5 Things to Learn About Computer Science Degrees

Computer science degrees come with a common misconception, which often discourages students from pursuing a degree: They’ll turn you into an isolated code cruncher. That’s not really the case.

GraduatingComputer science graduates qualify for a wide range of positions and careers. However, to ensure you have the right mix of skills and hands-on experience to get one, do your homework and decide on a career path before selecting a technical specialty or program.

What tips for success can you give to those seeking a degree in computer science? Let us know in the comments below.

“The gap between the classroom and the workplace has been a problem,” acknowledges Dr. H.E. Dunsmore, associate professor of Computer Science and chair of the College of Science Undergraduate Education Policy and Curriculum Committee at Purdue University.

Purdue’s Computer Science department has taken steps to make more students aware of the versatility of CS degrees. His undergraduates have the opportunity to explore various careers and select an educational track that suits their preferences.

“Computer science majors take a course during their freshman year that explains the various career options and what they’ll actually do all day,” explains Dunsmore. “They also have the opportunity to mix with our corporate partners, hear about different job opportunities and then select from a broad array of educational tracks in everything from graphics to security, which may require less math or programming.”

If you’re interested in CS, consider these five things:

  1. Know Yourself: Do you like working solo or on a team? Do you want to work with cutting-edge technology or support a business unit in a private sector company? The reality is you can be a DBA, business analyst, software engineer, researcher or computer systems analyst. However, you need to choose a career and curriculum that leverages your academic strengths. Currently, less than 40 percent of U.S. undergradscomplete science, technology, engineering and math programs and graduate with a degree.“If you want to pursue a career in software engineering, then you’ll have to complete rigorous coursework in math and programming,” says Dr. Larry Davis, professor at the Institute for Advanced Computer Studies and chair of the Computer Science Department at the University of Maryland.
  2. Select a Sustainable Career: Employment in all computer occupations is expected to increase by 22 percent through 2020, but some IT fields will fare better than others, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics biennial update of employment projections. Tech support and programming are still being sent offshore, so select carefully. “Don’t wait until you’re a junior or senior to attend campus job fairs,” suggests Davis. “Go when you’re a freshman so you can meet employers and hear about their future openings.
  3. Acquire Marketable Skills: It might be better to major in Business Administration and minor in Computer Science if you want to work in the private sector because the cloud is transforming IT and creating hybrid roles across the enterprise, according to Gartner. Most computer science students spend time building their own applications and systems but businesses don’t necessarily need that type of expertise. Hot skills include systems integration, business intelligence, cloud computing SQL, .Net, C, mobile languages and Java.
  4. Get Hands-On Experience: You can’t learn teamwork or business fundamentals by reading a text book. Participate in student projects, volunteer work, campus committees and internships so you can acquire hands-on technical experience, business acumen, leadership and communication skills.
  5. Persevere: It takes most CS students six years to earn a degree since many initially drop out of math and programming classes, yet manage to succeed the second time around.

Comments

  1. BY James Green says:

    This article seems to discourage people from getting a computer science degree. It sounds like youth should get a Business degree and minor in computer science. I’m personally looking into going back to school and getting a second masters in Computational Finance or perhaps Medical School. Either way I do not recommend to anyone major in Computer Science it is a dead end profession.

    James

    • BY Billy says:

      so you would suggest that a major in something more business oriented and a minor in computer science would hold a stronger presence?

      • BY DudeWithATattoo says:

        Both actually, business and technical. For young college graduates who ultimately want a rewarding career in IT, start with technical and minor in some business classes..double major if you want to. But make sure you at least get something technical. From IT Systems to Comp. Eng. Doesn’t matter…because you’ll have to learn code and business logic either way.

        Once you get a chance, learn the business world from your organization. Because only then will you become valuable. If you just want to code all your life or be an integrator, that’s fine too..but don’t cry about not making a lot of money like the other guys (unless you make your own hot killer app and go solo)

        It’s all about what you want out of life, really. If you just want to make an ungodly amount of money..sales. From Sales to Sales Engineers to even IT Strategists (in a sales role), you make a crap load of money.

    • BY hoodle says:

      actually, cs is not a dead end. it is one of the most employable degrees, if not *the* most, that it is possible to earn. there is a massive shortage of software engineers here, both in silicon valley — where pay is enormous and there are many perks — and in the government. the field is also growing faster than almost all other fields.

      • BY Minion says:

        I wouldn’t recommend CS to anyone at this point. Development is being outsourced to India, Australia & now Africa. System Administration is moving to the cloud which is to say a lot of servers in large buildings (there are no servers in actual clouds). Three Sys admins using SCOM can manage a ton of servers. Project Management is safe for the moment but all the dev teams I work with are in India.

        Employers will expect everything from you during an interview. Do you know Java, C# and Ruby Rails? What about Redhat (Linux); Windows is a given. Did I mention Cisco? Yes they want that as well. I’ve read articles on degree vs. certifications and there is no real answer. People with degrees vote degree of course and people with certz vote certz. It really depends on the position. A CS degree will never beat out a CCIE (I’ve never met anyone with that cert), but CS degree makes you a more rounded individual. I’m talking in circles!

        • BY Robc says:

          Not sure where you get the idea that jobs are being outsourced to Australia. Australian wages are similar to US salaries so I would be surprised if this is the case. Do you have any examples of this ?

        • BY Tech Recriter says:

          From my experience as a tech recruiter, and this is my opinion as I have no hard data to support this. Companies are asking more and more out of programmers, it is almost as if they want the skills of two or three people. if you are doing networking, certs seem to be desired particularly cisco, Linux certs can be of use as well for admins. If you are developing software, the quality of the school and the degree are generally looked at in conjunction with very tough interviews,analysis of coding samples and some tests, particularly for high paying jobs. It looks like the future for people earning lots of money are in niche sections like data science, machine learning, math based quantitative applications for finance and any business that has a need for math based modeling. Sales engineers and security engineers can earn pretty good money, but this is after they are experienced and very good. Also people tend to forget that the people who generally earn the most don’t just code, they have general business knowledge as well so they can create solutions and increase efficiency which also usually saves on labor. The scary thing is when companies will need only a few very skilled workers to generate the output of many workers as they get more efficient however trying to stop progress, efficiency, and innovation is bad.

