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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

  • $109,603

    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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Do you work as a Computer Scientist?

Computer Scientist Jobs

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Computer Scientist Career Paths

Computer Scientist
Senior Systems Engineer Information Technology Manager Director Of Information
Chief Information Officer
11 Yearsyrs
Senior Computer Scientist Senior Software Engineer
Chief Technology Officer
11 Yearsyrs
Senior Consultant Senior Manager
Director Of Analytics
13 Yearsyrs
Senior Software Engineer Senior Systems Engineer Systems Administrator
Director Of Information
10 Yearsyrs
Senior Engineer Senior Software Engineer
Director Of Software Development
12 Yearsyrs
Principal Software Engineer Engineering Manager Information Technology Manager
Director Of Technology And Services
11 Yearsyrs
Principal Software Engineer Director Of Software Development Director Of Information
Director, Applications
13 Yearsyrs
Systems Analyst Systems Engineer Engineering Manager
Engineering Director
13 Yearsyrs
Systems Engineer Project Engineer
Engineering Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Senior Systems Engineer Systems Administrator Information Technology Manager
Information Technology Director
10 Yearsyrs
Program Manager Chief Technology Officer
President & Chief Technology Officer
13 Yearsyrs
Senior Consultant Subject Matter Expert Business Analyst
Product Owner
9 Yearsyrs
Senior Software Engineer Senior Consultant Project Manager
Program Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Systems Analyst Systems Administrator Information Technology Manager
Senior Information Technology Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Software Engineer Project Manager
Senior Project Manager
12 Yearsyrs
Software Engineer Systems Analyst
Senior Software Engineer
6 Yearsyrs
Senior Engineer Engineering Manager Engineering Director
Vice President Of Engineering
13 Yearsyrs
Systems Engineer Information Technology Manager Director Of Information
Vice President Of Information Technology
12 Yearsyrs
Program Manager Technical Director
Vice President, Technology
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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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
Associate Attending Computer Scientist Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center New York, NY Apr 01, 2015 $200,000
Computer Scientist Adobe Systems Incorporated San Jose, CA Apr 20, 2015 $168,000
Computer Scientist Adobe Systems Incorporated San Jose, CA Apr 12, 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 30, 2015 $125,464
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 Francisco, CA Aug 19, 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 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

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  1. Data Collection
  2. Web
  3. Computer
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Developed instrument control/data collection software using Labview.
  • Designed and developed custom web-based software applications and utilities for analysis and investigation of large scale Internet message boards.
  • Transitioned cluster computer, parallel software, training documentation and user manuals to client to guarantee a successful implementation.
  • Produce SQL stored procedures and queries to meet the needs of database users and creates special views of the data.
  • Provided and coordinated expertise for exploring and accessing potential impacts of emerging GPU and accelerator technologies throughout the program.

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