What are the highest and lowest computer science salaries that I could earn?
The computer science salary that you earn depends largely on 2 factors: what area you specialize in and what degree you hold. The starting computer science degree salary for someone who has earned an associate degree in computer science online or from a brick-and-mortar college is about $46,000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
However, if you have a bachelors degree, the average salary for computer science is between $70,000 and $90,000, depending on your specialization. The lowest computer science starting salary for bachelors degree holders is for network and computer systems administrators, while the highest is for software developers.
If you have a doctorate in computer science you can earn the highest salary for computer science, which is about $100,000, if you work as a computer and information research scientist. As a researcher, you could work for the research and development department of a technology company, the government or a university or research institute.
If you have a PhD in computer science you could also choose to teach at a university. The median salary for an associate professor in computer science is about $79,000, and the salary rises significantly if you become a tenured professor.
In addition to my computer science salary, will I earn benefits?
Many salaries for computer science include benefits, but that depends entirely on where you choose to work. If you work as a research scientist for a government institution such as NASA or the Department of Defense, not only will your pay be above the average computer science salary, you will also enjoy the same generous benefits as other government workers. The same applies if you choose to teach computer science at a public university, though you may not receive benefits until you are tenured in some instances.
Tech companies, particularly those that are established like Google and Apple, are widely known for their generous benefits. For example, in addition to their computer science salaries, Google employees receive access to on-site doctor facilities, gyms, travel insurance, paid maternity and paternity leave and reimbursement for college courses that further their career expertise.
According to Business Insider, some of the best tech companies to work for offer up to 25 days of paid time off (MITRE), a company car (SAP America) and paid sabbaticals (Intel) on top of standard benefits such as health care. However, most companies require you to work full time to receive benefits, and part-time or contract employees rarely receive the same perks.
Will I always earn a salary in my computer science job?
Whether or not you earn a salary depends on your employer and the type of computer science job you have, as well as your degree. In general, the higher your degree, the higher your chance of earning a salary rather than receiving hourly computer science pay with or without benefits.
For example, if you only have an associates degree in computer science or are still completing your bachelors, you could work as a computer or IT support specialist, where the median pay is about $22 per hour. This is often a job you can do from home as long as you have a phone line and an Internet connection, so it is a good job to have while finishing your degree.
You are more likely to earn a salary if you have your bachelors, masters or PhD in computer science. For example, the positions of software developer, database administrator and web developer, which all require a bachelors degree, are more likely to be salaried positions, with a median pay between about $73,000 and $90,000 annually. Researchers, whether for private companies or government institutions, require even more advanced degrees but are also more likely to pay an annual salary.