          • BY lolno says:

            Sounds like your experuence is with your company and your company sucks….

    • BY Joe F. says:

      Computer Science is a very good degree. I have a related degree in computer engineering. Engineers take a few more math courses, but having ‘Engineer’ in the title makes it more marketable in government and industry.

      I was worried about jobs going overseas 15 years ago, when there was a lot of news around it, but I stuck with it. Unemployment for comp. engineers then was 3 percent, and I had a 40K job waiting when I got out of my blue-collar State school. I went to a middling grad school and got a masters paid for my my employer, saving me $30k while I was earning a paycheck.

      Now, in any metropolitan area I’d want to live in, new grads start at $50k, and unemployment hangs at 3 percent. If I want to go back for an MBA, my employer will pay for that, too.

      It’s true that Computer Science is more theoretical than engineering, or a technical school that will teach you coding. It’s also true that Computer Science is geared toward research. And you can be a programmer without even getting a collage degree.

      However, in my experience, the best and best-paid and most in-demand people have a bachelors in computers, a can do attitude, and learn throughout their career. Bite the bullet and keep in mind the money you’ll make when you get out.

      Six years seems really long to me. I did mine in 4, but I took summer classes because I knew every semester was costing me more than 10k in wages.

    • BY Stephen says:

      CS is in now way at all “dead”. I’m don’t know if you’ve picked up a smart phone any time recently but all it takes is one tap to open the app store to see that. Programming, especially mobile developers, will be more and more in demand. As computers get easier to use, less people want to learn how to actually program them.

    • BY LOL says:

      Wow, I really hope for the love of humanity that all who read James Green post is smart enough to realize how ridiculous his statement is.. “CS is a dead end profession”? Are you mental? We start out anywhere from 80k a year just doing programming. Just because YOU couldn’t get a CS degree or just because YOU don’t understand what CS is all about – does not mean you can create false information. Again, for anyone who is interested – CS Majors make almost more money than any other degree unless your a Doctor or in another engineering field.

      • BY Shantal says:

        To Trinity, first of all let me extend kudos to you for your accurate assessment. I personally am a bit tired of hearing the phrase ‘computer guys’ or ‘graphics guy’. Although women are greatly under represented in the IT fields, the ones I have met tend to be collectively functioning at the genius level. Because of this they sometimes represent a threat to a male alliance that may be prevailing in a given company. In on instance I was the only woman out of at least 20 male developers to have a design selected to proceed on a project. After this occurred many of my co-workers refused to collaborate with me on other projects. This got so out of hand that I left the position for one that offered a higher salary and where I worked other females who were less ego centered and far more collaborative. Instead of reworking bugs every week we closed out projects and moved on to new ones. Our clients were thrilled and offered us a substantial bonus within a year.

    • BY mike andrew says:

      deadend? its the most sought after degree from employers.

    • BY Marija Milic says:

      Hi James,

      I’m somebody who’s received her BA in Business, a while ago … had taken time off for my children and am returning to the workforce. I want to go back to school and was considering a Master’s in CS; what would you recommend? I’m just curious.

  2. BY James Green says:

    One more thing, do not get a Master(s) degree in Computer Science unless you are going to get a Phd to do research at a University and be a professor.

    James

  3. BY Proud Paulbot says:

    I agree that universities need to teach far less theory and far more hard skills. That’s my biggest beef with my Math/CIS degree. I learned a bunch of obscure trivia that would have served me well only if I intended to make my money by competing on “Jeopardy!” The focus should have been on hard, practical skills, the things that employers list in job ads.

    But if there are no entry-level positions–meaning jobs that require little or no experience–it won’t matter. Not everyone can afford to work unpaid internships for years on end. In fact, I’ll hedge a guess that the overwhelming majority of graduates cannot, not even the kids. Parents will agree to support an adult child for only so long before they tell them they need to get a paying job.

    Of course, this is a problem in every industry right now, not just tech. Entry-level positions have vanished, partly because baby boomers cannot afford to retire and are probably going to hold onto their jobs until they die. The only reason I’ve got the marketing-related gig I do is because I was an adult student who’d worked for years as a copywriter. Kids whose only work experience involves fast-food or a mall are SOL (unless, I guess, they decide to become restaurant or retail managers).

    • BY richie says:

      teaching applied hands-on skills are not the job of the university, that is what technical/applied schools and certifications are for. university are built on research and theory.

      • BY scruffNstuff says:

        According to the oft-referenced survey linked below, Computer Engineering, Applied Math, CS, and Stats are 4 of the top 10 paying degrees, beaten only by more engineering.
        Business? 63rd. Shoot, apparently PHILOSOPHY majors make just as much.
        Payscale: http://www.payscale.com/college-salary-report-2013/majors-that-pay-you-back

        Bls.gov by corresponding profession indicates similar figures (2010 medians).
        CS: http://www.payscale.com/college-salary-report-2013/majors-that-pay-you-back
        Business: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/home.htm

        I found the article poorly researched, uninformative, and inconclusive. I am far from an expert on the subject, but the numbers and my successful aquaintances in business and IT (6 figures, happily employed, and moving up) say differently.
        One would swear by his MBA. The other was the wisdom to differentiate within CS. For what he does currently, a management oriented education off the bat MAY have gotten him there sooner, but would not for anyone entering education now or recently. He got there from Network Support work experience, and now manages an entire IT department.
        He and his company have had a shortage of applicants or a shortage of qualified applicants for multiple positions. The key here is that they are usually for software development. They would have little trouble staffing someone for sales, marketing, administration or whatever liberal arts teaches you to do; and that would be if they even had the opening. The right server support, DBM, or in-house app-dev? Much harder to find. (To be clear- it is not a tech company, in fact their IT Dept. is small)

        Speaking broadly about job demand, bls and other better-sourced articles out certain IT/CS outlooks far above the average, some estimating even 31% growth rates. (12% being average)

  4. BY James says:

    Do not major in Computer Science unless you plan on going to get a Phd so you can do research and teach at a University. The best advise this article gives is to Major in and any other field and minor in Computer Science.

