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How to Become a Computer Scientist

Computer scientists develop models for interaction between people and computers or software and devices. They typically work for software development firms where they develop new theories around technology development. Unlike other IT professionals at a software firm who build current technologies, computer scientists come up with ways to take that technology to the next level. Computer scientists might also work in software engineering, as IT consultants, at universities, or in research companies.

Computer scientists employ technology and problem-solving skills to advance software development and create new computer applications. Computer scientists work in many different areas of the industry such as theoretical investigations, database theory, and software engineering. Computer scientists have extensive knowledge of numerical analysis, computational complexity theory, computer graphics, and multiple programming languages.

Do you have an interest in technology? Are you a problem solver and want a job where you will be challenged and learn new skills? A position as a computer scientist might be the technical role that’s right for you.

Sample job description

Does solving unique problems energize you? Do you like to create distinctive solutions? [Your Company Name] is hiring an experienced computer scientist to join our team! You must be able to multi-task and take a project from inception to completion with minimal supervision. As an ideal candidate, you have proven experience developing new computing languages, testing new systems and designs, and developing models and theories to address computing issues and increase the efficiency of computer software and hardware.

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Develop theories and tools to solve challenges and issues in computing
  • Create new computing languages, algorithms, and tools to make digital technology systems more efficient
  • Create and run experiments to test operations of new solutions and analyze and report on the results
  • Apply and adapt theoretical principles to develop new computer software and/or hardware solutions
  • Consult with end-users, managers, and vendors to determine computing goals and system requirements
  • Document and publish significant findings in computer science
  • Use a variety of programming languages, such as Java, C++, and Python

Education and experience

  • Bachelor’s degree in computer science or related field
  • 2+ years experience as a computer scientist or in a relevant role

Required skills and qualifications

  • Fluent in programming languages such as SQL, HTML, JavaScript, etc. 
  • Excellent analytical skills
  • Experience in software development, deployment, and testing
  • Thorough understanding of computer systems and how they work
  • Creative and analytical
  • Familiarity with web-based application development
  • Outstanding communication skills, written and verbal
  • Strong attention to detail 

Preferred qualifications

  • Certifications in programming languages and other various tech skills
  • Experience in software design, documentation, testing, and troubleshooting
  • Advanced math skills, including linear algebra, calculus, statistics, and discrete mathematics

Typical work environment

Computer scientists typically work in office environments and sit in front of a computer for long periods researching and developing new computer technology for technical research. They may work in a computer laboratory or work from home as well.

Typical hours

The typical work hours for a computer scientist are 9 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Friday. Some computer scientists work overtime and weekends, especially when deploying new technologies.

Available certifications

Computer scientists work in a variety of industries, and many institutions offer certifications that demonstrate industry knowledge and help in career advancement. Here are some top certifications for computer scientists: 

  • AWS Certified Solutions Architect: Professional. This credential, offered by AWS, demonstrates your skills in implementing cloud initiatives and validates your ability to design, deploy, and evaluate applications on AWS within diverse, complex requirements. AWS recommends that you have two or more years of hands-on experience designing and deploying cloud architecture on AWS, knowledge of a scripting language, and familiarity with Windows and Linux environments. To earn certification, you must pass the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional exam.
  • Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP). The CCSP credential recognizes your advanced technical skills and knowledge to design, manage, and secure data, applications, and infrastructure in the cloud using best practices, policies, and procedures established by the cybersecurity experts at (ISC)². The CCSP exam evaluates your knowledge and expertise across six security domains, including cloud concepts, architecture and design, cloud data security, and cloud application security. 
  • Certified Software Development Professional (CSDP). The CSDP exam, administered by the IEEE Computer Society (CS), is an advanced certification for experienced software engineers. The CS recommends that you have at least two years of related professional experience or a computer science education. Prerequisites for the CSDP are CS certifications in software requirements, software design, software construction, and software testing. The CSDP proves your proficiency in standard software development practices. Certification is valid for three years.

Career path

To begin your career journey toward becoming a computer scientist, you’ll want to earn a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field, although you might also major in physics or mathematics. Employers seek candidates with degrees for a variety of entry-level positions, including software development and big data analytics. Computer scientists learn skills on the job and might become system or application developers or work in other specialized IT areas. A key to becoming a computer scientist is possessing excellent communication skills as you often share results and findings of investigations in publications or via in-person presentations to management. A position as a computer scientist also requires teamwork and problem-solving skills.

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 15-1221

2020 Employment33,000
Projected Employment in 203040,200
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 22% increase
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift7,200 increase

Quantum computing uses quantum mechanics to perform computations, using quantum bits (qubits) in the same way regular computers use bits. Quantum computers can potentially solve problems that would take the world’s most powerful supercomputers millions of years. In the near future, quantum computers will likely completely transform data science. Major companies like IBM, Microsoft, and Google are already competing to build reliable quantum computers. Quantum computers have the potential to accelerate the development of artificial intelligence, virtual reality, big data, deep learning, encryption, medicine, and more. Despite the incredible upside of quantum computers, they are expensive to build and unstable. Yet, it won’t be long before advances In technology will make quantum computers practical to use. 

Traditional security frameworks use trust authentication methods, like passwords, to protect network access to an organization. The frameworks work on the principle that once you’ve passed authentication on the network, you have access to any data and resources available. The problem is that a bad actor who can get onto the network has access to copy or delete all the data. To prevent this from happening, computer scientists are becoming much more common in companies. They need to protect themselves and their data, which is why this is a great field to pursue.