As computer-based technologies gradually become necessary aspects of our day-to-day lives, becoming familiar with the science of computers is just as crucial. It is no secret that graduates with a working knowledge of computer science are highly sought-after by businesses and institutions that are also struggling in their own way to keep up with the times. Therefore, majoring, or even minoring in computer science could open up several new and lucrative opportunities for graduating college students who are looking to gain a head start in today’s highly competitive job market.
From the tech and medical industries to education or even finance, most industries and lines of business in the United States have some need for employees with a background in C.S. Moreover, several aspects of computer science are simple and straightforward enough for even a Liberal Arts major to pick up with little or no trouble. With so many benefits and so few drawbacks, becoming familiar with the ins-and-outs of computer science is a great idea for everyone who wants to develop an indispensable career skill.
The Basics Behind a Degree in Computer Science
Like several of the most popular majors out there, the field of computer science is incredibly broad, and students shouldn’t expect themselves to learn everything there is to know about the subject. Instead, what students with a focus in C.S. do is specialize in specific aspects of the field, much in the same way a medical student will specialize within the broad field of medicine. The Department of Computer Science at Stanford University provides an excellent diagram of the various aspects of C.S. a student can specialize in and how those specializations relate to each other within the major.
Before a student can specialize in any given area of computer science, there are several fundamentals that all students must familiarize themselves with before embarking upon a practical or long-term study of the discipline. While an in-depth knowledge of hard mathematics isn’t usually necessary for students of C.S., taking courses in programming, algorithms and computer logic is required for proceeding into the more complex areas of the field. Many of these courses can be quite difficult for a student with little-to-no background in computers or math, but they can typically be grasped more easily than several areas of college-level mathematics.
In fact, many colleges and universities allow students to take courses in computer science to satisfy general education requirements in math or quantitative reasoning. Successfully completing college courses in math or statistics can be a challenge, particularly for majors in the Liberal Arts, so knowing that options exist within the field of computer science to fulfill this requirement at your college or university can be a major benefit. In addition, one can use these courses to gain a valuable introduction to C.S. before choosing to embark upon a more in-depth study of the subject.
For students who are more interested in the practical value of computer science when it comes to landing a great job after college, take comfort in the fact that many businesses and institutions are in dire need of employees with more than just a basic knowledge of computer science. Payscale.com offers an exciting overview of the careers currently available for C.S. graduates, and the average salary for each role is certainly nothing to sneeze at. While an experienced software architect can make upwards of $117,000 a year, students who pursue specializations that require less experience in the field, such as web development or network administration, can still expect to earn nearly $60,000 a year for their talents.
As computers continue to become a fundamental part of everyday life, individuals with a strong background in computer science will find that their value in the job market of tomorrow will increase markedly. Not only will businesses and organizations need to make sure that their computer hardware, software and networks are running in tip-top shape, but as these elements become more and more complex, finding employees with the proper foundational knowledge in computer science will become a requirement. Moreover, a background in computer science can significantly complement one’s skills in web-based programming and content creation, in addition to making it easier for those without these skills to pick them up quickly and efficiently.
Is Computer Science Right for You?
Even though many of us may still have the opportunity to commit time and energy to pursuing a major in computer science, many others may not have the time, energy or resources to earn an undergraduate degree in the field. Fortunately, several excellent tutorials and courses exist online that offer more than just an introduction to C.S. Not only are many of these courses and tutorials free to use, many of them offer certification that individuals can use to highlight their knowledge in the field on their resumes and in interviews.
Coursera is quickly growing to become one of the internet’s premier resources for earning a free education at your own pace online. Of the hundreds of courses available, Coursera offers several fascinating courses within the categories of artificial intelligence and robotics, as well as systems, security and networking. Other great online C.S. tutorials and courses can be found at the Khan Academy and ComputerScienceTutorials.com, all of which are free of charge. Many of these online academies and tutorial hubs also offer introductions to web-based programming languages to help augment your skill set in the realm of computer science.
Before making the decision to major in C.S., or even to take several courses in the field, make sure you do some preliminary research into how picking up this knowledge can help you in the future. While having a background in computer science is undoubtedly beneficial for anyone having trouble securing a job these days, the field of study is not everyone’s cup of tea. For those of us with more than just a passing interest in computers, technology or the web, gaining valuable knowledge of computer science can not only increase our value on the job market, but can also help us to gain a deeper appreciation for the tech and gadgets we all love.