    James

    • BY Proud Paulbot says:

      I agree.

      At first, I regretted going to college. Now, I’ve come to realize it was not attending college that was my mistake, but attending college for Math/CIS. I should have just gotten a nice business degree…ONLINE, so I could continue working full-time. (I’m doing my MBA program totally online for that reason — since I’m not chained to a class schedule, I’m able to work two jobs.)

  5. BY atconway says:

    I disagree with the last comments. As a Senior Software Engineer (with a CS degree 01′) for the last 10 years in the .NET realm, I can say that business is booming. Every day millions of lines of code are written all around the world, and guess what? That code needs to be maintained, enhanced, and supported. Of course some of it will become obsolete naturally, but for the most part almost everything we interact with today technology speaking has a software component.

    And for offshoring? Yes it still occurs, but I believe we are going through a rubber band phase. While that was wildly popular in the 2000′s, many companies have seen how inadequate the delivered software was and how much time it still took many developers here in the US to make ‘right’, so I don’t think the threat is as present as it was to say textile workers from 50 years ago.

    Many people now are just becoming consumers of technology rather than lending a hand to create it so there is a real need for software engineers. Need proof? Search this site!! As a junior developer begins to become more seasoned, the job market and compensation increases greatly. My advice? Be a team player and try to hone your skills on a language/technology (i.e. .NET/Java) and then stick with it to grow your skills. It is a fantastic career to pursue and from my vantage point the outlook is tremendous.

    • BY Tom Marks says:

      The problem is there are very little junior developer positions, for career transitioned or entry level developers.

  6. BY Jim says:

    I disagree. Universities are NOT job training centers. They are institutions of higher learning with a concentration on research. They should teach as much theory in computer science programs as possible, because it is a theoretical foundation that allows you to learn practical applications easily. I’m not saying that every computer science student should be forced to read the Principia Mathematica, but a solid foundation in the ACM curriculum is really the best thing for a computer scientist.

    Now, you guys doubt the relevance of computer science degrees to the job market. That’s a different claim. I agree that there are few jobs out there for computer scientists, and even for software engineers these days. A combination of business or management skills with computer science is probably a better bet in the current economic climate.

    I have found my computer science degree (from a well known and high ranking school) to be quite useful, but in combination with other disciplines. (Law, in my case). Much software development is moving offshore.

  7. BY Tornado says:

    My advise is to tell people that a master’s degree in Computer Science is useless.Please consider other major instead of Computer Science

  8. BY eric says:

    RE: Not everyone can afford to work unpaid internships for years on end.

    No tech company I’ve worked for in the last 15 years had unpaid internships. Back in the ’95 I interned for Tandem and was paid roughly 2k/month. It’s bound to have gone up since then.

    My current company post openings mostly for interns, recent college graduates, and senior developers. The reason is interns and recent college grads are relatively “low cost” and in investment in in the future. Senior developers that are really good are always in demand.

    My observation is that the mid-career positions are SOL in this job market.

    When studying CS, learn both the application (the how) and the theory (the why). If you learn just one, you’re far less marketable and your career will likely stall. For example, if someone can technically code but doesn’t understand the theory behind what they are doing, they will reach the limit of their ability very quickly. These people eventually get replaced and have difficulty finding a new job because their ability does not match the perceived price tag that comes with someone of their experience level. Those jobs are filled by new college grads locally or overseas. Either way it’s at a lower price.

    If you don’t stall, you are slowly given senior level work at the mid-career pay level. Eventually, your pay will catch up to your work level, but slowly. Is this fair? Of course not. It’s just what I’ve seen.

    When studying, whether it be CS or any other subject, learn to learn how to learn. I mean figure out the best way for you to learn. For some it’s by example, for others it’s reading a book. This will allow you to learn faster and put your self in a position to succeed. This will give you an advantage as most people have not figured this out.

    Also, learn to think. Not just one way, but every way you can. See things from different points of view. Another thing that most have not figured out but can give you an edge.

    Lastly, when you get your first job, be serious about your work. Goofing off is easy in the tech industry, but it’s noticed.

    This comes from a horrible movie I saw recently, but it’s a great theme to live by:
    Adapt, Innovate, Overcome

  9. BY Dennis says:

    After a diploma in Computer Science, what is the specialisation that a student can major and minor that have good job prospect in our modern world today?

  10. BY kalirajan says:

    this instructions are more useful for preparing myself.thanks

  11. BY Gabriella says:

    Well that answers my question. Thanks for the comments people. Your input helped more than the article itself.

  12. BY JJ says:

    Reading through these comments made it clear to that the majority of people who made comments either tried to major in computer science and failed; or completed their computer science degrees and also failed to make a good living with it. I think that those who make a good life in computer science are those that got the degree because they love building software and technology. They DID NOT do it for the money; but because they are passionate , the money came as a bonus. Schools DO NOT make you become good software engineers, YOU make yourself become great by passionately using the tools and resources that the University provides. A degree or a combination of degrees are nothing if your primary motivation in getting one is money! Computer Science IS NOT for anyone who majors in it for the money. If you do, then you’ll find yourself pulling your hair out in advanced math, data structures and algorithms, and assembler (if your school teach assembler). Its not for anyone who does it for the money. Those who posted here telling people not to major in it probably didn’t make it in computer science or failed to make anything out of it because they didn’t have the heart for it. It’s like the saying “Not everyone is FIT to be a United States Marine”; you can try, but you’ll eventually run out of steam and collapse if you don’t have the HEART for it.

    • BY Proud Paulbot says:

      I admit it. I took Math/CIS because I was told that tech was where the jobs and money were. I have no passion for anything except for making money. That’s the result of having to struggle to make it my entire life. I couldn’t just run to my parents for a check when I was in trouble. I was homeless for a period of time when I was 18 years old. I had to take whatever jobs I could get, whether I liked them or whether I hated them so much they consumed me. The notion of “loving” one’s work is as alien to me as the Internet would be to someone who lived in 1839.

