Computer science offers a sought-after, lucrative career path for tech-savvy people interested in the latest computer advancements. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 11% growth for computer and information technology (IT) occupations from 2019 to 2029, a faster-than-average growth rate. Computer science trends like cloud computing, information security, and big data collection and storage contribute to this field’s promising outlook.

IT professionals who understand computer science trends remain competitive for the best career opportunities. This guide explores recent computing developments and trends in IT, including artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and robotics.

Read more about these trends

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) centers on machine coding that mimics human and animal intelligence. AI professionals develop algorithms and program machines to perform humanlike tasks. Already ubiquitous, AI helps detect credit card fraud, identify disease outbreaks, and optimize satellite navigation.

In their annual technology prediction report, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Computer Society predicts several AI concepts will be widely adopted in 2021. Computing developments in AI purportedly include reliability and safety for intelligent autonomous systems, AI for digital manufacturing, and trustworthy and explainable AI and machine learning.

A master’s or Ph.D. leads to the best work opportunities in artificial intelligence.

Computer and information research scientists, one potential AI career, earned a median annual salary of $126,830 as of 2020, with the BLS projecting much-faster-than-average growth for the profession from 2019 to 2029.

According to PayScale, as of June 2021, machine learning engineers earn an average annual salary of $112,840, with late-career professionals making an average annual salary of $162,000.

Entry-level AI jobs require at least a bachelor’s degree, but a master’s or Ph.D. leads to the best work opportunities in artificial intelligence.

Potential Jobs:

  • Machine Learning Engineer
  • Senior Data Scientist
  • Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning Research Scientist
  • Deep Learning Engineer
  • Algorithm Engineer




Edge Computing

In contrast to cloud computing, where data is processed and stored far away from the end user in large data centers, edge computing puts computer data at “the edge,” close to the end user. Experts do not expect the cloud to disappear completely, but rather work in tandem with edge computing as it brings processing to users, streamlining anything from factory production to self-driving car response.

Technology like autonomous cars, video conferencing, and augmented reality all benefit from edge computing. For example, when an autonomous car makes a split-second decision to brake and avoid a collision, an on-board computer system — edge computing — eliminates the delay of waiting for a server in the cloud to respond.

The BLS projects a 22% job growth rate from 2019 to 2029 for software developers, including edge computing software developers, and reports a median annual salary of $110,140 as of 2020.

Industries like telecommunications, security, and oil and gas employ workers with edge computing expertise. Entry-level positions such as software developer or computer network architect usually require a bachelor’s. Managerial, administrative, and research positions often require at least a master’s degree.

Potential Jobs:

  • Edge Computing Specialist
  • Software Developer
  • Application Developer
  • Computer Network Architect
  • Computer Systems Analyst




Quantum Computing

Quantum computing uses powerful computers to solve problems at the atomic and subatomic levels. Unlike classic computers, which perform calculations and store data in binary code, quantum computers use quantum bits, also known as qubits. This allows quantum computers to crunch numbers and solve problems much more quickly than previously possible.

While large tech companies like Google and IBM make strides towards quantum computing advances, the field remains in its infancy. Other fields that can benefit from quantum computing include banking, transportation, and agriculture.

Researchers may use quantum computing to find the best truck delivery routes, determine the most efficient flight schedule for an airport, or develop new medicines quickly and cheaply. Scientists see promise in quantum computing to develop sustainable technologies and solve environmental problems.

Quantum computing careers usually require a master’s or doctoral degree. ZipRecruiter reports salaries as high as $160,000 for quantum computing professionals, with an average annual salary of $96,900 as of May 2021. As an emerging computer science specialization, many future quantum computing careers may not yet exist.

Potential Jobs:

  • Quantum Computer Architect
  • Quantum Software Developer
  • Quantum Algorithm Researcher
  • Quantum Computer Research Scientist




Robotics

The robotics field studies and develops robots in the pursuit of make life easier. A multidisciplinary field, robotics incorporates computer science and electrical and mechanical engineering. Robotics uses artificial intelligence, machine learning, and other computer science technologies.

Robots aim to increase safety and efficiency in industries like manufacturing, farming, and food preparation. People use robotics technologies to manufacture cars, complete dangerous tasks like bomb diffusion, and conduct complex surgeries.

Students need a bachelor’s degree at minimum to work in robotics. Many employers prefer robotics professionals with a master’s or a Ph.D. for managerial or advanced research positions.

