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How Much Do Computer Scientists Make?



The average computer science salary is $99,050. However, this rate can change significantly depending on your company, location, experience level, and specialization. Some computer scientists can earn upwards of $138,000 a year or even higher, depending on their responsibilities. 


In fact, computer science is one of the highest-paying sectors in the tech industry. Due to the increasing demand for experienced tech professionals, more companies are seeking computer scientists.

This guide goes through everything you need to know about computer scientist positions, the ways in which salaries vary, and why you should consider this career if you want to work in the tech industry. 

4 Factors that Influence Computer Scientist Salaries

A person holding dollar bills
There are several factors that can increase your salary.



While the average pay rate of a computer scientist is nearly $100,000, there are several factors that can cause this salary to vary.

Here are four factors that impact how much you can earn as a computer scientist:

  • Company
  • Location
  • Experience
  • Specialization

Company



First and foremost, the business you work with determines your salary. If you work for a startup, expect to make a bit less than you would with a large company or corporation. In addition, some government positions pay more based on the branch. For example, the U.S. Air Force has an open position that pays $79,232 annually, while the U.S. Navy has a similar open position that pays $84,338. Compared to these jobs, however, Adobe pays significantly more at $133,118 a year. 

Location



Your location also has an impact on your salary. If you’re in the city or an area that is home to several tech companies, you may find higher salaries due to competition among companies for the best computer scientists. However, if you are in a more rural area where there are not many positions, you may find a lower pay rate. 

Demand isn’t the only thing that could cause your salary to change. The cost of living may be a huge factor as well. Typically, rural and smaller cities have a lower starting salary than larger areas.

Experience Level

Experience significantly impacts pay, and the number of years you spend working in the industry can lead to an increase in your earnings. In fact, you could earn thousands more each year you’ve worked in the industry. Experience may also allow you to land a senior position, which can significantly increase your pay rate.

Many people assume that experience means working in the same position. However, if you’ve worked in a similar field or industry, you may be able to convince your employer to pay you above the starting salary if you have relevant knowledge. 

A computer scientist’s salary is large enough for an individual to support themselves. Moreover, there is enough upward mobility and earning potential to make it a lucrative career. There are several factors that impact your starting salary, but an individual can still earn upwards of $100,000 and even significantly more if they continue to work in the industry. 

Below, we break down the average salaries for three tiers of computer science experience levels.

Entry Level Computer Science Salary



One of the many attractive features of computer science is the high entry-level salaries. An entry level computer scientist can expect to earn $66,566 annually. Compare this to the national entry level salary average of $32, 592 per year ($16 per month), and you’ll realize how lucrative computer science truly is. Computer science entry level salaries exceed even the top earners in the 90th percentile of entry level salaries who $45,000 annually.

Junior Computer Scientist Salary

Junior computer scientists have already gained experience in the field, but have not attained the proficiency level of a senior computer scientist. Junior computer scientists are typically looking for long-term positions in which to establish their career. The average salary for a junior computer scientist is an impressive $88,541 annually.

Senior Computer Scientist Salary

Senior computer scientists are veterans in their chosen specialization of computer science. Oftentimes, these professionals have spent many years at one tech company. A senior computer scientists can expect to be compensated for their hard work and dedication to their company with $128,129 annually. Remain in the field long enough, and this salary could be yours too.

Specialization

Computer science is a broad entity, with many specializations with in it. What you choose to specialize in within the realm of computer science may impact your salary.

Five of the highest-paying specializations within computer science are:

  • Computer Science Analyst
  • Game Developer
  • Mobile Application Developer
  • Software Engineer
  • Data Scientist

Computer Science Analyst

Computer science analysts oversee software systems with the goal of ensuring that their company’s information technology systems are running smoothly and effectively. These professionals specialize in both information technology and business. On average, they earn $90,920 each year. with a projected growth of 7%.

Game Developer

These computer science professionals design and develop games for various media platforms such as mobile devices, game consoles, and online web browsers. They work within a team to write and debug code, create graphics. Game developers make an average annual salary of $75, 270.

Mobile Application Developer

The rise of smartphone technology introduced this position to the tech industry. Mobile application developers work to create apps for Apple or Android systems. They earn an average yearly salary of $73,404.

Software Engineer

Software engineers design and produce software including websites, databases, operating systems, and business applications. As one of the most sought-after and high-paying positions in the tech industry, software engineers can expect to earn an average of $107,510 annually. This profession is projected to see a 22% growth over the next 10 years.

Data Scientist

Data scientists use statistical models and algorithms to analyze data and expand a company. Data scientists earn an average of $122,840, with a projected growth of 15%.

What Is a Computer Scientist

Two people in a discussion in front of a computer
Computer scientists are tasked with solving problems.



Computer science involves using computers to solve problems. In its simplest form, computer science goes through the process of transmitting and transforming information. As a computer scientist, your job is to design and create software that addresses fundamental questions in science.

You’ve already seen the efforts of computer scientists in your everyday life. Computer science is what allows your smartphone to run and keep planes in the sky. This is the work that helps medical professionals do a better job and bring automation to various fields. 

As a computer scientist, you may find yourself doing any number of tasks, such as conceptualizing computational problems, creating new products that solve practical problems, working with research teams, studying artificial intelligence, learning robotics, and so much more.

Computer scientists are constantly working in fields that push the boundaries of technology for any number of reasons. Your research efforts may streamline processes, revolutionize industries, or make computer hardware and software far more efficient than ever before. 

Skills Needed for Computer Scientists



Computer scientists are tasked with research and complex problem-solving. Because of their responsibilities, it is important for computer scientists to have good grasps of math and technology. When working, you’ll have to analyze problems, come up with a systematic approach, and diagnose the problem with a clear and concise solution.

Working with data and constantly needing to solve problems means that you must be accurate in your assessment and implementation of your solution. A single issue could prevent your solution from working or even make the problem worse. You must also organize and make your information clear, in case others may need to use your solution.

Becoming a Computer Scientist



If you have a passion for technology, problem-solving, and analytics, then a career as a computer scientist may be for you. It requires a great deal of studying and knowledge, but the benefits are significant. With the knowledge required to become a computer scientist, you open yourself up to a number of career opportunities.

College isn’t the only way to learn the skills needed to work in computer science. Through online bootcamps, you can learn everything you need and even start working with tech companies as soon as you graduate. Bootcamps have part-time and full-time options, which give you the opportunity to become a computer scientist in a matter of months. Bootcamps are a great way to learn computer science without attending an expensive four-year institution. Many bootcamp grads are landing positions at Fortune 500 companies.

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