      So yeah, I was looking for a way out of La Vida Loca. If you were in my situation, you would have been looking to get out of it, too.

      I actually enjoyed my advanced math classes. The advanced CIS classes, not so much. I looked at them the same way I looked at all those godawful jobs, as something I needed to endure to make money. My graduating GPA was 3.1, not fantastic, but not in the cellar, either.

      Maybe I would have never been the World’s Greatest Programmer, but as I have said before, if this country weren’t in a Depression, I could have found SOME sort of job with my Math/CIS degree. Even if it was technical writing (I do enjoy writing, and have experience as a copywriter), or even if it was something really far-flung like high-level paralegal work. And that would have been okay with me.

      I do not know if it’s a realistic goal, but I’m still hoping I can find a way out of La Vida Loca II, Electric Boogaloo. Get Rich or Die Tryin’.

      • BY LadyAngel says:

        Dude, I am in same place, similar lifestory. Wondering if I should take out that 80,000 loan to go to school or this or not. How do you dig yoruself out of the hole, this pit hell and get to the top. Email me sometime. Lets talk more.

    • BY John says:

      I largely agree.

      I have a PhD in CIS, but I’ve never been an academic; I’ve been a developer for 40 years now; involved exclusively with Linux and open source since Linux began (21 years ago).

      I didn’t get a PhD for money or prestige – thank goodness, since I have neither. Not even a job, currently (I keep getting replaced by interns I train on the job). I thought I might learn how to do the more challenging things; OSes, development tools like compilers; device drivers, etc. And I did learn, and I’ve done all those things. But there aren’t many jobs for those more complex skills, especially where I am. Truthfully, few employers believe they need someone like me long term, and it’s hard to argue with that perception.

      I’ve never taken a programming language class, though I’ve taught programming languages informally, even to past professors. And I estimate that by now, I’ve written about 500,000 lines of code in my life. And indeed, I don’t think programming languages need to be taught to computer science grad students, but I do think undergrads need to be taught computer science. Anyone who will be developing software, in my opinion, needs a strong background in computer science, and for that, a strong background in mathematics, especially number theory and formal logic.

      There’s a result from psychology known as the Dunning-Kruger effect. It speaks to the rule in IT these days: people who are in over their heads but believe otherwise. And I’m thinking not just of programmers – or even programmers first and foremost.

      If I’m ever again told by a non-technical HR person not to ask technical questions or give technical answers in an interview, when all they seem to care about is dates on my resume’, I’m gonna scream at them.

      Yes, the job market for well-educated CS professionals is terrible, but it’s not because they wouldn’t be useful. It’s because so few understand that they would be useful.

      What I see instead is like the TV commercial where a guy in an undershirt is sitting at his kitchen table with a butter knife, ready to do surgery on himself, with a doctor on the phone, asking the doctor what to do next. (Put down the knife… should be the doctor’s response.)

      The market has learned to hire good developers only short term if at all, and less capable maintenance programmers longer term: good people are seen as more expensive, when in fact the economics suggests the opposite. In the worst cases, people barely even capable of doing maintenance work – fixing code they didn’t write themselves – are called upon to do development work, and that usually ends in failure, although because so few in software understand sunk costs, those failures take way too long to work themselves out.

      There’s also a general perception that particular programming languages augment the skills of programmers in some magical fashion that makes using less skilled people who have happened to use them for a long time a good idea, and more generally that long-term experience with specific tools and products are desirable, as if a more generally and diversely experienced person wouldn’t be a better choice. Few understand how much the law of the instrument speaks to this kind of perception. In my younger days, I was told “there’s a difference between 15 years of experience, and 1 year of experience 15 times.” Those who are tasked to do tech hiring would do well to task that saying to heart.

      Even if the way tech hiring is done were perfect, there would still be the effect that information technology devalues labor, for the labor market in general to deal with. But it’s not perfect – not even close. The way tech hiring is done, does far more harm than good. A death spiral, in all effect.

      Time for the industry to wake up and smell the coffee. But I, for one, am not holding my breath.

      • BY John Doe says:

        John I to a comp sci grad and to tell you the truth your comments hit the nail on the head. I to am also looking at going back but something totally unrelated to computers and even further removed technology all together. something you said in your post though did raise an eye brow and I would love to discuss further with you you have the time. email is wizgod@cia.com Drop me a line if you could.

  13. BY Deepak says:

    Not so good.

  14. BY Bill says:

    If you want to work go for a software engineering degree. Learn the latest development methodologies and how software is written for industry. Combine some process with the abiltiy to write code and you should do OK.

  15. BY marc says:

    As an older student that returned to get a BSCS in ’03 I can tell you now it was a very bad idea. Yes I do love to code and like the math too. The problem is the only place an older person is welcome is in support, a truly dead-end job. I’ve been through several positions that hired me in with the lure of move to development only to find it is a career black hole. To add insult to injury now my previous profession looks at the degree as a sign I’ll move on at the first chance. To finish the degree as a full time student required student loans to the tune of 20k; cheap compared to those without a selfless spouse to help.
    Before you write off my obvious bitterness to someone that had a second rate degree and a substandard GPA, the program has an ABET certification and with a GPA 3.35 I my not have been at the top of the class but not bad. In my graduating class several of the students with 4.0 and 3.9 GPAs did not receive one job offer and were forced as I was to take support jobs that really don’t even require a GED.
    Companies are completely unwilling to invest or even risk anything in development any more. I taught myself java (C++ is my native) but try to get past the recruiter without the experience on your resume. To the people that say “we don’t have anyone to write our code here” and “we need more educated people in the sciences” I say go to hell! There have been no entry level jobs in the 21rst century, only jerks selling “training” disguised as placement. Until the profession gets organized I would not recommend anyone get into it.

