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Computer and Information Scientists

Computer and information scientists work as researchers, inventors or as theorists. They deal with complex problems, they develop new technology and work with applications from a high level of expertise and innovation.

A computer and information scientist is often searching for new ways to utilize computers to meet the needs of users. Their work requires a high level of knowledge of computer theory and application. Some of the common job titles are scientific programmer analysts, computer scientist and control system computer scientist.

Some computer and information scientists are involved with programming-language design and hardware design. They also develop solutions for problems in the field of computer software and hardware. Some in the occupation work with complex theories. Computer and information scientists also work on projects such as designing robots and extending human-computer interaction.

Computer science researchers, employed by colleges and universities, typically have the opportunity to focus on pure theory while computer science researchers employed by companies usually are involved with projects that may produce patents and profits. However, there are some researchers working in non-academic environments that are given considerable freedom to determine the focus of their research.

Responsibilities

  • Apply innovation and theory to develop or apply new technology
  • Perform analysis of scientific, business, engineering and other technical problems
  • Analyze computer hardware and software problems and develop solutions
  • Consult with others to determine computer requirements
  • Help develop organizational policies, goals and procedures
  • Assess feasibility issues of project plans and proposals
  • Participate in staff decisions

Job Characteristics

Computer scientists usually work in offices or laboratories. They usually work 40 hours a week. Telecommuting is increasingly popular for many computer professionals. Computer and information scientists sometimes work as part of a team with electrical engineers and other specialists. They should have strong analytical and problem solving skills. They also need good communication skills and should be detail-oriented.

Employment Outlook

Employment for computer scientists is projected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to grow by 37 percent between 2006 and 2016 which is much faster than average for all occupations. Computers continue to become more central to business functions and more complicated technology is being utilized in most types of businesses and organizations which increases the demand for computer scientists.

In 2006 the median annual earnings for computer and information scientists was $93,950. The highest paid 10 percent earned more than $144,880.

Computer and information scientists have opportunities to advance into project leadership or managerial positions. Some in the occupation that hold advanced degrees decide to leave private industry for an academic position.

Education, Certification, and Licensing

Most computer scientist jobs require a Ph.D since their primary function is research. Computer scientists that have earned only a bachelor's degree or a master's degree usually have limited advancement opportunities. Job seekers can improve their chances of getting a job by earning certifications. Certifications are provided by various organizations associated with computer specialists.

Due to continual advances in technology many computer and information scientists choose to continue their study at colleges and universities, at professional development seminars, with programs offered by software and hardware vendors and from other sources. Scientifically based companies and organizations often look for a candidate that has a background in physical sciences, engineering or mathematics.

Resources

Major Employers

The major employers are the computer systems design and related services industry, computer and electronic product manufacturers, financial institutions, the government, Internet services providers, web search portals, hosting and related services firms, colleges and universities, and insurance companies.

Schools for Computer And Information Scientists are listed in the Browse Schools Section.

Most Popular Industries for
Computer and Information Scientists

These industries represent at least 1% of the total number of people employed in this occupation.

Industry Total Employment Percent Annual Median Salary
Professional And Technical Services 12,220 48% $99,100
Government 5,380 21% $93,660
Traditional Publishing 2,810 11% $108,380
Education 1,530 6% $65,200
Durable Goods Wholesale 1,140 4% $118,270
Electronics And Computer 820 3% $107,350
Telecommunications 480 1% $119,230
Business Management 280 1% $102,100
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We have some additional detailed pages at the state level for Computer and Information Scientists.

Numbers in parentheses are counts of relevant campus-based schools in the state; online schools may also be available.

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