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Computer Science
January 20, 2023

Is Computer Science in Your Future? Top 5 Jobs with Staying Power

Are you interested in computers and technology but less familiar with what a career path looks like in this field? Maybe you are curious about which jobs are in the greatest demand or offer the highest salaries. Or maybe you are interested in learning more about the best advancement opportunities once you finish training. 

Students who study computer science in college become part of the future of technology in a range of different industries. Here is a list of the top five computer science-related jobs that see the fastest growth, pay the highest, have high employment rates and offer opportunities for career growth, according to forecasts from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and IT Career Finder. This article will outline what each job is, what the day-to-day work looks like and what educational steps you must take if interested in the role.

1. IT Security Specialist

With the growing number of cyberattacks, security ranks as a top priority for IT executives and hiring managers. Still, industry leaders argue that talent in this specialty is difficult to find. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “The IT security specialist job market will grow by 33% from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the 8% average for all occupations, placing it among the nation's fastest-growing career paths.” Because growth in this field outpaces the number of graduates in this area, this is an incredible opportunity for students studying computer science.

Understanding the role and the job description for this career is key to success and career fit. An IT specialist’s main job is to defend an organization’s information systems. You might be a good fit for an IT specialist career if you are interested in: 

  • Developing long-term planning
  • Learning to choose, implement and monitor computer protection systems
  • Encrypting data transmissions and erecting firewalls
  • Implementing password authentication to keep out unauthorized users
  • Modifying files consistently to securely incorporate new software, new users or change mistakes
  • Assessing risk and running tests on data processing and security measures
  • Educating other employees about computer security and protocols
  • Backing up files and organizing important data on the shared corporate network 

If you think this job description fits your strengths and interests, the next step is to consider your education plans. The career path of an IT specialist consists of education, experience and certifications. Those hiring for this job look for at least a bachelor's degree in computer science, computer information systems or a related field. Certain institutions may name these majors or degrees in different ways, so look for coursework related to networking and network security, operating system administration, hardware and software configuration, risk management and digital forensics. IT specialists also need strong problem-solving and communication skills, as they must work with technical and non-technical employees on a range of different projects.

Colleges may also encourage more theoretical work in the classroom with significant job or internship experiences. When looking at a school, ask advisors and admissions counselors if there are ways to gain experience with IT operations, IT security, secure web and mobile application development, network security and cloud security outside of the classroom. For example, at Berry College, students can join the Berry Information Technology Students (BITS) program for real-world experience executing what they have learned in the classroom. 

Average salary: $104,000

2. Mobile Application Developer

Forbes recently published a survey reporting that most Americans (78%) now prefer to bank in a digital setting like a banking app, and banking is not an anomaly in the business world. In all industries, many day-to-day activities are moving to mobile platforms. Because of this shift, there is also a rapidly growing demand for developers. Simply put, mobile application developers create software for mobile applications. They develop apps by writing programs within the mobile application environment. Those environments each have different programming languages.

But what do the ends and outs of the job look like? Here’s a list of common responsibilities for an app developer. See if your interests align with the responsibilities of this role: 

  • Learning object-oriented programming languages such as Java, Objective-C and C++
  • Coding, testing and monitoring changes for mobile applications
  • Leading cross-platform development tools
  • Supporting mobile functionality
  • Understanding the terminology, concepts and best practices for coding mobile applications
  • Adapting existing web applications to the leading mobile platforms
  • Brainstorming and optimizing with company partners to deploy apps within your organization.
  • Determining changes and enhancements to existing mobile applications 

If you think this job description fits your interests, here are some tips for getting started toward your goal of becoming a mobile app developer. Although there are many mobile app development certifications and bootcamps online, most employers still seek candidates with at least a bachelor's degree in computer science, software engineering, mobile computing and development or a programming-centric field of study.

Employers also typically ask for a portfolio of completed mobile applications or development projects. When seeking out undergraduate degrees, look for opportunities for hands-on courses where students create a range of applications for the leading mobile platforms as well as traditional computer science knowledge. Ask about development opportunities inside and outside the classroom. For example, at Berry College, students can apply to become computer science lab assistants where they often get more out-of-class experience with development. Also, ask about connecting with alumni who are working in the development field.

