Master's in Computer Science: Salary and Career Facts

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue with a master's degree in computer science. Read on to learn more about career options along with salary and job outlook information. Schools offering Computer Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What does a Master's in Computer Science do?

Careers in computer science can be found in the fields of research, programming, and software development, among others. The jobs available to those with a master's in computer science include research scientist, programmers, software developers and application developers. In all of these careers you will need to know how to program computers and software to create, test, troubleshoot and improve them in various degrees. The following chart gives you an overview of what you need to know about entering several job options in this field.

Computer and Information Research Scientist Computer Programmer System Software Developer Application Software Developer
Degree Required Doctoral or professional degree Bachelor's degree is typical; master's degrees available Bachelor's degree at minimum; some employers prefer those with master's degrees Bachelor's degree at minimum; some employers prefer those with master's degrees
Key Responsibilities Assist in solving complex computing problems; develop software systems Write programs using computer code; identify and debug computer errors Develop software systems per clients' needs; ensure systems operates smoothly Create applications tailored to users' needs; instruct others in code development
Job Outlook (2014-2024) 11%* - 8%* 13%* 19%*
Average Salary (2015) $115,580* $84,360* $108,760* $102,160*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

What Career Options Do I Have with a Master's Degree in Computer Science?

Computer science is a broad field that has application in nearly every industry that uses computers. You may work in business, government or education and apply your degree to a number of different fields, such as healthcare, science, finance, engineering or technology. With your master's degree in computer science, you will likely qualify for positions beyond the entry level in any of these industries. Employers often prefer candidates with an advanced degree, especially for high technology research and development positions.

You may work as a computer scientist designing new technology for businesses and scientific organizations. You could become a computer science researcher and focus on new theories and development. A computer science degree may also allow you to work as computer software engineer, developing new software for business or government. In addition, you may pursue a career as a computer programmer and use programming languages to write instructions for new software systems and computer applications. A doctoral degree is generally required to teach and conduct research at a university or laboratory; doctoral students typically earn a master's degree on their way to completing the Ph.D.

What Will My Job Duties Be?

Most computer scientists work with hardware or software systems, but specific job responsibilities will be determined by your job title and the industry in which you work. Computer scientists are generally hired to build new technology or resolve issues with current technology for a company or organization. You may develop ways to resolve computing problems or design better ways of using computers.

As a software engineer, you may be in charge of designing different types of software, such as business applications, computer games or operating systems. Applications software engineers focus on the front end of the design and take the end user's needs into consideration. Computer software systems engineers address the various computer needs of an organization and its departments, which can involve ordering, billing and performing maintenance work. You might also set up a company's intranet and systems security. Computer programmers are responsible for taking a design or set of requirements and using a programming language to write up instructions that produce the application, tools or functions required.

What Is the Job Outlook for This Industry?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), careers in computer science are projected to decline and grow at various rates depending on the career. This change may range between an eight percent decline and a 19% growth during the period 2014-2024, depending on the selected field (www.bls.gov). This growth will be driven in part by an increased demand for more sophisticated technology.

Candidates who keep up with changing technology and learn additional computer programming languages may have the best job prospects. Certification can also enhance your qualifications and expand your opportunities. Many software firms, product vendors and professional organizations offer certification programs. For instance, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Computer Society offers the Certified Software Development Associate credential for those beginning their careers and the Certified Software Development Professional credential for mid-career professionals.

How Much Can I Expect to Earn?

The salaries of computer scientists vary somewhat according to the area and industry in which they work. According to the BLS, the mean annual wages of all computer and information research scientists were $115,580 in May 2015(www.bls.gov).

The BLS reports that computer and information research scientists employed in computer systems design or related services had mean annual wages of $116,250 in May 2015, and those employed in research had mean annual wages of $ 127,730 in the same year. Computer programmers earned mean annual wages of $84,360 in May 2015. Finally, computer applications software developers and computer software systems developers had 2015 mean annual salaries of $102,160 and $108,760, respectively.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

A few more careers related to computer science include computer hardware engineers, computer and information systems managers and computer and information research scientists. Computer hardware engineers specialize in developing new computer hardware. With this knowledge they can create new, more efficient systems. Computer and information systems managers may not create computer networks and systems, but they are responsible for managing and maintaining them. Computer and information research scientists develop new computing technologies and using both those and old ones study and solve computing processes for businesses and organizations.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Purdue University Global

    Purdue University Global responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Purdue University Global:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Georgetown University

    Georgetown University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Georgetown University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Grand Canyon University

    Grand Canyon University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Grand Canyon University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Colorado State University Global

    Colorado State University Global responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Colorado State University Global:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Regent University

    Regent University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Regent University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Full Sail University

    Full Sail University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Full Sail University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Southern New Hampshire University

    Southern New Hampshire University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Southern New Hampshire University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • American InterContinental University

    American InterContinental University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at American InterContinental University:

    Online Programs Available

  • Colorado Christian University

    Colorado Christian University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Colorado Christian University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Northcentral University

    Northcentral University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Northcentral University:

    Online Programs Available

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. Next »