Computer scientists are the theoreticians of the industry. Their contributions to the evolution of computer technology are the development of such things as program language, new hardware designs (such as robotics), and theories of data management that may drive the creation of new software or new networking techniques.
Pure computer scientists work at a higher or more abstract level of technology development. For example, computer scientists have been extremely busy over the last few years developing concepts and designs for the migration of computer functions onto mobile devices. The computer scientists that worked on the various smart phones probably worked in tandem with electrical engineers and software designers.
Computer scientists who have jobs solely dedicated to research usually hold PhDs. That is a very small percentage of working computer scientists, however. Those working in the development field will likely hold a bachelors or masters degree in computer science or a related degree that emphasizes the mathematics and science underlying technology development.
There are also associates degrees in computer science offered by many institutions. Individuals with this level of education will be logical candidates for employers who have a principal need that is specific to the business.
According to a U.S. Department of Labor survey, there were 542,000 computer scientists working in 2006. Slightly over ten percent of these were self-employed, hiring out on a contract basis.
Jobs for computer scientists will grow at one of the fastest rates among all job classifications over the next several years. Opportunities in this profession are projected to grow 37% over the decade 2006 - 2016.
Lowest 10% $18.70 $38,980
Median Salary $32.33 $67,250
Highest 10% $51.37 $106,860
Source: U.S. Department of Labor