to expect while and after earning a computer science degree to help you make the best decision for you. Let’s dig in.
What can you do with a computer science degree?
Since almost every industry is in need of computer science degree holders, it can be confusing to sift through all of the job title options after graduation. We analyzed data from over 980,000 job postings to identify the top five job titles seeking candidates with a computer science bachelor’s degree. Here’s what we found:2
- Software Development Engineer
- Java Developer
- Software Developer
- Systems Engineer
- Business Analyst
As you can see, these jobs focus primarily on software development and programming. Additionally, you can see that the mathematical foundation provided by a computer science degree can be applied in sophisticated business analysis work.
What to expect from computer science salaries?
Overall, salaries for positions related to computer science look strong. Let’s take a look at the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2017 median annual salary information for three common computer science-related occupation groups:
- Software application developers: $103,5601
- Web developers: $67,9901
- Software quality assurance engineers and testers: $88,4103
The salary data for these roles compares favorably to the 2017 median annual salary for all occupations, $37,690. This is all a solid indication of how skilled programmers and developers are sought after and how their skills are valued.
What are some important computer science skills?
Though a degree in a desired field shows hiring managers that you could be a good fit for a particular job, they also want to make sure that you have the right skill set to succeed in that particular position.
This is why job postings will often include a list of required and preferred skills in addition to employers’ educational preferences. We looked at the same job postings from the last 12 months to identify the top skills and competencies employers were looking for from computer science bachelor’s degree-holders. You may be surprised to learn that not all of them are directly related to technology. The following skills showed up most frequently:2
- Structured query language (SQL)
- Software development
- Software engineering
- Information systems
- Project management
- Oracle® (database management system)
Though employers are broadly looking for technical skills, ability to organize and communicate effectively is as crucial to getting projects done well. Be sure to consider your communication abilities even as you grow in your technical skills.
What will I learn in computer science courses?
How will you learn all these skills that employers are looking for? Let’s take a look at the Rasmussen College Computer Science program for an example of what to expect.
In the program, you’ll master software development fundamentals and learn to integrate complex systems into your work as you create apps and software in fully online classes. Courses you can expect include:
- Fundamentals of Enterprise Architecture
- Advanced Mobile Web Application Development
- Web Analytics
- Emerging Trends in Technology
- Advanced Cloud Computing Technologies
Sound intimidating? Don’t let that deter you. Our article “How Hard Is Computer Science? Your FAQs Answered” may help ease some of your concerns.
Is a computer science degree worth it?
This is a tough question that only you can answer, but one thing is for sure: Software and the people that develop it remain an important piece of the economic puzzle for today and beyond. Software and apps are sparking massive changes in entire industries—so ask yourself, do you want to be the person reacting to those changes or the person making the changes happen?
Now that you know more about the road ahead, it’s time see how a degree program can help you get there. Check out the Rasmussen College Computer Science degree page for more information. If it turns out you’d rather explore other technology programs, our interactive guide “Which Tech Degree Is Right for Me?” should help you narrow down your alternatives.
1Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, [career information accessed November 1, 2018] www.bls.gov/ooh/. Information represents national, averaged data for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. Employment conditions in your area may vary.
2Burning-Glass.com (analysis of 980,511 job postings seeking a computer science degree, March 2018 – February 2019)
3Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, [salary data accessed March, 2019] www.bls.gov/oes/.
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