What is Computer Science?
These days, organizations are always looking for new ways to utilize the internet and data to improve their operations. This has made computer science knowledge a sought-after skill in new hires, allowing the demand for technically trained individuals in a wide variety of industries and the technology sector as a whole to grow rapidly. In particular, computer science students possess analytical and technical skills prized by private firms, governmental organizations, and non-profits, making this degree extremely versatile, with a wealth of post-graduation employment opportunities.
Moreover, coding for long-term technical projects, maintaining networks, and completing data aggregation have become essential to keeping the global economic system and supply chains running. As such, these computer science skills are transferable no matter where someone seeks to move. While most computer science programs will allow students to graduate with a foundation centered on coding and core skills, how students apply this knowledge to solve real-world problems will depend on the specific industry and organization that the student is working for. Therefore, computer science graduates who are looking to move to specific locales should familiarize themselves with the popular industries and employers in the area.
Computer science is a field where professionals learn highly technical math and coding skills that enable them to build the infrastructure that facilitates communication between different computers and databases. This may occur within an organization’s local network through an intranet or between multiple unrelated parties through the internet, making data and information governance a critical part of computer scientists’ everyday work.
Most computer scientists will work on building or improving software packages, with functions spanning writing code and debugging existing software packages. Other job functions within the field include computer engineers, whose work will primarily focus on fixing or improving existing technological hardware. Students who enjoy experimenting with creating new parts or improving microchips used to create faster processors may look to this route.
Computer Science Education in New Hampshire
Located near popular East Coast hubs like Boston, New Hampshire is an area that sees a lot of traffic from those who travel there for weekend stays or are looking to buy second properties. As such, it’s no coincidence that New Hampshire’s top industry is real estate, rental, and leasing at $12.2 billion in annual revenue. The real estate field has been modernizing rapidly over the past few decades, with large data aggregators like Zillow and Redfin bringing live data to would-be home buyers at a click. Furthermore, property technology start-ups have become more prevalent as entrepreneurs look to change the status quo of how the real estate sales and rental markets operate. The business demand for real estate data, modeling, and online tools means that computer scientists are in increasingly high demand by employers. Specifically, computer scientists who are also interested in the New Hampshire real estate market can find work at property management companies, which are increasingly utilizing online data tools to manage customer data. Computer scientists may also find themselves employed in the rental innovation space working for well-known names like Airbnb.
The second-largest industry in New Hampshire is professional and business services, an industry that grosses approximately $11 billion in revenue annually. This is a space that highly values human capital and knowledge, with high demand for project-based work between businesses and clients. Computer scientists who have a strong grasp of data security will be able to stand out in this industry, which offers a plethora of business-to-business and business-to-consumer products. No matter the size of the firm, securing essential data for personnel, projects, and information technology systems during this era of increasing cyber-crime have become a top strategic priority. Therefore, computer scientists looking to work in the professional services space will often find themselves part of growing technology teams that handle a variety of data needs for professional businesses.
The next largest industry in New Hampshire is educational services, healthcare, and social assistance, which brings in around $9.8 billion in revenue each year. Like the other large industries in the state, this sector is one where data and information security are becoming increasingly important. Most health facilities store sensitive patient data in connected drives and new requirements for electronic health records that can be shared between caregivers has increased the amount of important information that needs to be protected. As such, these types of employers are also consistently seeking computer science talent to build out their technology teams.
Given that computer scientists are ubiquitously valued across almost all industries, specific work obligations will differ dramatically depending on the type of organization that is hiring and the specific job title. In general, projects will typically focus on areas like cyber security, database system governance, troubleshooting, software integration, artificial intelligence, human-computer interaction, programming languages, software engineering, bioinformatics, and graphics or digital design. Computer scientists will likely specialize in one of the aforementioned areas and become experts in their role over time, making them more valuable to employers seeking these types of skills.
Online Associate Degree in Computer Science (AS)
Computer science is a very competitive field that requires a high level of technical proficiency. Required coding languages can even differ from project to project. This has led employers to be very selective with the computer science graduates they hire, and they may put them through many levels of technical interviews. In general, computer science students with associate degrees are typically eligible to apply and interview for entry-level positions, but they may find the options limited and the competition fierce. Since computer science work is commonly project-based and requires a high level of independent problem-solving, computer science students with associate degrees may find themselves stuck in supporting roles.
However, it is still possible to progress in the field after gaining more experience, though some students may choose to use their associate degree as a foundation for returning to school eventually to obtain a bachelor’s degree. Even so, computer science graduates with associate degrees could find themselves employed as web developers, computer support specialists, and IT support technicians. According to Payscale, employees who have achieved an associate degree in computer science can earn an average annual salary of $65,000. Since students will usually earn an associate degree in two years and have the opportunity to return to school for further education at a later time, many find an associate degree a good educational investment.
Online Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science (BS)
A bachelor of computer science is the most popular level of education for graduates looking to work in the computer science field. Given that most universities’ computer science programs will require students to take a rigorous program of math, coding, and technical electives, a bachelor’s in computer science allows graduates to become eligible for the majority of entry-level positions in the field. Most employers specify that job applicants must have at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science or computer engineering before they are eligible for consideration.
