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How to become a computer scientist

The tech world is developing faster than ever and as a result the demand for competent computer scientists is growing with it. Below we explore the realm of computer science, the qualifications and skills you’ll need to excel in the field, and the varied places your career might go should you choose to pursue your high-tech ambitions.

By Grant Longstaff. Published 15 May 2024.

What is a computer scientist?

Computer scientists study the application, design, development, and theory of computer systems. They also consider how we interact with technology and use their knowledge to help enhance these programs, systems, and algorithms. Ultimately, “it’s about problem solving,” Dr Paul Sant, our head of Computer Science says, explaining computer science can “answer some of the most interesting challenges” we face today.

What you should study to become a computer scientist

Whether you’re at the beginning of your career journey or looking to future proof your employment opportunities with a change of direction, the world of computer science is waiting for you.

If you’re considering a first degree then our BSc (Hons) in Computer Science is the perfect place to start your journey. It offers a broad range of modules to help you understand the fundamentals of computer science, alongside a range of optional modules allowing you to dive into those computer science specialisations which interest you the most.

On the other hand, if you’re a graduate considering a career change and looking to retrain, our MSc in Computer Science conversion course will help reshape your skillset. You’ll also have the opportunity to choose from one of three pathways – pure computing, computing in a law context, or computing in a business context – so you can focus your studies in the direction of your desired career.

No matter what course you choose, a good computer science degree should cover the core concepts of the discipline and leave you ready to build a career in the field, regardless of the industry or sector you choose to work.

What are the duties and responsibilities of a computer scientist?

When it comes to setting out the duties of a computer scientist it can be difficult as no two roles are the same. Computer science is an umbrella term, and you’ll often find roles in the sector have more focused titles than simply that of ‘computer scientist’. That said, whilst your duties and responsibilities will depend on the role you ultimately end up in, the knowledge and skills you’ll gain across your education will help prepare you for the many roles available.

Skills required to be a computer scientist

Throughout your education you’ll discover and explore programming languages, writing code, software engineering, designing and building hardware systems, network design and engineering, and data modelling, as well as many other disciplines you’ll draw upon throughout your computer science career.

There are several skills you’ll also need to develop to excel in computer science. Problem solving, analytical thinking, and a keen eye for details are essential for exploring complex challenges and creating successful solutions. Excellent communication and teamwork abilities are also crucial as you’ll often work collaboratively with your peers. Finally, staying up to date with the latest developments in the computer science field will help you adapt and evolve along with the industry.

What are the salaries for a computer scientist?

Salaries will vary no matter the industry you work in, and computer science is no different. This could be for a few reasons, including the sector you work in, your job title, your experience and expertise, and even where in the country you’re based.

That said, graduate advice website Prospects’ most recent “What do graduates do?” report stated recent computer science graduates earned somewhere between £24,500 and £35,500. The report also concluded “STEM graduates are notably more successful than their peers at securing well-paid, degree-related employment” and 73% of computer science graduates are working as IT professionals or technicians 15 months after graduating. An encouraging sign for anyone considering a career in computer science. 

What sectors can you work in as a computer scientist?

Another reason people choose a career in computer science is the vast array of sectors you could work in. Whether you're passionate about software engineering, augmented reality, business, finance, gaming, healthcare, law, cyber security, or artificial intelligence, you’ll find a role which suits your skills and interests. You’ll also find computer science jobs everywhere. From small startups to global corporations, local and national government, marketing, charities, telecommunications, manufacturing and more. The opportunities are endless.

No matter where your career leads, your passion for technology and innovation could change the future of computing and all that goes with it.


Discover some of the computer science career options you’ll have should you choose to study with us.