Computer and Information Research Scientist

Also Called: Computer Scientist, Computer Specialist, Control System Computer Scientist, Research Scientist, Scientific Programmer Analyst
Job Outlook:
Much faster than average
Education: Master's degree
Work From Home

What they do:

Conduct research into fundamental computer and information science as theorists, designers, or inventors. Develop solutions to problems in the field of computer hardware and software.

On the job, you would:

  • Analyze problems to develop solutions involving computer hardware and software.
  • Apply theoretical expertise and innovation to create or apply new technology, such as adapting principles for applying computers to new uses.
  • Assign or schedule tasks to meet work priorities and goals.

Work Schedules

Most computer and information research scientists work full time.

Job Outlook

Employment of computer and information research scientists is projected to grow 21 percent from 2021 to 2031, much faster than the average for all occupations.

About 3,300 openings for computer and information research scientists are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Important Qualities:

Analytical skills. Computer and information research scientists must be organized in their thinking to evaluate the results of their research.

Communication skills. Computer and information research scientists must be able to clearly explain their research, including to a nontechnical audience. They write papers for publication and present their research at conferences.

Detail oriented. Computer and information research scientists must pay close attention to their work, such as when testing the systems they design. Small programming errors could affect an entire project.

Interpersonal skills. Computer and information research scientists must work effectively with programmers and managers. They also may be on teams with engineers or other specialists.

Logical thinking. Computer and information research scientists must use sound reasoning when working on algorithms.

Math skills. Computer and information research scientists need a solid grasp of advanced math and other technical subjects critical to computing.

Problem-solving skills. Computer and information research scientists must think creatively to find innovative solutions in their research.


A3 Your Strengths Importance

Characteristics of this Career

90% Analytical Thinking  -  Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
79% Cooperation  -  Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
76% Attention to Detail  -  Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
75% Independence  -  Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
74% Achievement/Effort  -  Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
74% Initiative  -  Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
73% Innovation  -  Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
73% Integrity  -  Job requires being honest and ethical.
72% Adaptability/Flexibility  -  Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
68% Dependability  -  Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
68% Persistence  -  Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
66% Stress Tolerance  -  Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
65% Leadership  -  Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
A3 Your Strengths Importance


100% Investigative  -  Work involves studying and researching non-living objects, living organisms, disease or other forms of impairment, or human behavior. Investigative occupations are often associated with physical, life, medical, or social sciences, and can be found in the fields of humanities, mathematics/statistics, information technology, or health care service.
67% Realistic  -  Work involves designing, building, or repairing of equipment, materials, or structures, engaging in physical activity, or working outdoors. Realistic occupations are often associated with engineering, mechanics and electronics, construction, woodworking, transportation, machine operation, agriculture, animal services, physical or manual labor, athletics, or protective services.
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Values of the Work Environment

78% Achievement  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.
78% Working Conditions  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.
72% Recognition  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value offer advancement, potential for leadership, and are often considered prestigious. Corresponding needs are Advancement, Authority, Recognition and Social Status.
72% Independence  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.
61% Support  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees. Corresponding needs are Company Policies, Supervision: Human Relations and Supervision: Technical.

Job Details

What Computer and Information Research Scientists Do

Computer and information research scientists design innovative uses for new and existing technology. They study and solve complex problems in computing for business, science, medicine, and other fields.


Computer and information research scientists typically do the following:

  • Explore problems in computing and develop theories and models to address those problems
  • Collaborate with scientists and engineers to solve complex computing problems
  • Determine computing needs and system requirements
  • Develop new computing languages, software systems, and other tools to improve how people work with computers
  • Design and conduct experiments to test the operation of software systems, frequently using techniques from data science and machine learning
  • Analyze the results of their experiments
  • Write papers for publication and present research findings at conferences

Computer and information research scientists create and improve computer software and hardware.

To create and improve software, computer and information research scientists work with algorithms: sets of instructions that tell a computer what to do. Some difficult computing tasks require complex algorithms, which these scientists simplify to make computer systems as efficient as possible. These simplified algorithms may lead to advancements in many types of technology, such as machine learning systems and cloud computing.

To improve computer hardware, these scientists design computer architecture. Their work may result in increased efficiencies, such as better networking technology, faster computing speeds, and improved information security.

