How to Become a Computer Information Researcher
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A computer information researcher addresses problems in computing and finds creative solutions. Working closely with computer programmers and data scientists, information researchers test software, upgrade existing data systems, develop new programming languages, and improve how humans and technology interact.
Computer information research is ideal for people with analytical minds who love technical problem-solving. Advanced credentials and work experience directly enhance job growth and earning potential in this field. Keep reading to learn more about the required education and expertise for a career in computer information research.
What Is a Computer Information Researcher?
Computer information researchers analyze and evaluate the problems and shortcomings within an organization and provide computing solutions to fix them. These professionals develop new computing technologies and improve existing systems and programs.
Professionals working in computer information research need to have a strong grasp of foundational computer science that can help business, medicine, science, and other industries with groundbreaking computing technologies.
The daily tasks of a computer information researcher include studying user needs and developing technologies to address them, measuring the performance of new programs, and writing technical reports for conferences.
Computer information research and similar occupations have a high demand that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects to grow by 22% from 2020-2030.
What Education Do Computer Information Researchers Need?
The minimum education required to become a computer information researcher is a master's degree in information technology, computer science, or a similar field. A bachelor's degree helps aspiring computer information researchers develop the necessary hard skills for this profession.
Some information researchers may need to take additional classes to gain specialized knowledge. For instance, researchers interested in medicine or biotechnology may need to complete courses in biology or chemistry
Students aiming for federal government jobs may have to take law, public administration, or political science classes. Certain researcher roles may seek candidates with doctoral-level education in fields like information technology or data science.
Some professionals may supplement their college or university education with coding bootcamps. These compact, intensive programs provide career-oriented training for specific roles and last anywhere from two weeks to six months. Computer information researchers also benefit from continuing education programs throughout their careers.
How Much Experience Do Computer Information Researchers Need?
All researcher roles typically call for advanced degrees and at least five years of work experience. Having a portfolio of work is essential when applying for computer research scientist roles.
Data science, machine learning, and computer science bootcamps provide technical skills with the help of practical projects. New graduates and entry-level professionals may also pursue internships to gain valuable experience.
Although information researcher roles do not require certifications, these credentials verify skills and competency to demonstrate specialized knowledge of the field. Some certifications require renewal every 2-5 years.
Computer information researchers can pursue the following certifications to boost their career opportunities.
How Do I Become a Computer Information Researcher?
There may be several career paths to becoming a computer information researcher. Candidates first need to earn a four-year bachelor's degree in computer science, information technology, software engineering, or a related field. Next, they should secure internship opportunities and then build experience with entry-level jobs.
A master's degree in data science, computer science, or a related field takes another two years. Enrollees may complete online, accelerated programs in as little as 12 months, while part-time students can take up to five years to obtain their degree.
Bootcamps and certifications are not necessary for candidates with advanced degrees, though they help develop specialized skills in certain focus areas. A candidate looking to pursue academic research roles needs a Ph.D. in a computer-related field.
Steps to Becoming a Computer Information Researcher
Master's Degree Path
Earn a Bachelor's Degree: Since information research is not typically offered as a major or concentration, aspiring computer information researchers can get bachelor's degrees in related subjects, such as computer science, data science, or computer engineering. Build Relevant Job Experience: After earning a bachelor's degree, professionals can build experience as research interns or entry-level computing research assistants. Get a Master's Degree: A graduate degree in a computer-related field is often vital for a career in information research. A master's degree typically takes two years to complete. Choose a Specialty: Aspiring information researchers should aim to specialize in big data, human-computer interaction, data science, machine learning, or a similar concentration to improve their chances of landing a computer information researcher job. Consider Getting an Advanced Degree: Senior roles in computing research may call for advanced degrees like a Ph.D. These programs require investing significant time and money — professionals must carefully consider their career goals before committing to higher education.
Should I Become a Computer Information Researcher?
What are some high and low points in this career? What challenges might computer information researchers face?
The high points are experiencing your project having a meaningful impact on people's lives. The low points are the other side of the same coin — to be part of projects that do not see the light of day or have an impact that is non-significant.
What type of person does well in this role?
An individual who is methodical, analytical, empathetic, and has the "scientist approach" of looking at things — i.e., have conviction in their decisions, but not dogmatic. They are open to re-evaluating their thought process with emerging relevant information.
How does this role impact others?
The experiments you run and the insights you provide have a significant impact on people. Someone might take your insight and plan the design of their product. Someone might take your insight and avoid adding a feature to their product or campaign. Your work has a financial, cultural, and psychological impact.
Why do we need more computer information researchers? Why should someone become one?
As the world is getting more digitized, we need people who can help us safely navigate this space. Think of yourself as the architects and defense of the new future.
What next-level roles can computer information researchers take on?
Some go on to become project managers and chief technical officers of their organizations.
Aditi Paul is a professor and mixed-methods researcher based in New York City. She uses her multidisciplinary background in technology and relationship science to examine the impact of using human-centered technologies like social networking sites and online dating services. Aditi’s research has been published in top academic journals and has been featured in prominent media outlets such as The Washington Post, Women’s Health, The Telegraph UK, Huffington Post, and NBC News.
The Job Hunt
After earning the required qualifications and job experience, aspiring computer information researchers must land their first job. Entry-level and mid-senior opportunities can be competitive — particularly at large, renowned companies.
To boost employability, candidates can connect with instructors, mentors, peers, and supervisors. Job-seekers can also take advantage of professional organizations, networking events, job fairs, and annual conferences. Online job boards, such as the sites listed below, can also be a great starting place for a new role.
LinkedIn: Users can connect with others, get updates about organizations and job opportunities, and apply to open positions on this professional networking platform. Indeed: Information research professionals can use the world's most popular job site to find opportunities worldwide. CrunchBoard: This free job board from TechCrunch posts technology and engineering jobs that users can filter by location and keywords. Computer Research Association Job Board: The CRA's job board lists a diverse range of computing jobs. Candidates can upload resumes, while employers can search the applicant database. Glassdoor: Glassdoor features job listings, company details, and reviews by current and former employees.
Questions About Computer Information Researchers
How do I become a computer information researcher?
The first step to becoming a computer information researcher is getting a bachelor's degree in a computer-related field. Next, each candidate should earn a master's degree with a relevant specialty. Advanced roles may even require a Ph.D.
How much does a computer and information research scientist make?
As of May 2021, computer information research scientists earned a median annual wage of $131,490, according to the BLS.
How long does it take to be a computer and information research scientist?
Full-time bachelor's and master's degrees typically take a combined six years.Candidates can then expect to qualify for computer information research scientist jobs if they have the relevant skills and work experience.
What skills do you need to be a computer research scientist?
Technical knowledge, a thorough grasp of multiple programming languages, and excellent analytical and problem-solving skillsare some of the most basic requirements for a career in computer information research.
In 2019, Monali Mirel Chuatico graduated with her bachelor's in computer science, which gave her the foundation that she needed to excel in roles such as a data engineer, front-end developer, UX designer, and computer science instructor.
Monali is currently a data engineer at Mission Lane. As a data analytics captain at a nonprofit called COOP Careers, Monali helps new grads and young professionals overcome underemployment by teaching them data analytics tools and mentoring them on their professional development journey.
Monali is passionate about implementing creative solutions, building community, advocating for mental health, empowering women, and educating youth. Monali's goal is to gain more experience in her field, expand her skill set, and do meaningful work that will positively impact the world.
Monali Mirel Chuatico is a paid member of the Red Ventures Education Integrity Network.
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