How to become a Computer Scientist
Computer Science is one of the fastest growing job sectors out there and graduates with this degree can work in a wider variety of sectors than most other university leavers.
Practically all business is conducted these days with the use of computers, so you can expect great variety in your life as a computer scientist. One year you can find yourself in a T-shirt and ripped jeans working for the smallest startup designing a new app, and then a few years later you could be in a suit and tie working at a large investment bank optimising their trading software. Not only that, but your ability to work anywhere that has access to a computer can lead to global job opportunities and the ability to freelance and work from home with ease.
There is also much work to be found as a computer scientist in the Research and Development sector. Artificial intelligence, speech recognition, and gesture control are rapidly evolving fields that began with small teams of researchers working on them and are now becoming increasingly mass-marketable in products like Siri, Alexa, and Google Home.
Ultimately, you can be sure of an interesting, dynamic and challenging career as a computer scientist. Whether you specialise in web design, software development, IT consultancy, or business analysis, you will find a whole range of career options available to you, so will easily find the area that’s right for you.
What subjects do you need?
Many jobs in computer science such as software development, IT consultancy, and web design are open to most graduates, with employers offering on the job training. This means you are not restricted as to what you study at university, although many universities do offer degrees in Computer Science.
However a number of companies that offer such programmes do require specific A-levels in subjects like Maths and Physics, and even if these aren’t required they are sure to help you prepare for the thought processes used in this industry. Similarly, an increasing number of schools are beginning to offer Computer Science at A-level which would certainly be beneficial, though many companies still prefer a solid grounding in Maths and Physics over a more specific Computer Science course.
How do I get there?
The graduates who have most success and choice of employment in the computer science field are those with a computer science degree. However, as mentioned above, software and IT companies take on graduates from a whole range of fields, particularly in maths and science.
Extra-curricular work and activities at university can be very important in preparing a strong job application within computer science, whether you’re studying for a computer science degree or not. If you’re studying something outside of computer science but want to pursue it as a career then it is often worth getting some experience such as learning how to programme, web design and other relevant skills that will show motivation and personal ability to prospective employers.
At the other end of the spectrum, if you’re already developing these skills as part of a computer science degree, then it can be good to gain experience in areas where computer science can be applied (e.g. economics, robotics, gaming etc) in order to show a well-rounded appreciation of the field in general.
What books can I read?
Frederick P. Brooks Jr.
(1995: Addison Wesley)