The following are examples of specialties for computer and information research scientists:

Programming. Some computer and information research scientists study and design new programming languages that are used to write software. New languages make software writing efficient by improving an existing language, such as Java, or by simplifying a specific aspect of programming, such as image processing.

Robotics. These scientists study the development and application of robots. They explore how a machine can interact with the physical world. For example, they may create systems that control the robots or design robots to have features such as information processing or sensory feedback.

Some computer and information research scientists work on multidisciplinary projects with electrical engineers, computer hardware engineers, and other specialists. For example, robotics specialists and engineers who design robots’ hardware may team up to test whether the robots complete tasks as intended.

A3 Your Strengths Importance

Attributes & Percentage of Time Spent

100% Electronic Mail  -  How often do you use electronic mail in this job?
95% Indoors, Environmentally Controlled  -  How often does this job require working indoors in environmentally controlled conditions?
92% Face-to-Face Discussions  -  How often do you have to have face-to-face discussions with individuals or teams in this job?
88% Spend Time Sitting  -  How much does this job require sitting?
86% Contact With Others  -  How much does this job require the worker to be in contact with others (face-to-face, by telephone, or otherwise) in order to perform it?
86% Work With Work Group or Team  -  How important is it to work with others in a group or team in this job?
85% Telephone  -  How often do you have telephone conversations in this job?
79% Freedom to Make Decisions  -  How much decision making freedom, without supervision, does the job offer?
75% Structured versus Unstructured Work  -  To what extent is this job structured for the worker, rather than allowing the worker to determine tasks, priorities, and goals?
74% Importance of Being Exact or Accurate  -  How important is being very exact or highly accurate in performing this job?
68% Time Pressure  -  How often does this job require the worker to meet strict deadlines?
67% Deal With External Customers  -  How important is it to work with external customers or the public in this job?
71% Duration of Typical Work Week  -  Number of hours typically worked in one week.
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Tasks & Values

99% Working with Computers  -  Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
91% Making Decisions and Solving Problems  -  Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
91% Getting Information  -  Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
89% Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge  -  Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
89% Analyzing Data or Information  -  Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
88% Thinking Creatively  -  Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
84% Documenting/Recording Information  -  Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
83% Processing Information  -  Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
83% Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events  -  Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
83% Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates  -  Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
82% Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others  -  Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
81% Communicating with People Outside the Organization  -  Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
80% Estimating the Quantifiable Characteristics of Products, Events, or Information  -  Estimating sizes, distances, and quantities; or determining time, costs, resources, or materials needed to perform a work activity.
69% Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships  -  Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
68% Developing Objectives and Strategies  -  Establishing long-range objectives and specifying the strategies and actions to achieve them.
67% Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work  -  Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
Task Details
Analyze data to identify or resolve operational problems.
Assign duties or work schedules to employees.
Evaluate project designs to determine adequacy or feasibility.
Apply information technology to solve business or other applied problems.
Collaborate with others to determine design specifications or details.
Collaborate with others to resolve information technology issues.
Analyze data to identify trends or relationships among variables.
Develop organizational goals or objectives.
Train others in computer interface or software use.
Participate in staffing decisions.
Develop performance metrics or standards related to information technology.
Design integrated computer systems.
Monitor the performance of computer networks.
Maintain computer hardware.
Manage budgets for appropriate resource allocation.
Manage information technology projects or system activities.
Coordinate project activities with other personnel or departments.

Getting Started

How to Become a Computer and Information Research Scientist

Computer and information research scientists typically need at least a master’s degree in computer science or a related field. In the federal government, a bachelor’s degree may be sufficient for some jobs.


Computer and information research scientists typically need a master’s or higher degree in computer science or a related field, such as computer engineering. A master’s degree usually requires 2 to 3 years of study after earning a bachelor’s degree in a computer-related field, such as computer science or information systems. Some employers prefer to hire candidates who have a Ph.D. Others, such as the federal government, may hire candidates who have a bachelor’s degree in computer and information technology.

Computer and information research scientists who work in a specialized field may need knowledge of that field. For example, those working on biomedical applications may need to have studied biology.


Some computer and information research scientists advance to become computer and information systems managers.

Information provided by CareerFitter, LLC and other sources.

Sections of this page includes information from the O*NET 27.3 Database by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA). Used under the CC BY 4.0 license.

CareerFitter, LLC has modified all or some of this information. USDOL/ETA has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.