What Does A Computer Scientist Do?

Woman runs some calculations on her laptop

If you are trying to decide on a career path, you should know that computer science jobs are on the rise. Technology and computer science jobs are projected to grow around 12% by 2028, according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.1

Becoming a computer scientist is a great career option if you have an interest in technology and problem solving and want a job where you will be challenged and learn new skills. Let’s take a closer look at this profession.

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What Is a Computer Scientist?

If you are deciding whether or not a computer science degree is right for you, it's important to know the ins and outs of the profession. A computer scientist understands the theoretical aspects of working with computers. They do not necessarily work with hardware and applications in the same way that computer engineers do. Instead, a computer scientist considers how technology handles information then applies it to programs.

Becoming a Computer Scientist

If this role sounds interesting to you then you might want to begin your career journey toward becoming a computer scientist. Most computer scientists hold bachelor's or advanced degrees in computer science. They may also study in fields like physics or mathematics.

Computer science degree programs prepare students to work in software development and big data analytics. Corporate businesses and organizations also look for computer science degree holders to help them develop systems and applications and understand interactions and technical theory.

Beyond formal academic training, a computer scientist must have excellent communication skills. This career often requires sharing results and findings of investigations in publications or through in-person presentations. This job also requires a good amount of teamwork and problem-solving as a team.

Job Responsibilities

Computer scientists are usually hired by software development firms. Their role includes creating new theories around technology development. While other people at a software firm may be building current technologies, a computer scientist is thinking through ideas on how to take that technology to the next level in sustainable and efficient ways. Computer scientists also use their knowledge to work in software engineering or as IT consultants. They may also find work at universities and research companies.

On the job, computer scientists use technology to solve problems and prepare for the future. They also write and program software to create applications. Their primary focus, however, is to validate and develop models for interaction between people and computers or software and devices. The computer science field is very diverse and there are jobs within many different sectors of the industry.

Computer scientists conduct theoretical investigations in a lot of different areas. They are also interested in database theory and software engineering. Numerical analysis, computational complexity theory, computer graphics and programming languages are also areas where the computer scientist has applicable knowledge.

Finding Jobs as a Computer Scientist

Computer scientists are highly sought-after in the technology field. This environment is usually collaborative and fast-paced. So, to become a computer scientist, you need to be comfortable being creative and working quickly.

Companies looking to hire computer scientists are looking for people who have exceptional planning and coding skills. They want somebody who can contribute in the very beginning of an idea and see a project through to the end. Software development, deployment and testing and fixing bugs is also a part of a computer scientist job description.

Skills Needed to Thrive

Most computer scientists hold at least a bachelor's in computer science degree. They may also hold an undergrad degree in a related field. In addition, computer scientists may need to have additional certifications in programming languages and other various tech skills. These certifications demonstrate the computer scientist’s commitment to continuing their education. Because technology is an ever-evolving field, employers like to see that the people they hire will continue to educate themselves as needed.

Computer scientists should have coding knowledge of SQL, HTML and JavaScript. They need to be able to work comfortably in databases. Most computer scientists will work in an agile environment, so they must understand that work cycle.

Computer Science Specialties

A lot of schools offer computer science degree programs with different emphases. Some of the specializations include big data analytics, business entrepreneurship and game and simulation development.

When you study computer science with an emphasis in big data analytics, you will apply knowledge of computing, mathematics and statistics. You will use your knowledge to analyze the problem and identify scientific methodologies to develop a solution. Finally, you will understand how to use and design methods and software applications that help businesses use big data to find success.

An emphasis in business entrepreneurship ensures that you have the skills to go into business for yourself. You will be able to take your technology skills and apply them to the work that you want to do. This program combines computer science and business knowledge in a multidisciplinary approach, ensuring you have the skills to start in just about any technology career.

The emphasis in game and simulation development helps you build skills in the innovative field, which touches many different sectors including entertainment, education and corporate training. The computer science aspect of this degree includes the science, algorithms and theory behind computer games. However, it is also a very hands-on, application-based degree program where you will study artificial intelligence and get to know computer operating systems and object-oriented programming.

Check out Grand Canyon University’s computer science degree programs and learn more about our affordable tuition rates and our campus and online learning environments. Our experienced faculty and staff can help you earn a degree that will lead to a great job and a long-lasting tech career in computer science. If you have any questions, you can click the Request More Information button at the top of this page.

1Retrieved from Bureau of Labor Statistics, Computer and Information Technology Occupations in July 2020. 


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.