Computer Scientist Job Description

Computer scientists solve complex problems by designing new technologies and developing new uses for existing technologies.

There are many different areas of specialty in the computer science field, but some of the most common include database theory, algorithm and data structure design, computer graphics, numerical analysis, and information theory.

The work that computer scientists do helps push the boundaries of what’s technically possible. Without computer scientists we wouldn’t have smart phones, tablet computers, video game consoles, GPS systems, or the internet.

Some computer scientists choose to work as college professors or teachers, but most work as researchers. The impact of the work that computer scientists do impacts just about every part of our daily lives.

Researchers who work in academic fields push technology forward by doing research that demonstrates what’s theoretically possible. Computer sciences who work for businesses push it forward by making tangible products with the research conducted by other scientists.

Most computer scientists work for the federal government, scientific research and development firms, computer systems design firms, and software companies.

The majority of computer scientists work full time.

Though there are many different specialties available for computer scientists, most can be classified into one of these three areas:

Software. Software tells a computer what to do. Examples of software that computer scientists might work on include games, GPS systems, electronic car components, search engines, databases, operating systems, and web browsers.

Hardware. Computer scientists who work on computer hardware are always trying to come up with new ways to process, send, and receive information. If you’ve ever opened up your computer and looked at processors on the inside, those components were designed in part by computer scientists.

Robotics. Some computer scientists dedicate their careers to improving robots. They normally work very closely with engineers and computer scientists who design software to improve robotics. Many of the robots they design are used in manufacturing facilities. Sometimes, they even work on robots that are sent into space to collect data from other planets (like the Mars Rover). As robots are integrated more and more into our lives, there will be increasing opportunities for computer scientists in this field.

How to Become a Computer Scientist

A Ph.D. in computer science or a very closely related field (like computer engineering) is required for most computer scientist positions. Most students accepted into a Ph.D. program have an undergraduate degree in computer science, mathematics, or information systems.

Ph.D. programs take between four to five years to complete. The first two years are typically spent in a classroom, where students learn concepts more advanced than those they learned as an undergrad. After those two years of study are complete, students spend their remaining years researching within their chosen specialty.

Sometimes, this research produces amazing results. For example, Larry Page and Sergey Brin created Google while they were Ph.D. students at Stanford.

If you’re still in high school and you’re considering a career as a computer scientist, taking computer science and advanced math courses can help prepare you for your college coursework.

Related Occupations

Employment Outlook

There are currently 28,200 computer scientists in the United States, with 1,060 new computer scientist job openings created each year.

Computer Scientist jobs are not expected to see much growth beyond their current levels in the next decade.

Computer Scientist Salaries

Overall Salaries

Computer Scientist salaries can vary depending on your experience, the location, company, industry, and benefits provided. Nationwide, most computer scientists make between $78,000 – $123,500 per year, or $37.50 – $59.39 per hour.

Career as a Computer Research Scientist – Description, Income, & Qualification


A computer scientist’s job is to find new ways to improve existing technology used in computing. After every few months, we hear about a new computer processor that uses new and improved computing algorithms; these advancements are developed thanks to the work done by computer scientists.

New computer components are faster and more efficient than their predecessors are. They are often less power hungry and can do more work in less time. These are hundreds of thousands different component that we are using in different computing devices; we are not just talking about home PCs. For example, MRI machines have a built-in processing unit; it consists of a processor and many other components. It is not a traditional circuit; it is made to do a special task.

Computer scientists are behind the improvements made to thousands of computing devices. They put in a lot of work and research to develop new techniques and solve complex equations to improve existing technology or make new ones.

Computer scientists design and develop not just new hardware but they also work on new software development, which can improve the overall system they are working on.

Work Conditions and Timings

This is a full-time job. Employees spend most of their time doing research in labs or in their offices on a computer. This is an ideal job for people who have a passion about computers.


Qualification requirement varies; it depends on what job you are applying for. Some require a bachelor’s degree in computer science, computer engineering, or any other relevant field. A few jobs require applicants to present a Ph.D. degree in aforementioned fields.

Job Prospects

There are currently >26,000 computer research scientists jobs in United States of America. According to BLS projections, the number of computer researcher jobs in USA will increase by 11% from 2014 to 2024. This increase would not surprise you as we are now living in a world dominated by digital gadgets.


Computer research scientists are well paid; the average income is around $111,500 a year. The lowest paying jobs in this field still give you ~$65,050 a year! The highest salary in this field gives you >$171,480 annually!

Updated: 09/02/2017