Computer Scientist: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Computer scientists develop new technologies, systems and computer-based solutions. They usually hold at least a bachelor's degree in computer science or a similar field. Graduate degree programs prepare students for advanced research positions.

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Job Description

Computer scientists, also called computer and information scientists, can work for government agencies and private software publishers, engineering firms or academic institutions. Businesses and government agencies usually employ these scientists to develop new products or solve computing problems. Computer scientists employed by academic institutions are typically involved in more theoretical explorations of computing issues, often using experimentation and modeling in their research.

Duties

Computer scientists often work as part of a research team with computer programmers, information technology professionals, and mechanical or electrical engineers. Their research often is used to design new computer technology. They typically investigate technological topics like artificial intelligence, robotics or virtual reality. The results of their research can lead to the improved performance of existing computer systems and software as well as the development of new hardware or computing techniques and materials.

Requirements

Most computer scientists hold a bachelor's degree with a major in computer science, information systems or software engineering. After completing this 4-year program, computer scientists often earn a Ph.D. in computer science, computer engineering or a similar area of study. This additional program includes coursework in hardware and software systems, program languages and computational modeling as well as a research project.

Job Outlook

In May 2012, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that computer scientists earned a mean annual wage of approximately $104,000 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also forecast that the job growth rate for this career path would be 19% between 2010 and 2020.

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