Computer Science Salary: Your 2023 Guide

Written by Coursera • Updated on

Learn about computer science salaries for various computer science professionals and how it can be influenced by factors like industry, location, education, certifications, and company.

[Featured image] A computer programmer is working on a laptop and holding a VR set.

Now can be the right time to start or advance your career in computer science since computer and information technology-related occupations are expected to grow by 21 percent between 2021 and 2031 [1]. With this in mind, let’s take a look at computer scientists' salaries and the various factors that can influence them such as education level, location, and certifications.

What does a computer scientist do?

Computer scientists are experts in working with computers and technology. They study how data is processed, stored, and communicated in order to apply it to software and programs. 

What jobs are available as a computer scientist?

Computer scientists work as computer hardware engineers in computer programming, research, analytics, and information security, to name a few. Jobs in the computer science field cover a vast spectrum, as technology accounts for such a large part of our lives.

Computer scientists automate systems, create the processes in our smartphones, and fly us to the moon—given these accomplishments, the possibilities are nearly endless. Since computers are used in almost every business, typical employers are information technology (IT) service providers. There are opportunities available in IT departments in all major organizations in sectors, such as financial services, aerospace and defense, and manufacturing. 

How much do computer science professionals make?

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports the median annual salary of computer scientists as $131,490 with a range of $74,210 for the lowest 10 percent of wage earners and $208,000 for the highest 10 percent [2]. According to Glassdoor, the average base salary for a computer scientist in the US is $107,396, with a range of $88,000 to $192,000 [3]. 

Here are some other roles and median salaries that computer scientists may work in [4]:

  • Computer programmers: $93,000

  • Database architects: $101,000

  • Computer systems analysts: $99,270

  • Information security analysts: $102,600

  • Computer network architects: $120,520

  • Computer and information systems managers: $159,010

Read more: Top 5 Entry-Level Computer Science Jobs + How to Get One

Factors affecting salary

A computer scientist's salary will be influenced by several factors, such as industry experience, training, and location. Consider looking into the following to maximize your earnings:

Education

Having a degree in computer science or a related field tend to be a prerequisite for the majority of positions and may optimize your chances of getting hired. Most computer scientists have a degree: 66 percent have a bachelor's degree, 19 percent have a master's degree, and 7 percent have a doctorate [5]. Zippia reports the influence of education on the average salaries of computer scientists as follows [6]:

  • Some college or associate degree: $88,916

  • Bachelor's degree: $107,255

  • Master's degree: $118,290

  • Doctorate degree: $126,970

However, a computer science degree is not always required to become a computer scientist. In a very fast-paced, evolving discipline, experience is valued highly, along with keeping up with trends and engaging in self-directed learning.  A degree will generally put you in a better place to gain a more technical or specialist role.

You are Currently on slide 1

Certifications

Additional certifications in computer science can help you enter specialist positions, which often come with a higher earning potential. You can pursue several certifications, including ones that are vendor-specific, such as Microsoft and Cisco, which companies who use these products might ask for. Another option is vendor-neutral certificates, such as those offered by CompTIA and ISC. Vendor-neutral certifications can usually help you progress your career across companies rather than staying limited to a particular vendor. 

To maximize your salary in computer science without a degree, you may consider an entry-level certificate as a starting point.

Placeholder

specialization

Introduction to Computer Science and Programming

Get ready for computer science. Create graphical programs, learn computing mathematics, develop mental models of computer systems.

4.3

(915 ratings)

35,853 already enrolled

BEGINNER level

Average time: 4 month(s)

Learn at your own pace

Skills you'll build:

Computer Graphics (CG), Problem Solving, Mathematics, JavaScript, Computer Programming

Read more: What Is the CompTIA Security+ (Plus) Certification?

Level of experience

Your experience level may have an impact on your salary potential. Salaries in this field tend to increase with the number of years you’ve been a computer scientist and as you rise to more senior positions. The following is an average breakdown, according to PayScale [7]:

  • 0–1 year: $69,000

  • 1–4 years: $76,000

  • 5–9 years: $100,000

  • 10–19 years: $111,000

  • 20+ years: $118,000 

Type of position

A host of industries are looking to recruit computer scientists and other computer science professionals. Any company with a tech department will likely need a computer scientist or similar, so where you work is very flexible. However, not all industries are equal when it comes to salary.

The following are examples of the highest-paid computer science roles in a range of industries as of 2022, according to Glassdoor [8]. 

  • Sr. Computer Scientist—User Interface—Adobe: $94,000–$191,000

  • Computer Scientist—Cyber Defense—SRI International: $92,000–$190,000

  • Computer Scientist—Adobe: $96,000–$178,00

  • Computer Scientist—National Institute of Health: $126,000–$164,000

  • Computer Scientist—US Internal Revenue Service: $94,000–$143,000

  • Computer Scientist—AF Research Labs: $78,000–$123,000

  • Computer Scientist—SQL Programmer—US Veterans Health Administration: $74,000–$96,000

Other common industries include financial services, telecommunications, retail, manufacturing, and aerospace.

Company

Computer science salaries vary from employer to employer. This can be due to the industry and size of the company, but also its area of expertise. Large tech companies, such as Adobe, are among the highest-paying employers, with an average salary of $139,916, while Apple pays $169,960 on average [7, 9].  

Smaller firms with lower budgets tend to have wages that reflect it. A small company with a smaller budget will most likely prioritize positions that are most important to its organization. Rather than a whole IT department, a smaller company may have a CTO who has multiple roles until it has the budget to recruit more people. 

Location

In many industries, where you live and work can impact your earnings. Computer science salaries in the US are highest in certain areas of California, such as San Jose, where the salary is 76 percent above the national average, and Livermore, where it's 52 percent above the national average. Higher salaries are also in Baltimore, Maryland (52 percent higher) and King George, Virginia (45 percent higher) [7]. The lowest salaries are in Tampa, FL (42 percent below the national average), Vicksburg, MS (34 percent below), and Layton, UT (30 percent below).

For average salaries, it’s important to consider the cost of living, as higher salaries often compensate for higher living costs.

In 2019 remote computer science roles started to increase, with 86 percent of IT developers working remotely in some way [10]. Not only does this mean you have more opportunities available, but some of the highest-paid jobs in computer science are remote. This is because more senior roles come with the autonomy of being able to work outside of the office. The average salary for a remote-working computer scientist is $100,464 [11]. 

Job title variations and salary

Computer science roles and salaries are varied, since they are prevalent across several industries and specialties. Here is a breakdown of average base salaries in the US for different types of computer science-related roles:

*All salary data is sourced from Glassdoor as of December 2022.

Next steps

If you’re looking to get started as a computer scientist explore a bachelor’s or master’s degree in computer science offered on Coursera. Consider the Bachelor of Science from the University of London to help put you on the path to higher-paid opportunities.

If you have no experience in the field, you can consider taking an entry-level course in computer science as a starting point.

Placeholder

Bachelor of Science in Computer Science

University of London

Article sources

1

US Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Occupational Outlook Handbook- Computer and Information Technology Occupations, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/home.htm.” Accessed December 7, 2022.

Written by Coursera • Updated on

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.

Big savings for your big goals! Save $200 on Coursera Plus.

  • For a limited time, save like never before on a new Coursera Plus annual subscription (original price: $399 | after discount: $199 for one year).
  • Get unlimited access to 7,000+ courses from world-class universities and companies—for less than $20/month!
  • Gain the skills you need to succeed, anytime you need them—whether you’re starting your first job, switching to a new career, or advancing in your current role.