What is a Computer Science Major and Is it Right for Me?

From creating computer games to programming technology for the CIA or building the next Facebook, there are a lot of amazing things you can do with a computer science degree. It’s an exciting and constantly evolving field with virtually unlimited growth. And did you know that several successful celebrities are former computer science majors? Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg, Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and even comedian Jimmy Fallon all got their start by studying computer science.

What is a computer science major?

A computer science major involves the study of computers and programming languages. Majoring in this field will help you develop great technical skills and give you a new perspective on problem-solving. You’ll learn how to break problems apart and execute them effectively.

Is it right for me?

To be successful as a computer science major, you need to enjoy the process. This means that new technologies and software should excite you and you should be comfortable throwing out what you currently know to learn something new. This will ultimately lead you into a successful future, helping you deal with hard problems inside and outside of your career.

You can start by asking yourself the following questions.

  • Would I enjoy learning languages to communicate with computers?
  • Am I creative, logical and persistent?
  • Do I enjoy being able to solve challenging problems?
  • Do I like to create tools that increase productivity?
  • Do the latest technologies excite me?

What can I do with a computer science degree?

One of the best things about computer science is that it’s a rapidly-growing field. Many people with computer science degrees work as programmers or computer systems analysts, helping to build and maintain complex technological systems.

Some other potential career options include becoming a software engineer, business intelligence analyst or database administrator.

What do people with a computer science degree earn?

In addition to being an exciting field, computer science is also quite profitable. Starting salaries typically run between $50,000-$70,000, depending on location and experience. An established programmer with four to five years of experience can expect to earn anywhere from $100,000 to $120,000 per year.


Next, learn more about this college major such as Science and get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as How to Use a Blog to Apply for an Internship.

What Types of Skills Are Best for a Computer Science Major?

If the idea of writing code and coming up with creative tech solutions appeals to you, then becoming a computer science major might just be for you. What’s the best way to thrive as a computer science major and set yourself up for success? It starts with having the right skill set.

Here are the top five skills the most successful computer science majors possess.

Analytical skills

Being a computer science major involves identifying a problem and coming up with a technological solution to address it. This requires having strong analytical skills that will enable you to understand the issue you’re dealing with and evaluate different solutions in order to find the one that best fits your needs.

Problem-solving skills

One of the other key skills for computer science majors is the ability to solve complex problems in a systematic and logical way. This is because most of the projects you’ll be working on will require you to take a concept and turn it into a reality. In order to do this, you’ll need to be able to think about the best way to execute the project and then outline the steps needed to get it done.


Creativity goes hand in hand with problem solving and it’s one of the other key skills you’ll need as a computer science major. Since coming up with solutions to problems is almost never a straightforward process, out-of-the-box thinking is often required in order to ensure that you’re delivering the most innovative and effective solutions.

Critical-thinking skills

Critical thinking is an important skill to have in any major, but it’s especially important when it comes to computer science. This is because you’re going to be working on a variety of projects and using a variety of methodologies, so knowing which methodologies to use (and when to use them) is an essential part of getting the job done. By thinking critically, you’ll also be able to assess why certain solutions might not work and to save time in coming up with the right approach.


One of the key tenets of programming (at any level) is understanding that you’re most likely going to fail before you succeed. This has nothing to do with your programming abilities and everything to do with the process itself. Programming involves trying out different elements of code until you find the best solution and learning to be resilient, determined and humble in the face of multiple failures is part of the process.

Next, learn more about this college major such as What Is a Computer Science Major and Is It Right for Me? and get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as Top 10 Things You Should Look For in a Company.

Career Opportunities for Computer Science Majors

A computer science major is a wonderful opportunity to develop your coding and problem-solving skills while learning about the technology industry. And because computer science majors are in high demand, it’s also a great way to open up the door to multiple career opportunities, including those related to new technologies like machine learning, virtual reality and artificial intelligence.

Here are just a few of the many technological trends creating opportunities for computer science majors.

Virtual Reality (VR)

In the past couple of years, we’ve seen substantial advancement in the field of virtual reality with new hardware and programming making it possible to create the immersive digital experience experts having been trying to develop for years. At the moment, virtual reality is especially popular in the video game industry and the need for software developers and product managers is increasing steadily in this field. If you’re interested in learning more about cutting edge technology, working on video game development with VR technology might be a good fit for you.

What to learn

The main programming languages are C++ or C#. These languages will be handy once you start actually developing content in Unity and Unreal game engines, which are the main Software Development Kits (SDKs) used in VR.

Internet of Things (IoT)

Not too long from now, we’ll start to witness machines communicating with each other. Smartphones, cars, bridges, even trash cans will have the ability to “talk” to one another other. In its essence, IoT is about bringing together devices through the use of sensors, cloud and data and it’s a trend that promises to affect almost every industry from retail to technology, creating new job opportunities along the way.

