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The best computer science careers in 2022

Discover the top computer science careers you can pursue, plus advice on finding the right computer science path for you.
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Written by Doug Wintemute, Contributing Writer on
Three women wearing business clothes stand in a computer lab surrounded by screens.

A bachelor's in computer science prepares you to land in-demand tech careers in design and development, analysis, and management. 

As large industries use more complex technologies, the number of jobs for computer science majors increases. Graduates can find computer science careers in healthcare, manufacturing, business, and the government. 

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 13% growth in computer occupations 2020-30, resulting from demands for improved technologies, security, cloud computing infrastructure, and big data applications.

Here, we explore the best careers with an online computer science degree and what skills top candidates need.

Skills computer science employers want

To impress employers, aspiring computer science professionals can pursue degrees, tech certifications, and specialized training in areas like coding and data analytics

Additionally, candidates can pick up new soft skills and improve the ones they already have.

In the computer science field, people or "soft" skills can help professionals find new ways to tackle problems. They also help IT specialists communicate and collaborate. Below are some of the most useful hard and soft skills in this field.

Soft skills

  • Communication

  • Analytical reasoning

  • Problem-solving

  • Leadership

  • Time management

Hard skills

  • Mathematics

  • Coding

  • Technical writing

  • Software development

  • Networking


Best jobs for computer science majors

Computer science majors can access many of the most popular computer occupations. The widely applicable training provides a solid foundation for professionals to leverage and build upon. Here, we look at the best careers with a computer science degree, ranking them to help readers identify the best opportunities available.

To create this ranking, we evaluated computer science careers based on salary, job demand and projected growth, remote work opportunities, work-life balance, and work satisfaction. Salary, work-life balance, and work satisfaction were weighted the most heavily.

1. Cloud engineer

Median annual salary: $120,520 (May 2021)
Minimum degree required:
Bachelor's
Years of experience required: Five to 10

Good fit for: 

  • Detail-oriented leaders with quality organizational and interpersonal skills
  • Analytical professionals with problem-solving abilities, creativity, and ingenuity

Cloud engineers create plans and development strategies for cloud computing networks. They base their designs on consumer needs and technological demands while upgrading and improving the existing network and systems. These engineers ensure the system is scalable and operable for all users.

2. AI research scientist

Median annual salary: $131,490 (May 2021)
Minimum degree required: Master's
Years of experience required: Zero

Good fit for: 

  • Logical thinkers with mathematics, analytical, and problem-solving skills
  • Professionals with communication and interpersonal strengths
  • Leaders and innovators

AI research scientists look for ways to improve artificial intelligence and use it in new and revealing ways. These scientists seek out problems that AI might help solve, conducting experiments and presenting the results of these tests.

3. Data scientist

Median annual salary: $100,910 (May 2021)
Minimum degree required: Bachelor's or master's 
Years of experience required: Zero

Good fit for: 

  • Analytical professionals with strengths in mathematics and problem-solving
  • People with a knack for creativity and ingenuity
  • Organized and detail-oriented leaders

Data scientists look for different ways to use data to help organizations and industries make more informed decisions. They create mining strategies, analysis methods, and various models and visualizations to make sense of the results. 


SEE: Data scientist jobs you'll love


4. Mobile application designer

Average annual salary$71,958 (May 2022)
Minimum degree required: Associate, bachelor's, or none
Years of experience required: Zero

Good fit for: 

  • Creative IT specialists with problem-solving and analytical skills
  • Professionals with good customer service and communication skills

Mobile application designers create applications for organizations, websites, and software. They design based on consumer and user needs, run the application through testing, and make upgrades and improvements when necessary. 

Instead of earning a degree, you could take a mobile app development bootcamp.

5. Computer systems analyst

Median annual salary: $99,270 (May 2021)
Minimum degree required: Bachelor's
Years of experience required: Zero

Good fit for: 

  • People with analytical skills
  • Leaders with strong communication abilities
  • Creative problem-solvers

Computer systems analysts evaluate an organization's technological needs and computer systems to identify possible improvements and inefficiencies. They then plan upgrades by developing budgets and projections, while also designing and implementing the new systems and training users and administrators.

