Com­puter Sci­ence as a Ca­reer

Supermarket checkout systems, navigation devices in motor vehicles, MP3 players, cell phones, Internet video platforms, etc. — all of these products are based on software and information technologies (IT) created and developed by computer scientists. Being a “graduated” computer scientist opens up a wide range of diverse fields for your professional career. Take a closer look here for a few examples of where our graduates are pursuing their professions today.

According to BITKOM’s (Federal Association for Information Technology, Telecommunications and New Media, e.V.) Industry Barometer 2/2008, there is still a deficit of qualified employees in high-tech fields. As BITKOM President, Prof. August Wilhelm Scheer, states, “the demand for information and communication technology […] is still high”. This means that in today’s job market, computer scientists are being sought everywhere and still have ideal opportunities for starting a career!

Even if you do not exactly know what specific area you want to start in, we would like to show you some examples of possible professional fields. Take a closer look to get an idea of what computer scientists are doing in their professions and what awaits you after you finish your studies. For further information, see the websites of the German Society for Computer Science e.V.

To test your ideas and expectations of the course content, requirements and career opportunities in computer science, you find on the webpage of the Student Advice Centre (Zentrale Studienberatung - ZSB) a check for the Bachelor of Computer Science (only in German).

Com­puter Sci­ent­ists on the Job

A large proportion of professional computer scientists are involved in developing software. With software, for example, processes can be optimized and large volumes of data can be processed within a very short time. Software developers often have to create tailor-made software solutions for their customers. The profession ranges from economic software to medical software, to simulation applications. Software is also used in creative artistic fields such as digital games, multimedia applications and web design.

More and more often, software components are replacing mechanical solutions to control technical systems. These software components are elementary parts of many modern technical systems, like in the field of embedded systems. The systems are developed for pre-defined tasks in medical technology, information electronics and automobile technology, to name just a few examples. In the automobile industry, computer scientists help develop systems such as navigation systems, driver assistance systems (e.g. anti-lock brakes, ABS), and communication and test software for on-board vehicle diagnosis.

Nearly all companies have large networked computer systems that facilitate the information exchange between employees and in joint project work. These networks must function round the clock, and they must be set up, operated, upgraded and monitored. Computer scientists are responsible for these tasks, installing computer systems and software, configuring devices and networks, and guaranteeing that the systems run correctly and efficiently.

Computer scientists are majorly involved in designing and introducing new kinds of media. There are career opportunities in the fields of web development, multimedia design, and managing and setting up digital media contents, to name just a few. Computer scientists and computer graphics artists are also responsible for incorporating computer graphics and special effects in the television and film industries. In today’s world where music downloads, online games, virtual worlds and Internet television are becoming more and more popular, computer science specialists with detailed media know-how are in high demand, especially at mobile phone companies, television companies, and telecommunication and IT service providers.

As IT systems continue to become more closely linked with each other, protection against viruses and worms is becoming an increasingly important professional field for computer scientists. Small and mid-sized companies especially need competent advice and support. IT security experts create user-friendly systems that their customers can easily use and understand. In the future, IT security issues such as digital rights management to protect digital media copyright laws and automatic person recognition (biometrics) – for example by using fingerprints – will gain importance.

Computer scientists are not only in high demand in the field of designing and creating software solutions, but also in consultation and support for IT solutions. In today’s business world, so much depends on a functioning IT structure. For example, an IT structure must support development and business processes and enable internal and external communication. IT consultants often work directly on-site to provide customer support, helping customers set up the IT structure that suits their needs. After successful consultation and delivery of the tailor-made IT solution, the next step is to train the customer’s employees how to use the system effectively. In addition to holding workshops, the most important tasks in this field include solving system failures, system maintenance, and further development of the IT solution.

Computer scientists also work as specialists in direct sales, which entails being responsible for selling IT solutions (software and hardware). To sell a product effectively, it is necessary to know it exactly. Computer scientists usually have no problems understanding the relevant facts taught in the required product workshops because they have already acquired the fundamental knowledge of software and hardware during their university studies. As a result, computer scientists who also have excellent communication skills are in high demand in IT solution companies.

Computer scientists not only have opportunities for pursuing a university research career. They are also active as researchers in many different fields of the free market, exploring new possibilities and creating further improvements. For example, in the aerospace industry, computer scientists are pursuing careers in the research and development of simulation software and computer-controlled flight support.

Computer science is becoming more and more important in the markets of the future. Embedded systems, mentioned above, are just one of the many examples of these future markets. Other examples of growing markets in the IT world include the expansion of multimedia types (like online television), Internet and mobile storage mediums. Because all market sectors are increasingly being equipped with IT systems, the IT service sector will also expand in the future. This includes IT security, especially biometrics and digital rights management. Computer scientists are very much involved in the further development and expansion of new technologies in all of these areas.

Besides working in the classic field of software companies, computer scientists are also demanded as specialists in many other branches. The most important branches here include company consultation and service, trade, credit institutes, insurance companies, data processing services, architecture firms and engineering offices, the automotive and motor industries, and also public administration and social services.

The cliché that computer scientists are lonely programmers working in small cubicles does not reflect the reality of today’s business world. In the software branch, computer scientists often work in large development teams, which are sometimes spread out over several locations, and are in close contact with their customers. As a result, it is natural that flexibility, communication skills and team skills (soft skills) are important personal characteristics in this profession. The graph below shows further highly-regarded soft skills required by IT employers (how to read the graph: team skills are specifically requested in 26% of job advertisements).