The BLS reports mechanical engineers — including robotics engineers — earned a median annual salary of $90,160 as of 2020. Robotics research scientists, which the BLS categorizes as a type of computer and information research scientist, earned a median annual salary of $126,830 as of 2020. The field is projected to grow much faster than average from 2019 to 2029.

Robots.jobs lists occupations and other resources for robotics professionals.

Potential Jobs:

  • Robotics Engineer
  • Algorithm Engineer
  • Data Scientist
  • Software Engineer
  • Robotics Research Scientist




Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity focuses on protecting computer systems and networks from cyberthreats and attacks. As companies continue storing information on the cloud and conduct operations online, the need for improved cybersecurity also grows.

Individuals, businesses, and governments experience significant financial losses due to cyberattacks. For example, the ransomware attackin the eastern U.S. in May 2021 cost the Colonial Pipeline about $5 million and inflated gas prices for consumers.

Most industries, including healthcare, financial institutions, and insurance, need better cybersecurity technologies to protect their proprietary and customer data. Because of this demand, the BLS projects a 31% job growth rate for information security analysts from 2019 to 2029. Information security analysts earned a median annual salary of $103,590 as of 2020.

Cybersecurity specialists work at consulting firms, computer companies, and business and financial organizations. Major employers include Apple, Lockheed Martin, and Capital One. The best cybersecurity jobs require at least a bachelor’s, though some employers prefer a master’s degree.

Potential Jobs:

  • Information Security Analyst
  • Chief Information Security Officer
  • Information Security Consultant
  • IT Security Manager




Bioinformatics

Bioinformatics professionals study, store, and analyze biological information. A multidisciplinary subfield combining computer science and biology, bioinformatics looks for patterns in sequences of genetic material like DNA, genes, RNA, and protein. Bioinformatics workers develop the methods and software applications that accomplish these tasks.

The medical and pharmaceutical, industrial, environmental/government, and information technology fields benefit significantly from bioinformatics computer science technologies. Bioinformatics helps doctors in preventative and precision medicine detect diseases earlier to offer efficient targeted treatment.

PayScale reports that, as of June 2021, bioinformatics scientists earn an average annual salary of $96,230. The BLS projects faster-than-average job growth for bioengineers and biomedical engineers from 2019 to 2029.

Major employers for bioinformatics professionals include the Bureau of Land Management, the Department of Defense, hospitals, and research laboratories. Bioinformatics jobs require at least a bachelor’s degree. Administrative, teaching, and supervisory positions may require a master’s or Ph.D.

Potential Jobs:

  • Bioinformatics Research Scientist
  • Bioinformatics Engineer
  • Biomedical Researcher
  • Bioengineer/Biomedical Engineer
  • Biostatistician
  • Biologist
  • Computational Biologist
  • Agriculturalist
  • Software Programmer
  • Data Scientist




Emerging Trends in IT

In addition to the computer science trends described above, IT professionals should keep an eye on other computing developments. Emerging trends in IT include big data analytics, virtual and augmented reality, 5G, and the internet of things.

Computer science workers can learn about computer science current events and new technologies by joining a professional organization. These groups offer online discussion groups, conferences, and industry journals. Staying current on trends in computer science can help computing professionals remain competitive in job interviews and promotion tracks.

Computer Science Topics to Study

Students can improve their career prospects by studying IT trends like those included on this page. They can pursue concentrations or elective classes in information security, machine learning, and bioinformatics. Some schools even offer entire degrees in artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and robotics for learners seeking a specialized subfield education.

Check out the links below for more about computer science degrees.


Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the latest trend in technology?

    The latest computer science trends include artificial intelligence, edge computing, and quantum computing. IT professionals are also knowledgeable about developments in robotics and cybersecurity.

  • What new technologies in computer science should I learn?

    Study new computer science technologies like artificial intelligence, data analytics, and machine learning. Other emerging areas of technology include virtual and augmented reality, UI/UX design, and quantum computing.

  • Which fields of computer science are in most demand?

    Cybersecurity is one of the most in-demand fields in computer science. The BLS projects 31% job growth for information security analysts from 2019 to 2029.

  • What is the highest-paid job in IT?

    The BLS reports that computer and information systems managers earned a median annual salary of $151,150 as of 2020, making it one of the highest-paid IT jobs.

  • How do I start a career in computer science?

    Launch a computer science career by pursuing a degree that explores the latest technologies. Graduates with an associate degree qualify for entry-level IT jobs, but most computer science careers require at least a bachelor’s in the field.



Feature Image: Westend61 / Getty Images

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