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15 things You Didn’t Know About Studying Computer Science

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Whenever you think of studying computer science, what comes to your mind? If you are like the majority, you will just imagine a person coding in a room with limited or poor lighting. Some even think the study of computer science is about some robust numbers and mathematics; however, there are many things you never knew about computer science (all these all surprise you in the context).

For starters, computer scientists often focus more on theory, whereas computer engineers focus on hardware and developers on software. However, computer science is a big umbrella with a lot of subjects and career possibilities underneath it.

When it comes to working in tech, there are a lot of misconceptions. Some people think it’s like a closed-door community, where only sure folks can make it.

All kinds of people—from different ages, backgrounds, parts of the world, etc.—can be found in the tech industry. And making the switch into a tech career is a lot easier than most realize. People are doing it every day. Sure, it may not be secure. But it’s certainly doable.

Below, are 15 things you didn’t know about computer science

1. Computer Science is a Booming Market

When it comes to earning a degree in computer science, it takes hard work and commitment. That’s why it’s good to know what may happen after you graduate. Computer scientists work in a variety of industries. This is because the world is becoming more and more dependent on computers and technology.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of computer science is growing much faster than average at 16% growth per year. Computer scientists can work in a wide array of job titles, including software developers, computer and information systems managers, computer programmers, web developers, and more.

2. It’s Very High Paying

It is also of importance to note that the careers within the field are high paying. The degree leads to some of the most top paying positions of all undergraduate degrees.

The national average of worker’s wages in America in 2019 is $47,060. Jobs in computer science often start at double that. For example, the average salary for a software developer in 2018 was $105,590.

The high demand, high pay, and a high amount of positions within the field of computer science make it a worthwhile degree to pursue.

3. There are Tons of Career Paths

Working in computer science means that there are many industries and career paths that will need you. These don’t include only prominent positions like in information technology and software development.

They also include artistic pursuits like movie animation. Creating animation is a subset of computer graphics and animation. More and more, movies are using 3D graphics and computer-generated imagery (CGI). As such, if you have the dream of being behind the scenes and making images come to life, computer science could be your calling.

Another interesting consideration is performing research and development for the computing industry as a whole. There have to be people to build, grow, and innovate systems and hardware. For these pursuits, you could change the world as a computer scientist who performs research and development.

4. Famous People Do It, Too

Some of your favourite celebrities and industry leaders earned their stripes as computer science majors. Some of them may feel obvious, like Mark Zuckerberg (CEO and Founder of Facebook). Mark Zuckerberg was Forbes’ youngest self-made millionaire, earning the title at age 23. Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, plus Larry Page and Sergey Brin, CEOs of Google, are additional famous people where the connection between computer science and their current positions highly correlates.

However, some more celebrities have either studied or are currently studying computer science and coding. Although Jimmy Fallon and Chris Bosh never completed their degrees, they both started their degrees within the field and knew how to code. Former Victoria’s Secret Angel and model Karlie Kloss codes and often shares her coding work on her Instagram.

5. You Can Specialize

Most jobs within the field will require at least a bachelor’s degree. However, under the field of computer science, there is a further specialization that can be accomplished through a master’s degree. When earning either degree, you will touch upon many subjects, including algorithms, programming, bioinformatics, software engineering, computer policy, and more.

Degree programs vary by location and enrollment status. Additionally, you can earn computer science degrees online, which offers a lot of flexibility. At the University of the People, you can make an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in the field. Plus, our degrees are tuition-free, so you’ve got nothing to lose!

6. Men Still Dominate the Field

It’s true — men still dominate computer science. Over the coming years, roughly 1.7 million jobs related to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) will be added. More men are expected to fill the positions. This trend starts early in education. To exemplify, although girls take more AP (Advanced Placement) tests than boys in high school, men still outnumber women 4:1 in AP Computer Science test-taking.

Furthermore, the growth of the field is undeniable. The largest STEM occupation that continues to grow is software developers. Additionally, over half a million jobs are attributed to computer support specialists and systems analysts.

7. Computer Scientists Don’t Work Alone

Computer scientists rarely work in isolation. Whether they work for private companies, public organizations, government agencies, the entertainment industry, or for themselves, they have to be in contact with internal and external stakeholders. This includes clients!

Therefore, communication is critical. Computer scientists may even be teachers, in which case, both patience and communication are of utmost importance.

8. It’s Much More than Math

It’s important to realize that the field is more than science and math. Even if you don’t consider yourself a math whiz, you can still sign in the discipline. The degree and field require strong problem-solving abilities and analytical skills.

Furthermore, if you have a good logic and can understand the more significant picture ideas, as well as details, then computer science may be a good fit.

9. The Opportunities are Endless Around the World

Majoring in computer science allows you to both study and work internationally. The need for computer science is not designated to one region. Although there are hubs around the world where computer science is peaking, such as Silicon Valley in California, there are opportunities everywhere to work in the field.

Computer science is one of the most studied subjects in many countries, including the United Kingdom, Greece, and Germany.

