Computer science is one of the most promising fields for professionals pursuing high-paying, satisfying and future-proof careers. Eight of the top 10 jobs in America last year were in the computer science field, and job growth in many of these roles will increase significantly over the next decade. For instance, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) forecasts employment of data scientists to climb by 36% between now and 2031 and employment of computer and information research scientists to increase by 21% (both are much faster than average for all occupations).
Professionals with advanced technical skills in computer programming, software development and database management can qualify for some of the best-paying positions in computer science. Acquiring expertise in emerging technologies such as machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) can further advance computer science careers and help ensure specialists’ continued relevance. Roles such as software developer typically command over $100,000 annually—with more experienced programmers at leading companies such as Microsoft, Google and Amazon earning more than $200,000 (and technology jobs also usually include exceptional benefits packages).
Since many mid- and upper-level computer science jobs require highly developed technical expertise, current and prospective tech workers often earn master’s degrees, such as the online Master of Science in Computer Science (MSCS) from Case Western Reserve University. Computer science master’s degree programs teach in-demand skills that can help advance tech careers and give graduates the competitive edge they need to secure top jobs.
What can you do with a master’s in computer science?
An MS in Computer Science is a versatile degree, and MSCS graduates can secure jobs at traditional technology firms or tech-focused positions at companies in other industries. The range of roles available to MSCS holders depends on their professional interests and backgrounds, but some common job titles include:
- Artificial intelligence engineer
- Data engineer
- Data scientist
- DevOps engineer
- Machine learning engineer
- Senior software engineer
These are some of the highest-paying jobs outside of management and C-suite positions. For example, machine learning engineers earned average salaries of $171,000 in 2022, while data engineers earned around $164,000. Many tech roles also saw compensation increases of 5% or more between 2021 and 2022.
Who should earn an MSCS?
Computer science master’s degrees generally offer an exceptionally high return on investment (ROI), though the real value of a computer science master’s depends on how it relates to an individual’s background and career goals. Below are several categories of computer science professionals who typically earn—and benefit from—MS in Computer Science degrees.
New artificial intelligence tools threaten to disrupt careers in many fields, spurring many professionals to seek roles more likely to remain relevant in light of emerging technologies. Computer science continues to be a promising field, given its connection to artificial intelligence development and the demand for professionals with advanced technical proficiency that AI cannot easily replicate. Career transitions into computer science are particularly feasible for professionals with STEM backgrounds who already possess the mathematical skills necessary to succeed in this realm.
Competitive job hunters
Many students enroll in computer science programs aiming for jobs at so-called FAANG companies—that is, Facebook (now Meta), Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google. Positions at these companies can mark the peak of many people’s tech careers (the creator of Gmail is a Case Western Reserve graduate). In addition to their groundbreaking work and generous compensation, these FAANG companies can serve as starting points for entrepreneurial ventures. Numerous former Google or Meta employees have established businesses based on the skills they developed at those companies.
While some tech companies are slowing their hiring practices and even shedding employees, employers in other industries are eager to absorb them, hiring thousands of new engineers. Outside the traditional technology sphere, automotive, finance and healthcare companies seek to acquire exceptional tech talent.
However, jobs at top corporations, tech or non-tech, are competitive. These companies typically recruit only the most outstanding candidates, and interviewees must tackle coding challenges to make it to the final rounds of their interviews. MSCS programs teach the advanced skills candidates need to set themselves apart during technical interviews for the best jobs in the field. The professional networks students build through their computer science degree programs—where they directly connect with computer science thought leaders—often aid in their job search.
Computer research scientists
Some of the most educated computer science professionals follow careers in research. Computer science research scientists work to expand knowledge in the field, creating new tools and algorithms that influence the work of software engineers and other ground-level tech professionals. They also work on projects like ChatGPT, DALL-E 2 and Google’s Bard AI, developing new technologies that significantly expand computers’ technological capabilities.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer researchers often hold master’s or more advanced degrees. Professionals in this line of work must possess a deep understanding of this field, so they frequently earn master’s degrees and, later, PhDs in computer science.
Engineers seeking to advance to the upper levels of their profession must explore leadership roles. According to Stack Overflow, tech leaders such as senior executives and software engineering managers possess the most coding experience and technical expertise and are deft at leading teams of people. As a result, they command the highest salaries in the industry.
Mid-level software engineers interested in assuming leadership positions or moving into the C-suite must prepare themselves accordingly. Master of Science in Computer Science degree programs equip tech professionals with the expertise necessary to become effective leaders, enhancing their technical proficiency and honing their teamwork, communication and critical thinking skills.
New developments in artificial intelligence and machine learning have caused many professionals to worry that robots may take their jobs—if not today, then at some point in the next decade. Concerns about the future of the workforce are not misplaced. The World Economic Forum (WEF) anticipates AI and machine learning will automate entire professions. Fields that involve repetitive tasks, such as manufacturing and data entry, are prime targets for AI automation. As AI becomes more sophisticated, even some lower-level positions in computer science may vanish.
The situation may seem dire, but there is good news. The WEF’s projections forecast demand for advanced technology skills to remain strong. Professionals who can work with artificial intelligence, train machine learning models and mine data for actionable insights are in high demand today and will continue to enjoy a strong job market in the future. Technologically-literate professionals will not only see increased demand for their skills in the conventional tech job market. Other industries, such as healthcare, are eager to hire them, employing their skills in new subfields like bioinformatics. MSCS programs teaching artificial intelligence and data mining skills help prepare computer science professionals for the future of work.
How an MSCS from Case Western Reserve can advance your career
The MS in Computer Science program at Case Western Reserve helps students advance and succeed in their careers by teaching in-demand and future-proof skills and knowledge that qualify them for advanced roles that draw high salaries. The computer science curriculum covers core programming, algorithms and computer networking skills. It also equips students with higher-level skills such as artificial intelligence, data mining and high-performance computing for data analysis. The Case Western Reserve MSCS program goes beyond computer science basics to produce tech professionals who will remain competitive in the workforce far into the future.
The flexible student experience at Case Western Reserve is ideal for professionals with full-time jobs who want to prepare for the future and be eligible for better opportunities. The MSCS program mixes synchronous and asynchronous learning—students complete coursework outside class and meet in live video classes with peers and professors to build their expertise together. Case Western Reserve students also have access to exceptional student support services through student success coaches, career-building resources and an alumni network of accomplished and thriving professionals that extends to some of the top employers across all industries. Case School of Engineering has fostered technological innovation for over 140 years and continues to deliver high-quality education that facilitates technology professionals’ career advancement and helps fulfill their career goals.