Education Needed for a Computer Science & Software Engineering Career

Most individuals interested in computer science or software engineering careers pursue a bachelor's degree, with some students going on to earn master's or doctoral degrees. Read on for information on the education needed for careers in these fields. Schools offering Software Development & Engineering degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Computer Science and Software Engineering Career Overview

Both computer science and software engineering encompass a wide range of careers in areas that include computer design, information technology management and software application development. Computer scientists and software engineers are knowledgeable about the theoretical and practical applications of computer technology. They may assist in the design and implementation of software or develop effective ways to address new computer issues. People in computer science and software engineering positions must be well trained before working professionally. This training usually involves completion of a college-level degree program.

Important Facts About Careers in Computer Science & Software Engineering

Computer Software Developers Computer Hardware Engineers Computer and Information Research Scientists
Required Education Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree Doctorate or professional degree
Work Environment Office work in computer firms Office work for high-tech manufacturing firms or research laboratories Employed in offices for the federal government, as well as research & development labs
Similar Jobs Computer and information research scientists, computer hardware engineers Software developers, computer & information systems managers, information security managers Computer hardware engineers, database administrators, computer & information systems mangers
Special Skills Judgment & decision-making, time management, active listening Critical thinking, reading comprehension, complex problem solving Complex program solving, systems analysis and evaluation, social perceptiveness

Undergraduate Degrees

Students interested in computer science or software engineering careers generally choose to pursue an undergraduate degree program in a related field. Many schools offer degree programs leading to a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Computer Science or Information Technology. These programs provide a strong foundation in computer science and introduce candidates to related topics, including computer networking, computation principles and programming. Students are required to complete core computer science courses and general education coursework.

Many universities also award a Bachelor of Science in Software Engineering. Programs leading to this degree provide students with a similar education; however, more emphasis is placed on the design and development of software. Students learn about several topics, including data warehouse systems, Web development and software design.

Graduate Degrees

Graduate-level degrees are common among those in the computer science and software engineering fields. Advanced degree programs build upon the knowledge gained in undergraduate programs and often lead to career advancement.

A degree program leading to a Master of Science (M.S.) in Computer Science prepares students for advanced technical positions, management positions, research posts or entry into a doctoral program in a related field. Graduate-level programs can typically be completed in two years. Doctoral (Ph.D.) programs emphasize research and require completion of an approved doctoral dissertation. Many graduates of Ph.D. programs choose to pursue educational or research positions.

Career Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer and information research scientists are expected to see an above-average increase of 11% in job opportunities from 2014-2024. The median pay for these professionals was $108,360 per year as of 2014. Software developers are reported to see an even greater increase in job opportunities of 17% during this time frame. The median salary among applications software developers was $95,510 as of 2014; systems software earned a median of $102,880 per year (

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