  16. BY FogAndMist says:

    Computer field is a like train, anyone can get in. No strict Computer Science degree required. If you are from any bachelor degree, like Math, Civil Eng, Mechanical, Doctors, MBA, Finance, Construction Management, those folks learn from the books, learn any tools like, Business Intelligence, SQL, any ETL tool, C,C++, Java,Ajax,etc and join IT within 1 year after learning any above tool. Ask your any IT co-workers in your firm, not all IT workers has core Computer Science graduate. In the past in saw a IT guy who work as scheduler but handling SQL server stuff.
    Just understanding business, some logic, skills, little bit expertise in any language is required.

    Now i am asking question to Core Computer Science graduate, having 4 yr Computer Science degree,2 yr MS in Computer Science , investing thousands of dollars to get a CS degree and training, and certifications, and books and time. Now after layoff or fired, with your CS degree, did you get job as Civil, Mechanical, Electrical,Environmental,Traffic,Electronics engineering department??????? Ans is no.You can’t apply, Cause you don’t have that degree.

    • BY Angelizer says:

      I don’t know what people are talking about. I have a BS in Computer Science. I have been working for the same company for almost 5 years since my graduation. Money is good and I love my job. If you are considering another major then I’m pretty sure you don’t have the heart or intelligence to be a software developer. :)

  17. BY Chris says:

    I agree with ANGELIZER, I have masters in CS and never had problems finding a job.

    • BY DudeWithATattoo says:

      Number 3 has a very good point. However, not everyone can be in this field. And that’s not just solely because of incompetence. For me, the CS opened doors quickly, but it also opened up a dose of reality that college didn’t give me a heads up on.

      The people. It’s the type of culture and employees that you need to consider. Me and another co-worker (who had about 3 years into the job) were finding ourselves a bit unhappy because we didn’t seem to fit in. I wasn’t sure about his case, but I have to be honest: I’m terribly outgoing and ‘normal’. What that means is I didn’t find pleasure in talking about code all day or dressing up like McLovin. I found myself talking more to the business units than the IT department. Don’t get me wrong, not everyone was like that, but the majority were just too nerdy for me.

      Sure I can code and lead projects, but what was driving me nuts were how these guys just didn’t have any similarities. Sorry, but they were just too weird for me. I did the CS plan because I just wanted to prove to everyone (at my location) I could do it after all the taunts and bashes. But towards the middle, I was liking the major. It was pretty cool to learn something I was always curious about. But I didn’t give it much thought that I saw some strange people in class, never realizing I would have to work with them. It just didn’t hit me.

      Anyway, now I’m working in the business side. The majority of the people have business degrees, but all have one thing in common: They only did IT for a while. And here’s the real eye opener: They actually make a ton more money that your programmers and engineers. Sales makes an incredible amount of money with all that commission. Average salaries for a programmer is like 98K/year. Business managers: 135K/year. Sales: 200K/year. And some of the sales guys don’t have a degree..zip nada..and they go on to become product managers making about the same as business managers. Programmers pretty much stay at the same level. But I’ve also learned is that: They don’t really care about getting a lot of money. They care more about making cool stuff. Maybe this is what separates me from them. But I’m just assuming. I’m sure not ALL programmers are like this. Oh well.

  18. BY Roshaun says:

    you people sure know how to crush other peoples dreams… getting a good job shouldn’t be all about the money. People should choose career paths that they’re passionate about and if you’re not passionate about you’re career then you obviously choose the wrong path.

    quite a few programmers commented saying they have no problem finding jobs. so i’ll ignore the negative comments, continue to seek what my heart desires and be great in what i do.

    • BY CorporateHate says:

      *Chuckes*..it’s ALL about money, my friend. Life is short.

    • BY TR says:

      When you cannot pay your basic bills–I’m talking a minimal standard of living, no fancy cars, no vacations, no jewelry, not even nice clothes–it DOES become all about the money. Ever get sick and have no money to see the doctor? Ever have utilities turned off because you cannot afford to pay them? Ever have collectors harassing you night and day? Those are the types of issues I’m talking about, not “Gee, I wish I could afford a new iPhone,” but “Gee, I can’t afford to pay the electric bill.” Possibly even worse, “Gee, I can’t pay my student loans,” after which you are punished more harshly than rapists, murderers, and fraudsters who run Ponzi schemes.

      I’ve lived La Vida Loca for too many years. I’ve become passionate about one thing: MAKING MONEY. I would think that, in this “Greed is Good,” corporation-worshipping society, this would be considered a positive thing.

      I’ve come to believe that I’m simply more honest about it than most people are.

      • BY lolno says:

        I’ve had offers that guaranteed employment for three years starting at 50k a year and moving up to 77k after two years. You’re looking in the wrong places if you can’t get a job that supports you with a cs degree. That or you don’t know how to budget. Stop crying because you don’t make an obscene amount of money and stop acting like you need that to survive. You dont. 60k a year is well above poverty.

  19. BY Osasere omorogbe says:

    Computer science is realy an intresting feed but i would advice anyone who which to go for computer science to also get an mba degree cos it wil give u an edge in d job market i am a computer science student and plans to get an mba after graduating

    • BY TR says:

      I’m going to complete my MBA next spring. Unfortunately, I don’t see this degree opening any more doors for me than my Math/CIS degree did, which is a shame, because I’ve enjoyed my business classes far more than my CIS classes (I did like my maths).

  20. BY RADI says:

    I have just graduated from uni in field of computer science and am looking forward to doing master . However , I have no idea what master should I do :(
    if you have any backgrounds please let me know your recommendation .
    thx

  21. BY Braden Talbot says:

    1. Code! Write code.

  22. BY Marc Herman says:

    I am majoring in Finance and really enjoying my classes. I also decided to minor in CS and found myself liking the intro classes as well. Does anybody know if the CS minor is worth the effort when looking for a job?

    • BY Rita says:

      Definitely with your major. Most CFO’s are over the IT departments.

  23. BY Ben says:

    Wow, someone pointed me to this article who was asking for computer science advice and the comments below the article are quite possibly the worst pieces of advice I have ever seen.

    I’m not even sure if anyone here has a computer science degree. I graduated with a CS and Math degree in 2010, and have worked at a large company since them.