What to learn

IoT itself is really broad, so let’s break it into three categories:

● Embedded programming: C/C++ and Python
● Device Level (Smartphones and tablets) : Android and iOS
● Hardware and basic electrical engineering

Machine Learning / Artificial Intelligence

TechTarget defines machine learning as a type of artificial intelligence (AI) that allows computers to learn without being explicitly programmed. At present, most machine learning is used for crunching large sets of data that power technologies including:

● Virtual reality assistants (e.g., Siri)
● Intelligent agents (e.g., automated online assistants)
● Expert systems (e.g., medical decision support systems, smart grid)
● Embedded software (machine monitoring and control systems)
● Autonomous robots (including self-driving vehicles)
● Purpose-built smart machines (such as neural computers)

Because of the broad range of applications machine learning enables, the technology is affecting every type of company from social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to eCommerce companies looking to interact with their customers more easily. If you’re interested in learning more about machine learning, working as a developer in one of these industries could be a great fit for you.

What to learn

According to Machine Learning Mastery, a website dedicated to teaching machine learning, the most popular languages are R, Python, SQL, SAS, Java and MATLAB. There are also a lot of open source projects like Tensor Flow that allow you to develop your skills and learn at your own pace.

Virtual reality, machine learning and Internet of Things offer the most untapped potential for computer science majors to explore. Whether you’re considering a paid or unpaid internship or an entry-level job, entering these industries will be beneficial for you in the long term, especially as the industries become more mature.

Next, find out more about opportunities for computer science majors such as the Types of Internships for Computer Science Majors and Types of Entry-level Jobs for Computer Science Majors.

This article was written in partnership with the team at Outco.

Types of Internships for Computer Science Majors

If you’re majoring in computer science, an internship is one of the best ways to explore career paths in the tech industry. In addition to learning on-the-job responsibilities, you’ll also discover what types of team dynamics best fit your style of working. As an intern, you’ll usually be paired with a more experienced engineer who will act as your mentor, giving you guidance on the technical aspects of your project as well as helping you to manage and execute it. While you don’t have to go into engineering just because you’re a computer science major, an internship will offer you the opportunity to see what the field is like and whether it’s a good fit for you. And because computer science majors are very in demand among employers, the internship is also likely to be very well compensated.

Here are the most common types of internships for computer science majors.

Front-End Engineering Intern

As a front-end engineering intern, you’ll gain real-world experience working on the user-facing portion of a website or application. In addition to writing code in HTML, CSS and Javascript, you’ll also be testing and debugging that code to ensure that the user experience is as smooth and immersive as possible. During your internship, you’ll get hands-on experience executing challenging projects and helping to build incredible products.

Back-End Engineering Intern

As a back-end engineering intern, you’ll be working with the data that powers a website or application and using programming languages like Python, Ruby and Java to connect the server, application and database. Similar to a front-end developer, your responsibilities will include writing code pertaining to your project and testing the code to ensure a robust finished product. You’ll also be responsible for debugging and figuring out which parts of your product are not working properly. In addition, you’ll most likely go through code reviews to make sure that you develop best practices and that you learn to work in an agile development environment.

Full-Stack Software Engineering Intern

As a full-stack engineering intern, you’ll be combining the best of both worlds by working on both front-end and back-end technologies, seeing how data flows through the application and how it’s transferred and displayed. By being actively involved with the technological components the customer sees and with the back-end data that powers the site, you’ll quickly develop an understanding of the different technologies and you’ll be able to implement optimizations to enhance performance. This is a great internship for anyone who wants to understand how to build a feature end-to-end.

Information Security Intern

Security is what protects every company’s confidential information. During this type of internship, you’ll be able to see the security challenges that companies face on a daily basis and to understand how to react in such situations. This type of internship is especially common in the healthcare and finance industries where information security is used to protect patient records and sensitive financial materials.

Mobile Engineering Intern

As a mobile engineering intern, you’ll be working with one or more types of mobile technologies to develop user-facing applications. Depending on what type of mobile technology you’re working with (iOS vs. Android), you’ll be using different types of code and potentially getting both front-end and back-end development experience.

iOS Engineering Intern

As an iOS engineering intern, you’ll gain hands-on experience developing apps that are specific to Apple. You’ll be using XCode, Swift and maybe even React Native to work on both front-end and back-end components of the app, thereby getting full-stack experience. Patience will be necessary as you learn the process of publishing to the App Store, which includes provisioning profiles, getting developer certificates and submitting apps once they’re developed.

Android Engineering Intern

As an Android engineering intern, you’ll work with a team to design and build advanced applications for the Android platform. Communication will be very important as you collaborate with cross-functional teams to define, design and ship new features. You’ll also assist with technical planning, development and systems integration on client engagements from the definition phase all the way to implementation. Critical thinking is essential in this internship since you’ll be analyzing requirements, wireframing and listing capabilities of related systems to propose appropriate solutions.

Product Management Intern

An increasingly popular type of internship for computer science majors is a product management internship. This involves working with a team of engineers to develop the strategy and roadmap of a specific product as well as to QA test the product. As a product management intern, you’ll also act as a bridge between the engineering and marketing teams, helping to do market research and come up with effective marketing strategies for your product.

