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AI Careers 101:

What Is a Computer Scientist and How to Become One?

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If you are enthusiastic about learning how to become a computer scientist, you have come to the right place. We all know that technology has undergone a major transformation over the last few decades. The career opportunities and freedom in the choice of the domain are what attract more and more students to pursue their careers in computer science. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), “the information technology and computer science fields are expected to grow by 15% from 2021 to 2031, faster than the average growth rate of all occupations.”

If you're also interested in the field of computer science and want to become a computer scientist, this article will guide you through the process regarding what computer scientists do and how you can be one.

What is a Computer Scientist?

Computer scientists deal with the theoretical study of a computer's hardware and software. As a computer scientist, you don't necessarily work with applications and hardware as computer engineers; instead, you apply aspects of technology, such as programming principles, data science, and robotics, to create or improve computer systems and software. Also, computer scientists master programming languages and numerous computing tools to generate algorithms that solve real-world problems.

What Does a Computer Scientist Do?

Computer scientists often work with high-end tech firms to create innovative software solutions to enable easy access to technology and drive advancements in all fields. At the same time, they can also work as researchers to explore more aspects of a particular domain of computer science, such as data structures, software engineering, computer vision, and computational complexity theory.

Since computer scientists study the theory and application of computers and computational systems, they work on developing new technology and software, designing algorithms, improving computer processes and performance, and creating models of computation. Also, they can work in various industries, including technology, finance, healthcare, and more, to solve complex problems.

Computer Scientist Skills

Here are a few essential skills a computer scientist has.

  • Technical and mathematical skills: Software development is one of the most demanding skills for computer scientists. They can understand various domains, such as databases, data structures and algorithms, integrated development environments (IDEs), and programming languages. Also, computer scientists have an understanding of algebra, calculus, discrete mathematics, and statistics.
  • Technical writing skills: Computer scientists also implement technical writing skills in their work, which include product documentation, troubleshooting guides, technical manuals, etc.
  • Analytical skills: The ability to use logic and scientific methods to solve problems is an analytical skill. Computer scientists collect, test, evaluate, and document relevant data to solve problems and complete several data-driven tasks.
  • Problem-solving and critical-thinking skills: Since computer scientists work with complex technology, they have to develop strong critical-thinking and problem-solving skills while working on various projects and identifying methodologies to resolve complex problems.

Career Options for a Computer Scientist

Here is a list of a few career options a computer science major can opt for.

Software Engineering

Software engineers work as part of a team and develop programs and operating systems for computers. They apply principles of software engineering to design, develop, maintain, test, and evaluate computer software. Software engineers use programming languages, platforms, and architecture to develop various programs, including computer games and network control systems.


A computer science major has many career options within the field of cybersecurity. One such role is an information security analyst, who works to implement security measures, such as installing firewalls and using encryption tools to secure an organization's computer networks, systems, and databases. They are also responsible for performing compliance control testing and staying up to date on evolving cybersecurity threats.

AI Engineer

AI Engineer is responsible for creating, testing, and developing computer systems, tools, and processes to apply artificial intelligence in real-world contexts. With programming, the most basic requirement for this role, software development, linear algebra, probability, and statistics are also required.

Systems Architect

System Architects analyze computer and networking processes and their outcomes to recommend a better IT strategy and combination of IT systems and components to gain specific business goals. Systems Architects need to critically analyze business objects to succeed in the role.

How to Become a Computer Scientist?

The road to becoming a computer scientist may vary based on your institute or country. However, here are the common steps you can follow to pursue a career as a computer scientist.

  • Get a Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science

You can start by acquiring a bachelor's degree in computer science to become a computer scientist. It will help you get familiarized with programming, operating systems, algorithms, and data structures, which are crucial initial stages to master for a computer scientist. You can start by exploring online and on-campus degrees offered by well-recognized institutions.

  • Build Your Coding Skills

Building skills like coding is integral to becoming a computer scientist. To build strong coding skills, you can look for internships or certificate courses on different computing languages and coding that will help you practice and have a command over the skill.

  • Attain a Master's Degree

Once you have done your bachelor's in computer science and built strong programming skills, you may need to pursue a master's degree to strengthen your expertise and master the industry's fast-growing specialties, such as network security data analytics, artificial intelligence, and software development.

  • Consider pursuing Doctoral Degree or a Specialization

While a master's degree will suffice for certain positions, advanced roles in computer science often require specialization, which can be done by pursuing a doctoral degree in computer science or a specialization in specific niches, such as robotics, human-computer interactions, computer modeling, etc.

  • Pursue Available Roles

If you don't consider a doctoral degree or a specialization, you can start by pursuing available entry-level roles and gaining experience in the field. This will help you excel in your career by providing experience in data structures, programming languages, etc., enabling you to apply for computer scientist roles.

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Haziqa is a Data Scientist with extensive experience in writing technical content for AI and SaaS companies.