Do you like money? Do you thrive on intellectual challenge? Are you fascinated by technology? A computer science degree can lead you to a fulfilling career on all three counts. And it has other benefits, too (see below).
Of course, this highly technical and demanding field won't appeal to everyone. But for those with a genuine interest in computers and the possibilities they present for business, science, communication and other endeavors, computer science just might be the degree to get. Consider being able to...
1. Increase your earning potential.
It's no secret that computing provides a nice living. New graduates with bachelor's degrees in computer science were offered an average starting salary of $63,017, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers' (NACE) Spring 2011 Salary Survey. That was second only to chemical engineering majors.
2. Boost your post-graduation job prospects.
Computer science majors are in high demand, according to NACE. The organization's 2011 Student Survey found that more than 56 percent of computer science majors who applied for jobs had received offers -- making it the major with the highest offer rate.
3. Join a growing industry.
Computer-related employment has slowed since the boom of the 1990s, and job growth has been tempered to a degree by outsourcing. But the industry still appears to be in excellent shape. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Career Guide to Industries 2010-2011, the computer systems design and related services industry is one of the 10 fastest growing in the nation. And computer specialists are likely to see the best job prospects.
The software publishing industry was also poised for growth, with employment expected to increase 30 percent between 2008 and 2018 (roughly three times the average for all occupations). Computer-related professions accounted for 52 percent of the jobs in the industry.
4. Prepare for work in a wide range of fields.
As an academic discipline, computer science tends to develop strong theoretical and analytical skills that can be applied to many different professional pursuits, from engineering to medicine to financial analysis.
5. Help make the world a better place.
Not all computer whizzes use their powers for good (hackers create plenty of havoc, stealing financial information, disrupting business, etc.) But they also have enormous potential to change the world for the better. People with backgrounds in computer science have made and continue to make vital contributions in engineering, the arts, science and medicine -- including AIDS research and the human genome project, to name just a few examples.
6. Explore undreamed-of possibilities.
Computers are so ubiquitous these days that it's easy to forget how quickly they've changed our lives. Fifteen years ago, e-mail was a relatively new phenomenon, the Internet was just gaining steam, and no one imagined they'd be carrying smartphones loaded up with nifty apps (back then, making a call from the street usually meant finding a phone booth). What might the next 15 years bring? If you have a degree in computer science, you might be the first to know.
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