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Why is Computer Science?

If computer science is only four years, is it hard? What is the starting pay? How much hours do you have to work and where can I start to begin my future.

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Doc’s Answer

Employees who know how to create and improve software tend to be highly marketable, making the field of computer science increasingly popular among those hoping to land a well-paying job after college graduation.
Computer science studies focus on computer hardware and software systems, and a degree in the discipline allows someone to pursue a variety of careers – and not just in Silicon Valley. Reliance on technology throughout the business world means that companies in many industries are hiring computer science grads, providing compelling career options for people with an interest and skills in math and science.

COMPUTER SCIENCE 4-YEAR DEGREE
A bachelor's degree in computer science is a four-year program combining general education with computer science, mathematics, and technology coursework. This degree can prepare graduates to pursue roles in the workforce or advanced degrees. Popular careers for recent graduates include computer programming, information security, and software development. Advanced degrees can prepare students to become software engineers or computer science researchers.

COMPUTER SCIENCE SALARIES
Computer science jobs are in demand; in general, employment in computer and information technology occupations is expected to grow 15 percent through 2031, three times the national average for all occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Within the field of computer science, there are a number of occupations you can choose, and the salaries of those occupations can depend on the industry and city in which you work.
• Computer Systems Analyst Salary: $99,270
Computer systems analysts help organizations become more efficient with the design and implementation of information systems solutions.
• Multimedia Artist Animator Salary: $78,790
Multimedia artists and animators create visual effects and animations for television, movies and video games.
• Network Systems Admin Salary: $80,600
Network and computer systems administrators are responsible for the daily operations of the computer systems that allow businesses to operate.
• Computer Programmer Salary: $93,000
Computer programmers write the code that allows computer applications and software to function.
• Web Developer Salary: $78,300
Web developers create and design websites. In addition to the technical aspects, the developer is in charge of the site's look and content.

Russ, Computer science isn’t that hard, as long as you’re comfortable with basic math and statistics, and you’re willing to put in the time to read the course material. You’ll be able to excel in this major with some persistence and dedication.

Hope this will be helpful Russ
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Roberto’s Answer

Programing, or rather computer programing may be one of the most (if not the most) universal careers today and in the foreseeable future. As we depend more and more on computers and robots, the only way to go of the demand for programmers is UP. For the foreseeable future computers and robots in every industry will need instructions from humans and ultimately those instructions need to be entered as an efficient code of one kind of another. Enter the programmer.

Computer Science, Computer Engineering and programming in general, as explained by the great professionals in this discussion, has many options. The answer to your question, in my opinion, the four years is just the price of admission. After that, like in any profession you will need to apply yourself hard and never stop learning. Computer Science in general is a fast changing field and you will need to constantly train and re train in order to stay current.

Almost everything can benefit from programming skills, at the end coding or programming is "just" translating instructions to a language the machines can understand. Coding solves mathematical problems, weather simulations, image processing, accelerates medical research, pours over huge amounts of data to identify patterns and extract useful information. Code control our cars, the power stations, the airplanes, the war machines, the space ships, the robots in the car factories, our medical records, even our social life ! Computer Scientists in their many specialties set the parameters and pave the roads by addressing new problems and bringing new solutions.

This is a field of constant learning, what was cutting age a few years ago, may be already obsolete. The excitement of computer science is precisely the need for renewal and re invention.

Programming is also one of the few careers that is highly detached from a physical location and in many cases you can just work, most of the time, from the comfort of your location of choice and still be a great contributor, then your skills will be highly portable from one industry to the next. If you are passionate about this and can train yourself for the discipline it requires, for constant learning, the sky is not the limit, space is the limit.
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Rafael’s Answer

Computer Science is related to the engineering fields. It is related to software development and software coding as well. However the application may be focused on hardware programming (firmware code), network related automation, or heavy mathematical applications. Studying Computer Science does not guarantee you will land a high paying job, or a job that is related to engineering. Then again, no field of study does. My suggestion is to supplement your 4 years degree with IT certifications. You can start with vendor neutral certifications like CompTIA, and move on to vendor specific certifications like CISCO CCNA, Juniper, Microsoft, Google Cloud , AWS, Linux, etc. (Example). There is also an expectation that Computer Scientists know Linux operating system; and can put together a computer or server from the ground up. A final comment on your question… having experience helps… is more about the know-how. If you can have real world experience as a part timer working with computers or doing some sort of programming it will help in your career. I hope my comments are helpful and pragmatic enough to help you.
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Matt’s Answer

All undergrad degrees are 4 years - so don't use the time as any kind of indicator.