6. Software developer

Median annual salary: $110,140 (May 2020)
Minimum degree required: Bachelor's
Years of experience required: Zero

Good fit for: 

  • People with strong communication and interpersonal skills
  • Creative and analytical people with a knack for problem-solving
  • Detail-oriented professionals

Software developers design and develop software that works on various systems. They ensure the various applications within the software and those interacting with it all work together. They collaborate with coders, engineers, and testers.

7. Software engineer

Median annual salary: $110,140 (May 2020)
Minimum degree required: Bachelor's
Years of experience required: Zero

Good fit for:

  • Engineers with math and computer skills
  • Creative thinkers with good analytical and problem-solving abilities
  • Ordered and detail-oriented people

People often struggle to distinguish software engineers vs. web developers. While both tackle similar projects, software engineers typically work more closely with consumers to create software that satisfies user needs. To become a software engineer, professionals need to understand the entire development process.

8. Machine learning engineer

Annual median pay: $131,490 (May 2021)
Minimum degree required: Master's
Years of experience required: Zero

Good fit for: 

  • Logical and analytical professionals with strong math and technical skills
  • Curious and detail-oriented academics with communication ability

Machine learning engineers work in a niche field of information systems research. They seek ways to use machines and artificial intelligence to solve complex problems, test systems, and make projections. They also develop ways for machines to process information and sensory data.

9. Computer programmer

Median annual salary: $93,000 (May 2021)
Minimum degree required: Bachelor's
Years of experience required: Zero

Good fit for: 

  • Professionals with computer and troubleshooting knowledge
  • Detail-oriented people with strong concentration skills
  • Analytical problem-solvers

Computer programmers write code for software developers, fix faulty application code, and test programs and applications for errors. Programmers may have a hand in the design process and provide input on functionality. 


SEE: What you need to know before becoming a programmer


10. Computer science professor

Annual median pay: $79,640 (May 2021)
Minimum degree required: Ph.D. 
Years of experience required: Zero to three

Good fit for: 

  • Critical thinkers with strong communication and interpersonal skills
  • Resourceful academics with a desire to learn and pass on knowledge

Computer science professors teach classrooms of computer science students, plan lessons, develop curriculums, and oversee lab work. Teachers also conduct their own research projects, leading teams of researchers, and publishing their findings.

11. Computer hardware engineer

Annual median salary: $128,170 (May 2021)
Minimum degree required: Bachelor's
Years of experience required: Zero

Good fit for: 

  • Tech-savvy individuals with analytical and critical thinking skills
  • Curious problem-solvers with strong communication abilities

Computer hardware engineers design and develop new computer components and equipment. They research hardware needs and create solutions and upgrades for automobiles, computers, and other technologies. They also test the hardware and provide input during the manufacturing phase.

12. IT project manager

Annual median salary: $159,010 (May 2021)
Minimum degree required: Bachelor's
Years of experience required: Three to 10

Good fit for: 

  • Professionals with strong leadership, communication, and interpersonal skills
  • IT experts with business acumen and decision-making and organizational abilities

IT project managers oversee information technology maintenance, installation, and development projects. They manage other IT professionals, such as developers and programmers, and handle project budgets and scheduling.

13. Computer and information research scientist

Annual median salary: $131,490 (May 2021)
Minimum degree required: Master's
Years of experience required: Zero

Good fit for: 

  • Curious academics with analytical, problem-solving, and logical thinking skills
  • Professionals with strong communication and interpersonal abilities

Computer and information research scientists seek out new and improved uses for technology. They research new applications and test out possible solutions using existing technologies, publishing and presenting their findings. 

14. Network and computer systems administrator

Annual median salary: $80,600 (May 2021)
Minimum degree required: Bachelor's
Years of experience required: Zero

Good fit for: 

  • Multitaskers with analytical mindsets 
  • Problem-solvers with strong communication and interpersonal skills
  • IT professionals with broad technological skill sets

Network administrators oversee the daily operations of an organization's networks. They perform upgrades, regular maintenance, and troubleshooting. They also train users and look for opportunities to improve network performance based on organizational needs. 

