Computer and Information Research Scientists

What Computer and Information Research Scientists Do

Computer and information research scientists invent and design new approaches to computing technology and find innovative uses for existing technology.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jlZucw7_qWU

Work Environment

Most computer and information research scientists work full time. Some work more than 40 hours per week.

How to Become a Computer and Information Research Scientist

Most jobs for computer and information research scientists require 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.

Pay

The median annual wage for computer and information research scientists was $122,840 in May 2019.

Job Outlook

Employment of computer and information research scientists is projected to grow 15 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. Job prospects are expected to be excellent.

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

Duties

Computer and information research scientists typically do the following:

  • Explore fundamental issues in computing and develop theories and models to address those issues
  • Help scientists and engineers solve complex computing problems
  • Invent new computing languages, tools, and methods to improve the way in which people work with computers
  • Develop and improve the software systems that form the basis of the modern computing experience
  • Design experiments to test the operation of these software systems
  • Analyze the results of their experiments
  • Publish their findings in academic journals and present their findings at conferences

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

Creating and improving software involves working with algorithms, which are sets of instructions that tell a computer what to do. Some computing tasks are very difficult and require complex algorithms. Computer and information research scientists try to simplify these algorithms to make computer systems as efficient as possible. The algorithms allow advancements in many types of technology, such as machine learning systems and cloud computing.

Computer and information research scientists design new computer architecture that improves the performance and efficiency of computer hardware. Their work often leads to technological advancements and efficiencies, such as better networking technology, faster computing speeds, and improved information security. In general, computer and information research scientists work at a more theoretical level than do other computer professionals.

Some computer scientists work with electrical engineers, computer hardware engineers, and other specialists on multidisciplinary projects. The following are examples of types of specialties for computer and information research scientists:

Robotics. Some computer and information research scientists study how to improve robots. Robotics explores how a machine can interact with the physical world. Computer and information research scientists create the programs that control the robots. They work closely with engineers who focus on the hardware design of robots. Together, these workers test how well the robots do the tasks they were created to do, such as assemble cars or collect data on other planets.

Programming. Computer and information research scientists design new programming languages that are used to write software. The new languages make software writing more efficient by improving an existing language, such as Java, or by making a specific aspect of programming, such as image processing, easier.

Computer and information research scientists held about 32,700 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of computer and information research scientists were as follows:

Federal government, excluding postal service 28%
Computer systems design and related services 19
Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences 16
Software publishers 8
Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private 6

Some computer scientists may work on teams with electrical engineers, computer hardware engineers, and other specialists on multidisciplinary projects.

Work Schedules

Most computer and information research scientists work full time. Some work more than 40 hours per week.

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of computer and information research scientists.

Occupation Job Duties Entry-Level Education Median Annual Pay, May 2019

Computer and Information Systems Managers

Computer and information systems managers plan, coordinate, and direct computer-related activities in an organization.

Bachelor’s degree $146,360

Computer Hardware Engineers

Computer hardware engineers research, design, develop, and test computer systems and components.

Bachelor’s degree $117,220

Computer Programmers

Computer programmers write and test code that allows computer applications and software programs to function properly.

Bachelor’s degree $86,550

Database Administrators

Database administrators (DBAs) use specialized software to store and organize data.

Bachelor’s degree $93,750

Software Developers

Software developers create the applications or systems that run on a computer or another device.

Bachelor’s degree $107,510

Computer Network Architects

Computer network architects design and build data communication networks, including local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), and Intranets.

Bachelor’s degree $112,690

Computer Systems Analysts

Computer systems analysts study an organization’s current computer systems and find a solution that is more efficient and effective.

Bachelor’s degree $90,920

Information Security Analysts

Information security analysts plan and carry out security measures to protect an organization’s computer networks and systems.

Bachelor’s degree $99,730

Network and Computer Systems Administrators

Network and computer systems administrators are responsible for the day-to-day operation of computer networks.

Bachelor’s degree $83,510

Web Developers

Web developers design and create websites.

Associate’s degree $73,760

Top Executives

Top executives plan strategies and policies to ensure that an organization meets its goals.

Bachelor’s degree $104,690

For more information about computer and information research scientists, visit

Association for Computing Machinery

IEEE Computer Society

For information about opportunities for women pursuing information technology careers, visit

National Center for Women & Information Technology

To find job openings for computer and information research scientists in the federal government, visit 

USAJOBS

O*NET

Computer and Information Research Scientists


Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Computer and Information Research Scientists,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-and-information-research-scientists.htm (visited ).