Computer Science

What Are the Most “Fun” Computer Science Jobs?

What Are the Most “Fun” Computer Science Jobs?
The factors that make a job truly enjoyable may differ from one master's degree-holder to the next. Image from Unsplash
Mairead Kelly profile
Mairead Kelly February 11, 2021

From white hat hackers to environment artists, some of the most fun computer science jobs are only just emerging. Others are long-established—and proving that that they're not going anywhere anytime soon.

Computer Science Programs You Should Consider

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What you do for a living might not exactly be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of fun. Still, finding enjoyment and satisfaction in your day-to-day work is perhaps more important than you know. A 2016 study from the T.H. Chan School of Public Health at Harvard University found that more than four in ten working adults believe their current job impacts their overall health. Only one in four describes that impact as positive.

Finding a job that doesn’t negatively affect, say, your sleep is crucial to your well being now and in the long run. So, why not set higher expectations by seeking opportunities that not only allow solid shuteye but also reflect your unique background and interests? This principle certainly applies to the many careers available in computer science, where a broad range of opportunities abound for everyone from local area network managers to programmers to information security analysts.

As technology develops at an ever-faster rate—changing the rules of business and innovation in the process—an array of jobs have sprouted up that were unheard of even just a few years ago. Many explore the intersections of computing and other fields, including education, marketing, and entertainment. Sometimes they involve catching cybercriminals. Other times, they make AI the place to be.

We’ve rounded up some of the most interesting roles here, all of which are attainable with a master’s degree in computer science.

Our guide the most “fun” computer science jobs covers:

  • What is a Master of Science in Computer Science?
  • What will you learn in a computer science master’s program?
  • The 11 most fun computer science jobs
  • Best computer science master’s programs
  • Best online computer science master’s programs
  • Least costly computer science master’s programs
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What is a Master of Science in Computer Science?

A professional degree, the Master of Science in Computer Science (MSCS) prepares students to pursue advanced careers across various industries. Many programs are module-based, allowing students to engage in intensive training through lectures, supervised research, and, sometimes, peer-to-peer collaboration, all while expanding their expertise in the theoretical and practical aspects of computer technology.

Most programs allow students to seek out degree specializations and, in some cases, take advantage of internship opportunities at organizations aligned with their career goals. Students can often further personalize their graduate education through a research-based master’s thesis or field-based project.

Computer science programs are offered on-campus or online, in both part-time and full-time formats. Some, like the MSCS degree from Stevens Institute of Technology, are available both in-person and online. Other schools may also offer a hybrid or blended education format, which combines online and face-to-face learning.

Admissions requirements

Although admissions criteria differ among master’s-level computer science programs, in general, programs require applicants to hold an accredited bachelor’s degree in computer science, software engineering, or a closely related field, with an undergraduate GPA that meets a prescribed minimum requirement.

Those who lack sufficient undergraduate coursework in computer science may need to complete prerequisite courses at the undergraduate and/or graduate level to enroll in a master’s program. Specific prerequisite courses can vary but may include math-focused topics like linear algebra and calculus as well as computing subjects like computer programming, data structures, and algorithm design.

Additional admissions requirements may include:

  • Letters of recommendation
  • Official test scores (typically GRE)
  • Personal essay or letter of intent
  • Resume summarizing academic and related work experience
  • Official TOEFL, IELTS, or other English proficiency exam scores for those whose native language is not English

How long does it take to earn this degree?

Students who enroll full-time in computer science master’s programs can usually complete their degree in two years. Working professionals more often enroll in part-time programs to manage the demands of their job alongside other external commitments. Part-time study typically requires three to four years to complete.

Accelerated options also exist for students who want to earn their degrees as quickly as possible. Options include the one-year program, a highly intensive and fast-paced track covering all master’s-level coursework in half the time of full-time programs.

Other accelerated programs, like the accelerated bachelor’s-to-master’s program in computer science from New York University, allows qualified students to obtain their master’s degree in one year of study following the completion of their undergraduate degree.

