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Become A Computer Scientist

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Working As A Computer Scientist

  • Interacting With Computers
  • Getting Information
  • Processing Information
  • Thinking Creatively
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Deal with People

  • Mostly Sitting

  • Make Decisions

  • Repetitive

  • $90,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Computer Scientist Do

Computer and information research scientists invent and design new approaches to computing technology and find innovative uses for existing technology. They study and solve complex problems in computing for business, science, medicine, and other fields.

Duties

Computer and information research scientists typically do the following:

  • Explore fundamental issues in computing and develop theories and models to address those issues
  • Help scientists and engineers solve complex computing problems
  • Invent new computing languages, tools, and methods to improve the way in which people work with computers
  • Develop and improve the software systems that form the basis of the modern computing experience
  • Design experiments to test the operation of these software systems 
  • Analyze the results of their experiments
  • Publish their findings in academic journals and present their findings at conferences

Computer and information research scientists create and improve computer software and hardware.

Creating and improving software involves working with algorithms, which are sets of instructions that tell a computer what to do. Some computer tasks are very difficult and require complex algorithms. Computer and information research scientists try to simplify these algorithms to make computer systems as efficient as possible. The algorithms allow advancements in many types of technology, such as machine learning systems and cloud computing.

Computer and information research scientists design new computer architecture that improves the performance and efficiency of computer hardware. Their work often leads to technological advancements and efficiencies, such as better networking technology, faster computing speeds, and improved information security. In general, computer and information research scientists work at a more theoretical level than do other computer professionals.  

Many people with a computer and information research science background become postsecondary teachers. In general, researchers in an academic setting focus on computer theory, although those working for businesses or scientific organizations usually focus on projects that may produce profits.

Some computer scientists work with electrical engineers, computer hardware engineers, and other specialists on multidisciplinary projects. The following are examples of types of specialties for computer and information research scientists:

Data mining. Computer and information research scientists write algorithms that are used to detect and analyze patterns in very large datasets. They improve ways to sort, manage, and display data. Computer scientists build algorithms into software packages that make the data easier for analysts to use. For example, they may create an algorithm to analyze a very large set of medical data in order to find new ways to treat diseases. They may also look for patterns in traffic data to help clear accidents faster.

Robotics. Some computer and information research scientists study how to improve robots. Robotics explores how a machine can interact with the physical world. Computer and information research scientists create the programs that control the robots. They work closely with engineers who focus on the hardware design of robots. Together, these workers test how well the robots do the tasks they were created to do, such as assemble cars and collect data on other planets.

Programming. Computer and information research scientists design new programming languages that are used to write software. The new languages make software writing more efficient by improving an existing language, such as Java, or by making a specific aspect of programming, such as image processing, easier.

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How To Become A Computer Scientist

Most jobs for computer and information research scientists require a Ph.D. in computer science or a related field. In the federal government, a bachelor’s degree may be sufficient for some jobs.

Education

Most computer and information research scientists need a Ph.D. in computer science or a related field, such as computer engineering. A Ph.D. usually requires 4 to 5 years of study after earning a bachelor’s degree, typically in a computer-related field, such as computer science or information systems. During their first 2 years in a Ph.D. program, students take a variety of computer science classes. They then choose a specialty and spend the remaining years in the program doing research within that specialty.

Computer scientists who work in a specialized field may need knowledge of that field. For example, those working on biomedical applications may have to take some biology classes.

Advancement

Some computer scientists may become computer and information systems managers.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Computer and information research scientists must be organized in their thinking and analyze the results of their research to formulate conclusions.

Communication skills. Computer and information research scientists must communicate well with programmers and managers and be able to clearly explain their conclusions to people with no technical background. They often present their research at conferences.

Critical-thinking skills. Computer and information research scientists work on many complex problems.

Detail oriented. Computer and information research scientists must pay close attention to their work, because a small programming error can cause an entire project to fail.

Ingenuity. Computer and information research scientists must continually come up with innovative ways to solve problems, particularly when their ideas do not initially work as intended.

Logical thinking. Computer algorithms rely on logic. Computer and information research scientists must have a talent for reasoning.

Math skills. Computer and information research scientists must have knowledge of advanced math and other technical topics that are critical in computing.

