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Pursuing a computer science career involves acquiring the right mix of practical experience and skills, both technical and non-technical. Formal education is often, but not always, required in order to secure work in the field of computer science. Strong programming skills are universally needed, but good business, management, and communication skills are also very useful. Practical experience serves to cement skills and training together and greatly strengthens a resume.
The most common form of preparation for a computer science career begins with training at a college or university. The specific nature of this training varies to some extent, as some types of computer science career require more theoretical understanding of the fundamentals of computer science, and some require more specific programming skills. The amount of formal education needed varies, but the best career prospects are enjoyed by individuals who have completed a Ph.D. program in computer science.
Choosing the right school is important. The overall reputation of a school’s computer science department matters, but is not the only factor to be considered. Many schools and programs focus on particular aspects of computer science, and anyone hoping to pursue a computer science career in a specific sub-field should seek out graduate programs that specialize in that sub-field.
Programming skill is essential for anyone interested in pursuing CS. Computer scientists typically need a broad understanding of different sorts of programming languages, ranging from high-level languages, such as Java, to assembly language. This understanding allows computer scientists to design efficient algorithms, and to account for issues that might arise when applications designed in high-level languages are translated into machine language.
Other skills are also needed to succeed in computer science. A great deal of skill with advanced mathematics is essential, as mathematics is crucial for understanding software design and computation at a theoretical level. Non-technical skills are also helpful when pursuing a computer science career. The ability to write clearly and effectively is very helpful, and communication skills in general are useful, especially for computer scientists who hope to lead larger projects or manage programmers.
Practical experience is extremely helpful for anyone looking for work in a computer science career. Experience in summer internships is very helpful in gaining admission to graduate programs. This experience should focus on the sorts of work that a student will pursue as a graduate. Specific courses and lab experience during graduate school will prepare a candidate for certain types of jobs on graduation, and should be planned carefully, with an eye on future career prospects.
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