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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

  • $71,000

    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 Jobs

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Computer Scientist Career Paths

Computer Scientist
Senior Systems Engineer Systems Administrator Analyst
Analyst Lead
6 Yearsyrs
Senior Computer Scientist Senior Systems Engineer Senior Business Analyst
Analytical Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Senior Engineer Chief Engineer Chief Of Operations
Branch Chief
9 Yearsyrs
Systems Analyst Senior Software Engineer Architect
Chief Architect
11 Yearsyrs
Senior Systems Engineer Project Manager Program Manager
Deputy Director
9 Yearsyrs
Program Manager Senior Manager Information Technology Director
Director Information Technology Infrastructure
13 Yearsyrs
Engineer Quality Engineer Software Test Engineer
Lead Software Tester
6 Yearsyrs
Software Engineer Systems Analyst Network Engineer
Network Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Senior Consultant Chief Technology Officer Technical Consultant
Oracle Consultant
5 Yearsyrs
Program Manager Director Vice President
Partner
6 Yearsyrs
Senior Computer Scientist Senior Software Engineer Senior Project Manager
Project Manager & Leader
7 Yearsyrs
Senior Engineer Lead Technician Technical Project Manager
Project Manager Integrated
9 Yearsyrs
Principal Software Engineer Principal Engineer Team Lead Engineer
Project Team Lead
5 Yearsyrs
Software Engineer Application Engineer
Senior Applications Engineer
8 Yearsyrs
Senior Software Engineer Information Technology Project Manager Information Technology Director
Senior Director Of Information & Technology
14 Yearsyrs
Systems Analyst Network Engineer Security Engineer
Senior Security Engineer
10 Yearsyrs
Principal Software Engineer Lead Software Developer Software Engineer Lead
Software Leader
7 Yearsyrs
Senior Software Engineer Project Leader
Technical Project Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Engineer Project Leader Test Manager
Test System Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Senior Consultant Development Manager Manager Applications Development
Vice President Of Application Development
11 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Computer Scientist?

Computer Scientist Demographics

Gender

Male

73.9%

Female

22.3%

Unknown

3.8%
Ethnicity

White

55.0%

Asian

15.2%

Black or African American

13.5%

Hispanic or Latino

11.7%

Unknown

4.6%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

German

15.6%

Spanish

15.6%

Chinese

11.1%

Japanese

11.1%

Korean

8.9%

French

6.7%

Russian

6.7%

Indonesian

2.2%

Romanian

2.2%

Basque

2.2%

Cherokee

2.2%

Czech

2.2%

Dari

2.2%

Slovak

2.2%

Armenian

2.2%

Polish

2.2%

Arabic

2.2%

Italian

2.2%
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Computer Scientist Education

Schools

Johns Hopkins University

9.9%

University of Maryland - University College

8.6%

University of Maryland - College Park

6.2%

University of Washington

5.6%

University of Southern Mississippi

5.6%

University of New Mexico

5.6%

Pennsylvania State University

4.9%

Alabama A & M University

4.9%

University of Phoenix

4.9%

Temple University

4.3%

University of Southern California

4.3%

George Washington University

4.3%

University of Alabama at Huntsville

4.3%

Old Dominion University

4.3%

New York University

3.7%

Harvard University

3.7%

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

3.7%

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

3.7%

University of Maryland - Baltimore

3.7%

University of Illinois University Administration

3.7%
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Majors

Computer Science

49.1%

Business

6.7%

Mathematics

6.3%

Computer Information Systems

5.7%

Computer Engineering

5.4%

Electrical Engineering

3.7%

Information Technology

3.1%

Physics

3.1%

Project Management

2.2%

Information Systems

2.2%

Engineering

1.9%

Management

1.8%

Management Information Systems

1.5%

Computer Applications

1.3%

Computer Systems Security

1.3%

Systems Engineering

1.0%

Economics

0.9%

Chemistry

0.9%

Education

0.9%

Biostatistics

0.9%
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Degrees

Bachelors

34.6%

Masters

34.1%

Doctorate

14.3%

Other

11.0%

Certificate

3.0%

Associate

2.3%

Diploma

0.6%

License

0.1%
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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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AVERAGE SALARY FOR A Computer Scientist

Average Yearly Salary
$71,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$27,000
Min 10%
$71,000
Median 50%
$71,000
Median 50%
$71,000
Median 50%
$71,000
Median 50%
$71,000
Median 50%
$71,000
Median 50%
$71,000
Median 50%
$185,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Safeguard Scientifics
Highest Paying City
Lafayette, LA
Highest Paying State
Alaska
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 $71,393 per year or $34 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $27,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $185,000.

How Would You Rate The Salary Of a Computer Scientist?

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Top Skills for A Computer Scientist

  1. Data Collection
  2. Test Cases
  3. Web Application
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.
  • Develop test plans and reports, Analyze and Review requirement documents, conduct test cases and analyze test data results.
  • Conduct websites, web applications, web server and database management systems security testing and vulnerability assessments.
  • Mentored other database administrators and developers on SQL Server.
  • 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)

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