Is it hard ? it depends (sorry for the fuzzy answer) - if you like Math it's not hard - Even if you don't like it, it would challenging and perhaps that would be offset if you're a creative person and like to "make" things (granted you're making things - or better said: solving problems) and seeing them work - so the satisfaction of problem solving may make the math less "painful"

The answer above gave you in indication of salary - but I have to say - don't pick something based on money - if you truly hate the field, no amount of going to make that any better or make you less miserable. If you love something, maybe money isn't the most important thing (I know you're probably rolling your eyes at that - but from someone doing this for 40+ years, I can tell you it's true - I did have the opportunity to make VASTLY more money by changing professions, but decided against it - and I really don't regret it !
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Robert’s Answer

Computer Science (CSc) is very rarely a four year degree. That is often the stated "possible" path you can take in university to earn a BS in CSc, but in reality, one missed general education class (because it was full, or you had to work at the only time it was offered, etc.) sets you off by a semester. Struggling with a class might set you off another semester, etc. Most Computer Science Majors I knew in university (myself included) didn't earn their BS in less than 5 years. I knew people who took over 6 years to earn theirs (many of them were working while in university).

Even if you manage to complete a BS in CSc in 4 years (because you never fail a class, and you have nothing but time to study because you aren't dating, have no family, aren't working, etc.) -- they are not going to be an "easy" 4 years. The average Communications or English Major in university cannot graduate from university with the number of units/hours they earn from their general education classes + the classes required for their major -- so they end up having to take additional classes just to meet the bare minimum of units/hours required by the university to graduate (it varies by university).

In contrast, a BS in CSc (or any type of Engineering, or a Math major, or a Science major, etc) will have FAR MORE units/hours than needed to graduate from the university, just from taking the classes required for their major. A BS in CSc (from an accredited university) generally requires about 6-8 lower division classes in the major, and 8-12 upper division classes in the major (about 1/3 of which can be electives). Plus, the major also generally requires: up to level 2 of calculus, level 2 of calc-based physics, at least 2-3 additional science courses of your choice, calc-based statistics, linear algebra, formal logic courses, ethics classes, and more.

Does that mean the major is "hard?" Not necessarily. Some people have fantastic memories, can sit in class and immediately learn the material and spit it back out on a test. Other people have gotten so good at studying that university is just an extension of high school and they have no problem grinding out the studying they need to complete it. That being said, it certainly isn't "easy" -- that's why the starting salaries for people holding a BS in CSc are generally higher than salaries offered to Communications majors, English majors, and similar degrees.

The starting salary you are offered post university with a BS in CSc will depend on MANY factors. Some of those factors will be:
• Work Experience (did you intern during university, do you have a body of work you can point to with your name on it?)
• Location (California and New York are expensive to live in, and thus command higher salaries)
• Competition (different areas of study, and different areas of the world have different levels of competition, and digital remote working is expanding the borders of that competition)
• Type of company (start-ups want long hours, and offer lower pay in exchange for the possibility of having stock in a company that makes it big (spoiler alert: most start-ups don't make it big); whereas a standard corporation will ask for standard business hours for your time zone, and standard pay)
• Rarity of the work (newer tech like: GPT, cloud hosting, web services will command higher salaries than older tech like: basic websites, desktop applications, and file transfer services using FTP and similar)
• Negotiations (if you don't negotiate your salary and just take whatever is offered, you will likely start at a salary much lower than someone else applying for the same job, with your same background and degree, who did negotiate. If you can't or won't negotiate, you can often work with a job placement company which will negotiate for you (in exchange for a portion of your salary for a set period of time))
• Luck (sometime you are in the right place at the right time, with the right smile, and someone will offer you a job at a salary which is frankly better than you have earned yet with your training and background -- but they saw something in you, or liked you, or believe in you, or whatever, and offer it to you anyway)

To answer your question with specific numbers, what I have been seeing in job posting in the last four years for junior positions leads me to see a range of roughly $70-110K/year on offer for junior programmers with a BS in CSc fresh out of university with zero experience. 70K is on the extreme low end of the spectrum (it will be rare to see 70K or lower in California/New York), conversely 110K is high, and pretty rare even in expensive markets for juniors with no experience -- but sometimes a company is desperate, and you fit the bill for what they need, and they are willing to pay to lock you in.

