What Are the Requirements for a Career in Computer Science?

It’s tough to say exactly what the requirements are for a career in computer science, simply because there are so many careers in the field. Occupations within computer science include web developers, computer programmers, data analysts, software engineers, and many other specialized roles.

These occupations do have a few consistencies. For one, almost all computer science jobs will require at least a bachelor’s degree. We’ve put together a ranking of the Best Online Bachelor’s in Computer Science Degrees to help you meet this requirement. For the computer science jobs that require a master’s degree, we offer a ranking of the Best Online Master’s in Computer Science Degrees.

There are some general skills and personality traits that will come in handy for a computer science career. Strong mathematical skills are a must. Almost all computer science programs will include courses in applied calculus and discrete mathematics, so be prepared to work with a lot of numbers.

Analytical skills and logical reasoning are also necessary to a successful career in computer science. It’s important that CS professionals are detail-oriented and able to identify and correct issues. Critical thinking and solid problem-solving skills will be a key requirement of nearly any CS occupation.

Many computer science careers will require working in teams, either with other CS professionals or with a client (or both). CS degree programs reflect this by requiring frequent teamwork and collaboration. Students with good communication skills will have a head start for these collaborative projects.

The specific skills that a CS professional is expected to possess vary widely. Almost all CS jobs will assume that the candidates are proficient in one or more programming languages. Most students start with Java, JavaScript, or Python. From there, students can branch out into other languages such as PHP, Ruby, and C.

There are a number of certifications that you can earn to prove your mastery of these languages. For example, Oracle offers certifications in Java (as well as cloud computing and databases). Udemy offers a whole collection of programmer certifications, with courses for Python, C#, C++, Bootstrap, and more.

Many other certifications are available outside of programming languages. Simplilearn, a website similar to Udemy, provides courses and certifications in big data, operating systems, software development, mobile applications, cloud computing, and much more.

Some certifications that are not designed specifically for computer science or information technology can still be valuable in these fields. The Project Management Professional certification, for example, is a very highly respected distinction. This certification can be awarded to project managers in any industry—computer science included.

Keep in mind that these certifications aren’t necessarily required before you find a CS job. If you hold a bachelor’s degree in computer science, that may be enough to prove your mastery of foundational skills.

But it’s never a bad idea to earn one or more of these certifications. This is especially true if you don’t have a formal degree or if you’ve been out of school for a while. Even if they’re not required by your employer, a standalone course can keep your skills sharp. They’ll help you stay up to date with the latest technologies and make you more valuable as a computer science professional.