What Can I do with a Bachelor’s in Computer Science?
You might choose to pursue a bachelor’s in computer science for any of several reasons. If you’re interested in a career in theory and research, it’s a first step. If you are interested in software development, computer security, or other practical applications, it can make you competitive for a number of mid-level positions.
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Software Engineer or Architect
Individuals with bachelor’s degrees in computer science may be involved at all stages of the software development process, from needs assessment to testing and beyond. There are just about as many possibilities as there are types of software. A computer science graduate might be a web applications developer, creating instructional tools and flash games for an educational company or self-publishing tools for an online content creation service. Companies like Microsoft and Google also hire promising computer scientists. Some computer science majors work in embedded software, designing software for medical equipment or vending machines. Many in the field believe, though, that we are moving toward a time when engineering licensing will be required for many embedded software positions.
Software engineers often collaborate with a large team. Some of the team members are fellow engineers, involved at different stages of the software life cycle. Others may be subject area experts, for example, business leaders or curriculum specialists.
Network and Computer Systems Engineer or Administrator
Network engineers design the systems that help computers – and the people who use them – communicate and share data. They set up and maintain local area networks, wide area networks, and intranet systems. This requires knowledge of both hardware and software. Here the computer science graduate may be at an advantage over the software engineering one; the BLS notes that computer science is a good foundation for systems engineering. Computer systems engineers often work for businesses, helping each department meet its technical needs.
Administrators may have the responsibility of maintaining network security. They may also collect data at various stages, from needs assessment to evaluation. They recommend upgrades when necessary.
Information Systems Security Engineer
An information security systems engineer keeps computer systems and data secure from attack. Job duties can include evaluating new products from a security standpoint, identifying potential vulnerabilities in engineering initiatives, testing security architecture, and participating in the testing and development of firewalls and anti-virus software. The security engineer may also act in an expert/ liaison role, developing policies and educating other staff.
Quality Assurance Engineer
Quality assurance engineers work at the testing stage of the software development cycle. They may design and implement test plans, run automated test suites, and ensure that applications are cross-compatible across different systems. They also try to recreate and solve issues reported by the support department. They may work with any type of software, including mobile applications. Some work with systems like WAN or LAN.
Quality assurance engineer positions vary greatly in complexity and in specific job duties. Some quality assurance engineer positions are designated as entry level, open to new computer science graduates. In some cases, new graduates work up from quality assurance positions to senior engineer positions. Other QA positions, though, favor candidates with a few years of experience. Experienced quality assurance engineers may have some managerial duties, like coordinating programs, preparing quality improvement plans, and reporting recalls.
A related position is test automation developer. Here the focus will likely be on writing test script.
If you’re interested in the more pragmatic side of computer research – applications – a bachelor’s degree and real world experience will be enough for some projects. The BLS reports that a bachelor’s is also adequate for some federal government research-related positions. Generally, though, if you’re interested in the more theoretical aspects of computer science, you’ll need a doctorate. Strong performance in a BS computer science program provides the foundation for graduate study.