    CS majors do not typically work in IT departments, CIS majors or those with Business Administration degrees might; but those are not Computer Science degrees.

    As a Computer Science major you will typically be doing development; whether that is a startup or an established company is your choice.

    The unemployment rate for someone with a CS degree is one of the lowest in the nation (3.5% in 2011); this is even with the off-shoring of development jobs. When my team is looking to hire college hires we have to start hunting for students in January for fall graduates, because by the time gradation comes around most CS majors have already found a job. I was in this boat when I graduated from college, I had an offer letter in hand 5 months before I graduated.
    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505145_162-57324669/25-college-majors-with-lowest-unemployment-rates/

    If someone is looking at going into Computer Science my word of warning to you is make sure you understand that many people not familiar with CS blur the lines between software development and working in the IT department of a company.

    • BY Chris says:

      Good god, yes.

      You can tell how educated these folks are.

      I’m one year away from graduation with a BS in Computer Science, and, even at my smaller university, companies are beating down the doors trying to hire CS grads. They’re on campus 4-5 times a semester. The jobs are there.

      My university offers several “Computer Science” degrees, but only one, real, computer science degree. They offer Software Engineering, Computer Information Systems, Information Technology, and are soon to offer another dumbed down CS degree. Personally, I started as a SE major and moved to CS when I found out that SE was nothing more than a business degree with a few CS classes thrown in to fill the curriculum.

      CS is NOT IT. It is CS, and it is a very difficult degree to acquire. Anyone can get the other specializations I mentioned. That also means that employers view those specializations less favorably.

      I know first hand that it’s not for everyone. The hard CS courses weed out those not dedicated quickly. My Data Structures 2 course has lost about half of those enrolled from the start of the semester.

      There is someone who keeps regurgitating they have a “Math/CIS” degree. CIS is a joke degree, and really doesn’t complement Math at all. Of course nobody is going to hire you in a technical field. Math is a great degree, but every CS major who spent hours and hours on challenging projects, banging their heads on their desks with “Segmentation Fault” burned into their retinas, is way more qualified than you. I don’t know what a math degree qualifies you for, but if you’re looking at CS jobs, you’re outclassed. Plain and simple.

      CS majors, this is a fantastic field, and I have several prospects already as a junior. If you’re passionate about your work and put in the time, you’ll make it. I am not attending a big university with a famed CS curriculum, either. But I work hard, and I love my work.

      Notice how all major news publications place CS as a top degree. It will stay that way, because few people can do it. Notice, also, that those that can’t find work blame the economy, lack of jobs, the degree, outsourcing, the full moon, etc. They never talk about themselves, and never think about WHY they can’t find work. They only look to blame someone else.

  24. BY anon says:

    First a CIS degree is completely different from a computer science degree. Also

    CS > business and CIS combined

    The comment above is very true, the other comments seem to be coming from people who don’t know what they are talking about. CS is almost always top 5 in salary on most statistics. Business and CIS don’t even get to the top 20

    • BY Nightcrawler says:

      ?? Business majors are among the top earners in the country. Of course, this data is probably skewed due to the fact that so many of them go to work in finance. If we took the finance people out of the equation, the salaries would be lower.

      My undergrad degree is Math/CIS. Not CS, but CIS, so perhaps that was part of the problem. I could not obtain any type of work with my degree, even though I was willing to work for minimum wage. The problem I encountered is that there simply aren’t any truly entry-level tech jobs out there. It wasn’t my resume. It wasn’t my “attitude.” It wasn’t the way I interviewed. I am certain of this because, for any of those things to have been the problem, I would have had to have been applying for jobs and getting turned down. I couldn’t find any tech jobs to apply *to.* An employer who I never applied to, who has no idea I even exist, is not going to be turned off by something I am doing.

      When I applied for secretarial and clerical jobs (the only ones I found that I was qualified for), employers thought I was “overqualified” and would be “bored,” or they did not understand the value of my education. You know how a lot of people claim that math is “worthless” because they “never use algebra in daily life”? I encountered that among hiring parties: “We don’t use calculus here, so that’s of no value to us.” I had no rebuttal for that (though now I’d email them the infamous “Power of Pi” scene from “Person of Interest”).

      Granted, the people who can get jobs in tech–the people who are absolutely brilliant, who can sit down and replicate MS Word or Amazon.com–probably do earn a lot of money. That I believe. Unfortunately, I’m not one of those people. I would have required an entry-level job with training and mentoring, a learning environment. They just don’t exist.

      I had to give up on tech and go in a different direction. It’s been very difficult. It’s hard to spend five years of your life studying something, only to find out you cannot work in that field. When I was looking, I got a lot of “advice” from people who were more than happy to read me the riot act and enumerate all of the things I allegedly did “wrong,” but nobody wanted to offer me ideas for workable solutions. FINALLY, this week, I talked to someone who is willing to mentor me–not in tech, but in marketing–and give me realistic advice on how I can make the most of my skills and education. Not my *major,* but my *education.*

      • BY ANON says:

        Engineering and CS are still the highest paid majors. Some companies have filtering software that only allows for a certain number of resume into their systems. They look at certain keywords from your resume. Why did you do CIS/math rather than CS?

        Anyways, I wish you good luck and hopefully you find a good job

        • BY Nightcrawler says:

          I was originally just going to do math. I thought adding the CIS would make me more employable.

          I applied for, perhaps, six tech jobs in a year and a half.

          I don’t doubt that engineering and CIS are the highest-paid majors–IF you can get a job in the field you studied. That’s the problem. In order to obtain a job, you have to be absolutely *brilliant.* You have to be able to sit down and write your own version of Microsoft Word, or build your own version of Amazon.com (including all the graphics). I can’t do that, so I do not qualify for any tech jobs.

          What I would like to see are statistics regarding what percentage of computer science majors are working in tech jobs, or in jobs that require any type of degree.

