Computer and Information Research Scientist

In a very real sense, computer and information research scientists are inventors. They are charged with discovering and developing new and innovative uses of existing computing technology and inventing new computer technologies. They apply their skills and knowledge of computing technology to find solutions to problems in science, business, manufacturing, medicine, etc.

The following are some of the more common duties performed by computer and information research scientists:

  • Research new and innovative applications of computer technology
  • Invent and develop new computer technology for various applications
  • Use their knowledge of computing technology to solve complex business problems
  • Develop new, and improved, software systems to enhance usability and application of computing technology
  • Design and test software systems to support computing applications and technology
  • Conduct experiments designed to enhance understanding and application of computing technology
  • Publish the results of their research in academic and professional journals

Computer and information research scientists are involved in many diverse aspects of computer technology research, application and education. They develop complex software systems that tell computers and machines what to do. They develop algorithms to support computer processes and information gathering and analysis. They are involved in the development of machine learning, artificial intelligence and cloud computing.

Much of the focus of computer and information research scientists is on improving current technology. Computer and information research scientists are constantly striving to improve information security, develop better networking technology, and improve computing speeds. While computer and information research scientists strive to produce results and publish findings that have practical application, much of their work is theoretical in nature.

Computer and information research scientists work as teachers and researchers. Reseachers working in academia at the university level usually focus on computer theory. Those working for corporations in the business sector usually focus on application of computing technology to produce profits.

Computer and information research scientists quite frequently work on multidisciplinary teams that include computer software engineers, computer hardware engineers, mechanical engineers and electrical engineers.

Within the field of computer and information research their are several specialties. The follow are three of the most popular:

  • Data mining. Computer and information research scientists develop complex algorithms to discover and analyze patterns of information presented in datasets. They also develop software that employs algorithms to allow others to sort, manage and display data for analysis and use in various applications.

  • Robotics. Computer and information research scientists these days are heavily involved in robotics design, development and enhancement. With respect to robotics, computer and information research scientists are primarily responsible for developing the computer programs that allow the robots to function and interact with the physical world. They work closely with other professionals including electrical and mechanical engineers.

  • Programming. One of the primary fuctions of computer and information research scientists is to write software and develop new programming languages. Computer and information research scientists develop new languages that make it easier and more efficient to write software and improve existing software systems.



Work Environment
As of 2014, there were approximately 26,700 computer and information research scientists employed in the United States.

The following chart shows the industries where computer and information research scientists are employed as a percentage.

Federal government 26%
Computer systems design 18%
Higher education 13%
R&D in engineering and science 11%
Software publishing 8%


Education and Training
With exception of a few federal government jobs, the majority of career positions for computer and information research scientists require a PhD in computer science, computer engineering, software development, or a closely related discipline. Earning a PhD first requires the completion of a 4 year bachelor's degree in a technology field, such as computer science or information systems. A PhD program itself typically requires an additional 4 years of study after the completion of a bachelor's degree. During the first two years of their Ph.D program students are required to complete core courses in a variety of computer science disciplines. The remaining years of their PhD program will be spent conducting research within a specific area of study.

Computer and information research scientists who work in a specialized career field may require additional education for the field. For example, a computer scientists working in robotics may require additional knowledge and training in the field of mechanical or electrical engineering.

Below you can search our database of online and campus-based degree programs in computer science and computing technology.

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Earnings
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage earned by computer and information research scientists as of 2014 was just over $102,000. The lowest 10% of wage earners in the industry made under $57,000, while the top 10% of wage earners made over $152,000.

Job Outlook
Job opportunities for computer and information research scientists are predicted to be plentiful over the next 10 years. With a projected employment grow rate of 15% through 2022, the demand for skilled computer and information research scientists should be strong. Demand for computer and information research scientists will be driven by a steady and growing demand for newer and better computing technology to support a wide variety of applications.

Businesses seeking to collect, analyze and use data to support for-profit endeavors will spur demand in data mining, which in turn will lead to corporations and organizations hiring more computer and information research scientists. Businesses will also hire more computer and information research scientists as they look for new ways to manage and use their data. Computer and information research scientists will also be employed to develop new methods and strategies for preventing cyberattacks, tracking hackers and improving digital information security.

Growth in demand for robotics and mechanization, new programming languages and enhanced software systems will also drive job growth for computer and information research scientists.

Computer and information research scientists with PhDs will have the greatest job prospects. For those pursuing careers in specialized fields, such as engineering or biology, additional training will be improve employability.

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