Computer Science Career Paths: The Ultimate Guide


Computer science is a booming industry, and it’s only getting bigger. Whether you’re just starting college and want to know what a computer science degree can do for you, or you’re already working in the field but looking to switch careers, this guide will show you all the different options available to computer scientists. In addition to covering how much money these jobs pay and what skills are required for each position (and how those skills differ from one another), we’ll also tell you about the hiring climate for each profession right now—so that by the time you finish reading this article, instead of feeling overwhelmed by all your options, you’ll have narrowed them down into something manageable!

What Is a Computer Science Degree?

If you’re interested in a career in technology and are looking for a bachelor’s degree program, then computer science is an excellent choice. Computer science degrees can take anywhere from 4 to 5 years to complete, depending on whether or not you’re enrolled full-time or part-time. During your time as a student, you’ll learn about programming languages and software development techniques as well as how computers work at the hardware level (computer architecture).

If you want to specialize further after completing your bachelor’s degree in computer science, there are plenty of options available—you can take on jobs like web design or cybersecurity engineering. If these fields are still too broad for your taste, then look into graduate programs that train students specifically for careers in artificial intelligence (AI), data science (DS) or cybersecurity (CS). These specialized degrees generally require an additional 2 years of study beyond what is offered by undergraduate CS degrees but give graduates more flexibility when it comes time to find employment after graduation.

What Can You Do with a Computer Science Degree?

Computer science is a field with a wide range of career paths. You can use your computer science degree to build websites, apps, and software. You can also use it to help solve problems in areas like medicine or cybersecurity. Computer science graduates are highly sought after because they’re trained to think analytically and creatively, which makes them great problem-solvers who’re well-equipped for many different jobs.

In fact, there are so many possible careers for computer science majors that it is hard to narrow this list down! But we’ve done our best: here are some of the most common types of jobs that students might earn with a computer science degree:

Software Developer

Software developers conceive, design, and build computer programs. Some develop new applications for mobile or desktop use; others build the underlying operating systems that keep a computer running properly.

Software developers make anywhere from $100,000 to $165,000 a year. Software engineers earn an average salary of $122,335 a year. Software architects make about $129,174 per year on average. And the average salary for software systems analysts is about  $90,356 a year.

System Engineer

A systems engineer analyzes a system and develops solutions for any problems it may have. As part of their work, they find, fix and prevent problems.

Here’s a quick rundown of what you can expect to earn as a system engineer:

  • Average annual salary: $82,006
  • Entry-level salaries range from $61,000–$82,006; while experienced and senior-level engineers can bring in salaries of up to $131,000 or more.

Network Engineer

Network Engineers primarily handle installing, configuring, and maintaining computer networks. They are responsible for the software that allows computers to communicate with each other, as well as the wires, cables and servers that enable them to do so. Network engineers may also design and implement new networks from scratch. Network engineers are in high demand and can earn between $77,040 to $110,000 per year, depending on their experience and skills. If you want to work as a network engineer, you need to have a strong understanding of networking, security and communication. The job outlook for this career is also good with growth expected at 15%.

Web Designer

Web designers plan, create and manage websites. They are responsible for the look and feel of your website—including layout, colors and graphics and have to work on HTML, CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), JavaScript, JQuery, PHP and other programming languages to create interactive features like forms and drop-down menus on your site.

You may be surprised to learn that web designer salaries vary widely. Your location, job experience and skills will have a huge impact on your salary as a web designer.

  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that the median annual wage for all computer programmers was $87,000 in 2015. A report from Glassdoor claims that web designers who are just starting out make around $50,000 per year and increase their salary by about 15% each year after that until they reach $100K+
  • If you’re lucky enough to live in one of the cities where demand for web designers is high (San Francisco is probably the best place), then you can expect your salary to be even higher than those averages—and if you’re really lucky…maybe even double them!

Information Security Analyst

An information security analyst is responsible for the protection of an organization’s data. These professionals analyze and monitor risks to ensure that any threats are addressed before they become a problem. They also design policies, procedures, and training programs to ensure that employees understand how to implement these strategies.

Information security analysts can earn anywhere from $78,440 per year to over $132,890 depending on their experience level. The average salary is around $83k per year as of June 2019 according to USNews.

Database Administrator

Database Administrators are responsible for the maintenance of databases. This includes ensuring that they are running smoothly, as well as making sure they are backed up in case of a system failure or data loss. They also help design the database and make sure it is optimized for maximum performance. Database administrators have to be able to work with both software developers and database designers so that everyone is on the same page when working on projects together.

If you want to know what the average database administrator’s salary is, this is the place to look. In fact, it’s probably a good idea if you’re planning on becoming a database administrator in the near future!

The average salary for this job comes in at $90,000—placing it squarely in the top 10%. If we compare that number with the median U.S. household income ($55,775), we can see that your potential payments will be significantly higher than most Americans’.

How Much Do Computer Scientists Make?

The average annual salary for a computer scientist is $81,570. This figure can vary depending on the type of work you do and the amount of experience you have.

For example, according to Glass Door and Payscale, the average annual salary for a software developer is $88710 per year while system engineers earn an average of $82153—and network engineer salaries range from approximately $83286 to 610622 each year.

The good news is that there are plenty of jobs out there for computer scientists! In fact, according to PayScale’s research on this topic:

  • The median pay per year in 2017 was $90K across all roles (from entry-level positions through senior leadership)
  • Median base pay ranged from $58K-$125K at different levels within organizations (entry-level vs senior leadership roles)

Computer Science Job Outlook and Trends

Today, the field is growing and will continue to grow. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the number of jobs for computer programmers will increase by 12% from 2014 to 2024—twice as fast as the average for all occupations combined. As with many other fields, there are more jobs than there are people to fill them; in fact, IBM recently reported that they have 200 open positions per day globally! This means you have a good chance of securing employment upon graduation if you can demonstrate your ability and passion for this fascinating area of study.

A computer science degree can open up a lot of career paths.

If you’re interested in pursuing a computer science degree, it’s important to know what career paths are available to you. A computer science degree can open up many different career opportunities. The type of job you want may depend on your personality and interests.

A great place to start is by doing some research about the various fields that use or rely on computer technology. Reading through job descriptions will give you an idea of what kinds of jobs might be available for someone with your skillset, as well as what types of training programs would lead to those positions. You’ll also have a better understanding of how much money people in those fields typically earn and where they live (if they live near New York City or Silicon Valley).


You’ve come to the end of our guide on computer science careers. I hope this has given you some insights into what it means to be a software developer or IT professional and helped you decide whether one of these careers is right for you. For those who are still struggling with the decision, let me leave you with one last piece of advice: take some time off from school, look at what kinds of jobs are available in your area (or another city where job growth looks promising), and think about how much money those roles might pay out over the course of five years. In other words—do your research!