10. The Learning Never Stops

Because technology is always evolving, there are still new techniques to learn. Additionally, new problems and challenges continue to arise. Therefore, those who know computer science can help to overcome such challenges and make a difference in the field.

11. It’s a lot easier than you think to transition into a technical career.

Nowadays, every company has a website as well as some form of an online presence. The need for tech workers is not confined to a single city, country, or even industry.

If you’re overwhelmed, here’s what you should do: start where you are. Find ways at your current company to get your hands dirty with tech. Adda (the founder of Skillcrush) was first exposed to the world of coding while working at a digital magazine. She found other ways to weave it into her role—at the same magazine—by raising her hand to do specific technical tasks.

There are little ways in your day-to-day you can incorporate it. Get creative!

12. You don’t need to be good at math (or science)

In high school and college, I disliked math—despite being good at it. Not only that, but I also hated science. (And wasn’t good at it.)

However, your ability to answer algebra, physics, or biology problems doesn’t relate to how proficient you’ll be as a coder.

Coding is all about problem-solving and logic. Some people who have the most comfortable time learning are those coming from professions where problem-solving is involved, as well as attention to detail. (Like lawyers and musicians.)

Besides, if code still intimidates you, there are a ton of tech jobs that don’t even involve writing code on the day-to-day.

13. It’s easier to work remotely/from home.

When you have in-demand technical skills, you have more leverage in terms of structuring your work environment. Mostly, employers can be much more accommodating. US News found web developers report high levels of work-life balance.

Moreover, often all you need is a laptop and internet connection to do tech work sufficiently, unlike some jobs, like retail, where you need to be at a physical location to do your job. According to FlexJobs, tech is one of the top three industries for remote workers.

14. You don’t need to become a “full-stack developer.”

One of the most common questions I get asked is, “What should I learn?” Often people bite off way more than they can chew when they first get started. Instead of focusing on one skill (or programming language) at a time, they’ll try to learn everything and the kitchen sink. (Example: “I am currently teaching myself HTML, CSS, JavaScript, WordPress, Ruby, and how to build iOS apps.”)

No wonder people get frustrated!

Here’s the deal: unless you’re a freelancer working solo, you’ll be working with a team of people. And you won’t be responsible for building every nook and cranny of the app/website/product.

So, you’ll specialize in one aspect, or component, of the product. Maybe you’ll be on the user interface team. Or perhaps the mobile unit, where all your duties have to do with the mobile app. Or maybe the quality assurance (QA) team, where you’ll test software all day.

Whatever it may be, in most cases, you won’t be building full-scale web applications from the ground up, all on your own. (For those asking, “What about full-stack developers? Isn’t that what they do?” read this.)

Now, if you want to build full-scale apps from the ground up, great, but you don’t have to. So don’t let the idea of having to learn everything prevent you from getting started. Instead, specialize in one area that you enjoy the most.

15. Soft skills matter a lot

When it comes to transitioning into technology, everyone worries about technical skills. And for a good reason: it’s a new territory for most people. But here’s the thing; soft skills matter. A lot. Maybe even more than technical know-how.

De facto, hiring managers, or clients, want to hire people who are easy to work with. Those who are team players, good communicators, can adhere to deadlines, etc.

For this reason, most employers do a phone interview before even inviting a candidate into the office to gauge whether their personality is a good fit. It’s a screening interview. Are you easygoing? Could you mesh well with the rest of the team?

And most of these decision-makers know that unlike a technical skillset, a-Rockin’ personality and driven work ethic cannot be taught, which is what makes them so valuable!

Facts About Working in the Tech Industry

There are many myths and untrue stories about people working in the tech industry. All these have made some interest (or lost interest) in studying computer science or related courses. Below is some realities you will find interesting to discover.

  • You can flex those creative muscles

Many people associate technical jobs with not being creative. This is another misconception. In reality, tech is all about finding creative ways to solve problems and build things.

One could even say that knowing how to code empowers you to take your creativity to the next level. Do you know that great app idea you’ve had for months? Well, now you can build it!

  • You don’t have to spend all day coding

Just because you learn how to program doesn’t mean you need to spend all day hunched over a computer screen, working in a text editor, writing code. By choice, I spend lots of days not writing a single line of code. And then there are other days where I spend most of my time tweaking my website or that of a client’s.

Learning how to program doesn’t mean you need to become a programmer. There are lots of jobs and technical skills that don’t involve coding at all. For instance, design, data analysis, setting up systems and processes, project management, technical writing, and the list goes on.

  • Not everyone is under the age of 30

Sure, there are people in their 20s who grew up with technology being the norm. But there are also those in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and even 60s. For instance, my father has worked in tech for the better part of his adult life. Despite being in his mid-60s, he still works as a solutions architect. (Which, by the way, was recently ranked third on Glassdoor’s 2016 25 Best Jobs in America list.)

He gets to work from anywhere as well as occasional travel to cool places like Brazil to work with clients. And most importantly, he loves what he does and has no plans of retiring anytime soon.

