Skills Computer Scientists Should Have

Updated May 18, 2023 | Tessa Cooper

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Skills Computer Scientists Should Have

Computer scientists use research and innovative thinking to improve current technology and solve problems. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects jobs for computer and information research scientists to grow 22% from 2020-2030, which is much faster than average. The organization reports a median annual salary of $131,490 for these professionals.

Pursuing a quality degree helps learners hone their computer science skills. This guide outlines the innate qualities and learned skills computer scientists need to succeed. We also highlight tips for qualifying for various computer science jobs.

Questions About Computer Scientists

What Is the Most Important Skill for a Computer Scientist?

Computer scientists need strategic thinking skills to succeed. Some people naturally possess higher strategic thinking and problem-solving capabilities. However, anyone can hone these skills with practice.

What Are the Typical Job Responsibilities of a Computer Scientist?

Computer scientists conduct research and look for innovative ways to improve current technology. They work with other scientists and engineers to solve computing problems.

Do Computer Scientists Specialize?

Computer scientists may specialize in programming or robotics. Programming involves software languages. Robotics involves studying how machines interact with the world.

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What Skills Are Valuable to Computer Science Employers?

Some computer science skills are soft skills, which are personal qualities. For example, computer scientists must work well in teams and possess an eye for detail. They also need hard skills, which include knowledge and learned abilities. These computer scientist skills may include understanding computer programming. We highlight specific skills below.

Computer scientists do not solve complex issues on their own. They rely on the knowledge from other professionals with complementary expertise. Computer scientists sometimes contribute to open-source projects. Anyone can access open-source code. The transparency allows other technology professionals to build upon the knowledge and move the industry forward.

Curiosity is one of the most important computer scientist skills. These professionals channel their curiosity into solution-based problem-solving. Computer scientists constantly search for new ways to improve and use technology. They aim to solve everyday issues through their work. Computer scientists seek answers and develop plans to achieve goals.

Computer scientists must know how to translate complicated technical jargon into easy-to-understand terms. They need strong writing skills to effectively convey findings in papers. They also need public speaking skills to present findings at conferences. Lastly, computer scientists need strong interpersonal communication skills for teamwork purposes.

Computer scientists specializing in programming must know computer coding languages. Common examples include Java and Python. These professionals write lines of code to enhance user experience or create programs from scratch. Possessing coding skills also helps computer scientists contribute to open-source projects.

Computer science professionals conduct experiments and contribute research to the industry. They must know best practices for handling variable and control groups. They must also know how to critique their own experiments. Computer science experiments may require fundraising to gain money. These researchers must know how to manage a research budget effectively.

Computer scientists must know how to lead efforts on a project. They delegate tasks to information technology specialists and computer programmers. They review work and provide feedback. Computer scientists must know how to anticipate outcomes and develop complementary strategies.

Tips for Landing a Computer Science Job

When applying for computer science jobs, learners should research what qualities their ideal employer wants in a candidate. The first step requires researching potential types of employers. According to the BLS, 31% of computer scientists work for the federal government. Learners who want to earn a government job should pursue internships at government offices. They may also tailor their thesis to a topic that pertains to computer research for the government.

Throughout their studies, computer science students should document their projects. Constructing a clean resume that lists references is also crucial. Applicants should request recommendation letters from professors and bosses.

Aside from these general tips, we offer a step-by-step process below.

Computer scientists need at least a master's degree to practice. Possible majors include computer science, information technology, or computer programming. Learners with undergraduate degrees unrelated to computer science may need to complete prerequisite classes before qualifying for a master's program.

Degree-seekers should limit their search to accredited programs. The Computing Accreditation Commission oversees computer science programs. This organization conducts regular quality assessments to ensure computer science programs meet quality standards.

Specializing in a specific set of computer science skills can give job candidates a competitive edge. Computer scientists may specialize in 1-2 computer programming languages. Or, they may focus on robotics. Learners should take additional classes that focus on their chosen specialization. They can do so by selecting a concentration or minor during their studies. They can also take additional online classes offered by third-party sites.

Some computer science positions require certification. Tech companies like Cisco, Microsoft, and Apple offer certifications. These are vendor-specific certifications. Other certification providers offer vendor-neutral certifications, like CompTIA. The best type of certification to earn depends on career goals. Most certifications require completing a series of classes and taking an exam. Many certification providers let learners complete the entire process online.

Many computer science jobs require creativity and project-based experience. A portfolio helps students present both these qualities to future employers. Aspiring computer science professionals specializing in coding may benefit from coding their entire site from scratch or open-source coding. Other students may use a site like Squarespace to show off their work. People can include work for class projects and internships in a portfolio. A portfolio site can also host a digital resume.

Online programs make it easy for anyone to further their computer science knowledge. While learners can pursue a doctorate in this field, they can also take online non-degree-granting classes.

Some schools offer certificates that pertain to specific computer science specializations. Since this field continues to change as scientists build upon each other's discoveries, professionals should commit to lifelong learning. Joining a professional organization, like the Computing Research Association, may help.

Additional Resources

Aspiring computer scientists can supplement their coding knowledge with Programming Hero. This company offers classes and a mobile app for coding practice on the go. Users can also build their own games on the app. Anyone can practice their computer science skills for free on this site. Users can learn how to write HTML or Python. Aspiring full-stack engineers can explore nearly 200 lessons. This site helps people hone their front-end coding skills. Users can build and test projects right on the site. The site also includes a section for displaying work. Entry-level professionals or students in the early stages of their studies may benefit from this resource. This community of professionals shares knowledge of computer scientist skills. CodeNewbie provides information through a blog and podcast.

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