15. Web developer

Annual median salary: $77,200 (May 2020)
Minimum degree required: Bachelor's
Years of experience required: Zero

Good fit for: 

  • Creative-minded professionals with coding and problem-solving skills
  • People with strong communication and customer service abilities
  • Detail-oriented professionals

Web developers create websites for consumers based on the requirements of management and end users. They write code, integrate graphics and applications, and evaluate performance, traffic, and user concerns. 

Becoming a web developer requires professionals to regularly refresh their skills to keep websites updated and intuitive. Learn more about how to become a web developer here.

16. Video game developer

Median annual salary: $79,890 (May 2021)
Minimum degree required: Associate or bachelor's
Years of experience required: Zero

Good fit for: 

  • Programmers with communication and interpersonal skills
  • Problem-solvers with original and creative thinking
  • IT professionals with diverse technical abilities

Becoming a video game developer requires versatility. Video game developers create various aspects of video games, including applications, coding, gameplay mechanics, and user interfaces. They work with the game management, production staff, and user test groups to develop the most user-friendly end product. 

17. Computer network architect

Median annual salary: $120,520 (May 2021)
Minimum degree required: Bachelor's
Years of experience required: Five

Good fit for: 

  • Detail-oriented professionals with a broad knowledge of network and IT technologies
  • Leaders with communication and interpersonal skills

Computer network architects design networks based on organizations' needs and business goals. They may need to upgrade the hardware, install applications, troubleshoot, and secure the networks. They also research new solutions to improve network performance and outcomes.

18. Information security analyst

Median annual salary: $102,600 (May 2021)
Minimum degree required: Bachelor's
Years of experience required: <Five years

Good fit for: 

  • Analytical and observant IT professionals with detail-oriented mindsets
  • Creative problem-solvers

Information security analysts secure organizational data and information from threats. They test networks and systems to identify potential weaknesses, put protections in place, and monitor suspicious activity. They also report security breaches and prepare backups.

19. Computer support specialist

Median annual salary: $57,910 (May 2021)
Minimum degree required: Associate, bachelor's, or none
Years of experience required: Zero

Good fit for: 

  • Tech savvy professionals with strong communication and interpersonal skills
  • Customer-service experts with problem-solving abilities

Computer support specialists assist users, troubleshoot technical problems, and test systems to identify issues. They may work directly with networks or specific applications. These specialists may also provide technical services within organizations.

Freelance careers in computer science

Modern technology allows IT professionals to access devices remotely. In many cases, technical problems can be diagnosed and solved from anywhere, paving the way for freelancers to take on previously in-house computer science careers.

According to IEEE Computer Society, most of the biggest computer science roles — including programmers, computer system analysts, and computer support specialists — offer freelancing opportunities. Freelancers can manage their own projects and schedules and build their own network of clients through professional organizations and events. 

Here are some possible pros and cons of freelancing compared to traditional full-time employment. 

Pros

  • Freedom and flexibility
  • Control over schedule and chosen jobs
  • Less interoffice politics

Cons

  • No guarantee of stable work
  • Fewer benefits
  • Challenging to manage contracts and pressure

How do I start a career in computer science?

The computer science field welcomes professionals from various backgrounds. According to the BLS, most computer occupations require a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field.

What is the highest paying job for computer science?

According to the BLS, the highest-paying computer science jobs belong to computer and information research scientists and information systems managers, who as of 2021 make median annual wages of $131,490 and $159,010, respectively.

What fun jobs can I get with a computer science degree?

While fun is subjective, computer science degrees can lead to many exciting careers. Examples include web developers, video game developers, and professionals working with artificial intelligence. 

Which branch of computer science is in demand?

According to the BLS, the most in-demand branches of computer science are cybersecurity, cloud computing, and big data. 

Unless otherwise noted, salary, job growth, and other job data is drawn from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as of June 17, 2022.

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