What Can You Do with a Computer Science Degree? [Updated 2021]

Written by Coursera • Updated on Jun 7, 2021

Consider these 10 exciting, emerging opportunities in computer science and IT.

Blond woman in classes and a blue sweater working in front of a computer at a futuristic computer science lab

Computer and information technology (IT)-related careers are projected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations in the coming years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) [1]. Earning a computer science degree opens up numerous career opportunities. And that doesn’t necessarily mean working at a Silicon Valley software company. 

What can you do with a computer science degree? 10 in-demand fields

Consider these relevant computer science career paths for computer science graduates.

AI and machine learning

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been named a key driver of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. We experience AI in our homes, our cars, our businesses, and even in public spaces. Machine learning enables an AI system to learn from data. Working in the field of AI and machine learning means innovating the technology of tomorrow. 

This industry is perfect for you if: You’re able to think creatively and analytically. You want to play a role in transforming the global economy.

AI and machine learning job titles: 

Common job requirements: Bachelor or Master of Computer Science, knowledge of Python, Java, and R coding languages

Get started with Coursera

Take the first steps toward earning a future master’s degree by completing the MasterTrack Certificate® in AI and Machine Learning. If you’re accepted into the Arizona State University Master of Computer Science, this program will count toward your degree.  Alternately, earn one of the world’s first online master’s degrees in machine learning and data science from Imperial College London.

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Robotics

The growing field of robotics focuses on building robots that can replicate human actions (from building cars to assisting in surgery). A foundation in computer science equips you to program the software that helps physical and virtual bots operate effectively.

Did you know?

The fields of AI and robotics overlap with artificially intelligent robots, or robots controlled by AI programming.

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This industry is perfect for you if: You’re interested in computer programming as well as electrical and mechanical engineering. You enjoy hands-on projects.

Robotics job titles: 

  • Robotics engineer

  • Robotics technician

  • Software developer

Common job requirements: Bachelor’s degree in computer science or software, mechanical, or electrical engineering, experience with computer-aided design (CAD) software, proficiency in C++ or Python.

Get started with Coursera

Through the Robotics Specialization from the University of Pennsylvania, you’ll learn to program robots for complex tasks in construction and disaster recovery. Build a foundation for a career in robotics (even with no prior experience).

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Computer forensics

Computer forensics exists at the intersection of law and computer science. Computer forensics, also called data or digital forensics, deals with the recovery and analysis of digital evidence recovered from computers, networks, and digital storage devices. You might work in a crime lab, law enforcement department, or other public agency, or as a private contractor.

This industry is perfect for you if: you’re naturally inquisitive and are interested in cybercrime and law enforcement.

Computer forensics job titles:

  • Digital forensics specialist

  • Computer forensics investigator

  • Forensic computer analyst

Common job requirements: Bachelor’s degree in computer science or computer security, recognized digital forensics certification

Get started with Coursera

Learn more about data forensics by watching this lecture, part of the IBM Cybersecurity Analyst Professional Certificate.

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Cybersecurity and ethical hacking

Cybersecurity refers to the practice of protecting computer systems, networks, programs, and mobile devices from unauthorized access or digital attacks. Cyberattacks rank among the fastest growing crimes, fueling a global demand for cybersecurity skills.

Ethical hacking takes a proactive approach to cybersecurity by trying to find vulnerabilities before malicious hackers do.

This industry is perfect for you if: you naturally think ahead to what could go wrong before it happens. You take a methodical approach to problem solving.

Cybersecurity job titles: 

Common job requirements: Bachelor of Computer Science or Master of Business Administration in Information Systems, information security certification like the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) or Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP)

Get started with Coursera

Learn the latest cybersecurity tools and techniques and build the skills you need for an entry-level job with the IBM Cybersecurity Analyst Professional Certificate on Coursera. Whether you’re just starting out in the field or looking to advance your career, you can earn a credential from an industry leader in less than eight months.

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Read more: 10 Popular Cybersecurity Certifications (2021)

Video game design

While video game design isn’t a new industry, it’s one that will likely continue to evolve. As games get more advanced, gaming companies will need more people skilled in designing and programming virtual reality, graphics, game physics, networks, and user interfaces.

This industry is perfect for you if: you’re a creative thinker with a passion for video games.

Video game design job titles:

  • Games developer

  • Programmer

  • Technical support specialist

Common job requirements: Bachelor of Computer Science or related field, knowledge of the latest gaming trends, proficiency in C++  or Java programming languages

Get started with Coursera

Design, build, and bring to market your own game by completing the Game Design and Development Specialization. Learn to use Unity3D and C# programming while earning a certificate for your resume.

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Cloud computing

With the emergence of cloud computing technology, companies no longer need their own servers to build products. As the cloud continues to grow, so will the demand for professionals with cloud computing skills, including cloud security, database management, and network architecture.

This industry is perfect for you if: you’re interested in how the internet can help transform businesses.

