Computer Scientist

Make computers function better through research and experimentation.
picture of Computer Scientist

Quick Stats


Salary Range
$58,000 – $153,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Computer Scientists do?

Computer Scientists study computers. Because computers are made by man, not by Mother Nature, Computer Scientists are an exception to the rules followed by other Scientists like Biologists, Chemists, and Geologists, who all study the physical and natural world.

As a Computer Scientist, you’re employed by software companies, government agencies, and research firms to understand computer theories and analyze computer systems. Your job typically isn’t designing and building computers. That’s up to Computer Engineers. Instead, you figure out how computers work.

Like most Scientists, your work involves creating hypotheses, then conducting research in order to prove or disprove them, usually in partnership with Computer Programmers and Electrical Engineers. Because your subjects of study might include information technology, robotics, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence, your research often leads to the development of new computer hardware and software, as well as new computing techniques and materials.

Oftentimes, you specialize in a specific area of computer science, such as algorithms and data structure, software engineering, information theory, computer programming, or computer graphics.

Always, however, you’re interested primarily in problem solving: Typically, you’re paid to either solve problems in computers—making them function more quickly, effectively, and efficiently—or to solve problems using computers. Computer Scientists deserve credit for inventions as diverse as personal computers, flash memory, word processors, the Internet, e-mail, and smartphones.

Part Engineer, part Inventor, part Scientist, you’re a modern-day creator who’s building the future, byte by byte.

Should I be a Computer Scientist?

You should have a master's degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Persistent: You keep pushing through, even when faced with tough obstacles.
  • Ready for a Challenge: You jump into new projects with initiative and drive.
  • Flexible: You're open to change and think variety is the spice of life.

  • Also known as: Computational Theory Scientist, Control System Computer Scientist, Scientific Programmer Analyst

    How to become a Computer Scientist

    Most Computer Scientists have a Master's degree. Start by getting your Bachelor's degree. Chart?chd=s:aaab9n&chl=|||bachelor%27s+%282%25%29|master%27s+%2880%25%29|doctorate+%2818%25%29&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,0,80
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