To try to find out more about which computer science degrees really can result in getting a job, I went to a friend who is a senior guy at Oracle, and has hired lots of people over the years. We’ll leave him anonymous, as he doesn’t want his employer to see him speaking on blogs. Here’s his view of which degree specialties are not in computer science, and which are not: Information technology / Information systems: “These are the broadest of all tech degrees. You’ll find it hard to get a job with one of these unless you major in something like security or cloud computing, both of which are huge right now. These degrees combine some business and finance teaching with basic programming, but they’re not honed down enough.” Systems analysis: “Systems analysts are the guys who liaison between businesspeople and the programmers. In some businesses there has been growth in jobs for these kinds of specialists under the heading of ‘business analyst.’ That’s a person who would draw up technology plans based on the business needs of the company, and submit them to programmers to execute. But again, this type of degree is so general that it isn’t necessarily great to get you streamed into any particular job function.” Computer science / Computer engineering: “CS is very broad. Computer engineering is more specific to architecture. A person with this type of training might work, for example, on putting together the systems of two banks that have merged. They’re also in demand by companies who need to upgrade their technology architectures, which, honestly, is just about every company sooner or later. Of these two degrees, I would say computer engineering is more powerful from a job standpoint.” Software programming: “Programmers, unfortunately, are a dime a dozen right now. If you’re a real rock star programmer or you have a highly developed specialty in game design or some other profitable area, you may find a positive employment market. But a general programming degree won’t distinguish you very effectively.” Computer security: “If you are well qualified in security, I would expect that you’ll get hired. Cyber security people work in both the corporate and the public sectors, and there’s a growing need for virtual security experts in every type of enterprise. A lot of the tech people hired by the FBI are cyber security experts.” Database management: “Everybody needs database managers, because all the ecommerce, banking and even information publishing systems run off of databases. It helps if you come out of a good school, because there are a fair number of database experts in the market. But good database administrators are hard to find, so if you really hone your skills in this area you can wind up with pretty good prospects.” Web development: “Web developers are the people who get your web pages up on the internet. Some of them are more on the graphic design side and others focus more on developing the code that makes the website actually work. It’s category where there is a lot of work and it can be a good gateway to many other career tracks, but it’s not one of the most lucrative areas.”
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