Are you suited to a career in computer science? If you are someone who enjoys solving problems with creative solutions and has a passion for technology, then yes, it could be the career for you. Of course, there are lots of careers which come under the umbrella of computer science and plenty of different paths to go down. However, if you want to give yourself the best chance of success, you need to invest in a solid foundation of education and training. This guide outlines the key skills needed for a successful career in computer science as well as what to look for from your computer science degree course.
What skills are needed for a career in computer science?
It is important to realize that you can have the best academic qualifications, but without certain skills, you will be unlikely to thrive in the computer science field. To ensure you are as employable as possible, you should consider whether you have (or can develop) the following skills:
To be a successful computer science professional, you need to be able to identify a problem and devise a solution. Of course, to be able to identify a problem, you need to be able to analyze and deconstruct what you are working with, consider lots of options and choose the best to achieve the desired outcome.
Once you have analyzed the issue, identified the problem (or problems), you need to be able to reach a solution in a methodical way. Projects will often require several steps and phases, so a logical approach is crucial.
Sometimes, the first solution you come up with is not successful. In these cases, you need to be able to bounce back and think about the problem from a different angle. Where others may become frustrated when they cannot overcome an obstacle straight away, a computer science professional will take the opportunity to think outside of the box.
Critical thinking and creativity go together as often you will come to a project when others have already tried and failed to overcome a problem. You will need to be able to look at their methodology and identify why it did not work. You can also quickly consider lots of different approaches and choose the one most likely to be successful without wasting time.
You cannot work in computer science without meeting failure, so determination and resilience are important. In fact, it is an essential part of the work, even for people who have years of experience. You need to be able to encounter problems, try to solve them, fail, and try again without losing motivation.
Which computer science degree should you choose?
When choosing somewhere to study your degree, it is not a case of choosing the nearest or cheapest, as there are several different elements to consider.
While some people may be studying computer science as part of an academic career, people who want to turn their degree into a career should be looking at the practical aspects of a course. Some courses, for example, give students the opportunity to work on real-life projects for clients to give them genuine experience and client feedback which readies them for the workplace.
In addition to the practical projects which are included in the course, you may be able to incorporate a professional placement in your studies. This involves working in a paid role for a year of the course at an approved company. Essentially, you will hit the ground running and learn a huge amount on the job. This can help your resume stand out from the crowd when competing against other candidates with only theoretical experience. In some cases, students are offered full-time roles after they graduate in the companies where they completed their placement.
While you might think that you know what type of career you would like after your computer science degree, it may not be wise to jump straight into a specialized course. There are so many potential routes to consider that you should try and broaden your knowledge and skillset as much as possible in the early stages of your education. You will then have access to a much wider pool of employment opportunities. Many courses let you choose a more specialized path at a later date. Alternatively, after you have completed a bachelor’s degree in computer science, you could progress onto a higher level course such as a masters in cyber security online.
The computer science degree you choose should be accredited by professional bodies such as the Computing Accreditation Commission (CAC) of ABET. This will ensure that when you graduate, prospective employers will know that you have a high standard of education and have passed examinations in relevant topics. If the course includes a professional placement, employers will also know that you have real-world experience. It is also worth looking at reviews and feedback from past students to see how useful their degree has been in securing employment.
Develops soft skills
When you think of a career in computer science, you will probably think technical training is all that you will need. In reality, to be a successful computer science professional you also need a range of soft skills. Soft skills include your ability to communicate, to work in a team, to think creatively, to provide constructive criticism and to develop strong working relationships. Your degree course should give you plenty of opportunities to develop these skills through group work and a supportive environment where you can collaborate and develop together. Do not underestimate the value of interpersonal skills and social connection during your studies and your career.
Location of the course
Finally, you should consider the location of your course. You may be tempted to study and work in an area where there are lots of companies which will be looking for computer science graduates. However, this may mean that you will be competing for placements and jobs with lots of other students and graduates. In more rural areas, graduates with computer science degrees are likely to be in high demand and may offer more attractive salaries for this reason.