Data Scientist Intern

If developing statistical modeling, segmentation, quantitative analyses and customer profiling sounds exciting to you, then you may want to intern as a data scientist. During this internship, you’ll learn how to build and deploy complex statistical models to generate powerful insights and predictions useful to the business. Part of your job will also be to discover new insights in order to best understand your customers by performing advanced statistical analysis and modeling.

Data Engineering Intern

As a data engineering intern, you’ll be collecting, storing and processing data and creating a system that will allow others (particularly data scientists) to analyze that data. Combining coding skills with an understanding of data science, data engineers create infrastructure for processing huge amounts of data, enabling data scientists to do their job more effectively.

Whether you’re considering a summer internship or an internship during the school year, taking on an internship will give you the experience you need to pursue a career in the technology industry after graduation.

Next, learn more about this college major such as What Is a Computer Science Major and Is It Right for Me? and get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as When to Start Applying for a Summer Internship.

* This article was written in partnership with the team at Outco.

Types of Entry-Level Jobs for Computer Science Majors

If you’re a computer science major who is interested in pursuing a tech-based career, you might be wondering about the best options for entry-level jobs. Depending on your interests and familiarity with the various industry verticals, there are many options to choose from and each one involves a combination of challenging and exciting projects.

Here are the various roles you can pursue to kickstart your career.

Front-End Engineer

Front-End engineers make the interfaces we all love and use daily. If you like to see immediate, “tangible” results from your code and have a flair for design, then being a front-end engineer may be the role for you. As a front-end engineer, you’ll typically be working on the very front of the page. In a nutshell, you’ll be taking mockups given to you by the designer and turning them into web pages; implementing designs, prototyping and writing code that translates directly into what users see on the screen. The code you’ll be writing for this job is almost exclusively HTML/CSS and JavaScript, and it requires a strong ability to write cleanly in order to ensure long-term maintainability and future fast iterating. Deep knowledge of CSS and other front-end frameworks such as jQuery are a must.

Back-End Engineer

If you enjoy learning how to optimize read times on large data sets, crafting large data structures like an architect would a building, or making sure that your app has the best search function around, you may have a calling in back-end development. Back-end engineers are most concerned with what goes on behind the scenes — the business logic, data storage and retrieval, and key features that happen on the server. Knowing your SQL commands and relationships, familiarity with appropriate back-end languages such as Java, C++, Ruby, Python or JavaScript, knowledge of systems architecture and understanding of the hurdles of building applications at scale are helpful for this role.

Full-Stack Engineer

Being a full-stack engineer involves working with a combination of both front-end and back-end technologies, and it’s the perfect role for someone who likes building complete products or features. In addition to being able to develop back-end processes to connect servers and databases, you’ll also be working on the user-facing application to ensure that the product delivers seamless experience from end to end. However, it’s important to note that given the scope of this position, many full-stack engineers are “jacks of all trades but masters of none,” so it’s worth considering whether you want to be an expert in a particular discipline or whether you’re more comfortable when you’re constantly learning new things.

Mobile Engineer

Due to the rising use of apps, mobile engineers are in great demand right now. And since pretty much everyone uses either an iPhone or Android device these days, being familiar with their respective development platforms is a great way to secure your spot for this role.
The best way to show that you have what it takes is by being able to show off some apps that you’ve built on your own. If you already know Java, Android may be the best place for you to start, but if you prefer the iOS ecosystem, you’ll need to start learning Swift and XCode.

DevOps Engineer

The role of a DevOps engineer often differs from company to company, but at its core, DevOps engineers are responsible for the system infrastructure and “keeping the lights on.” If you’re fascinated by networking, intrigued by how the various tools and languages your team uses work and love setting up new servers, DevOps may be for you. The DevOps movement expands on the traditional responsibilities of system administrators to bring as much automation to the job as possible, so DevOps engineers are actually a hybrid of programmers and sysadmins.

Quality Assurance (QA) Engineer

Building scalable software requires that many levels of quality be considered. The first component is that the software must work, but it also must be written according to best practices and in a fashion that will not break other components of the program being developed. As a QA Engineer, you’ll be writing tests and testing suites while also running tests. Familiarity with software best practices and writing comprehensive tests that cover all edge cases will help you land your first QA job.

Product Manager

An increasingly popular role for computer science majors, being a product manager involves identifying opportunities for new products and working with an engineering team to design and execute them. As a product manager, you’ll be responsible for creating a roadmap of the product as well as market testing the product and launching it. This is a great role for someone who is interested in working on the strategy side of product development and someone who is passionate about the user experience.

Being a computer science major opens up a lot of exciting doors and offers you the opportunity to continue building your skill set as a programmer and beyond. The best way to figure out which opportunity is best for you is by pursuing an internship and figuring out which career path most closely aligns with your interests.

Next, learn more about this college major such as What Is a Computer Science Major and Is It Right for Me? and get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as 5 Technology Trends You Need to Know to Work in Any Industry.

* This article was written in partnership with the team at Outco.