For your question about hours of work, if you decide to work for a start-up/small business, you will likely be the only "tech person" -- and they will expect you to handle everything from the website and database, to the local network and wifi, plus maybe the phones and copiers too -- and you won't have any idea how to do many of those things, and you will just have to figure it out. Start-ups and small businesses tend to expect their people to "wear many hats" and also expect long hours. Average for that industry is 60 hours/week. Sometimes that is fun for a young single person to be somewhere working with a group of people of similar ages and backgrounds late into the night, living on cold pizza and coffee (most video game companies, ILM, and even Disneyland started that way). But for people in a committed relationship and/or having kids, it can be a nightmare.

A standard corporate role will be 8-5 in your time zone, with very predictable and standard hours (with the occasional overtime due to some emergency in production). In that kind of a role, you can maybe put in more hours (for free, you will be salaried, so overtime is not compensated additionally) to earn more face time and achievements and get a promotion -- but it also just as likely that your additional hours will not be noticed, and will not in any way affect any raises or promotions.

A non-standard corporate role (such as companies involved with money, like banks and stock brokers) won't have standard hours. Overtime is the norm for those types of roles, and 80 hours per week is not uncommon, but those types of roles also tend to offer bonuses for hard workers, so while your salary won't tip up for more hours, you can lose your job if you don't put them in, and if you do put them in you can cash out with major bonuses (or nothing if the company has a bad quarter, it is very much a rollercoaster).

In general, hours per week average 40-80 between a standard corporate job on the low end, a start-up in the mid-high range, and a non-standard corporate job on the high end.

Where you can begin to start your future is an open ended question which I am not sure how to address. But I am assuming you are asking, "okay, after I get the BS in CSc, then what?" I would suggest you speak to your career counselor in your college of Computer Science (if you have one), or the university career counselor if your college doesn't have one dedicated to your major. A career counselor can help you find your first post-university job, they tend to be fairly well connected with companies in the area, and the companies have come to trust the graduates from that university to be able to do the work. Do that WELL IN ADVANCE of graduating! DO NOT WAIT UNTIL YOU HAVE GRADUATED BEFORE YOU LOOK FOR A JOB! Networking and getting leads on jobs takes time! Go to networking events. I know it can be hard if you are introverted, but it really is who you know when trying to find a job. Try to make friends with recruiters and your peers. Maybe work with a recruiting company to see if they can place you after university. And finally, the best thing you can do is to intern for a corporation doing the work you want to do post-university. At the very least you will gain work experience, and a company name on your resume. At the best they may make you a job offer and try to keep you if you show yourself to be valuable to them while interning.
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Caryn’s Answer

I'm thrilled with the responses so far - they're packed with detail and offer plenty to think about! I'd like to add a few more thoughts that I believe you'll find beneficial. I'm only going to echo previous comments if they're particularly important.

When it comes to your degree program, a Bachelor's degree in computer science is a standard 4-year journey. However, you have the freedom to pick specializations that might extend this timeframe. For instance, you could delve into AI, supplemented with linguistics and music classes to gain a deeper understanding of how the brain functions and how this knowledge can be transferred to computers. Some of these areas might naturally lead to further study at the post-graduate level, potentially resulting in a Masters or Doctorate degree. You also have the option to combine your computer science degree with another, like business, to make your qualifications more attractive in a corporate environment. Depending on how your chosen college structures this, some credits from each degree might count as electives for the other not requiring you to completely double-up course work. Some educational institutions even allow you to design a custom degree. I'd recommend discussing your long-term goals with a counselor as soon as possible to see how the college or university can support you in achieving them.

To illustrate, I managed to graduate with two degrees - computer science from the engineering school and business management from the business school - all within 4 years. In comparison to my liberal-arts major roommate, I took 5 courses each semester, totaling 40 courses, while my roommate took 4 courses each semester, totaling 32 courses. While she likely had more leisure time and eventually became a very successful lawyer, my dual degrees enabled me to secure a well-paying job at a large, global consulting firm where I assisted clients in solving business issues using computer technology. We often tackled problems related to efficiency, automation, error reduction, streamlining, and cost savings. A friend of mine who specialized more in AI and combined computer science with mechanical engineering has since become a NASA astronaut and has even visited the space station.

It can certainly feel overwhelming. There are no definitive answers. But remember, you'll always have the freedom to change your mind. My advice is to stay focused on your success and keep your options open. This way, you'll always have the flexibility to shift and alter your path as needed. I wish you all the best in your academic journey and future career.

Caryn recommends the following next steps:

Assess your capabilities and course successes and non-successes
Meet with a college counselor
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