What Does a Computer Scientist Do?

Nicole Long

A computer scientist fulfills many roles related to computer development and maintenance. Computer scientists help develop and update computer hardware and software programs to achieve desired outcomes. They design and create new technology to improve current computer systems and help meet the needs of businesses, individuals, and educational facilities.

A computer chip.
A computer chip.

Individuals working with computers rely heavily on several subjects to complete their job successfully. Someone interested in the field should excel in subjects such as mathematics and information technology. Other subjects that are a necessity for a computer scientist include software systems, digital communications, and computer engineering. This type of knowledge is learned through the completion of a degree program in the field.

Computer scientists often update hardware like computer chips.
Computer scientists often update hardware like computer chips.

Computer scientists traditionally have extensive education. They often complete a doctorate program in computer science. A computer scientist may find work with only a bachelor’s degree, but a doctorate degree is typically preferred in the private sector. Continuing education is also necessary to stay up on recent trends and changes in the field of computer technology.

Tasks associated with computer science require a person to have some specific skills and personality traits. This includes the ability to concentrate on the task at hand while multi-tasking. Computer scientists typically need to be creative while working towards logical solutions.

Research is one of the primary responsibilities of a computer scientist. They evaluate how computers and computer programs are designed and attempt to make them faster or able to process specific information. Research into computer and software design also attempts to identify new uses for current technology.

A computer scientist also develops new technologies. This includes developing new software programs and computer chips. The development of new materials that may impact the field of computing is also accomplished through the hard work of computer science professionals.

Professionals involved with computer science can find work in a variety of industries. They work in different environments, such as corporations, universities, or government agencies. Industries ranging from oil and petroleum to entertainment utilize the skills of computer science professionals to help them consolidate processes and bring new products to life.

Individuals in any computer field spend a lengthy period of time in front of a computer. The job requires extended periods of time sitting at a desk in a traditional office environment. Some employment opportunities may also require work in the field to help identify specific problems and formulate a plan to improve processes for other employees.

Computer scientists typically hold at least a bachelor’s degree in information technology, computer science, or other relevant area.
Computer scientists typically hold at least a bachelor’s degree in information technology, computer science, or other relevant area.

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Discussion Comments


I don't understand why you still have to get a doctorate degree to find work as a computer scientist.


@SZapper - I'm sure that's true. However, it sounds to me like computer scientists are the ones who are making the changes in technology!

As the article said, research and development are both important parts of a computer scientists job. So it stands to reason computer scientists are responsible for making advances in their field.

However, I suppose if you weren't the person who made the advance you would still need to be informed. But I bet computer scientists hear about new developments well before the general public!


It sounds like you would always need to have up to date information to work as a computer scientist. I know that's important in a lot of jobs. But I think in this one, probably more so. Technology changes so fast I can't imagine trying to keep ahead of it!

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