With technology and communication continuing to rise rapidly, the computer science industry has never been more exciting or accessible.
According to the UKI Salary Survey’s most recent statistics, computer science is an industry on the rise. The subject saw a 4% overall increase in the number of undergraduates enrolling to study last year, which was the biggest percentage rise across all university subjects.
This increase spanned all study levels, as the subject saw a rise in full-time, part-time and further study students. Although the subject’s student base remains largely male (more than 80% of computer science, engineering, and technology students), the number of female students choosing computer science has grown consecutively over the past three academic years. Overall, the past three years have seen the number of female computer science students rise by 8.4%. This reflects a wider trend of more female students choosing science subjects.
It’s not hard to see why more and more people are interested in learning about computers. Technology now makes up a huge part of our daily lives, from work and travel to shopping, leisure, and communication. It has transformed how we gather information and think about the world, so it’s no wonder that an increasing number of young people are keen to understand more about the machines we depend on.
If you are one of the many young people interested in computer science, then this is the article for you. We’re going to take a closer look at exactly what you can expect when you study the subject, including the skills you’ll gain and the jobs you could aim for.
What skills are gained by studying computer science?
Studying computer science will provide you with many skills, many of which will be extremely desirable to employers. Computer science degrees bring together the theoretical study and practical aspects to achieve subject-specific skills, including:
- Hardware architecture and engineering
- Software engineering
- Understanding programming languages
- Network design and engineering
- Designing multimedia
- Understanding, changing, and creating software tools and packages.
As well as these, you’ll also learn how to identify, design, and even construct your own computer-based systems, evaluating and recognizing potential risks and designing appropriate creative solutions.
Not all skills gained will be so specific. You’ll also acquire a wide range of general skills for maximum employability, including:
- Report writing
- Time management
- Commercial awareness
- An understanding and awareness of rapidly changing computer technologies.
- Professional development
Employability and computer science
Data gathered from the Higher Education Statistics Agency revealed just how employable a computer science qualification could be. Their research found that 73.8% of UK computer science graduates were employed six months after graduation. A further 10.4% were in further study, and 2.7% were working whilst studying.
Of those employed, 63.5% were working in information technology industries. 8.4% were working in retail, catering, or hospitality, 4.5% were working in business or HR, and 4.3% were working in art, media, and design.
Of those in information technology roles, a third were working as programmers and software development professionals. Seven of the ten top jobs held by graduates were related to computer science, including IT operations technician and web designer.
Computer science also provides an opportunity for further study through an MSc and even a Ph.D. A course may also include taking a year out in the industry, allowing you to develop key skills and build up a network of contacts in the field. This can be a great opportunity to exercise commercial skills and see how you can apply what you’ve learned to practical situations.
Where could your computer science degree take you?
After establishing that computer science is a dynamic and constantly growing industry, it shouldn’t be a surprise to learn that it is also an industry applicable to many different job roles. Almost every industry today uses computer technologies as part of its daily process, meaning that computer science skills are a welcome addition to many teams.
Some of the roles most closely associated with a computer science degree include:
- Application analysis
- Applications developer
- Cybersecurity analyst
- Data analysis
- Database administrator
- Forensic computer analyst
- Games developer
- Information systems manager
- IT consultant
- Multimedia programmer
- Penetration tester
- SEO specialist
- Software engineer
- Systems analyst
- UX designer
- Web developer
Other roles where a computer science degree can be applicable include:
- Digital copywriter
- IT sales professional
- IT trainer
- Network engineer
- PPC specialist
- Social media manager
- Supply chain manager
- Technical author
- Web content manager
It’s important to bear in mind that many graduate opportunities require a degree, regardless of subject, meaning many other roles other than those listed above could be accessed with a computer science qualification. IT consultancies and IT service providers make up the vast amount of computer science employers, but many other departments also require technical specialists. These include agriculture, defense, aerospace, financial services, healthcare, manufacturing, retail, public sectors, and telecommunications. You can also look into small businesses’ opportunities or even consider setting up your own business providing IT-related services such as web copy, website design, and web consultancy.
Making the most of your studies
We’ve mentioned how a computer science course can often involve taking some time out to get familiar with the field on practical terms. However, even if a course does not offer this, it can be instrumental in hunting down IT-related work placements, shadowing opportunities, and work experience placements advertised by your local careers service. Companies such as The Year in Industry and Step specialize in finding these opportunities. Taking some time to see the industry for yourself will give you a head start above the competition regarding finding a role.
You can also consider joining a university club or society which focuses on elements of computer science. It could be a club that allows you to develop your computing, multimedia skills, or web design. This kind of dedication and extracurricular experience can help you stand out when applying for graduate roles.
Another great way to make the most of your studies is to play around with programming and other computer skills in your own time, indulging in fun projects using the skills you’ve learned. Keep a personal portfolio of these projects – be they programming, building a website, or acting as an online moderator – as use them as evidence of your own initiative and experience. Tasks that may seem simple to someone with your qualification can be very impressive when viewed through an employer’s eyes, including fixing bugs, improving functionality, or building an app.
A two-week program in computer science from Cambridge Immerse can provide you with the opportunity to get familiar with your subject of choice, grasping the foundation blocks of the skills you’ll be needing, both throughout university and later life. This program is a great way to boost your confidence, gain further insight into university and get a head start when it comes to computer science.