          • BY tania says:

            There seems to be some confusion here. CS, Computer Science IS NOT the same as CIS, Computer Information Systems. Computer Scientists generally do not work for or seek employment in tech departments. The degree you have is not the same as the one that has the low unemployment rates and is highly paid, big difference. A true computer science graduate is likely to fare better than a computer information systems grad.

            I wish you luck in marketing though.

          • BY J13M4 says:

            You only applied for six tech. jobs in a year and a half? No, wonder you don’t have a job.

            A average person with a degree applies for 30-40 jobs and only receive 1 call back.

            If you stopped at 6 then you’re not trying very hard to get a job.

  25. BY Ange says:

    I have a Bachelor in Computer Science from UCDavis and had two offers from big companies right out of school. Unfortunately I left to do something else for awhile but am looking to get back in. I love programming; not very good at it but love it. Right now I have been looking for a job for several months with no promise. I’m an older person with not much real world experience and have a huge employment gap between now and the last time I had a development job. I have been taking several courses to get into Software Test but also with no prospects. I plan to get my Masters in CS as a way for me to get back in. Any advise on what I should do (get the Masters or just keep looking for a job).

    • BY Anonymous says:

      Look for interns or junior developer openings. Companies are always looking for an apprentice

  26. BY darkknight says:

    I started college late. Having to pay for it myself out of pocket, it’s taken me almost twice the time to complete my degree due to working full time and dealing with the responsibilities of adult life.

    Currently in a job that some would consider a “career black hole.” I get to write code once in a while, but it is mostly maintenance (re-writing and fixing code written by someone else) with no opportunity for career advancement in this department. (exactly why my predecessor left)

    I’ll be graduating in a few months with a Bachelor’s in Business with a minor in CS. I have a couple of Oracle certifications. I’ve been saving $ and will be going right into grad school for a Master’s in CS. To those who are currently working in CS, will my age be an issue when looking for new work? (I am 30.) Or will the combination of credentials and actual work experience be more than enough to find the right career position? Or should I even bother with the Master’s in CS since I already have some industry certifications?

  27. BY Mark Morel says:

    I have my associates degree in computer science( from the university of Phoenix) and i am currently I ,pursuing my bachelor degree in the same concentration. currently, I have also been employed as a supply clerk for the law firm since high school as a supply clerk. Everytime time i have sought out transfers into the IT department. I have been turned down. From hardware to help desk positions, i was told i was not qualified, even with my freelance experience and my degree. My best bet, is to continue with my degree, learn as much as I can . And then begin to seek out my own opportunities. No hope from my place of employment. And that’s real.

    • BY Jeffrey says:

      I think that you can have a great career in I.T. without a computer science degree. I do not recommend anyone major in it. You could be in a situation where you want to intern or take a job much below your qualifications because few first job offers out of college are good out of college. By the time you get a real technical job, you’ll have forgotten your coursework.

      Here are five reasons not to major in computer science:

      1. It takes too long to obtain. The cost of living alone over all those years doesn’t justify it.
      2. Entry-level jobs in I.T. don’t require a B.S. There is no reason to have spend more money and time for the same job as someone else (e.g., with a certificate, an Associate’s degree, or just on-the-job training). Many software engineering jobs don’t require a bachelor’s degree. I disagree with the above article on #1. ‘“If you want to pursue a career in software engineering, then you’ll have to complete rigorous coursework in math and programming,’ Many software engineers never had to do this including famous people who started software companies. Some teachers have an incentive to advertise the programs and make students think they are more valuable than they really are.
      3. Several students cheat and this dishonesty stays with you for the rest of your life. Even ethical and intelligent students may be pressured. Google this “cheating in computer science”
      4. It is stressful and there can be serious personality issues with other students or with teachers. Not all students report this, but there can be very difficult people to deal with. You may as well work a low-level job and try to transfer into something related to I.T. or try to intern. #4 in the above article is right on the money.
      5. The coursework is too theoretical and not practical, and there aren’t many marketable skills to be obtained with a computer science program. The article says ‘ “The gap between the classroom and the workplace has been a problem,” acknowledges Dr. H.E. Dunsmore, associate professor of Computer Science and chair of the College of Science Undergraduate Education Policy and Curriculum Committee at Purdue University.’ Majoring in business with a minor in computer science is probably a better idea for acquiring marketable skills. The article mentions this fact.

  28. BY mown_field says:

    It’s sad to see this kind of things. This might be something that I will regret in my life. I go to CS because I thought it would have great prospect, but now in my 3rd year, I can barely code and only taught more and more Math and some useless theory. It’s crushing to see that CS graduate is the most unemployed among other subjects :’(. Lord, what have I done?

    • BY Ben says:

      MOWN_FIELD, where are you getting your information about CS being “the most unemployed among other subject”? I have not seen any datapoints that suggest that CS is one of the degree with the highest unemployment; as I mentioned above it’s actually quite the opposite.
      First off, if you are just started your third year in college I wouldn’t expect that you’d have the programming abilities of a college graduate so don’t be discouraged. But being in the start of your third year I would recommend looking for summer internships (the sooner the better). Most colleges are having career fairs at this time and most places of employment will have information about internships. It is at these internship where you will get a lot more hands on experience with development; if for some reason you can’t find an internship another possibility would be to participate in the OpenSource community (take a look at github/bitbucket/etc for a lot of projects you can help in). What you’re trying to get out of the internship/OpenSource would be to increase your programming skills.
      When I’m looking at hiring a college hire I’m always looking for individuals that took the initiative to get internships and/or participate in OpenSource.

    • BY Anonymous says:

      On the contrary, the liberal arts majors are the most unemployed, plus they make WAAAY less than a CS. I can’t think of a single employer that cares about what a person thinks of art history.

      Graduating in CS is a blessing due its high demand. The math & theory is there for a reason. There are many companies out there looking for software & web developers. Try harder.

  29. BY Shot_Glances says:

    You guys are all so negative. If it were monetary you were seeking out of your degree; then, clearly, y’all should have taken the medical route, not computer science or other science degree, because they don’t all have high payout; it would be foolish to so. Many here already mentioned that we should seek out what we love, if you loved the IT realm, then you should not be complaining; I mean, you acquired more knowledge and should have established connections (if you didn’t maybe you should have socialized more). Nevertheless, what I see here is failure of acquisition of gratification. Now I will be changing my degree to psychology or some other liberal art……………………..yeah, right.

