Computer and Information Research Scientist
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Salary Range: $80,000 or more
Average Hourly: $60.97
Education: Master's degree
Number of Jobs: 33,000
Jobs Added to 2029: 7,200
Growth: Much faster than average
Go here to see salary and job data specific to the United Kingdom.
What Computer and Information Research Scientists Do
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.
|Federal government, excluding postal service||31%|
|Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences||16|
|Computer systems design and related services||15|
|Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private||5|
Some scientists collaborate with engineers or other specialists or research scientists in different locations and do much of their work online.
Most computer and information research scientists work full time.
Employment of computer and information research scientists is projected to grow 22 percent from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations.
About 3,200 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.
How to Become a Computer and Information Research Scientist
Most computer and information research scientists 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.
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.
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.