Do you need a doctoral degree?

Earning a doctoral degree in the computer science field is undoubtedly an option after completing a master’s. That’s especially true for those interested in careers in academia or highly specialized research-focused work in government and the private sector, including opportunities with tech giants like Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon.

However, it’s worth noting that most jobs outside of research and academia don’t require such extensive education. Students in doctoral programs can expect to spend an average of four and seven years pursuing their terminal computer science degree.

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“I'm Interested in Computer Science!”

“Typically the additional income from a master’s degree over a lifetime is worth the sticker price you pay for it.” (source)

A master’s in computer science can open countless doors from coast to coast. It will expand your knowledge and can help you advance your career, opening doors to management and leadership roles and increasing your earning potential. Jobs are plentiful around the country in a wide variety of industries, from healthcare to finance, entertainment to manufacturing.

University and Program Name Learn More

What will you learn in a computer science master’s program?

By design, master’s programs in computer science help students learn specialized technical skills alongside more interpersonal competencies like problem-solving and communication skills. They do so through a combination of core and elective courses and hands-on assignments, which we’ll cover below.

Overview of MSCS curriculum

Core courses within computer science master’s programs usually feature math and computer science topics. They include classes ranging from statistical analysis and calculus to Java programming basics and data communication protocols. As students progress, their coursework typically includes more advanced topics in software development, distributed systems, database management, programming languages, and artificial intelligence.

Note that curricula vary by school and even within a program when different degree specializations are considered. Students should contact each of their prospective schools to ensure the programs they’re considering offer courses in line with their interests and career goals.

Specializations

Some students pursue a specialization while earning their master’s in computer science, which allows them to tailor their coursework to an area or subfield mirroring their unique career goals. Popular specializations include:

  • Cloud computing
  • Cybersecurity
  • Healthcare informatics
  • Computer systems
  • Human and computer interactions
  • Machine learning
  • Network and systems administration
  • Software engineering
  • Web application development

The 11 most fun computer science jobs

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that employment in computer and information technology occupations is projected to textgrow 11 percent by 2029, adding about 531,200 new jobs. As a result, a wider variety of computer science jobs are emerging. Which are the most fun?

The factors that make a job truly enjoyable may differ from one master’s degree-holder to the next. Still, there’s no doubt that the following computer science careers include some of the most unique job titles within the field—and that each offers a new set of challenges and experiences for computer science graduates to explore.