Additionally, once one makes their into a company, it’s possible to be promoted over time to more senior information technology or computer engineering roles with only a bachelor’s degree. Students with a bachelor’s degree in computer science usually graduate as IT consultants, software engineers, cyber security consultants, information systems managers, network programmers, database administrators, systems analysts, or games developers.
Considering the breadth of options, for students looking to build careers in computer science, a bachelor’s degree is typically the most versatile degree offering both the technical training necessary to jumpstart one’s career and the foundation necessary to advance to post-graduate degrees should students be interested in graduate school. According to Payscale, the average computer science graduate with a bachelor’s degree can expect to earn $87,000 per year.
Online Master's Degree in Computer Science (MS)
Although the technology industry is growing rapidly and playing a larger role in our everyday lives, with the growing opportunity also comes growing competition. Therefore, many computer science graduates will find that more desirable and challenging roles in the field may require applicants to have at least a master’s degree before they are eligible to apply or likely to be hired for these positions. This is because certain specialties in computer science, like machine learning and cyber security, require workers to have mastered a specialized skill set to properly execute the tasks required of them.
Technology firms are more likely to test applicants for more specialized entry-level and mid-level positions with more difficult technical questions. Therefore, completing one’s master’s degree in computer science can help you be better prepared for taking on more lucrative and challenging roles in the field. Students with master’s degrees in computer science can expect to be hired into positions requiring more technical expertise or even managerial roles. Common job titles include computer scientist, computer network architect, information security analyst, software development engineer, computer systems analyst, and database manager. According to Payscale, the average salary for workers with a master’s degree in computer science is around $105,000 per year.
Online PhD Degree in Computer Science (PhD)
Like most fields, obtaining a doctorate in computer science is not necessary to find employment in the field. Given that PhD students must complete years of specialized research, this preparation allows them to become eligible for highly specialized positions or allows them to consult for especially difficult problems that some employers may face in the information technology space.
One exception is for those who wish to become professors; completing their PhD in the field is typically a prerequisite to becoming eligible for a teaching position at most universities. Those who hold a doctorate in computer science will most often be hired into titles like computer scientist, computer network architect, or other research and development roles. Some may eventually move on to become the chief technology officer at their organization. Computer scientists with a PhD will often work on designing and upgrading an organization’s suite of technology tools. Their daily work will include leveraging coding languages like Java, Python, C++, and SQL, which are typically the basic requirements to keep critical computer infrastructure running without issues. According to Payscale, graduates with a PhD in computer science can expect to earn approximately $131,000 per year.
Become a CIS Professional in New Hampshire
To become a computer science professional in New Hampshire, students will need to take courses beyond high school to be eligible to work in entry-level jobs in the field. This is one of the only fields where it is possible to find a career without a formal education if you are very talented and teach yourself. However, while a bachelor’s degree or higher will open up more job opportunities, students can start building their careers in the field with only an associate degree. Other than these post-secondary degree requirements, New Hampshire does not have other licensing or certification requirements that would bar computer science, students, from obtaining their first job in the field after graduation.
Given the myriad of opportunities in the computer science and technology field, job seekers should determine their general interests in the field while they are still in school. For instance, students who are interested in web development should make sure to take related elective courses while in college. This will help them build the right skill set to stand out to businesses that are looking for this type of talent. Other positions, particularly IT service jobs, will require students to be able to work in a team environment and have good communication skills, as they will most likely be staffed in a full-time support team. Students who are interested in more specialized fields like software development, cyber security, data science, or artificial intelligence will need to invest time in related electives or gain more specialized skills through a master’s degree before they can find employment in the area.
Furthermore, if a candidate wishes to work for the government or other organizations that deal with sensitive information, they may need to pass certain certification or credentialing requirements and background tests before they are eligible for the role. Even though most computer science roles do not require additional certification, those who wish to have long, successful careers in the computer science field, and cyber security specifically, are likely to need to gain further certifications. Around 60% of jobs in cyber security require some type of additional license, which include certifications like Certified Information Systems Security Professional, Certified Ethical Hacker, and Licensed Penetration Tester.
Careers for Computer Science Graduates
- Software Tester:
Some computer science specialists work to create new software for an organization or for sale. When in production, it’s important to have another team test its functionality before it goes live. Software testers will attempt to use the software in the same way an end user would and see if there are any glitches or issues in the user interface that make the product either unusable or difficult to use. They may also go through software code searching for any bugs, errors, or defects that would negatively impact the product’s performance if they have programming expertise.
- Systems Analyst:
An integral part of an information technology team’s job is to ensure that data and communication networks are functioning properly at all times. Given the complex and integrated internet systems that organizations leverage, system analysts have the important job of ensuring that systems, infrastructures, and computer systems are functioning effectively and efficiently.
- IT Project Manager:
Like business and finance departments, the information technology department of an organization is also in charge of many initiatives, which can range from implementing new software to building stronger data protection procedures. An IT project manager is a professional who has both the technical ability to understand important technical aspects of these projects and the project management ability to see each project through without going beyond the budget or timeline set. Responsibilities will typically include overseeing the planning process for the IT project, delegating team responsibilities, and executing against project deadlines.