Computer science: What is it and What Roles Does it Lead to?July 7, 2020 No Comments
Featured article by Calvin Paige, Independent Technology Author
The subject of computer science has really developed in the last few years, with many schools and colleges offering ever more complex classes to every generation coming after them.
Degrees in computer science are becoming more common amongst the top university students and now many firms are looking to their new employees to complete a computer science masters program to get ahead of the curve. But what exactly is computer science and what jobs will benefit from this subject area of study?
Computer Science as a Subject
Studying computer science can teach students problem-solving skills, programming skills, soft skills, as well as hard skills.
For beginners in computer science, you’ll learn how a computer and computer system works. You’ll get a hands-on understanding of how the physical (hardware) systems work and interact with one another, as well as how the development behind the software occurs.
The difference between user experience and user design plays a heavy part in the teachings on any computer science course, and students will learn how to put their analytical and critical thinking skills to practice mixed with a heavy dose of creative and ‘out of the box’ thinking.
Computer science courses are varied and there are many specific disciplines within the course. For the most part, most courses will touch on subjects such as:
- Programming computers to follow an algorithm to complete specific tasks
- Learning how to create programs and apps from start to finish
- Understanding the detailed interactions between software and hardware
- Developing deep level problem-solving skills
- Learning programming languages such as C, C#, PHP, and others
- Understanding logic and how binary works
- Gaining an understanding of the intricacies of storage and the issues around data security
- Learning important information in cybersecurity and code etiquette to improve their own code’s security robustness.
Why Study Computer Science
The use of computers and technology has exploded across the world, with more and more of our lives being spent in front of a screen, whether that’s a laptop, a PC, a smartphone, or even a watch.
Artificial Intelligence and augmented reality are fast becoming everyday experiences for many and most children under the age of 16 have never lived in a world that hasn’t been significantly impacted by technology.
Even most jobs from the factory robot to the GPS equipped tractors sowing grain exactly the same distance apart are affected by technology. Behind the smooth running of all these industries are highly skilled computer scientists striving to make each iteration of technology better, smaller, faster, and more efficient than the previous version.
Computer science was added to the school curriculum in most countries around 2014, replacing older classes such as computing and ICT. Many schools from elementary right up to college-level found very quickly that the ‘digital native’ students already had an exceptional and almost instinctive knowledge of computer technology, meaning that the levels of classes offered to high school students are now at a level that university students may have struggled with only a few years beforehand.
The importance of coding has long been known to be a subject that is vital for students to learn, if not for the actual act of creating computer programs, but certainly the processes and critical thinking behind the coding and how it works. The principles of coding have been found to be vital for the exploration of many skills outside the computer lab, improving students’ grades in other subjects that may at first seem much less relatable.
Learning the advanced skills of computer science allows students to understand technology on a deeper level and, most importantly, understand how to make that technology work for them in a way that is efficient and useful.
Computer Science Employability
The employability of those who have studied computer science cannot be understated. The skills that students learn in computer science classes are transferable to many professions and may include skills such as:
- Data analysis
- Critical thinking
- Lateral thinking
- Working from initiative
Computer scientists are generally known to be excellent mathematicians, logisticians, statisticians, and musicians! The wide arrange of skills required to be a successful computer scientist lends itself to many other subject areas, which in turn, means that the skills learned can be transferred to many different career areas.
Career Options for a Computer Scientist
As we’ve already discovered, the skills you’ll learn in a computer science course are highly transferable across the employment field. After graduating from your bachelor’s or master’s degree program you may be looking to enter a more defined field that will specifically use the skills and course structure you’ve just learned.
These jobs may include roles such as:
- Computer Science Teaching
- Computer Programming
- Website Development
- App Development
- Software Engineering
- Games Development
While most of the above job roles will specify a computer science related course upon graduation, it is possible that other graduates such as those focusing their studies on mathematics or physics, may find that these career paths are more aligned to their interests.
It is definitely harder for a potential employee that isn’t a computer science graduate to get into these fields, however, and we are seeing more and more that employers want employees who are more aligned to their requirements from the beginning, especially when it comes to having a strong grounding in coding experience.
Just as many roles don’t specifically require a computer science degree or master’s, many computer science graduates find that their wide range of soft skills (especially critical thinking) serve them well in job roles that are more humanities-based.
Jobs that usually attract graduates who studied English language or literature, philosophy or history may be quite attractive to the computer science graduate for their more creative use of the processes they learned on their course. Due to the fact that technology and programming are required across the world in nearly every sector, this jump may not be as wild as you’d fist assume.