  • AI expert:__ AI experts teach computers to “think” in a diversity of situations. How and where they do this, however, depends largely on their industry and organization. An AI expert working for a company producing home security products, for example, might program a computer system to recognize a fingerprint or voice. Another working in the government sector might develop applications that detect fraud in ID documents.
  • Commercial drone software engineer: Commercial drones fly for companies in various industries. Some companies use drones to take aerial photos and videos for marketing purposes, while other companies use drones for aerial surveillance. Someone has to figure out how to make these drones fly and perform all their other operations. Enter the commercial drone software engineer.
  • Computer forensics investigator:__ Computer forensic investigators reconstruct and analyze digital information to aid in investigations and solve computer-related crimes. The scope of their work is wide and may include recovering damaged or erased data, tracing hacks, and writing investigative reports, often in collaboration with police officers and detective teams. Most often, they’re employed at local, state, national, and even national law enforcement agencies, as well as within personal investigation firms and private corporations.
  • Computer science teacher: You can find computer science teachers at colleges and universities, as well as public and private schools in the elementary, middle, and high school realm. In all these settings, their work focuses on helping students dive into the world of computer processes and systems, which, depending on their student demographic, may range from topics like the basics of using computers to writing complex computer programs, algorithms, and programming languages.
  • Cryptologist:__ Cryptologists help decipher, analyze, and protect confidential and encrypted information for organizations across a range of industries, including finance, telecommunications, government, and healthcare. As specialists in network security, they use complex algorithms and software tools to produce codes that are impenetrable without authorized decryption keys. Testing these codes for accuracy, weaknesses, and reliability and writing new codes to correct any arising issues is also part of the job, as is developing mathematical and statistical models to analyze data.
  • Environment artist: Environment artists, also known as 3D environment artists or 3D modelers, specialize in creating background visuals for films and videogames. In the realm of film, their work is especially crucial when creating scenes in a certain setting—like in space, at the bottom of the ocean, or on top of a volcano, for example—isn’t possible or practical. When working on video games, they’re responsible for designing backgrounds, layouts, and environments in-line with the game’s framework and technical capabilities to support its storyline.
  • Ethical hacker:__ Ethical hackers, or “white hat” hackers, are information security experts responsible for penetrating a given organization’s computer systems, networks, applications, and other computing resources to find security vulnerabilities that criminal hackers could exploit. Any information that ethical hackers discover is used to address potential threats the organization faces and strengthen their technology.
  • Game developer:__ Game developers plan, create, and produce games for computers, mobile devices, or game consoles. Part software developer and part creative, they typically work in both 2D and 3D game design, writing code to implement all of a game’s features and functionality. Depending on an employer’s size and project complexity, the role may be highly specialized to one area, e.g., user experience (UX). In a smaller studio, they may be required to do a little bit of everything.
  • Law enforcement agent/cybercrime investigator:__ While the roles of cybercrime investigators and computer forensics investigators may appear similar at first glance, the specifics of their work is actually on opposite ends of the digital crime spectrum. That’s because cybersecurity is about prevention, while computer forensics is about response. Cybersecurity investigators work to implement and maintain an organization’s information security system, which includes assessing risks, developing security policies, and training employees on the best practices of computer security measures, all to ward off cyber attacks.
  • Mobile app developer:__ Mobile developers use programming languages and source codes to create mobile applications. Depending on the role and potential industry niche, these apps may range from quirky games to valuable service apps and complex communication tools. Developers may specialize in specific platforms, such as Android or iOS. Their work often finds them collaborating with software engineers and systems analysts to develop the necessary specifications for software programs and later partnering with project managers and design teams to test, debug, and improve where necessary.
  • Virtual reality designer: Virtual reality (VR) designers combine their 3D design skills and knowledge of new technologies (e.g., virtual reality, 3D modeling, visualization, and mapping) to create immersive digital worlds for users. Frequently, their work is designed for education, training, and entertainment and created to transport users to an alternative existence. Like game developers, these professionals face many unique challenges throughout the design process, such as implementing recognizable cues and including functional controls within an environment.

Best computer science master’s programs

US News and World Report‘s most recent report of the best schools for computer science graduate degrees calculates rankings based on the results of surveys sent to academics who rated the quality of programs at over 200 U.S. institutions. Top programs include:

Best online computer science master’s programs

US News and World Report‘s also offers data on the best online master’s in computer science programs, this time basing criteria on the assessment of student engagement, online learning technologies, and graduate school faculty credentials and training. High-ranking schools include:

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Least costly computer science master’s programs

For those on the hunt for a way to earn a master’s in computer science that isn’t as costly as, say, the Ivy league route, it can be helpful to look at what schools charge per credit instead of their overall (“flat fee”) sticker price. Usually, schools require students to complete three credits per course and around 30 to 36 credits to earn a master’s degree.

According to a report from AccessLex Institute and Urban the Urban Institute on the price of graduate and professional studies, in 2017, the average annual tuition and fees for full-time, out-of-state master’s students at public universities was $22,590, which boils down to about $627 per credit. Using this as a benchmark, we compiled a list of schools that offer masters in computer science programs at a lower price per credit cost. When necessary, these numbers reflect out-of-state tuition. Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list, but it should help get your search started.

Questions or feedback? Email editor@noodle.com

About the Editor

Tom Meltzer spent over 20 years writing and teaching for The Princeton Review, where he was lead author of the company's popular guide to colleges, before joining Noodle.

To learn more about our editorial standards, you can click here.


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Computer Science Programs You Should Consider

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