Should I Major in Computer Science? The Data You Need to Decide
By Hannah Meinke on 08/19/2019
Have you always had a fascination with computers? Maybe you’re the one your family turns to for tech support. Or maybe you love video games and want to dig into the underlying code that makes them tick. Or maybe you just love the idea of being the person who works on creating the next game-changing mobile app.
Whatever it is that drives your interest in the field, there’s still a lot to explore before you can feel comfortable answering the question, “Should I major in computer science?” Whether you want to become part of the next tech giant or you just want to know more about this potentially appealing major, read on to discover the answers to your lingering questions about majoring in computer science.
5 Questions every potential computer science major should ask
While there’s not an easy, universal way to determine whether computer science is the right field for you, considering the following questions will certainly give you a great start.
1. Will I make enough money?
If you’re going to invest the time and money needed to earn a degree, it’s only natural to want that investment to pay off. The good news is that occupations related to computer science tend to have a strong outlook when it comes to earning potential. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, software developers brought in a median annual salary of $105,590 in 2018, while computer programmers report a median annual salary of $84,280 for the same year.1
With a computer science degree, you can also be confident that there will be a wide variety of roles available to you. Possibilities range anywhere from working as an app developer or a computer systems analyst, to becoming web developer or a database administrator. Another positive is that computer science skills provide you with industry versatility as they can be applied to nearly any business. Apps and software can be used to power everything from health insurance to deep-sea research—which should help give you employment flexibility.
2. Will I be good at it?
Almost every student choosing a major wonders whether they’ll have what it takes to succeed in a given industry. While earning a degree in computer science will give you a multitude of tech-related skills you didn’t have before, it’s also helpful to know what qualities make a good computer science major. Consider the following three:
- Curiosity: Computer science professionals can be seen as digital tinkerers of sorts. They love to dig into the guts of a program or application in order to understand how they work. This desire to figure things out is valuable. In programming, there’s often more than one way to get something accomplished. Having a natural desire to see how similar programs are written or how to approach an issue helps as that knowledge can inform how you take on new challenges.
- Proficiency in math: Does the structure and logical nature of math just sort of click with you? Maybe you always soared through your math classes in high school, finding equations and concepts some consider puzzling to be fascinating. Inevitably, a computer science program will be math and science intensive. Though most math will be applied in classes like data structure or statistics, you will likely also have to tackle topics like calculus and physics.
- Creativity: Just because this major is heavily analytical and adheres to logical structures does not mean your creativity will go to waste. A new app or program is essentially a blank canvas—if you have all the materials and supplies ready, you can build practically anything. Creativity does not always come in the form of music or poetry. As a computer science major, you will be tapping into the create part of creativity, generating innovative visions and solutions.
3. Will I make a difference?
Imagine a world without technology—healthcare, education and disaster prevention would all be drastically different if they had not been radically changed by computer software. By writing new code or finding new ways to apply data, you could help streamline the educational experience for the next generation of college graduates, you could make it easier for people to connect with those they love or you could create new ways to help patients in need.
If you are worried that all computer science majors are destined for isolated, corporate jobs, rest easy: Computer science has one of the best outlooks for affecting good in our world to come.
4. Am I the right fit for the field?
For most, no amount of money or education will be enough if you don’t like your work environment. In a field like computer science, some might assume everyone fits the stereotype of basement-dwelling, Dungeons & Dragons enthusiasts. Or maybe you picture quiet, wide-eyed hacker kids who constantly wear black hoodies.
If you worry about not fitting the typical mold of a computer science professional, consider what someone in the field has to say about it. Though the tech industry has long struggled with diversity, Samantha Hugo, CEO of Hugomatica, points out that “the App Store has the same requirements for all developers.” As the head of a primarily female tech organization, Hugo sees this as a positive example of technology’s essential blindness to race and gender.
So, even if you encounter a group of classmates or coworkers you don’t necessarily fit in with, remember this: Every industry has its stereotypes, but with the right skills and determination, you can bring your own flare to the field of computer science.
5. How long will it take?
Another factor you’ll want to consider is the amount of time it’ll take you to complete a computer science degree. While you may be able to find Associate’s degree programs that are closely related to computer science, in most cases this means you’ll be working toward a Bachelor’s degree.
While you can choose to take on the traditional four years at a college campus to complete this degree, there are other options that can afford you more flexibility depending on your situation. For example, for those with an associate’s degree, Rasmussen College offers an online program that can be completed in as few as 18 months.2
Am I cut out for a career in computer science?
With the right support and a bit of determination, you could get the education you need to one day invent the next biggest app or implement the newest, most innovative system for storing and sharing medical records. Whether you go on to get a graduate degree or jump right into the workforce, a computer science major could be the foundation you need to get where you want to go.
If you have more questions related to the ins and outs of earning a computer science degree, head over to Rasmussen College’s Computer Science program page to learn more about what could await.
1Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, [accessed July, 2019] 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.
2Completion time is dependent on number of transfer credits accepted and the number of courses completed each term.