What Can You Do With a Master’s in Computer Science?

21 September, 2021

What Can You Do with a Master's in Computer Science?There is a talent shortage in tech, giving employees in the field the upper hand when looking for new jobs or negotiating for promotions. According to Forbes contributor and Centric Consulting CEO Larry English, a deficit that has been a decade in the making was only worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, with more tech professionals needed in order to help companies adapt to working and doing business remotely. Some 66% of companies plan to hire tech personnel in 2021, but with a limited pool available, organizations are competing over talent by offering higher wages, permanent remote work options, flexibility, and more to potential applicants.

Now is also an excellent time to build skills in areas like machine learning, big data, artificial intelligence, and cloud computing. The IEEE Computer Society identifies these technologies as among the biggest tech trends that could significantly impact the computer science industry by 2022. Along with providing exposure to these important technologies, a master’s in computer science gives you experience with specific technologies and systems, and helps you gain knowledge of trends and challenges in computer science, systems, and IT.


Master’s in Computer Science Careers

The master’s in computer science job outlook for graduates shows consistent growth through the next decade, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expecting an 11% increase in computer and information technology occupations – the equivalent of about 531,200 new jobs – from 2019-2029, much faster than the 4% national average.

According to PayScale, the mean master’s in computer science salary is $104,000. Along with providing an increase in salary for many IT and programming jobs, a master’s degree in computer science can help you advance into senior roles in enterprise technology and business leadership, as well as help you learn the technologies you need to succeed throughout your career. Here we provide details on some common jobs for master’s in computer science graduates, including median salary information, day-to-day tasks, and skills needed to excel.*

Seidenberg Portable Lab

Many of the careers outlined below benefit from practical experience in multiple tools and programming languages. One of the advantages of a master’s degree is the breadth of proficiencies covered.

For example, students in the Pace University online MS in Computer Science program utilize the Seidenberg Portable Lab, based on computing virtualization technologies. This lab enables them to gain hands-on experience by running virtual computers developed by instructors on their laptop or PC to study current technologies and complete projects.

Chief Information Officer

Median salary: $116,420

The Chief Information Officer (CIO) is an executive responsible for overseeing the IT department, including managing and hiring new employees. They lead decisions and strategy development on purchasing software and technological equipment to meet business needs and keep company information secure, as well as manage new technology implementations.

Along with an extensive background in IT, CIOs must possess leadership, project management, and communication skills, since their job includes heading up a team and meeting with other professionals at all levels of their organizations.

CIO job listings often call for 10+ years of experience. While a bachelor’s degree is typically required for this position, a master’s degree is often listed as preferred.

Computer Programmer

Median salary: $79,913

Computer programmers work across industries, writing code for computer software and mobile applications in languages like Python, Java, and C++. This includes testing and reviewing code to make sure all aspects of the program function properly and meet users’ needs. They also develop updates for existing programs, fixing bugs and making improvements based on users’ feedback. For enterprise-grade software in particular, programmers may also be involved in developing versions of their software for use on different operating systems.

Along with coding skills, computer programmers must also be detail-oriented and strong in communication and teamwork. They typically collaborate with web and software developers on projects, and they must be able to share their work with coworkers and clients who may not have the same level of technical knowledge as they do.

In addition to building the foundational knowledge of how code functions and how information systems are structured, gaining practical experience with coding, development frameworks, and other programming tools is essential for thriving in this role.

Database Administrator

Median salary: $86,792

Database administrators, or DBAs, create and manage a company’s information infrastructure using database management systems like Microsoft SQL or Oracle Database. Their responsibilities include storing and organizing data so employees and applications across the company can easily access and leverage it. DBAs monitor servers and information systems, ensuring that critical data remains available, as well as plan for and work to prevent data breaches and loss.

According to the U.S. BLS employment is expected to increase 10% in this role from 2019-2029 – much faster than the average – as companies’ data management needs grow. With experience, a DBA can move on to become a senior DBA, which includes managing and mentoring junior DBAs. Graduate education can also help you broaden your skill set.

Mobile Application Developer

Median salary: $104,080

Mobile application developers build and maintain software, or apps, for smartphones and tablets. This includes designing, coding, testing, and deploying applications. Once apps are deployed, mobile app developers must troubleshoot – including identifying and fixing bugs – and continue to implement new features to keep users engaged.

It’s expected that mobile app developers have the knowledge to develop in iOS or Android operating systems, using Objective-C, Swift, Java, or Kotlin programming languages. App developers use software development tools like Jira to manage projects, which allows them to track bugs and issues.

Graduate courses in computer science cover topics like algorithms and computing theory, internet and web computing, parallel/distributed and cloud computing, and database systems. In the Pace online Master of Science in Computer Science, students have the opportunity to select a mobile computing concentration, which includes courses in mobile application development, mobile web content and development, and mobile innovations for global challenges.

Security Analyst

Median salary: $96,994

Security analysts are responsible for keeping a company’s information secure. They must monitor suspicious activity, manage automated intrusion detection and network activity analysis tools, and make recommendations to update policies and procedures to improve security. This involves training employees with information security best practices and making recommendations for security software.

Professionals in this role run tests to check for vulnerabilities, and develop a strategy for prioritizing and responding to any gaps or other concerns they find. When security breaches do occur, analysts investigate the cause and report on the scope, as well as make recommendations for how their organizations can prevent similar attacks from happening in the future. Since new technologies and ways of hacking are constantly being developed, security analysts need to foster a healthy curiosity and hone their research skills, so they can understand the most common threats and security trends.

This job is another with very high growth potential; it’s expected that employment of information security analysts will grow 31% from 2019-2029. With experience, security analysts can move into senior roles mentoring junior analysts.

Software Engineer

Median salary: $99,352

Software engineers plan, write, test, and fix code to design software to meet user needs. They also analyze existing computer systems and identify areas for improvements.

Software engineers must be proficient in programming languages like SQL, C++, and Java. This role is collaborative, often working with clients and other departments at the organization. According to the U.S. BLS, employment of software developers and engineers is projected to grow 22% from 2019-2029, over five times the national average. The high demand stems from growth in health and insurance software, higher demand for mobile applications in enterprise environments, as well as the growth in smart home and other embedded electronics technology.

Web Developer

Median salary: $92,223

Web developers build and maintain websites. This process might be broken out into two roles: front-end developers typically handle the customer-facing appearance and functionality of the website using code, whereas back-end developers are in charge of the behind-the-scenes functionality — features like payment processing and how the application transmits data. Full stack developers handle both.

Front-end developers use programming languages like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, while back-end developers commonly use Ruby, PHP, and Python. Professionals in these positions work with teams, including designers and copywriters, to plan website layouts, design the user interface for web applications, and determine the functionality needed for meeting business objectives.

Developers can progress into management positions, including the role of senior web developer.

*Salary information listed for the above positions was compiled from Burning Glass.


About the Online Master of Science in Computer Science at Pace University

The Pace University online Master of Science in Computer Science provides hands-on training that professionals need to excel in leadership or managerial positions in computer science and systems, or to transition into the field. Select a concentration in artificial intelligence, internet computing, network security, or mobile computing, or choose to create your own with our wide variety of electives. The program is taught by experienced practitioners and active members of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. (IEEE).


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