Computer science: A career as broad as your imagination

The computer science field continues to expand its demand for skilled employees to fill positions in multiple specializations, with increasing salaries for educated employees.

Arizona State University Professor Andrea Richa works in a field that is only bordered by the reaches of her imagination. Through the use of computer systems, Richa’s imagination is running wild thinking about the possible application of nano sensor systems that could do everything from stop blood flow out of the body in the case of an emergency, to curing diseases. Computer science continues to expand at a rapid rate into uncharted territory, making computer science careers and research and exciting place to be, Richa said.

“My passion is an ever-evolving area,” she said. “If you think about it, computation is everywhere. Even without a computer we're always computing and analyzing everything we do, even when we're going to the grocery store and making a list and minimizing the steps we have to take in the grocery store.”

Where computer science was once reserved for the few bifocaled, pocket-protector wearing students in class, now computer science skills are ubiquitous across all markets from sales to the sciences. Specialized skills are explored in the ASU Online Master of Computer Science Degree Program, where students can prepare for nearly any career involving computer science.

Computer oriented jobs have grown 338 percent since 1990, according to a Pew Research Center study. This outpaces even the rate of growth of STEM oriented careers as a whole, which have grown 79 percent in the same time period.

“You used to have to take a computer class in high school then go into computer science in your undergraduate degree to get computer science skills,” Richa said. “Now, you have additional disciplines, even biology, that need knowledge and skills in computation and analysis.”

Computer science is no longer a confined skillset that is only used for specific industries. In today’s economy, the fastest, best paying jobs require computer science skills, according to a study done by the Oracle Academy and Burning Glass Technologies. Computer science skills are often the key differentiator between people competing for jobs and can have an important bearing on the salary earned, according to the study.

  • Of 100,000 U.S. job postings, 50% of careers require a computer science background.
  • Current skills in demand include machine learning, programming language skills, 3D modeling, data visualization or data analytics.

Computer science degrees have proven essential to recent graduates of Arizona State University: graduate employment rates are more than 90 percent employment for alumni after achieving a computer science master’s degree at ASU.

What jobs can I get with a computer science degree?

Some of the fastest growing jobs seeking computer science grads include:

  • Computer Scientist | 15% growth | $114,520, median salary
  • Database Administrator | 12% growth | $87,020, median salary
  • Information Security Analyst | 15% growth | $95,510, median salary
  • Information Technology Manager | 12% growth | $139,220, median salary
  • Software Developer | 12% growth | $107,600, median salary
  • Web Developer | 15% growth | $67,990, median salary

While computer science skills can be earned at the graduate and undergraduate levels, Richa emphasized that both levels of skill can easily enter the market upon graduation. Undergraduate degree holders can immediately enter the marketplace with a bachelor’s degree, as engineers, software developers, analysts and more. However, the additional skills earned in a graduate program allows students to specialize in fields that they are passionate about or will help students be prepared for more research-oriented careers. Richa described the additional education earned in a graduate program will help to jumpstart a student’s career by providing additional skills and experience before applying for a job.

“More and more students in computer science are more specialized in a certain area of computer science,” Richa said. “Ten years ago, you would have gotten a more general degree, but now there's so much you need to learn in each different area of computer science, there's a sequence of classes you can take in that specialized subject so that by the time you go and you're positioned to get a job you’re better suited with skills you need.”

Salary trends for computer science jobs

Computer science undergraduate degree holders are estimated to receive some of the highest salaries among new graduates immediately after completing their degree, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers. Computer science master’s degree graduates of 2017 earn an average of $81,039, which is more than 12 percent higher the projected salary of $72,080.

If ever there’s time to jump into the field, it appears that now is that time! Explore how to become computer science savvy through the ASU Online Master of Computer Science degree, discover the classes you’ll take and learn about the faculty who lead the program now.

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