What is a Computer Information Researcher?

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Updated September 9, 2022

Interested in computer and information researcher careers? Read on to learn about their salaries as well as education and employment requirements.

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Computer information researchers create new and emerging technologies. They conduct experiments and analyze data to find solutions to diverse computing problems.

As tech leaders, these researchers hold prestigious positions that often come with higher-than-average salaries and high demand. Many pursue master's and doctoral degrees in computer science before becoming research scientists.

Computer information researchers work in diverse industries, including governmental agencies, software systems design, and manufacturing. Responsibilities are similar across sectors: These researchers typically work in teams with other researchers, IT professionals, and engineers to develop new tech solutions.

Keep reading to learn more about how to become a computer information researcher, what the job entails, and the career outlook.

History of Computer Information Researchers

Computer information researchers have been at the forefront of the computer science industry since its inception. While not called computer and information researchers at the time, notable mathematicians and inventors have made groundbreaking technical discoveries since the 1800s. People like Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace helped lay the foundations for computer science, just like modern computer information researchers develop emerging technologies.

Computer information research grew more popular in the 1940s, driven by post-World War II innovations. Even then, computer science was just beginning to flourish. The field saw a boom in the following decades, developing several specializations like computer and information research.

What Does a Computer Information Researcher Do?

Computer and information research scientists spur technological innovation across many industries. They identify computing problems and help develop solutions. These professionals focus their efforts on creating new technologies, becoming the driving force of technological advances.

Creating new technology poses several challenges. Computer information researchers must navigate prior research, identify underexplored topics, and provide solutions where others find none. They may also face competition while developing new software systems or programming languages.

Computer and information research scientists can choose from several specialties, like robotics, artificial intelligence, or programming. They often work in teams with other computer scientists and engineers.

As industry trailblazers, these researchers hold diverse skill sets. The lists below include typical skills that help computer information researchers excel in their positions.

Key Soft Skills for Computer Information Researchers

  • Organization: Understanding previous research, developing methodologies, and recording data requires exceptional organization. Researchers must also present their findings in organized, logical formats.
  • Analysis: Research and analysis are interlinked. Spending hours conducting experiments and collecting data calls for analytical and critical thinking skills.
  • Communication: Computer information researchers need communication skills for every stage of their work. They may discuss computing problems with company managers or industry leaders, then communicate a research plan with their team. These professionals also use written communication to publish their research in journals.
  • Collaboration: Innovation usually results from collaboration. Computer and information researchers may work alongside engineers, fellow researchers, or industry experts. For example, researchers developing solutions for the healthcare industry often collaborate with and gather insight from medical professionals.

Key Hard Skills for Computer Information Researchers

  • Programming: Computer information researchers need expert-level programming abilities. They should know multiple languages, like Java, C++, and Python. Research scientists may help develop new programming languages.
  • Discrete Mathematics: Discrete mathematics is at the core of computer science. Computer information researchers use discrete math when working with or creating algorithms and software systems.
  • Data Science: Researchers handle vast amounts of data. Using data science principles to extract and analyze information can help research scientists work efficiently.
  • Machine Learning: Because machine learning and artificial intelligence are popular across several technology subfields, familiarity with these concepts may benefit aspiring computer information researchers.

A Day in the Life of a Computer Information Researcher

A computer information researcher's daily work typically depends on their specialty and industry.

Most computer information researchers spend time on the following:

  • Communicating with managers or clients to understand computing problems
  • Creating solutions, including developing new software or technology
  • Executing experiments and collecting data
  • Analyzing reports and making improvements on current systems
  • Publishing research findings

Computer Information Researcher Salary and Career Outlook

The career outlook for computer information researchers is positive. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 22% job growth between 2020 and 2030. This means computer information research positions are growing much faster than the average growth projection for all jobs.

The BLS also reports the median annual salary for computer and information research scientists was $131,490 as of 2021, with the highest 10 percent of salaries averaging $208,000. Factors that can impact earning potential include experience, industry, and location.

For example, the BLS reports metropolitan areas with large populations pay the highest average salaries for computer and information researchers. Oregon, Arizona, and Texas top the list of highest-paying states for these professionals.

High-employing industries for computer information researchers include computer systems design and scientific research and development. The federal executive branch hires the most computer information researchers, but the average salary for these workers falls below the median.

The highest-paying industries include information services, computer systems design, and semiconductor and other electronic component manufacturing. Average annual salaries in these sectors range from $169,640 to $188,660.

$131,490


Annual Median Salary

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

How to Become a Computer Information Researcher

Computer information researchers hold prestigious positions in the tech industry. Although some employers hire applicants with only a bachelor's degree, most positions require a master's degree. Some employers may even prefer a doctoral degree.

Pursuing a bachelor's and a master's degree typically takes 5-6 years of full-time study. Relevant majors for computer and information researchers include computer science, information technology, and information systems. Candidates interested in top-paying positions should consider a doctoral degree in information systems or a similar field. These programs typically take an extra 4-5 years of full-time study.

Though coding bootcamps can offer faster, more affordable training for tech jobs, most employers expect researcher applicants to hold more extensive training from degree-granting programs. However, computer information researchers can supplement their college education with programming or data science bootcamps.

