The world’s reliance on technology means that finding employees in the field of computer science is more important than ever. Computers and technology touch almost every career field, not just those found in places like Silicon Valley.
With businesses relying more on technology, there’s a need to hire computer science graduates to help build and maintain technological systems.
Here’s a look at the career field of computer science, the average computer science salary by specialty and student loan debt statistics to help you determine whether a computer science degree is worth it.
What is computer science?
Computer science is a broad field of study available at many colleges and universities across the U.S. It’s the study of computers and computational systems. Computer science includes the study of algorithms, computer theory, data structures, computer and network design, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and much more, depending on where you attend school.
Pursuing a computer science degree can lead to a multitude of various career paths. Professionals find roles as:
- App developers
- Computer hardware engineers
- Computer scientists
- Data scientists
- Full-stack developers
- Information security analysts
- Information systems analysts
- IT managers
- Network architects
- Research and development scientists
- Software developers
- Software engineers
- Systems analysts
- User interface designers
- Web developers
As you can see, the sky’s the limit in terms of career choices within the field of computer science. Jobs are also available through the public sector, as well as the public sector like with the federal government.
Average annual salary: What does a computer science graduate make?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for computer and information technology jobs was $91,250 in May 2020. Of course, average salaries also depend on your specific career path and sometimes the type of degree you have.
Here’s a look at median salaries for several occupations within the field of computer science and the entry-level degree required to work in the field.
First Year Resident Tuition
First Year Non-Resident Tuition
Computer and Information Research Scientist
Computer Network Architect
Computer Systems Analysts
Database Administrators and Architects
Information Security Analysts
Network and Computer Systems Administrator
You might be wondering if having a bachelor’s degree in computer science is enough or if it’s better to pursue a master’s degree. Is salary compensation that different based on the degree you earned?
There’s a sizable gap that could make pursuing an advanced degree more enticing. According to Payscale, the average salary for someone with a bachelor’s degree in computer science is $91,000 annually, while individuals with a master’s degree in computer science earn an average high salary of $105,000, annually. Again, salaries probably depend on the specific career field or job title and where you live and work.
Average student loan debt among computer science graduates
While the salary potential in the field of computer science is promising, there’s a good chance you’ll need to take out student loans to pursue your degree. For the graduating class of 2021, the average student loan debt is estimated at around $36,140.
Your debt could be more or less depending on where you attend school. If you’re pursuing an advanced degree, figure on your total debt bill ending up much higher. That said, there’s a higher chance of an increased starting salary when you enter the workforce.
Alternative training: Coding bootcamps to jumpstart a computer science career
Coding bootcamps have quickly become an alternative to traditional computer science college degrees. Instead of attending school for several years, coding bootcamps offer intensive training over several weeks, bypassing the general requirements of a traditional college degree program.
Attending a coding bootcamp is also a way to save money while still landing a job in the computer science field. On average, coding bootcamps cost around $14,000 but could cost more or less, depending on the type of bootcamp and how long the program lasts. Bootcamps can last anywhere from six to 28 weeks, though most last around 14 weeks.
Is pursuing a coding bootcamp worth it?
Although attending a coding bootcamp typically costs less than attending college, it doesn’t necessarily lead to the same types of jobs or salaries you might see with a college degree. The average starting salary of a bootcamp graduate is only $69,079, far less than the salaries reported earlier.
Another point to consider is that the majority of individuals currently attending coding bootcamps already have bachelor’s degrees and jobs in the industry. Those numbers are slowly decreasing as more people without degrees join coding bootcamps. This route might be a lucrative option to enhance and further your career, not replace traditional education.
Is the computer science salary worth the student loan debt?
The field of computer science has an incredible job outlook, with employment trends expected to grow 13% between 2020 and 2030. As technology continues to play an ever-increasing role in all areas of life, companies will need workers to help develop, build, test, implement, and manage new technologies.
Looking at the table above, you can see that many career paths within the field of computer science offer high five-figure salaries with just a bachelor’s degree. Depending on where you attended college and the amount of loans required, you may be able to tackle your debt quicker than other graduates.
In 2021, the Texas Policy Center studied the salaries of recent graduates compared to their average student loan debt. The data was broken down by degree program and level. Computer science was among the top bachelor degree programs with the lowest percent of loan debt compared to earnings.
Also, master’s degrees in fields like computer and information sciences and computer/information technology administration and management were among the programs with the lowest percentage of debt to earnings.
That bodes well for anyone considering entering the field of computer science. Although you might leave school with a reasonably large student loan debt bill, the outlook could be much worse.
Computer science graduates need a student loan repayment plan
Computer science graduates need a solid student loan repayment plan regardless of how much student loan debt they incur pursuing their degree. With starting salaries close to six figures (or more), your debt-to-income ratio should be small enough to pay off your student loan debt fairly quickly.
If you’re unsure of the best payoff plan for your debt, Student Loan Planner’s consultants can help. We’ve consulted on over $1.44 billion in student loan debt. Schedule a consultation and work directly with a consultant to create a customized debt payoff plan that works for you.
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