Is a Computer Science Degree Worth It?
A computer science degree — whether at the undergraduate or graduate level — can be an investment that pays professional dividends. This is especially the case in a global economy that is becoming increasingly digitized. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that jobs in computer science and related areas are expected to grow by 13% through 2030, which is faster than the national average for all industries. Furthermore, given that businesses and organizations increasingly rely on information technology, big data, and high-speed telecommunication systems, a computer science degree can be an effective way to secure employment in many different sectors.
Despite these advantages, it's also important to assess whether a computer science degree suits your personality and character traits. Read on to learn more about if a computer science degree is worth it for you.
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Is Computer Science a Good Degree?
The value of any degree will vary based on your specific career goals and personal circumstances. That being said, there are some general advantages to a computer science education that can make a degree in this field worth pursuing.
First, with high median annual salaries for most computer and information technology jobs, professionals in this field are typically well compensated and can expect a high return on investment for their education. Indeed, information security analysts, which is one of the fastest growing positions in this industry, earn median wages of $102,600 — more than double the national average for all occupations. Beyond offering favorable job prospects, however, a degree in computer science can train you to enter an exciting, fast-paced field which is driving breakthroughs in widely important areas such as artificial intelligence, health informatics, and big data analysis.
A degree in computer science can train you to enter an exciting, fast-paced field which is driving breakthroughs
A computer science degree can also be considered good if it suits your personality and interests. For instance, if you have a passion for technology and enjoy solving complex, technical problems, studying computer science can prove to be quite engaging. Additionally, given that it requires keeping up with cutting-edge developments — especially after graduating — this discipline is ideally suited to students who find constant learning invigorating.
What Jobs Can You Get With a Computer Science Degree?
The increasingly fast pace of data sharing and online interaction has made computer engineering and information technology integral to operations in nearly every sector of the economy. From ordering goods and services online to facilitating essential tasks like filing taxes and renewing driver's licenses, computer science plays a role in ensuring many different transactions can be carried out smoothly. Graduates with associate, bachelor's, or master's degrees can therefore find computer science jobs in government, healthcare, the private sector, and the nonprofit world. These can include highly technical positions, such as those that involve coding, building networks, and developing algorithms, as well as roles that come with management responsibilities.
How Hard Is a Computer Science Degree?
Certain aspects of computer science can prove demanding for some students, depending on their educational background and personality traits. If you're concerned about the difficulty of earning a computer science degree, it may be helpful to first consider the following:
Given that this field draws heavily on statistics and calculus, learning computer science can be difficult for those who don't have a solid background in advanced math concepts. This may especially be the case for students who have limited undergraduate or high school coursework in STEM subjects. However, some programs give students the chance to take classes in math after they are admitted and before they formally enroll.
Gaining skills in crucial areas such as programming can, at first, seem difficult and even frustrating. Knowing how to use programming languages requires keen attention to detail because even the smallest syntax errors can result in a program functioning incorrectly. Becoming an efficient programmer takes time and can involve a rather steep learning curve.
A common misconception is that computer science is a dull discipline that involves solitary coding. In fact, this field often requires thinking out of the box to solve emerging problems. There can therefore be multiple ways to fix a bug, improve functionality, or develop a new program. This can seem intimidating at first, especially for students who are in the first few years of their degree program.
Like most disciplines, learning computer science becomes easier with time. However, it can be difficult to grasp the simultaneously technical and experimental nature of this discipline early on, especially if you have a limited background in computing. That being said, computer science programs at the undergraduate level are designed to introduce students to this field and foster the skills necessary to become trained professionals. With an inquisitive mindset and some high school-level coursework in key math and science subjects, you can be well-prepared to pursue a computer science degree.
Should I Get a Computer Science Degree?
You may primarily be interested in a computer science degree because it can lead to a potentially lucrative career in a growing field. However, while it is essential to consider the return on investment for any type of education, it's also important to contemplate whether studying a particular subject aligns with your interests, aspirations, and personality traits.
For instance, if you're partial to subjects that explore society and the human condition — such as history, sociology, or philosophy — then it's likely that a more technical field like computer science may not pique your curiosity. On the other hand, you may benefit from studying this discipline if:
You want to be able to work in multiple sectors. Computer science graduates have technical skills that are valuable to many different employers in the public and private sector. Degrees in this field can therefore give you the flexibility to find employment in the industry of your choice.
You want to be challenged professionally. Computer science professionals may advance breakthroughs in fields such as AI, healthcare, communications, and space travel, to name a few areas. Working on these topics can prove both demanding and exciting, making a computer science degree a great choice if you want a stimulating career.
You're passionate about technology and its effect on people. It should come as no surprise that computer scientists regularly use cutting-edge technologies, often to shape how people and organizations interact with each other. An education in this field may suit your personal interests if you enjoy constant learning and want the chance to delve deeper into areas like robotics, automation, and telecommunications.
The Bottom Line
There are many reasons to pursue a degree in computer science. While there is no doubt that it can increase your earning potential, this educational track can lead to a career in many different sectors as well. Perhaps most importantly, computer science is far from a static field. Constantly evolving and growing, it can present you with unique chances to grow both personally and professionally. In short, aside from equipping you with a valuable set of technical skills which you can build on throughout your career, a degree in computer science can put you at the forefront of the economy's most challenging and dynamic opportunities.
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Is a Master's Degree Worth It?
Are you wondering what a master's degree means and whether it's worth it in the long run? Read on to explore the pros and cons of graduate school.