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Computer Scientist

Published on December 18, 2009.

Job Duties

Computer scientists work in the theory and research involved in developing new computer technology and programing language. They are also involved in the testing and implementation of computer technology. Computer scientists may work for private companies in development and research, or they may work for academic institutions where they may teach computer theory while doing private research. Computer scientists may work as part of a development team, or they can work on their own while doing research.

There are many specialty fields that a computer scientist may select to work in such as robotics or computer gaming. Computer scientists may decide to work specifically in computer programming language development or other isolated computer technology specialties.

Job Skills

Computer scientists must be very detail oriented, as computer technology can be very complex. They must be goal oriented and patient, as they may work for months developing a specific technology and working out the problems prior to implementing it. They need to be able to work as part of a team, but must also be self motivating while working by themselves. Computer scientists should be able to multitask as they are often working on several projects at the same time.


The latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that in 2008 the median annual income of people employed as computer scientists was $97,970. The highest 10 percent of computer scientists averaged over $151,250 annually.

Training and Education

The advanced technology involved in the development of computer applications and the rapid changes in the field have made having a doctorate degree almost a requirement for this career. There may still be people working in the field with four-year degrees and master's degrees, but their advancement can be limited. Once you have earned your doctorate degree in a computer related field, you may also need to receive certification in a computer science specialty. This certification can need to be refreshed every several years as technology changes. Many private computer development companies have their own certification programs. Four-year degrees in a computer related field are available through online degree programs and most campus colleges. Many colleges also offer graduate programs in computer specialties.


The data available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that in 2008 there were over 500,000 people working in computer science related fields, of which approximately 26,000 were specifically classified as computer scientists. Employment opportunities were distributed across the private and public sectors. Computer scientists were employed at computer manufacturing companies, Internet service providers, financial institutions, in the government, and at institutions of higher learning.

Job Outlook

The profession of computer scientist is expected to grow much faster than average through 2016. An expansion of the career field of 37 percent is expected. This makes this career field one of the fastest growing in our country. The importance of computers has grown in all facets of our society over the last 20 years, and their role in business and daily life is expected to continue growing. The development of computer technologies and applications and the programming language necessary to implement this technology is dependent on the work of computer scientists.

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