How to Become a Computer Scientist



Those who become computer scientists are typically deeply interested in computers; their interest in computer-related subject matter ranges from the study of algorithms and data structures, to the application of solutions of practical problems, such as those involving the implementation of computational hardware and software. They are also typically interested in pursuing a challenging and rewarding career directly related to their interest in computers.


To get into this field, you will need an advanced education in computer science, computer engineering, or a closely related field; you should be able to apply the fundamental concepts and techniques of computation, algorithms, and computer design to a specific design problem. You should also be comfortable working closely with other professionals and sharing your opinions with them.



Education Needed to Become a Computer Scientist

The education you'll need will be highly depenent on the responsibilites inherenet in the job you'll be doing. For example, to work in research, you typically need a Ph.D. in computer science or a related field, such as computer engineering or information systems. Such a degree usually requires 4 to 5 years of additional study after the completion of a bachelor’s degree in a similar field.


If you want to work in a specialized field of computer science, you will need knowledge of that field. For example, computer scientists that work in biomedical applications may have to take some biology classes.


If you want to get an entry-level job in computer science, a bachelor’s degree in computer science is typically sufficient.





Computer Scientist Job Description

Computer scientists are involved in the study of the theories of information and computation, and practical techniques for their application in computer systems. Their work spans such areas as advancing our fundamental understanding of information processes, such as the understanding of algorithms, to designing efficient reliable software and hardware in order to meet given specifications and functional requirements.


Computer scientists often use experimentation and modeling in order to develop new computer products or solve computer related problems. Their work may focus in specialized areas such as algorithms and data structure, databases programming languages, computer graphics, security and cryptography, artificial intelligence, computer music, computer games, and many others.



Typical Duties of the Job

• Liaise with other members of a research team

• Work with computer programmers, information technology professionals and computer engineers

• Design and develop new computer technology

• Investigate technological topics like artificial intelligence, robotics or virtual reality

• Apply research to improve the performance of existing computer systems and software

• Apply research to the development of new hardware or computing techniques and materials



Who Employs Them? Where Do They Work?

Computer scientists are hired by a variety of organizations that are involved in advancing our fundamental understanding of information processes, as well as the practical design of efficient reliable software and hardware. Such organizations include:


• Telecommunications and computer networks

• Computer manufacturing companies

• Computer consulting companies

• Hardware research and development organizations

• Consumer electronics manufacturers and distributors

• Industrial instrumentation and process control organizations

• Colleges and universities





Skills and Traits Needed to Be Successful

To be effective in a career as a computer scientist you need to posses a certain set of skills and personality traits. These skills and traits will allow you to perform your job duties with competence, as well as maintain a positive attitude towards your work.


• A natural interest in the design of computers and computational processes

• A natural aptitude for mathematics and science

• A patient and systematic approach to solving problems

• An inquiring and inventive mind

• Enjoy being innovative and working around innovation

• Enjoy doing work that involves theory and as well as technical precision

• Enjoy seeing and quantifying the results of effort

• Interest in a career that is financially and intellectually rewarding

• Knowledgeable in areas such as numerical analysis, operations research, and artificial intelligence

• Able to apply the fundamental concepts and techniques of computation, algorithms, and computer design to a specific design problem



Job Postings - Current Opportunities

Our job board below has "Computer Scientist" postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.



What is the Average Salary Level in This Field?

The salary level of computer scientists can vary depending on their level of education, their level of experience, their area of specialty, the type and size of their employer, the responsibilities of their job, and many other factors.


Computer Scientist Salary Canada (Alberta): According to the 2018 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans working as part of the the Computer Engineers occupational group earn an average of $93,877 per year. Unfortunately, no similar statistics were available for the rest of Canada at the time of writing (May 30, 2019).


Computer Scientist Salary United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary level of workers in the Computer and Information Research Scientists occupational group is $102,190 per year.



Similar Occupational Profiles in Our System

Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to computer scientist, as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.


Computer Programmer

Computer Systems Engineer

Hardware Engineer


Quantitative Analyst




Please consult the references below to find more information on the various aspects of working in this field.


Occupations in Alberta:Software Engineer.” (March 27, 2014). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved November 7, 2019.

Computer and Information Technology:Computer and Information Research Scientists.” (September 4, 2019). Occupational Outlook Handbook - United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Retrieved November 7, 2019.

Articles:What Every Computer Science Major Should Know.” (n.d.). website. Retrieved November 7, 2019.



Scholarships for Becoming a Computer Scientist

Scholarships listed for majors that apply to becoming a computer scientist can be found on our Computer Science Scholarships and Computer Engineering Scholarships page.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Relevant Fields of Study

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point for getting into this line of work.


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