The booming tech industry has changed the world both for the better and the worse. If you want to join the industry but want to ensure your work has a positive impact, consider pursuing a meaningful computer science career path.
Within this growing field are computer science career paths that provide worthwhile services, such as those in healthcare, education, and nonprofit organizations.
Here, we examine these and other meaningful computer science career paths, plus how you can land these jobs.
Job-seekers often balance salary and pursuing their passions and values.
While computer science salaries attract many people to the field, computer science jobs also provide meaningful opportunities. According to PayScale's Meaningful Jobs survey, nearly 50% of computer managers, research scientists, and systems analysts reported high job meaning.
In each of these positions, computer professionals have opportunities to improve the way individuals and organizations use technology and information.
They help people and organizations perform better and make better decisions.
The best computer science degree careers are those that offer competitive salaries and personal benefits. The following list spotlights computer science career paths that allow professionals to make meaningful contributions to the world.
1. Nonprofit organizations
Nonprofits, including both tech-focused organizations like NPower or general organizations like Feeding America, offer numerous computer science career paths.
Nonprofits address a myriad of issues and come in many sizes. According to PayScale, the average base salary nonprofits offer is $58,000.
SEE: Nonprofit tech jobs: Support a good cause
2. Non-governmental organization (NGO)
Computer science professionals can find NGOs serving most passions and interests. These nonprofit organizations tend to have an international focus, which can increase their size and salary expectations.
Oxfam and Partners in Health are among the NGOs that hire computer science professionals.
B-Corps are organizations that meet high standards for social and environmental impacts. They create computer science career paths that help underserved populations and the environment. Compared to other companies, some B-Corps like Participate Learning and Dr. Bronner's pay more balanced ratios between the highest- and lowest-paid professionals.
4. Clean tech
Clean tech organizations offer computer science career paths for professionals with environmental interests.
Organizations like AeroFarms and Planet use data and technology to investigate and solve environmental issues. According to PayScale, clean energy employees earn average base salaries of $83,000.
5. Educational technology
Ideal for professionals who are passionate about education, the edtech industry aims to make learning more accessible and effective. Computer science career paths can be found in organizations such as Duolingo and Apex Learning.
These professionals earned annual mean wages of $71,640 in May 2021.
6. Healthcare tech
Healthcare tech is a desirable computer science career path for those who want to improve healthcare and health outcomes.
Tech professionals working in healthcare tech earn average base salaries of $86,000, according to PayScale. Organizations in this industry include Illumina and 3M Health Care.
7. Civic tech
The civic tech industry enables people to get involved and solve socio-political issues. For professionals interested in politics and engagement, this computer science path offers many opportunities, including organizations like DataMode and Clear Ballot.
The annual mean wage in this field was $64,320 in May 2021.
1. Decide on a cause you care about.
Finding a meaningful computer science career path starts with identifying your cause or passion. You may want to help people with specific issues, assist certain populations, or help prevent particular challenges.
2. Look for companies and organizations that support that goal
From there, you can seek out organizations working in those fields. You could focus on a specific industry or look across industries for organizations focused on issues you prioritize.
Research the impact the organization has had and what plans they have for the future. After determining if their values and direction align with yours, look to see if the organization is hiring and reach out.
3. Check out industry-specific job boards
To find a meaningful computer science career path, search industry-specific job search sites.
For example, if you are interested in healthcare or education, you can search the sites that focus on careers in those fields. You can also use issue-specific search terms, such as climate change or renewable energy, on general job boards.
To get started, check out these industry- and cause-specific job boards. These sites link job postings from education, healthcare, and nonprofit organizations.
If you are unable to find or pursue a meaningful job at this time, there are other ways of giving back and making a difference.
Nonprofit organizations are almost always looking for volunteers. You can lend your time and talents to these organizations and industries, tackling projects for them or mentoring others in the field.
Help others at your current job
You can find meaning in any job. Try to make a difference from within by pushing your organization to get involved in social issues; create ethical business practices; and introduce diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.
SEE: Here's how tech companies are diversifying recruiting and hiring
In 2019, Monali Mirel Chuatico graduated with her bachelor's in computer science, which gave her the foundation that she needed to excel in roles such as a data engineer, front-end developer, UX designer, and computer science instructor.
Monali is currently a data engineer at Mission Lane. As a data analytics captain at a nonprofit called COOP Careers, Monali helps new grads and young professionals overcome underemployment by teaching them data analytics tools and mentoring them on their professional development journey.
Monali is passionate about implementing creative solutions, building community, advocating for mental health, empowering women, and educating youth. Monali's goal is to gain more experience in her field, expand her skill set, and do meaningful work that will positively impact the world.
Monali Mirel Chuatico is a paid member of the Red Ventures Education Integrity Network.
Last reviewed May 4, 2022.
Unless otherwise noted, salary and job growth data is drawn from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as of June 20, 2022.