These professionals can also pursue industry certifications that align with their research focus. Options include Cisco's CCIE data center credential and SAS's advanced programming professional certification.

Learn more about potential certifications and degree programs for computer information researchers below.

Additional Resources

Take an in-depth look at how to pursue a career as a computer information researcher. Explore education and experience requirements. Discover the difference between computer science and information systems degrees. Review program types and potential careers. Compare the top 15 bachelor's in information systems programs. This page also covers popular concentrations and courses. This page lists the top information systems master's programs. Review admission requirements and discover potential career opportunities. Explore different computer science certifications. Learn how to choose the right one and prepare for the required examinations.

Similar Specializations and Career Paths

Becoming a computer information researcher requires significant training. Current computer information researchers or recent graduates can apply their diverse skill sets to several career paths, working as analysts or software developers. With experience, computer information researchers may qualify for managerial positions.

The list below includes a few career paths available to current and aspiring computer information researchers.

  • Computer and Information Systems Managers: Computer and information systems managers work as chief information officers, IT directors, chief technology officers, and IT security managers. Typical duties for managers include leading tech teams and creating plans to improve companies' computer and information systems. They may also research new technologies and oversee software installation.
  • Computer Hardware Engineers: Hardware engineers design physical computer components, including routers, circuit boards, and processors. They also research and test computer equipment, using this data to update systems or design new ones. Hardware engineers often work in the tech industry. They may also find work designing computer systems for medical devices or household appliances.
  • Network Architects: Also called network engineers, network architects design computer networks. They research new technologies to design and improve effective data communication networks to meet company goals. These professionals often work in tech, telecommunications, and management.
  • Software Developers: Software developers create software to meet client needs. They may focus on applications or systems software — in both cases, they analyze current programs and research potential upgrades. These professionals create and maintain software, often working in teams with other IT professionals.
  • Computer Systems Analysts: Businesses may hire computer systems analysts as in-house employees or as contractors. These analysts help companies find more efficient IT solutions. They examine current IT systems, research potential upgrades, and install new systems.
Career Required Education Required Experience 2021 Median Annual Salary Projected Growth Rate (2020-2030)

Computer and Information Systems Managers

Bachelor's degree

At least 5 years

$159,010

11%

Computer Hardware Engineers

Bachelor's degree

None

$128,170

2%

Network Architects

Bachelor's degree

At least 5 years

$120,520

5%

Software Developers

Bachelor's degree

None

$110,140

22%

Computer Systems Analysts

Bachelor's degree

None

$99,270

7%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Resources for Computer Information Researchers

Explore the professional organizations and frequently asked questions below. Aspiring computer information researchers can use these resources to plan their career paths and seek professional support.

Professional Organizations for Computer Information Researchers

  • Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T): ASIS&T serves professionals from diverse industries, including engineering, computer science, and medicine. It promotes information science research to develop practical applications. Members can take part in career development, networking, and mentorship opportunities.
  • Computing Research Association (CRA): CRA grants membership to labs, academic departments, and professional societies. Together, they advocate for the research community. Members can participate in conferences and career-building workshops.
  • Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE): Dating back to 1884, IEEE has become a worldwide organization. It establishes international standards and publishes technical literature. IEEE members join local communities to share research and emerging technologies. They can also attend conferences and continuing education courses.
  • Association for Information Systems (AIS): The global AIS community connects information systems professionals, including researchers and teachers. Members can use the AIS virtual library to broaden their research. They can also network and find job opportunities through AIS career services.

Computer Information Researcher Questions


How long does it take to become a computer information scientist?

Most computer information research scientist positions require a master's degree. Full-time students generally spend four years on a bachelor's degree and 1-2 years on a master's. Some researchers hold a doctorate, which requires 4-5 more years of full-time study.

How do you become a computer information scientist?

To qualify for computer and information scientist jobs, professionals need at least a bachelor's degree in computer science, information systems, or a related field. Most professionals also hold graduate degrees. They may supplement their education with technical certifications or bootcamps.

How much does a computer information scientist make?

The BLS reports that computer and information research scientists earn an annual median salary of $131,490 as of 2021. Factors like industry and location influence earning potential.

Is it hard to be a computer information scientist?

Like many technical careers, computer information research scientist jobs can be difficult, requiring extensive research and innovative problem-solving. Still, the career can be rewarding for people passionate about computer science and developing new technology.

Reviewed by:

Darnell Kenebrew is a first-generation graduate from San Francisco State University's class of 2020. He graduated with a bachelor's in computer science, which helped him kick off a career in tech and pursue roles in data and engineering. Currently, he is a data analytics engineer at Meta and an executive captain for COOP Careers — a nonprofit for overcoming underemployment. Kenebrew strongly believes in giving people a chance and that everyone should have an equal opportunity within the job market. He believes that COOP Careers helps this equality materialize. Kenebrew is passionate about how the industry is shaped with data and how data can be leveraged in many aspects of business decisions to meet goals. In addition, he is passionate about inclusion, community, education, and using data for good. He hopes that he can pivot business decisions to make a positive, meaningful impact and that his work will positively impact end-users and meet business goals.
Darnell Kenebrew is a paid member of the Red Ventures Education Integrity Network.
Page last reviewed July 25, 2022


Featured Image: Getty Image

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