    • BY Anonymous says:

      Who programs the machines that collect data on X-rays? Who develops the hospitals database so medical professions can get a job in a hosptial? Who programs the MCUs that control the machines that collect data from x-rays, ultrasound, & other medical devices that measure heart pulses & blood pressure?

      A CS guy!

  30. BY ann says:

    I am a Bsc CS final year student.I want to know about job oriented courses in cs after degree…

    • BY Trinity says:

      It’s difficult, but find other females in your area, because men wall us out. cold shoulder- icing out. If you find another female that made it, they will help you in. That’s what I did.

  31. BY Trinity says:

    I am a female software engineer.

    I have a BS in information systems (databases), with a minor in math and a minor in computer science. I only have a few classes left for my 2nd degree in Computer Science.

    I repeat. I AM a female software engineer.

    I learned to program when I was sweet 16.

    I don’t know who all the “guys” are on here, but I’m not a “guy”. Keep in mind that women computer scientist and women programmers read these blogs and forums and if you talk like that in the work place, it is discriminatory. If you talk like that at work, like you talk on here, I would record and document you and do a personal lawsuit against you. You “guys” talk like you only think “guys” are in the field. That sort of tells me that you are out of job, didn’t make it, delusional, or dreamers. ( I have never worked in an office that didn’t have female programmers, so what planet are you from?)

    • BY emilov says:

      I’ve worked at a major IT company without female programmers/developers. There were women in management, support, release management, Database support, and none in app development!

  32. BY Trinity says:

    Hey girls. I just took this digital electronics class where I used Karnaugh mapping and chips and designed a thermostat using Boolean algebra and binary math.

    It’s called the opposite rule. You think there is nothing wrong with saying “guys” but then when you swap it with the opposite, you understand how it feels to be excluded. That’s how you sound to us.

  33. BY Trinity says:

    We aren’t all men on here so please quit using the term “guys” when talking to others. I am female and happen to be good at linear algebra and matrices. I was the best programmer in my classes, so much so, that my professor used me as an example in his slide shows. This is so ridiculous how men treat us as invisible when we are so smart.

    • BY Jasmine says:

      @Trinity, forgive me, but might I say, you are an…. you arent so smart.. “Guys” can refer to men AND women. Just like the word men MAN can refer to women as well. If he had said boys or males, well the we might have a problem (but not really), so get ur panties out of that place they belong. Im sure its quite comfy, and uh, check the name… I am a female, as well. Over and out.

  34. BY Trinity says:

    For other women on here. The CS degree is worth it. Go for it. I did.

  35. BY Dennis says:

    hello, I’m Dennis ! I’m 24 years old and I believe that I want to have a career in computer science. But I never did well with school and I’m a visual kind of guy that’s a go-getter. Would getting an AA in CS and certifications for an IT give me a good career? I’m hard of hearing and I have hydrocephalus and the last thing I want to happen is to let myself down because of my disability. I know that I’m not stupid, but I’m not the smartest of the bunch. I always loved being in front of a computer because when I was young, no one wanted to hang out with someone who was different, so I would just be thrilled if there was anything having to do with computers, but enough about my life. What I want to know is that getting AA in CS a good way to go?

    • BY J13M4 says:

      With a positive attitude like that then yeah, it’s a good idea.

      The hardest aspect of CS for me was learning how to problem solve. How to break down a simple idea then transfer it into coding.I finally understood it but it took a lot of restless nights.

      You should be able to learn up to classes and arrays with no problem on your own, so check it out before making a decision.

  36. Pingback: 3 Stories on Computer Science Degrees - Dice News

  37. BY Sunil K says:

    Someone made a comment earlier about 15 years of experience vs 1 year repeated 15 times. It’s scary how many of the latter group I’ve run into.

    Many developers are not investing in themselves to learn new things. A lot of fields require continuing education. Software development / programming is one that does not, therefore you have to invest in your education yourself.

    Are you good at design patterns? No? then learn some. Do you know why certain algorithms perform well and others don’t for a given problem? No? then learn why.

    So, get that degree, but never ever stop learning! Push yourselves to learning new things, and apply that in your jobs.

  38. BY sania says:

    i’m in 12th right now and i am so confused about the CS degree. I have an interest in IT and business, but i have no clue on what degrees i should choose. I want to do something businessy and at the same time something related to computers,so people please suggest on what degree i should start with first,and major and minor in what.

    • BY sania says:

      and if i want to go for a business career, which course is most preferable before an MBA :)

      • BY Shantal says:

        I would opt for an Information Management path which will probably be more useful. Good luck to you.

      • BY Anonymous says:

        Go for CIS (computer information systems). You’ll be able to study business while not doing so much coding.

  39. BY Anonymous says:

    I’m a CS guy, & a recent graduate. And one of the misconceptions I hate the most is how we CS (computer science) people get mistaken for the CIS (computer information systems) guys. CS & CIS are NOT the same damn degree. Let me repeat myself: CS =/= CIS

    CS people work in software development, embedded systems, computer architecture, & web applications. They are the TRUE coders & some are even engineers in terms of embedded systems. CIS people connect & setup routers, switches, & computers together to form networks.

    CS also has a far stepper learning curve than CIS. CS people are required to take up to 2 years of Calculus & calculus-based physics, whereas CIS are required to only go as far as College Algebra. Not many CIS people would survive in the CS classes due to the fast-pace projects, the networking, & many bugs to fix…all while taking engineering classes & calculus.

  40. BY Garillo says:

    I’m an IT graduate, but i believe that
    CS is better, :) if you love to be in prison/jail/cell/closed world.

    Anyways, i suggest, just read but don’t be so dogmatic . :)

    Thanks for the comments anyways .

  41. BY Basavaraj says:

    I am studing BE in COMPUTER SCIENCE after my degree i am want to take a MBA as a PG course
    it helps to me?

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