Why Choose Computer Science?

This morning I had the opportunity to take part in a panel hosted by DeVry University about In-Demand Careers.  Our audience was made up of prominent bloggers and experts in the area of career strategy and guidance.  For me, pursuing a career in technology was a no-brainer: it’s what I’m passionate about.  In my pre-graduation interviews, not knowing this was an actual job, I kept telling my interviewers that I wanted to “evangelize” technology.  While I love sitting down at my computer and fixing a bug in my code adding features to the app I’m writing, I also enjoy collaborating with others and communicating; translating “geek talk” to common language.  Knowing this about myself helped me find the right job for me, at the right place.  Now, it’s my job is to help students figure out how technology can help them (in school, in life, in their careers) and I can’t stress enough how important it is to incorporate technology into one’s learning plan.  Personally, I say go all the way: major in Computer Science or Engineering.  But even if you don’t, minor in something that adds technology to your education experience.  Any major combined with technical knowledge/skills makes students employable.  Here’s why…

According to the National Center for Women & Information Technology 1,000,000 computer and information-related jobs are expected to be added to the U.S. workforce by 2014, but U.S. universities will only graduate enough candidates with Computer Science bachelor’s degrees to fill 50 percent of them.

CareerBuilder.com and Robert Half International point out that Information Technology becomes more important to companies as the economy slows.  Web developers and Programmer Analysts are two such bright spots.  Also, if you’re a computer software engineer for the federal government, you have one of the most stable jobs around.  Also, technology is always changing, and while you can’t plan for the future, you can prepare for it.  In this blog post, TechRepublic talks about developer skills needed in the next 5 years and Global Knowledge lists the top IT jobs for 2010 and beyond.  Even if you don’t want to keep the same job forever (The U.S. Department of Labor predicts graduates will have 10 to 12 different jobs by the age of 38), to move around in the industry, you’ll want to keep your skills sharp.

Here’s how:
Broaden your skills: go to school!
Choose your field: what area of technology will you study?
Add graphics: good design skills come in handy.
Simple certifications: proves you know what you’re doing.
Learn a language: become an expert in a language (how about C#?)
Upgrade your degree: thinking about a Master’s?
Become the boss: enhance your skills with some business knowledge.
Study online: online degrees and training can be worked into your busy schedule.
Stay relevant: keep an eye on current and future trends.
Enlist your employer's help: take advantage of company trainings and education.

CNN.com ranked Software Architect as the #8 Top Paying Job, with a median salary of $117,000.  To get there, if you major in Computer Engineering or Computer Science, Payscale.com says your degree will lead to a high salary ($61,200 and $56,200 starting salary respectively).  And according to Salary.com, if you join the workforce as a Web Designer, Computer Programmer, or Database Analyst you have “Big Earnings Potential.”

10 of the top 50 Best Jobs, based on salary, job growth and quality of life (according to CNN.com), are in technology.  Lastly, Global Knowledge and TechRepublic surveyed professionals in the Information Technology industry and found that 73.8% were satisfied, very satisfied or extremely satisfied with their jobs.

Now that you’re convinced, take the next steps and talk to your academic advisors, career counselors and professors about finding the right fit for you in the world of technology.  The best job you can possible have is one that you’re good at, and are passionate about at the same time.  It may take some time to find that “sweet spot,” but once you do, you can’t go wrong.