Computer science, simply put, is the study of computers and their function. However, since computers are such diverse tools with a wide range of uses and applications, the field of computer science is also broad. People who choose to study computer science can find themselves specializing in a number of specific fields, ranging from network administration to graphics and visual design.
What Do Computer Scientists Do?
Since the study of computer science requires a highly specific set of skills, the job that computer scientists do is related directly to their area of emphasis. For example, a computer science expert that deals with artificial intelligence would work with developing and programming computer software that can develop the ability to learn by itself. Since computers often deal with data storage and management, another area of emphasis is network and database management. These professionals develop more effective and secure ways to store and access important data.
Truly, as computers become more integrated into every facet of our culture, computer science can apply to almost any field. Healthcare, finance, and applied technology are all fields where computer science students will be useful, and the assortment of fields where computer science knowledge is required is growing every day. This makes computer science an attractive field of study for people who want to explore a variety of occupational fields.
What Skills Are Required?
While the fields that computer science applies to are varied, the skills required for studying computer science are more specific. Obviously, areas of emphasis will require specific coursework. However, there are a number of skills that apply to all areas of computer science, and should therefore be an area of focus for aspiring students.
Since mathematics is at the core of most computer science coursework, it is important that students have a strong foundation in math. This often requires taking math coursework similar to those in an engineering track, meaning post-calculus courses. Not all concentrations require these courses for completion, but they are useful to all computer science students.
Another area of emphasis for computer science study is logic. Programming languages are often developed on a platform of logic and reasoning. Therefore, anyone who attempts to learn a programming language would likely benefit from a background in logic and rational thinking. Even for those who have no desire in programming, computers utilize programs that are built on this foundation. That makes logic a skill for every computer science student.
Areas of Study
Most computer science courses mirror typical college courses in the sense that they have a core set of requirements before a student can graduate. These core requirements are often grouped into math and statistics, natural sciences, English, and economics and business. The majority of these credit hours will come from the math and statistics and natural sciences categories.
Beyond those courses, there are computer science specific courses required as well. These will include the history of computing, basic programming environments, data structures, ethics, and hardware engineering courses. A study of these areas gives the student a broad foundation from which to choose a specialization and an occupational focus.
Specializations and Advanced Learning
Upon completion of basic study, computer science students will begin to work and will choose an emphasis for their career. These areas include:
- Applications Development
- Artificial Intelligence
- Hardware and Systems Engineering
- Health and Business Systems Management
- Information Security
- Networks and Database Management
- Software Engineering
Often, these areas benefit from advanced study. This study typically takes the form of industry specific certifications, and can often be completed and obtained by students on their own time, even while participating in the workforce.
Computer science is a diverse, rich field that is currently experiencing a solid job outlook. For interested students, a computer science degree can open the door to a variety of fields in a whole host of industries. Work in the field will often be marked by continued professional growth, problem solving in real time, and a comfortable, casual work environment. That is why so many people have become interested in studying for work in computer science occupations.