Computer Science Career Prospects
Jobs in computing and information technology are some the fastest growing occupations in the country — in fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistic lists two of the main types of jobs for computer science majors among the top 20 fastest growth jobs for 2008-2018. Students with a degree in computer science are qualified to pursue a career in a wide variety of computing careers, dealing with software development or system design and analysis. CNN's Money and PayScale.com ranked the "Best Jobs in America", and the number one job is Software Architect – exactly what a computer science degree is preparing students for (other computer science career paths were also on the list, including Database Administrator at number 7, Information Systems Security Engineer at 17, Software Engineer at 18, and at least 10 other computing careers ranking in the top 50). While the Greensboro area is not a leading tech industry region, there are jobs to be found in the area, and even greater prospects are found nearby in the Research Triangle Park and Charlotte areas. For students willing to get out and move to areas of the country with particularly strong computing industry, such as Washington DC, Boston, or Silicon Valley, very attractive jobs are available.
There are some excellent resources on the Internet for learning about career prospects in IT and computing fields. The following are particularly good:
- Computing Degrees and Careers from the ACM (Association for Computing Machinery)
- National Center for Women and Information Technology
Our graduates do not generally report back to us on the salary they are making after graduation, but we can provide some information on salary and job prospects from two highly-respected national sources: The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Outlook Handbook. Keep in mind that these are national averages, and local Greensboro averages tend to be lower (although the cost of living is also significantly less than California!).
One of the first questions our students ask when thinking about life after graduation is "How much am I going to make?" According to NACE's 2010 survey, computer science majors ranked 4th among all bachelor's degree majors, with an average starting salary of $61,205. We don't have access to the 2010 survey data for master's degree recipients, but the 2009 survey reports an average starting salary of $69,464 for students receiving a master's degree in computer science. While we don't track these numbers for UNCG graduates, our "feel" is that job offers in the Greensboro area are roughly $10,000 lower than the national average at both levels.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has a wealth of information about different careers, including job outlooks, typical salaries, educational and training required, typical job functions, etc. Listed below are the 7 occupations that BLS reports and are common for computer science graduates. The link will take you directly to the BLS web site for detailed information on that job, and the average salary listed below is from the 2010-11 Occupational Outlook Handbook (note that these are averaged over all salaries – they are not starting salaries of fresh graduates!):
|Job Title||Median Salary|
|Network and Computer Systems Administrators||$66,310|
|Network Systems and Data Communication Analysts||$71,100|
|Computer Systems Analysts||$75,500|
|Computer Applications Software Engineer||$85,430|
|Computer Systems Software Engineer||$92,430|
Where are the Computer Scientists?
At first glance, something seems to be missing in the table above. The degree is "Computer Science", so where is the job title of "Computer Scientist"? Like most fields of study (including Biology, Mathematics, Physics), an undergraduate or master's degree is designed to educate a student in the scientific foundations of the field, and the job pursued by someone with a B.S. or M.S. degree is generally considered an application of the science, and not a practitioner of the science. The BLS publication does report on the job title of Computer Scientist, and points out that "A Ph.D. is required for most jobs." While we don't offer a Ph.D. in Computer Science at UNCG, we certainly prepare students for further study in a doctoral program. BLS reports that median annual wages of computer and information scientists were $97,970 in May 2008.
Other Resources and References
The following links to external sites provide more information about the job market for computer science majors.
- U.S. News Best Jobs 2012: Software Developer (see also the links at the bottom for profiles for Database Administrator, Web Developer, and Computer Programmer.
- CareerCast: Jobs Rated 2012 (Software Engineer is the top-rated job)
- Computer science grads fielding 'multiple job offers' – NetworkWorld, June 1, 2011