Salaries in the Computer Science Field

Because the field of computer science has such a variety of professional roles with which it is affiliated, it only seems fair to look at a range of jobs that the industry generates in order to get a feel for the income levels that you can expect to find.

In the area of computer science, the U.S. Department of Labor looks at a number of computer science related roles and combines them with database administrators in their job analysis. For those two job descriptions, they provide the following statistics regarding total jobs:

Computer scientists and database administrators held about 507,000 jobs in 2017, including about 66,000 who were self-employed. Employment was distributed among the detailed occupations as follows:

  • Network systems and data communication analysts: 231,000
  • Database administrators: 104,000
  • Computer and information scientists, research: 22,000
  • Computer specialists, all other: 149,000

The self-employed computer scientist makes up a significant portion of this particular workforce. Many more of these employees work on a contract basis, signing on as needed for a particular period of time.

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Their salary statistics divide computer scientists into two categories: those employed in research and those working in other environments. The median salaries for both in 2017 were virtually the same, at slightly over $85,000 annually.

For database administrators, the median salary in 2017 was $60,650. The Labor Department statistics include network specialists in the category of database administrators. Here is their breakout of median salaries for these jobs by industry and job description:

  • Wired telecommunications carriers: $65,130
  • Insurance carriers: $64,660
  • Management of companies and enterprises: $64,170
  • Computer systems design and related services: $63,910
  • Local government: $52,300

In the field of networking, the Labor Department looks at the role principally as one of computer support specialist. This may mean more of an operational role than that of design. Their job categories in this area are of computer support specialist and system administrator. The median salary in 2017 for network and computer system administrators was $58,190. Industry breakout for these professions was as follows:

  • Wired telecommunications carriers: $65,120
  • Computer systems design and related services: $63,710
  • Management of companies and enterprises: $61,600
  • Elementary and secondary schools: $51,420
  • Colleges, universities, and professional Schools: $51,170
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A little lower down the ladder is the computer support specialist: the IT guy in the office who, when your machine malfunctions, walks in and with the first question asks, “What did you do to it?”

The median salary for a computer maintenance specialist as of May 2017 was $40,430. Their breakout of median salaries for this position by industry:

  • Software publishers: $44,890
  • Management of companies and enterprises: $42,780
  • Computer systems design and related services: $42,750
  • Colleges, universities, and professional Schools: $37,940
  • Elementary and secondary schools: $35,500

This last position is one for which a certification in the field may be all that is required, rather than a college degree. If you look into the educational requirements attached to each of these computer science jobs, the relationship between pay scale and academic achievement is apparent.

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