Workers in this field are responsible for analyzing problems and developing solutions that involve computer software and hardware. They schedule and assign tasks, review proposals and project plans to identify feasibility issues. They also incorporate theoretical knowledge to create new technology or find new ways to use computers and work with technicians, users, management and vendors to assess computing needs and requirements.
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These workers are also involved in analyzing business, engineering, scientific and technical issues, and developing and interpreting organizational and business objectives, procedures and policies. They may participate in hiring and staffing as well as training subordinates. Occupations within this group include computer scientists, control system computer scientists and scientific programmer analysts.
Computer Scientist Job Summary
- A master’s degree or a PhD in a computer-related concentration is required for employment in this field.
- Individuals seeking to obtain a graduate degree in this area can start out with a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering, computer science, software engineering, information technology or information systems.
- Extensive knowledge and experience are often required for most jobs.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) records for May 2009 indicate that the average annual wages for this occupation were $105,370.
Work Environment for Computer Scientists
This type of work is performed in comfortable offices, and workers usually spend long hours sitting in front of a computer terminal. They usually work 40 hours per week. They collaborate with other information technology professionals and have face-to-face meetings or communicate through email and telephone.
Computer Scientist Degree Requirements and Training
Most of the occupations in this field require a graduate degree. Employers usually require a master’s degree or PhD in computer science, engineering or mathematics. In order to obtain a graduate degree in these areas, individuals can start out with a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering, computer science, software engineering, information technology and information systems. It takes four years to complete a bachelor’s degree and a PhD typically takes five years to complete. Students in PhD programs typically take classes in advanced subjects which include artificial intelligence, computer and software systems, micro-processing and digital communication during the first two years. The rest of the program is spent working on research projects in computer-related topics.
Extensive knowledge and experience are necessary for this type of work, and many employers may require that applicants have more than five years of experience.
Employment Outlook and Salary Information for Computer Scientists
According to research published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), computer and information scientists, research, held approximately 26,130 jobs in May 2009. Most of these jobs were for computer systems design and related services, federal executive branch and scientific research development services. Others were in software publishers and architectural, engineering and related services.
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BLS records for May 2009 indicate that the average annual wage for computer and information scientists, research was $105,370. The middle 50% earned between $78,620 and $127,600. While the lowest 10% had a yearly salary of $61,480 or less, the highest 10% earned upwards of $155,420 annually.