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Computer science careers: Why computer science is for everyone


From software development to cybersecurity, the computer science field is full of exciting, diverse, and high-growth careers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), computer and information research scientist jobs are projected to increase by 23% between 2022 to 2032. 

Whether you’re just starting, thinking about switching careers, or looking to advance your computer science knowledge, this guide will help you navigate the many different computer science career paths, jobs, and skills needed to break into the industry.

Is a career in computer science right for you?

Computer science is a field with applications across diverse industries. Generally, if you are interested in working with computers, complex mathematics, and problem-solving, you are probably a good fit for a career in computer science. 

At its core, computer science is about problem-solving using computers, which requires a foundation in mathematics, data structures and algorithms, and programming. Some of the prerequisites for an undergraduate computer science degree can include discrete mathematics, linear algebra, and calculus.

However, adding computer science skills can be tremendously beneficial to your career. “You can be a lawyer who's now building software to be used by law offices,” said David Joyner, computer scientist and executive director of online education at the College of Computing at Georgia Tech and instructor for edX courses such as GTx’s Introduction to Python Programming. “You can be an artist that's building ways to be artistic, to create installations, or create something virtually.”

Diverse computer science career paths: Where can it take you?

Popular career choices for computer science graduates can include software engineering and other technical specialties like cloud computing.  

"For those looking for the best career paths, it is evident that cloud-native computing, DevOps, Linux, and security hold the most promising opportunities."

“For those looking for the best career paths, it is evident that cloud-native computing, DevOps, Linux, and security hold the most promising opportunities,” said Linux Foundation Executive Director Jim Zemlin.

However, a background in computer science can open doors to many other careers and fields. Some of these careers include data science, product management, quality assurance, project management, and system administration.

What are nine exciting computer science jobs?

There’s more to computer science jobs than software engineering. Computer science skills can take your career in just about any direction, from cybersecurity to data science. Below are just a few possible computer science jobs on the market.



Discover how code-curious learners can begin exploring skills and career paths and why you should learn computer science.

1. Software engineer

Software engineering can be an appealing job in the computer science field. Software engineers are computer programmers who apply engineering principles to create software and applications. Software engineers must be versed in at least one programming language, web frameworks, version control, and test-driven development.

While many software engineering jobs require a formal computer science bachelor’s degree, it’s possible to become a self-taught software engineer if you learn the appropriate technologies and have a portfolio of projects. 

2. Full stack developer

Full-stack developers are versed in both front- and back-end development. They are generally proficient in a wide range of technologies and languages such as Java, Python, HTML, and CSS, and sometimes work with databases and APIs. As a full stack developer, you can choose to develop a specialization in either front- or back-end development. Many smaller companies and startups require the skill set of a full-stack developer. 

3. Cloud engineer

One popular cloud computing job is cloud engineering. A cloud engineer updates and maintains resources in the cloud. Their responsibilities vary, but some could include building and maintaining infrastructure and networks using tools such as TerraForm. There are many versions of cloud engineering. For example, if you prefer working with data, the role of a cloud computing data engineer could be to write different ETL pipelines in order to gather data, transform data, and make sure it's ready for whatever the next step might be. 

4. Mobile developer

Unlike web developers, mobile (or app) developers design and build applications for mobile devices like smartphones or tablets. Most mobile developers specialize in native platforms such as android or iOS operations systems or use a cross-platform technology. In either case, mobile developers must have strong front end development knowledge and programming languages such as HTML, CSS, and Javascript. 

5. DevOps engineer

DevOps is the bridge between development and operations. DevOps engineers monitor how software is deployed and generate scripts to automate updates, deploy software, and more. DevOps is ideally for someone who enjoys ensuring everything is working properly rather than writing code themselves. 

6. Product manager

Product management is the combination of user experience, business, and technology. Product managers own the experience of a product, and one of their major tasks is to work cross-functionally with developers, marketers, and designers to create features. Often, an understanding of computer science can be helpful to determine what software code is needed to create those features, which is why many software engineers often transition into product management. 

7. Security engineer

Cybersecurity professionals are necessary to protect valuable information and guard against bad actors. One important cybersecurity job is the information security engineer, who designs and tests security software that is resilient to cyberattacks. Information security engineers must have a strong background in computer science and cybersecurity frameworks. 

8. Computer systems analyst

If you’re looking to get into information technology (IT), consider the computer systems analyst position. The role of a computer systems analyst is to research an organization’s computer systems and make recommendations or improvements. According to BLS, computer systems analysts earned a median annual wage of more than $100,000 in 2022 .

9. Data scientist

The skillsets demanded of data scientists and data analysts naturally overlap with computer science. Data science professionals often use programming languages like Python or R to automate much of their work and spend much of their time cleaning data for their machine learning algorithms.

How to get into computer science without a degree: Expert advice

Not all computer science careers require a relevant undergraduate or master’s degree. For example, in cybersecurity, certifications may demonstrate the necessary proficiency in certain skills. Still, formal education can be critical for many fields like software engineering.



The popularity of online master’s degree programs coupled with changing industry standards is prompting more professionals to ask themselves: is a master’s in computer science worth it? Read on to find out. 

With that said, here are a few tips on how to break into computer science without a degree. 

Be prepared to learn

You won’t become an entry-level software engineer or a computer scientist overnight. The process can take several months to years, especially if you don’t have a technical background. That’s why it can be helpful to supplement your learning with online courses and programs.

Get hands-on experience

Learning computer science concepts and theories can only get you so far in your career. One of the best ways to get hands-on experience is to apply computer science skills to real-world problems. For example, if you want to improve your programming skills, you can start a personal project like developing an app or a game. You can even become a contributor to open source projects on platforms like Github and build a portfolio. 

Start building your career in computer science

The computer science field is constantly changing. Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, you need to keep your knowledge up to date to thrive in the industry. If you’re interested in learning computer science fundamentals or want to add computer science skills to your repertoire, explore industry-aligned courses and programs on edX.

Last updated: January 2024