I talk to people every day in their 40s, 50s, and 60s learning how to code. As my friend Lori Smith says: “Age is of no importance unless you’re a cheese or wine!” (Lori, by the way, is teaching herself how to code at the age of 60.)

  • Not everyone in tech plays video games

People who work in tech have a range of personalities, interests, and hobbies. For instance, Randle Browning from Skillcrush. Sure, she can build websites and helps create excellent content for the Skillcrush blog. But she also has a blog (Week of Plenty) and Instagram, dedicated to vegan cooking.

  • The tech industry is NOT entirely male-dominated

There’s a lot of talk in the news about the lack of women in tech. While this is true in many professions/companies, not every area in tech is entirely male-dominated.

For instance, it has been estimated that data science is made up of 90% of men. On the other hand, design fields typically have more women. A study released by the National Endowment for the Arts found that “54 percent of the designer category are women.”

When it comes to particular companies, some (like Skillcrush) have a majority of female employees. In others, women are represented near-equally with men. In a visualization made by David McCandless, companies like Groupon, eBay, Pandora, Pinterest, and LinkedIn have a workforce made up of 40% female workers or more. (Pandora is 49% female!)

  • NOT all tech jobs are outsourced

Yes, outsourcing is a real thing that companies of all sizes do. After all, companies, especially large ones, want employees around the world. Think of it this way: if you’re serving a customer base in multiple time zones, you want people on duty all the time.

Moreover, many large companies have offices in multiple countries. And true: it can be cheaper to hire workers abroad than back at home.

However, there is still plenty of demand for tech workers in the US (or wherever your home country is). Outsourcing, while cost-effective, comes with certain drawbacks: time differences, language differences, cultural barriers, and so on.

The fact is, specific responsibilities and tasks are much better handled domestically. And employers know this.

What Can You Do With a Degree in Computer Science?

Experts say that there are computer science jobs in nearly every primary U.S. industry.

Developing programming and coding technologies. Website design. Programmer working in a software development company office.

In today’s economy, potential employees who know how to create and improve software are highly marketable, making the field of computer science increasingly popular among those hoping to land a well-paying job after graduation.

The field of computer science focuses on the study of software systems, and a degree in the discipline allows someone to pursue a variety of careers. Contrary to what it may seem, the demand for computer scientists is not limited to positions in Silicon Valley technology companies, according to computer science professors. Instead, the increasing use of technology throughout the business world means that companies in many industries are hiring grads of computer science programs.

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics also shows that some careers common among computer science degree-holders frequently lead to six-figure salaries. For instance, in May 2018, the median wage among computer and information research scientists was $118,370, and the median salary among computer network architects was $109,020. Software developers also typically received generous paychecks: their median salary in May 2018 was $105,590.

Sherman says education in computer science can not only provide people with the training necessary to invent new technologies, but it can also allow them to identify potential improvements for current technologies.

The following types of jobs are positions where a degree in computer science is a significant asset:

  • Data scientist
  • Software tester
  • Web developer
  • Systems analyst
  • Business analyst
  • Product manage
  • Network architect
  • Software engineer
  • Software developer
  • Full-stack developer
  • Engineering manager
  • User interface designer
  • Database administrator
  • Cloud computing engineer
  • Information security analyst
  • Computer science professor
  • Chief information security officer
  • Software quality assurance manager
  • Information technology specialist
  • Mobile application designer or developer
  • Research and development (R&D) scientist
  • Computer scientist or computer science researcher
  • Artificial intelligence and machine learning engineer

Computer science is a world unto itself. Earning a degree in the field can set you up for success. This is because there are many different job titles and opportunities within the realm of computer science. Additionally, they tend to be high-paid positions because they require dense skill sets.

However, it’s important to remember that computer science is not only for people who love math or coding. There is a lot of variety, and those who are endlessly curious, up for a challenge, and enjoy problem-solving may make the best computer scientists!

Tech is a flexible industry with a diverse workforce. It can offer a fantastic work-life balance, higher-than-average paychecks, and other great perks. There are tons of job opportunities—some of which don’t even involve coding in the day-to-day. Ultimately, it’s a lot easier than most think to transition into tech.

Even so, there are lots of misconceptions about what it’s like to work in tech. But don’t knock it before you try it! Instead, keep an open mind. Because there truly is something for everyone. Hopefully, these computer science facts have shed new light on what it means to study within the field and pursue a rewarding career to follow.

Some other surprising and interesting facts about working with a degree in computer science include:

  • Roughly 10% of the world’s money is physical. The rest exists digitally.
  • Every month, over 5,000 new computer viruses are released.
  • HP, Microsoft, and Apple all began in a garage.
  • Intel’s first microprocessor was intended for a calculator. Look where it’s led!
  • The first harddrive was made in 1979. It held 5 MB of data.
  • Sir Tim Burner Lee created the internet in 1989.
  • More than 17 billion devices worldwide are connected to the internet.

So, you can as well be the next inventor, never limit yourself!

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