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Computer Scientist Career Paths

Computer Scientist
Senior Software Engineer Team Leader Project Manager
Senior Project Manager
11 Yearsyrs
Senior Software Engineer Project Manager Product Manager
Senior Product Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Senior Software Engineer Team Leader Manager
Information Technology Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Software Engineer Consultant
Senior Software Engineer
6 Yearsyrs
Software Engineer Developer
Lead Developer
5 Yearsyrs
Software Engineer Developer Consultant
Senior Programmer Analyst
6 Yearsyrs
Programmer Analyst Systems Analyst
Senior Systems Analyst
7 Yearsyrs
Programmer Analyst Project Manager Information Technology Director
Chief Information Officer
11 Yearsyrs
Programmer Analyst Systems Engineer Engineer
Engineering Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Consultant Information Technology Manager Chief Information Officer
Chief Technology Officer
11 Yearsyrs
Senior Systems Engineer Program Manager Product Manager
Product Development Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Senior Systems Engineer Senior Consultant Account Manager
Development Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Senior Systems Engineer Information Technology Director Chief Technology Officer
Chief Architect
11 Yearsyrs
Systems Engineer Systems Administrator Software Developer
Software Engineer Lead
6 Yearsyrs
Systems Engineer Quality Assurance Engineer Member, Technical Staff
Senior Member Technical Staff
6 Yearsyrs
Senior Member Technical Staff Program Manager Co-Founder
Chief Technology Officer & Founder
9 Yearsyrs
Senior Member Technical Staff Project Leader Senior Business Analyst
Analytical Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Senior Member Technical Staff Senior Staff Engineer
Principal Software Engineer
10 Yearsyrs
Member, Technical Staff Senior Programmer Analyst Senior Data Analyst-
Data Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Senior Computer Scientist
10 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Computer Scientist?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Computer Scientist 5.0 years
Computer Engineer 3.2 years
Top Careers Before Computer Scientist
Consultant 5.1%
Internship 4.9%
Programmer 4.6%
Engineer 2.2%
Top Careers After Computer Scientist
Consultant 7.3%
Engineer 2.8%

Do you work as a Computer Scientist?

Average Yearly Salary
$90,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$50,000
Min 10%
$90,000
Median 50%
$90,000
Median 50%
$90,000
Median 50%
$90,000
Median 50%
$90,000
Median 50%
$90,000
Median 50%
$90,000
Median 50%
$163,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Exxon Mobil
Highest Paying City
Menlo Park, CA
Highest Paying State
North Dakota
Avg Experience Level
4.6 years
How much does a Computer Scientist make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Computer Scientist in the United States is $90,406 per year or $43 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $50,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $163,000.

Real Computer Scientist Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Computer Scientist Adobe Systems Incorporated San Jose, CA Apr 12, 2015 $168,000
Computer Scientist Adobe Systems Incorporated San Jose, CA Apr 20, 2015 $168,000
Computer Scientist Adobe Systems Incorporated Seal Beach, CA Feb 14, 2016 $161,794
Computer Scientist Adobe Systems Incorporated San Francisco, CA Sep 16, 2016 $161,000
Computer Scientist Adobe Systems Incorporated San Francisco, CA May 13, 2016 $160,000
Computer Scientist Adobe Systems Incorporated San Francisco, CA Apr 27, 2015 $159,000
Computer Scientist III SGT, Inc. Fieldbrook, CA Jun 06, 2016 $154,003
Computer Scientist Adobe Systems Incorporated San Jose, CA Sep 23, 2016 $152,740
Computer Scientist (Principal Research Engineer) Autodesk, Inc. San Francisco, CA Jul 13, 2016 $152,250
Computer Scientist III SGT, Inc. Fieldbrook, CA Mar 28, 2016 $150,010
Computer Scientist Adobe Systems Incorporated San Jose, CA Sep 15, 2015 $150,000
Computer Scientist Adobe Systems Incorporated San Jose, CA Jun 23, 2016 $150,000
Computer Scientist Adobe Systems Incorporated San Jose, CA Jan 15, 2016 $149,393
Computer Scientist Adobe Systems Incorporated San Jose, CA Sep 16, 2016 $148,000
Computer Scientist Adobe Systems Incorporated San Francisco, CA Aug 19, 2016 $125,000
Computer Scientist Adobe Systems Incorporated San Jose, CA Jun 30, 2016 $125,000
Computer Scientist Adobe Systems Incorporated San Francisco, CA May 16, 2016 $125,000
Computer Scientist Adobe Systems Incorporated San Jose, CA Jan 10, 2016 $124,675
Computer Scientist (Principal Research Engineer) Autodesk, Inc. San Francisco, CA Aug 15, 2016 $124,072 -
$162,250
Computer Scientist Quality Engineer Adobe Systems Incorporated Seattle, WA Jul 10, 2015 $123,813
Computer Scientist Quality Engineer Adobe Systems Incorporated Seattle, WA Jan 15, 2015 $123,813
Computer Scientist Quality Engineer Adobe Systems Incorporated Seattle, WA Jul 06, 2015 $123,813
Computer Scientist Adobe Systems Incorporated San Jose, CA Apr 08, 2015 $109,138
Computer Scientist Ciphercloud, Inc. San Jose, CA Mar 17, 2015 $108,597 -
$120,100
Research and Technology Computer Scientist/Engineer III Xerox Corporation Webster, NY Oct 08, 2016 $108,000
Computer Scientist Adobe Systems Incorporated San Francisco, CA Aug 11, 2015 $107,752
Biometric and Computer Vision Scientist Eyeverify Inc. Kansas City, MO Aug 16, 2016 $107,000 -
$120,000
Biometric and Computer Vision Scientist Eyeverify Inc. Kansas City, MO Sep 01, 2015 $107,000 -
$120,000
Biometric and Computer Vision Scientist Eyeverify Inc. Kansas City, MO Aug 16, 2015 $107,000 -
$120,000

