Within the field of computer science – which happens to be one of the highest-paying master’s degrees – you will find numerous subfields and areas of focus. Some areas of computer science are seeing particularly rapid growth right now, including cloud computing, mobile application development and cybersecurity. Other areas in computer science are perennially popular in the modern world of technological advancements, such as information systems, artificial intelligence and programming.
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Information storage has come a long way from the times of floppy discs. Cloud computing, which safely and securely stores information on the Internet, is hugely popular now with businesses as well as with consumers. The advantages of cloud computing include not needing physical storage space and components and being able to access files from different locations and even on the go.
Work in cloud computing includes knowledge of machine learning, artificial intelligence, database development and maintenance, cloud security and skills in analyzing data. Some examples of the job titles you might hold in the field of cloud computing include software engineer, systems engineer, database administrator and security administrator.
If you’re eyeing a career in cloud computing, it can help to take some coursework that provides experience in multi-cloud environments and other specialized knowledge. There are some master’s degrees in cloud computing specifically, but many students study computer science more generally and opt to take courses in cloud computing or seek out a computer science program with a cloud computing theme.
Mobile Application Development
It seems that there’s an app for everything, with new mobile applications constantly being developed. That means there’s also work for the people who have the skills to create these apps. In fact, the demand for new applications for mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets, is a major factor that is driving up job growth in the software development occupation to much faster than average rates, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
A lot more goes into the work of developing mobile apps than many people think. Planning, developing, testing and launching the app are all distinct stages in the process, according to Digital.gov, part of the U.S. General Services Administration’s Technology Transformation Services.
In some situations, such as when you’re developing an app you thought up yourself or pitching the app idea to a client as a consultant, you would play a major part in every aspect of creating the app. In other situations, such as if you were developing and testing the app for paying clients who brainstorm the idea and have a use for it, you might only be responsible for certain parts of the process. However, even in that case, your client will rely on your expertise in computer science to help them understand what functionalities are possible and to suggest technically feasible improvements to the app and its launch strategy.
Throughout the work of developing apps, you also need to keep in mind the importance of security, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
Cybersecurity and Cyberthreats
Cybersecurity is such a large area within the computer science field that students interested in this subject can find plenty of degree programs dedicated to this specialization. It’s also a growing field, in large part because the more technology takes over information storage, communication and business processes, the more important it is that this data is secure.
Job opportunities in the field of cybersecurity might include counterterrorism analyst and intelligence analyst, in addition to private industry roles like cybersecurity manager. If you want to get into the field of cybersecurity, you can expect to get comfortable working with malware, risk mitigation practices and incident response. Strong programming skills are important in this field, but so are skills like symbolic logic and critical thinking. The specialized cybersecurity classes that computer science students take will help them learn the principles and practices of infrastructure protection and how to recognize and respond to cyberthreats.
Acquiring professional certification can help you succeed in the field of cybersecurity. The most popular credential for cybersecurity professionals is the Certified Information Systems Security Professional certification, according to the BLS.
Computer science is a broad area of study that may take the form of creating and innovating or merely administration. Work in information systems tends to fit into the administration category. Instead of developing your own software, your job would focus primarily on managing an organization’s computer systems that allow for in-house communication between employees or communication between workers and customers. Some of the job titles you might end up in when studying information systems include computer systems administrator and database administrator.
The area of computer science that emphasizes information systems encompasses less study of and work in theory, which means it includes less of a focus on mathematical foundations. If you like computers but hate math, information systems may be an area to consider.
Artificial intelligence has gone from a concept found mostly in science fiction to one that exists in our homes and even, for many of us, in the cell phones and wearable devices we carry with us everywhere. If you want to be involved in making artificial intelligence systems even better or innovating new and exciting ways to put them to use, the related areas of artificial intelligence and machine learning are important areas of computer science for you to consider. Careers in artificial intelligence may include areas of focus such as user experience, data analytics, natural language processing and software engineering.
The field of artificial intelligence, like the larger field of computer science, encompasses work ranging from theoretical research to industry practice for immediate business advancement.
Computer programming languages are what make the digital world go around. Programming is such an important aspect of the field of computer science that you will likely be expected to have at least some proficiency in this skill no matter which area of computer science you pursue. However, not all computer science roles rely on programming skills to the same degree.
If you discover a love for coding during your studies and you’re gravitating toward a programming career, choosing a specialization in software development or software engineering may be the perfect fit. These programs tend to focus more on gaining proficiency in different programming languages as well as determining when and how to use different programming languages.
The areas of software development and engineering often include some studies in programming mobile applications specifically but also explore the skills needed to develop other types of software.