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How to Tell if a Computer Science Degree is Worth It

Cracking the code to a successful and satisfying computer science career starts with identifying your strengths, defining your interests, and zeroing in on a program.

Dec 28, 2018

A lot of smart people think a degree in Computer Science (CS) is synonymous with one in Information Technology (IT), and it’s an understandable misconception, but each has a decidedly different scope and objectives.

Generally speaking, IT is a broader professional category with responsibilities that can include anything from installing applications to designing and administering networks and databases. Computer science, on the other hand, is a more specific and rigorous study of programming languages, operating systems, mathematical algorithms, and data structures.

While there can be numerous overlaps in these curriculums, cracking the code to a successful and satisfying CS career starts with identifying your strengths, defining your interests, and zeroing in on a program specifically designed to help you maximize both.

Think you might have what it takes to pursue a degree in computer science? Ask yourself a few questions.

Do you want a career with solid growth potential?

There are a lot of great reasons to pursue your degree in computer science. The field is rapidly expanding into some truly exciting areas, including artificial intelligence, robotics, intelligent systems, and human-computer interaction.

Between 2013 and 2015, national employer demand for bachelor’s-level CS professionals increased by approximately 55 percent, and the industry shows no signs of slowing down. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the market for computer and information research scientists will continue to expand by 19 percent through 2026.

Even better, companies in every industry are offering top salaries to CS professionals. In May 2017, the median annual wage for computer and information research scientists was $114,520, according to the BLS.

Are you a problem solver and a math whiz?

Computer science isn’t just about using technological tools that are available to you today. It’s about laying the groundwork for the next generation of tools that will help shape the future of technology. It’s also an incredibly diverse field in which you’re likely to bump into (or work with) some pretty extraordinary people.

In a blog post for theodysseyonline, Amber Smith identifies the reason she loves being in computer science: “I love the feeling I get when something I’ve made becomes real, when the coding works and the results are beautiful. I figure out how to solve a problem and realize that this is exactly what I want to do.”

Cray industries, a global leader in supercomputing, seeks out visionaries in science, technology and entrepreneurship who keep asking what if, why not and what’s next. That’s how they found Jeff Dudek and profiled him in a company blog post entitled "Why You Should Feel Good About the Future of Computer Science".

“The specifications of constrained problems are very clean,” Dudek wrote. “The algorithms and techniques end up being elegant, clean and fun to work with.”

If you have strong critical thinking skills and an affinity for mathematical reasoning, you're an ideal candidate to consider a future in computer science. Whether you choose to set your sights on a high-tech office, corporate environment, or academic setting, a highly regarded B.S. in Computer Science can put you on solid ground for an extremely rewarding career.

Do you have industry-relevant credentials?

If you want to be a computer systems analyst, computer programmer, artificial intelligence specialist, software engineer, machine learning engineer, or any other cutting edge, tech-driven professional, you’ll need a résumé that sparkles with the latest industry credentials and qualifications. Leading computer science bachelor’s programs offer curriculum designed to teach you how to design, develop, and optimize systems based on real industry needs.

For example, Western Governors University’s B.S. in Computer Science program focuses on algorithms, data structures, artificial intelligence, robotics, database and information retrieval, human-computer communication, and numerical and symbolic computation. You’ll study coursework that won a 2016 CODiE award from the Software & Information Industry Association.

As you complete your studies, you will also earn numerous industry certifications, including CIW Site Development Associate, ITIL®1 Foundation Certification CompTIA Project+, and Oracle Database Certified Associate.

Consider a future in computer science.

Is a career in computer science right for you? As technology continues to evolve and expand, a corresponding demand for highly skilled computer scientists will fuel career opportunities, high salaries, and competition for top talent. If you have a strong foundation in math and the desire to build a dynamic career, you can set yourself up for a future with huge upside.

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