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Top Skills for A Computer Scientist

  1. Data Collection
  2. Web Application
  3. SQL
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Work extensively with testing and data collection of C4ISR (Command Control Communications Computers) systems.
  • Conduct websites, web applications, web server and database management systems security testing and vulnerability assessments.
  • Mentored other database administrators and developers on SQL Server.
  • Developed test procedures and coordinated with users to test changes to the operating system and application support software before implementation.
  • Develop and implement C++ coding standards for consistent project-wide applications development.

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Top 10 Best States for Computer Scientists

  1. New Mexico
  2. Washington
  3. California
  4. New York
  5. Minnesota
  6. New Hampshire
  7. District of Columbia
  8. Rhode Island
  9. Colorado
  10. Idaho
  • (64 jobs)
  • (572 jobs)
  • (1,676 jobs)
  • (549 jobs)
  • (116 jobs)
  • (31 jobs)
  • (130 jobs)
  • (20 jobs)
  • (147 jobs)
  • (10 jobs)

Computer Scientist Demographics

Gender

Male

70.4%

Female

20.8%

Unknown

8.9%
Ethnicity

White

54.9%

Asian

14.9%

Black or African American

13.5%

Hispanic or Latino

12.0%

Unknown

4.8%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

18.5%

German

14.8%

Chinese

11.1%

Japanese

11.1%

French

9.3%

Korean

7.4%

Russian

5.6%

Indonesian

1.9%

Romanian

1.9%

Basque

1.9%

Cherokee

1.9%

Czech

1.9%

Dari

1.9%

Slovak

1.9%

Armenian

1.9%

Mandarin

1.9%

Polish

1.9%

Arabic

1.9%

Italian

1.9%
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Computer Scientist Education

Schools

University of Maryland - University College

10.0%

Johns Hopkins University

9.0%

University of Maryland - College Park

8.1%

George Washington University

6.3%

University of Southern California

5.4%

University of Phoenix

5.4%

University of Washington

5.0%

Pennsylvania State University

4.5%

George Mason University

4.5%

University of New Mexico

4.5%

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

4.1%

University of Southern Mississippi

4.1%

Old Dominion University

4.1%

University of Central Florida

4.1%

Purdue University

4.1%

University of Alabama

3.6%

Alabama A & M University

3.6%

New York University

3.2%

Temple University

3.2%

Stanford University

3.2%
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Majors

Computer Science

50.3%

Business

6.5%

Computer Engineering

6.1%

Mathematics

5.9%

Computer Information Systems

5.0%

Electrical Engineering

3.4%

Information Technology

3.2%

Physics

3.1%

Information Systems

2.1%

Project Management

1.9%

Management

1.8%

Engineering

1.8%

Management Information Systems

1.4%

Computer Applications

1.3%

Computer Systems Security

1.2%

Chemistry

1.1%

Economics

1.0%

Finance

1.0%

Biostatistics

0.9%

Systems Engineering

0.9%
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Degrees

Masters

34.6%

Bachelors

34.1%

Doctorate

14.8%

Other

11.2%

Certificate

2.4%

Associate

2.0%

Diploma

0.8%

License

0.1%
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