Average salary: $107,000

3. Software Engineer

Software engineers design, develop and improve computer programs, but a difference in this specific role is the way engineers work to meet the needs of a user or an organization. Mobile app developers are a more specialized form of software engineer. More general software engineers still have the skills to develop software, but they are also responsible for listening to and designing software based on the goals of a company or organization.

When looking at the day-to-day responsibilities, their work incorporates the responsibilities of the other IT roles, but they also must listen to and design around specific goals. Consider this work if you are interested in:

  • Analyzing end users' needs and developing software solutions
  • Learning and utilizing programming languages
  • Programming and monitoring changes to computer systems and applications
  • Gathering company goals and developing the aligning software needs
  • Upgrading computer programs to updated platforms with the latest guidelines
  • Recommending changes to existing systems and applications
  • Coordinating installations within a company
  • Designing and monitoring security and data across the systems they are building

As with mobile app developers, there are many certifications and bootcamps online for software engineers, but most employers look for college graduates in computer science, software engineering or a programming-centric field of study. Employers also ask for a portfolio of completed development projects. Again, when seeking out undergraduate degrees, look for opportunities with hands-on courses where students can grow their software development experiences and portfolios.

Average salary: $108,000

4. Video Game Designer

The gaming industry also exploded as it moved from consoles to computers to mobile gaming options and virtual reality. With a desire for better graphics and faster processing power, this job market is a haven for developers and designers. If you are interested in both media production and engineering, video game design could be a sweet spot. Still, because the gaming industry changes rapidly, those pursuing a job in this field should be interested in lifelong learning, as video game designers are always back in the classroom keeping up with evolving technologies.

When working in the video gaming industry, the jobs divide into three different roles: designers, artists and programmers. This description focuses on the role of the designer. Computer science students who are interested in this type of work might experience day-to-day responsibilities like those listed below. Consider this work if you’re interested in:

  • Creating missions and puzzles that are interlaced through each game
  • Writing narrative features such as plot, character, etc.
  • Reviewing game design throughout the game development
  • Collaborating with other professionals designing visuals and sound
  • Outlining games using flowcharts and visuals to describe the experience or process
  • Documenting details about the game mechanics
  • Collaborating with programmers to make sure the game design is being followed

Game design benefits from degrees like computer science and math where there is a focus on programming and logic. The field also benefits from experiences that allow students to creatively engage with storytelling and creative problem-solving. If you are considering a future in the gaming industry, you might consider a computer science degree plus a minor in creative writing or an internship related to gaming.

Describing the duality of this industry, Derek Detweiler, a game designer for PBS KIDS and the Lego Foundation, states, “Game design starts with a creative idea, but turning that idea into a playable game involves layers of math, logic and a significant helping of problem-solving.”

Average salary: $80,000

5. Computer Systems Analyst

Are you a big picture person? If so, this IT job might be the right one for you. The key role of a computer system analyst is to think through an organization's computer systems and procedures on a higher level. Once finished analyzing and comparing the situation with company goals, a computer analyst will recommend strategic changes to better meet industry goals such as increasing productivity or reducing costs.

Computer science students who are interested in this type of work might experience day-to-day responsibilities like those listed below. Consider this work if you’re interested in:

  • Working with administration to determine systems requirements and business goals
  • Analyzing computer systems and planning strategies to improve productivity
  • Designing new computer applications and enhancements
  • Performing cost-benefit analyses for technology purchases
  • Training others on new technology
  • Helping with new technology implementation and troubleshooting
  • Having a broad swath of knowledge of all technologies and how they work together such as hardware, software, networks, etc.

People interested in pursuing this route should receive a bachelor’s degree in a major like computer science, but also should consider minoring in business. Some jobs will also prefer applicants to hold a Master of Business Administration. More importantly, those who consider this line of work should be lifelong learners, as they will be required to continue all sorts of training and certifications to be able to analyze the best solutions as the market changes.

Average salary: $94,000

Describing the power of a computer science degree, Chair of the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science Nadeem Hamid says, “This degree is extremely versatile, providing skills that are in demand across every sphere of industry and public service. It has been fulfilling to see our graduates engage in work ranging from cybersecurity and software architects in ‘Big Tech’ companies to army robotics and teaching network infrastructure with the Peace Corps in remote regions of the world.

In other words, an undergraduate looking for a major with staying power in the job market should consider computer science. These jobs are just the top five! Jobs like web developer, health information technician, technology manager, database administrator and network administrator are also top career paths with strong salaries and high employee demand.

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