Computer science is a multifaceted field, and graduates with a computer science degree might find a job in a wide variety of industries. Overall, the median annual salary for computer and information technology occupations was $82,860 as of May 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
To break into one of these computer and information technology occupations, you’ll need an education from a strong computer science program. Visit our rankings for the Best Online Bachelor’s in Computer Science Degrees and Best Online Master’s in Computer Science Degrees for some ideas.
Here’s a quick breakdown of some of the most common jobs held by individuals with a bachelor’s degree in computer science, along with the average salary for each one (data courtesy of PayScale):
- Software Engineer: Average Salary $76,194
- Senior Software Engineer: Average Salary $89,599
- Software Developer: Average Salary $62,803
- Senior Software Developer or Programmer: Average Salary $100,303
- Web Developer: Average Salary $62,500
- Programmer Analyst: Average Salary $55,250
Note the salary difference between software developers and senior software developers. As you can see, seniority and rank has a lot to do with the amount of money you can earn with a computer science degree. This means that while your bachelor’s degree might not lead to the highest-paying position right out of the gate, there’s ample opportunity to work your way up to more lucrative positions.
The more you specialize within a particular niche of computer science, the more money you can earn. This can mean either pursuing a post-baccalaureate education (graduate certificate, master’s degree, or doctorate) or receiving on-the-job training and professional development in a focused area. (You can read up on available specializations within computer science in our FAQ.)
Again using PayScale data, we’ve compiled the average salaries for some of the same job titles listed above. The only difference is that these salary figures are for individuals who hold a master’s degree in computer science rather than a bachelor’s degree:
- Software Engineer: Average Salary $82,824
- Senior Software Engineer: Average Salary $98,580
- Software Developer: Average Salary $78,344
- Senior Software Developer or Programmer: Average Salary $103,177
The difference in pay varies by job title, from as little as $3,000 per year (for senior software developers or programmers) up to $16,000 per year (for other software developers). But all of the occupations feature a notable salary increase for candidates with a master’s degree. Considering that some colleges may offer free or reduced tuition for graduate students, and even a stipend in some cases, a computer science master’s degree can be an excellent investment.
Like many STEM occupations, jobs in the computer science field are poised for considerable growth in the coming years. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the overall growth rate for computer and information technology jobs is expected to be 13 percent between 2016 and 2026.
More specifically, computer systems analysts will see a projected job growth rate of 9 percent. Web development jobs have a projected growth rate of 13 percent. Software development jobs are expected to grow by an impressive 24 percent. The growth projections for all of these occupations are as fast or much faster than the total projected growth for all occupations (9 percent).