Cloud computing job titles:

  • Cloud engineer

  • Network architect

  • Cloud security specialist

Common job requirements: Bachelor’s degree in computer science, certification from Google Cloud Platform (GCP), Amazon Web Services (AWS), Cisco, or Microsoft Azure  

Learn more: 5 Cloud Certifications for Your IT Career in 2021

Get started with Coursera

Develop the foundations for a job in cloud network engineering through the Google Cloud Networking Professional Certificate. Learn about network architecture on the Google Cloud while you prepare for the Google Cloud Professional Cloud Network Engineer certification exam.

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Bioinformatics

Bioinformatics combines mathematics, biology, and computer science to better understand biological data. Scientists in this field use the growing stream of biological data by storing, analyzing, and interpreting big data sets using computer technology.

This industry is perfect for you if: you like analyzing facts and working with ideas. You’re interested in biological science as well as computers.

Bioinformatics job titles:

  • Bioinformatics scientist

  • Research associate

  • Bioinformatics engineer

Common job requirements: Master’s degree in computer science or computational biology, proficiency with Python, Perl, and R programming languages

Get started with Coursera

Gain experience with computational biology and bioinformatics software through the Bioinformatics Specialization from the University of California, San Diego. Learn how to answer the most pressing questions in modern biology, complete coding challenges, and earn a certificate you can share with prospective employers.

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UX design

User experience (UX) design helps shape a customer’s emotions and attitudes when using a particular product, service, or system. Whether for a physical product or more often for a website or app, user design is concerned with gathering and analyzing data to craft the most enjoyable and efficient user experience.

This industry is perfect for you if: you have an interest in human behavior. You want a career where you can use your creativity.

UX design job titles:

Common job requirements: Bachelor’s degree in human-computer interaction, computer science, or psychology, knowledge of design and prototyping tools like Sketch, InVision, or AdobeXD

Get started with Coursera

Learn to solve real-world user experience problems with the Google UX Design Professional Certificate on Coursera. Get job-ready in less than six months, no degree or prior experience required.

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Read more: What Does a UX Designer Do?

Big data

Businesses are often inundated with data each day, more data than the human mind can make sense of on its own. That’s where big data analytics comes in. This field deals with collecting and analyzing large data sets to find valuable information that can be leveraged to make better business decisions. 

This industry is perfect for you if: you enjoy mathematics and making sense out of large data sets. 

Big data job titles:

  • Data scientist

  • Data visualization developer

  • Business intelligence engineer

Common job requirements: Bachelor’s or master’s degree in computer or data science, proficiency with SQL, knowledge of Python, Java, or R programming languages

Get started with Coursera

Earn credit toward a Master of Computer Science from Arizona State University, one of the top schools for innovation in the U.S., with the Big Data MasterTrack® Certificate. Gain a competitive edge in the field of big data by learning the latest data mining, analytics, visualization, and machine learning techniques.

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Internet of things (IoT)

Physical objects around the globe—from thermostats and lightbulbs to toys and audio speakers—are now connected to the internet. The internet of things (IoT) refers to this collection of devices and the technology used to connect the physical with the digital. As the number of “smart” objects grows, companies will need professionals with the skills to design, develop, and program them.

This industry is perfect for you if: you’re a natural tinkerer obsessed with the latest gadgets.

Internet of things job titles:

  • IoT developer

  • Embedded systems designer

  • Vulnerability analyst

Common job requirements: Bachelor of Computer Science, IoT or cloud development certification, proficiency with Javascript and Python

Get started with Coursera

Create your own IoT device during the Introduction to Programming the Internet of Things (IOT) Specialization. Build a foundation in embedded systems, the Arduino platform, and Python and C programming.

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Computer science degree frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Read on for answers to some frequently asked questions about degrees in computer science.

Is computer science hard?

Studying computer science means learning some complex topics like algorithms and coding. With the right motivation, patience, and an interest in computers, you can find success in this challenging field.

Is a computer science degree worth it?

The time, effort, and monetary investment of earning a degree potentially opens up well-paying job opportunities in many in-demand fields. Check the job requirements of some positions you’d like to apply to in the future to see if a computer science degree aligns with your career goals.

Is computer science right for me?

If you’re organized, pay attention to detail, and enjoy problem solving, computer science could be a good fit. Enhance your understanding of technology and learn skills to empower you to work in the computer careers of the future.

Can I earn my computer science degree online?

Yes. Completing a computer science degree online allows you to study from home with the same curriculum and professors as on-campus programs. Some online degree programs offer greater flexibility. You can continue to work, take care of family, or keep up with other obligations while earning your degree.

Can I work from home with a degree in computer science?

The computer science field was one of the first to allow working from home, even before COVID-19. Whether or not you can work from home depends on your career choice. Jobs in software and web development, programming, and technical support often come with work-from-home opportunities.

Next Steps

Now that you’ve learned about what you can do with a computer science degree, it’s time to take the next step on your career journey.

Article sources

1. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Computer and Information Technology Occupations, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/home.htm." Accessed June 4, 2021.

Written by Coursera • Updated on Jun 7, 2021

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

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