Career Information for a Degree in General Computer and Information Sciences
The field of computer and information science encompasses computer design, use and function. A degree in this area can lead to a career as a computer scientist, computer software engineer, computer hardware engineer or computer programmer. Read on to learn more about these careers and available degree programs in computer and information science.
Career Information for a Computer Scientist
Computer scientists design and build new computer technology or identify ways to improve existing technology. They may develop computer hardware or software or create independently functioning robotic systems. Computer scientists may also identify solutions to technological problems or investigate theoretical issues. The majority of computer scientists have earned a doctoral degree in computer science or a related area. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicated that as of May 2010, there were 24,900 computer and information research scientists located in the U.S. who earned an average annual salary of $100,660 (www.bls.gov).
Computer Software Engineer Career Information
Developing software programs and computer applications are the primary job duties of computer software engineers. They may use algorithms, programming languages, information security methods and system interface devices to complete their designs. Sometimes, they create entire computer systems. The majority of software engineering positions require at least a bachelor's degree. According to the BLS, there were 378,920 systems software developers employed in 2010. These professionals earned a median annual salary of $94,180. In the same reporting period, the BLS indicated that there were 499,280 applications software developers in the nation. These individuals earned a median salary of $87,790.
Career Information Computer Hardware Engineer
Computer hardware engineers design and test computer equipment. They ensure that computer hardware functions properly and will last during prolonged use. They may also oversee the manufacturing and installation of hardware. In 2010, according to the BLS, there were 66,960 computer hardware engineers in the nation who earned a median annual salary of $98,810.
Computer Programmer Career Information
After software designers have conceptualized and created program ideas, computer programmers convert these ideas into instructions that computers can follow. They do so using programming languages. They may also repair, update or modify existing software programs. Many programming jobs require a bachelor's degree, but an associate's degree or certificate may suffice. The BLS indicated that in May 2010, there were 333,620 computer programers working in the state who earned a median annual salary of $71,380.
Degree Options in Computer and Information Sciences
These degree programs are available at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. An associate's degree program may include coursework in object-oriented programming, database management systems, mathematics and Web authoring. A bachelor's degree program may require students take classes in software and Web engineering, programming languages, operating systems and networks.
In a master's degree program, students complete two years of study in subjects such as algorithms, distributed systems and programming languages. These programs culminate in a written thesis or final project. A doctoral program requires completion of about 90 credit hours of study. Depending on the educational institutions involved, credits may be transferred from an eligible master's degree program. Students enrolled in these programs have the opportunity to learn how to perform high-level research in the computer sciences. Before graduation, students are also required to write and defend a dissertation.
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