AI and Computer Scientist

Computer scientist designed circuit board showing electronic glow in yellow against a dark blue background
Career Clusters: STEM

What you need to know

Overview

Computer and information research scientists, including artificial intelligence specialists, invent and design new approaches to computing technology and find innovative uses for existing technology. They study and solve complex problems in computing for business, medicine, science, and other fields.

Creating and improving software involves working with algorithms, which are sets of instructions that tell a computer what to do. These scientists try to simplify these algorithms to make computer systems as efficient as possible.

Some specialties in this career are robotics, machine learning, data science, and programming.

What is this career like?

Most computer and information research scientists work full time. Some work more than 40 hours per week.

Some of the things a computer or information research scientist might do:

  • Explore fundamental issues in computing and develop theories and models to address those issues
  • Help scientists and engineers solve complex computing problems
  • Invent new computing languages, tools, and methods to improve the way in which people work with computers
  • Develop and improve the software systems that form the basis of the modern computing experience
  • Design experiments to test the operation of these software systems
  • Analyze the results of their experiments
  • Publish their findings in academic journals and present their findings at conferences
What skills are needed?
  • Analytical skills: Computer and information research scientists must be organized in their thinking and analyze the results of their research to formulate conclusions.
  • Communication skills: Computer and information research scientists must communicate well with programmers and managers and be able to clearly explain their conclusions to people with no technical background. They often present their research at conferences.
  • Critical-thinking skills: Computer and information research scientists work on many complex problems.
  • Detail oriented: Computer and information research scientists must pay close attention to their work because a small programming error can cause an entire project to fail.
  • Ingenuity: Computer and information research scientists must continually come up with innovative ways to solve problems, particularly when their ideas do not initially work as intended.
  • Logical thinking: Computer algorithms rely on logic. Computer and information research scientists must have a talent for reasoning.
  • Math skills: Computer and information research scientists must have knowledge of advanced math and other technical topics that are critical in computing.
What is the pay?

The average pay for computer and information research scientists, including artificial intelligence specialists, in the United States ranges from $69,990 to $189,780 as of May 2019.

The specific pay depends on factors such as level of experience, education and training, geographic location, and specific industry.

What is the career outlook?

Employment of computer and information research scientists, including artificial intelligence specialists, is projected to grow 16 percent from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations.

The research and development work of computer and information research scientists turns ideas into industry-leading technology. As demand for new and better technology grows, demand for computer scientists will grow as well.

What education is required?

Most computer and information research scientists, including artificial intelligence specialists, need a master’s degree in computer science or a related field, such as computer engineering, artificial intelligence, or robotics. A master’s degree usually requires 2 to 3 years of study after earning a bachelor’s degree in a computer-related field, such as computer science or information systems.

Discover some of the courses you will take pursuing a degree in Computer Science or Information Systems.