A person looking at lines of code on a computer

Computer Scientist Salary

The average computer science salary is $99,050. This rate changes significantly depending on the company you work with and the seniority of your position. Some computer scientists earn upwards of $138,000 a year or even higher, based on their responsibilities. 

In fact, computer science is one of the highest-paying positions people working in the tech industry can acquire. Due to the increasing demand for people who are experienced with computers and tech, more and more companies are seeking computer scientists.

This guide goes through everything you need to know about being a computer scientist, the ways in which salaries vary, and why you may consider it as a career if you want to work in the tech industry. 

What Is a Computer Scientist

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

Computer science is a tech area involving the use of 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, or 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.

What Impacts Your Salary

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 still various factors that could lead to you being paid more or less with the position. Whatever the case may be, a computer scientist’s salary is still significant enough for anyone who wants to work in the tech industry. Below are some of the factors that impact how much you earn as a computer scientist.

The Business

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 to this, some government positions pay more based on the branch.

For example, the U.S. Air Force has positions open that offer $79,232 a year, but the U.S. Navy has a similar position open that pays $84,338. Compared to these jobs though, Adobe pays significantly more at $133,118 a year. 

While these corporations do pay a great deal more, it may be difficult for a person new to the industry to find a position with them, let alone one that has the highest payout, so your earnings may differ. 


Where you’re located also has an impact on your salary. If you’re in the city or a place that is home to several tech companies, you may find higher salaries due to the 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 smaller starting salary than larger areas.


Experience significantly impacts your pay and the number of years you spend working in the industry can lead to an increase in pay. In fact, you could earn thousands more each year you’ve worked in the industry. Experience may also allow you to get 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 and there is enough upward mobility and earning potential to make it a lucrative career that lasts for years on end. 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. 

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. 

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