Careers in computer science: could a master’s degree lead to a better salary?Posted on: November 24, 2023
by Ben Nancholas
Are you interested in working with computers and technology? Seeking a well-paid role that equips you with the skills to work in just about any industry? Unsure whether a postgraduate computer science qualification is right for you?
We’ll help you to understand what you stand to gain from a master of science qualification, what the salary expectations are for computer science graduates, and what your information technology career could look like further down the line – so you can make up your own mind.
Why study a master’s degree in computer science?
Whether you already have a BSc Computer Science degree and are looking to land more senior roles, or have a different background but want a route into the IT sector, a master’s level qualification could be the ideal route.
Sector growth and job opportunities
Job growth for computer scientists is promising – with a wealth of opportunities opening up in specialist areas such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, network security, and data science. Research from McKinsey highlighted a vast gap between demand and supply of individuals with in-demand computer technology skills: job postings grew 15% between 2021 and 2022.
If you’re seeking higher-paid opportunities, having a master’s qualification can help you to progress up the pay scale. Government statistics indicate that master’s graduates continue to outearn those with bachelor’s degrees — and, on average, computer science graduates earn more than graduates from many other disciplines.
Knowledge and skill development
Master’s level study will deepen your individual subject knowledge and present you with the opportunity to specialise in a particular area of interest. For example, you may wish to pursue game design, data visualisation, machine learning or cybersecurity.
Stand out from other job applicants and make yourself a more competitive candidate for potential employers. Not all positions will require a postgraduate qualification, but – as well as indicating a greater depth of experience – they can help to demonstrate your commitment to advancing your abilities and knowledge.
A master’s degree can help you progress into more advanced senior level roles. In terms of choosing the right master’s degree for you, there are plenty of options to suit your individual needs and requirements. For example, you can opt for full-time or part-time study, in-person or online learning, and courses that offer broad-based understanding of computer science or focus on more specialist areas.
What is the average starting salary for a computer scientist in the United Kingdom?
It’s good news for computer science graduates – and, specifically, postgraduates.
In terms of rankings, the Institute of Student Employers (ISE) lists the digital and IT sector as having some of the highest average graduate salaries. Linked to this, HESA’s Graduate Outcomes 2020/21 survey reported that computing graduates saw one of the largest differences between high-skilled and low-skilled median salaries, of around £10,000.
The main factors that affect a computer scientist’s base salary are industry experience, technical training and proficiency, specific job title and responsibilities, and location. According to job and recruitment specialists, Indeed, the average salary for a computer scientist based in the UK is £53,676. Data from Target Jobs indicates that an entry level computer science salary averages around £30,000; as a skilled computer scientist with some years of experience behind you, salaries can reach £75,000 and above, with some individuals earning six-figure salaries.
What are the possible career paths with a computer science master’s?
One of the best aspects of studying for a postgraduate computing qualification is that computer science jobs exist in just about every industry – giving you a wealth of employment options. As an example, sectors and businesses that are heavily reliant on computer science grads include healthcare (NHS), financial services (Deloitte), energy (General Electric), manufacturing (Airbus UK), retail (Amazon), and information technology (Microsoft).
The increasingly tech-reliant nature of business means that individuals with specialist skills and expertise in computer science have a wide variety of career possibilities open to them. You aren’t limited to working as a computer scientist.
Related graduate jobs – that share common skill sets but may require specialisation – can include:
- solutions architect
- cloud engineer
- IT project manager
- software developer
- business intelligence analyst
- data analyst
- cyber and information security specialist
- machine learning engineer
- web designer
- systems analyst
- web developer.
Prospects provides a useful tool where you can search for starting salaries, average salaries, and future salaries by job title and job sector.
What skills are employers looking for from computer science graduates?
The specific skills required by employers will be dictated by their overarching business aims, technological needs, and the job roles and skills required to meet these. The roles themselves can vary widely; where some will require a data engineer or business intelligence analyst, others may be looking for a data architect or machine learning specialist.
The technical data science skills required may include:
- programming skills and programming languages – for example, Java, Python, R, MatLab, SQL
- data visualisation for analytics
- statistical data analytics and databases – for example, using SAS
- design and programming
- front-end and back-end development
- web design and UX design
- systems analysis
- user interaction design
- processing large data sets and data management – for example, using Hadoop or Spark
- software engineering
- games and app development
- web technologies and cybersecurity
- machine learning, deep learning and artificial intelligence.
Depending on your career aspirations, make sure you do sufficient research and choose a master’s level programme that will equip you with the skills and knowledge you need to succeed.
Ready to boost your employability and career progression with a master’s in computer science?
Join the next generation of computer scientists with the University of Sunderland’s online MSc Computer Science programme.
Gain the skills to help you land a lucrative career in an exciting, high-growth sector, on a highly flexible course that takes place entirely online and fits around your lifestyle. You’ll explore the breadth of the computer science and information systems discipline, including cybersecurity, networking, data science, computer architecture, web design and development, artificial intelligence, software engineering, programming and more. Your in-demand skills, expertise and knowledge will equip you to develop solutions to real-world problems facing organisations across all industries.