Careers in Computer Science

So, you think you might want a career in computing. Will you be able to find good, fulfilling jobs? Will you make a good salary going what you love? While no one can make predictions about the future without a little risk, we think you'll find career opportunities in computer science to be plentiful and financially rewarding.

Demand for computing professionals

Demand for information technology professionals in Iowa and the midwestern United States grows faster than universities can produce graduates. Statewide, IT industry needs range from agricultural manufacturing and biotechnology, to insurance and banking, to aerospace. Thay range from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups filling niches in the "old" economy -- and creating whole new niches.

what's a degree worth?

According to, three of the eight top majors by pay in the US are computer science-related. Demand isn't limited to the U.S., of course; it is up in other countries, too. Consider this article from the Australian IT press.

Despite what you may read in the popular press about the offshoring of tech jobs, IBM reports that for every job outsourced from the U.S., nine new jobs are actually created in the U.S. As reported in the New York Times, the leading society of computing professionals, ACM, has issued its own report on the globalization of computing. Among other data, this report shows that "the size of the IT employment market in the United States today is higher than it was at the height of the dot-com boom".

But what about Iowa? Many people from other parts of the country know of the state only as an agricultural powerhouse. But the industry of the state is much more diverse, and computing technologies are at the heart of the diversity. According to a Battelle Institute study of Iowa's IT sector (PDF) commissioned by the Iowa Department of Economic Development, over 2000 Iowa organizations employ computing professionals and the demand for new graduates, especially in the banking, finance, and insurance sector, is growing rapidly at a time when the number of graduates is declining.

Salaries for IT professionals

Jobs in computing-related disciplines have always paid well, and the tight labor market for IT professionals has led to an upward trend in salaries. The National Association of Colleges & Employers reports that salaries for new CS graduates remain strong and near the top of the list among all degrees, after rising quickly the year before.

In Iowa, recent salary trends have been stronger than national averages. The aforementioned Battelle study reports that "Between 2000 and 2003 [the last year of the study], average annual IT wages in Iowa grew by 2.6 percent, versus a 1.0 percent decline nationally."

Despite the risk inherent in predicting the future, we feel confident that a career in computer science -- in Iowa, the Midwest, and beyond -- will continue to be a financially sound choice for students for many, many years.


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Mark Fienup

As a discipline, computer science is relatively young and characterized by rapid technological advances. This dynamism is reflected in the interests of Mark Fienup, associate professor of computer science: Parallel computing, routing and computer networks, and computer science education are all greatly affected by the changing nature of computer science.... [more]

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