How to Become a Computer and Information Research Scientist

Are you amazingly brilliant with computer technology? Do most computer jobs leave you bored? Have you considered a career in computer and information science research? Read on to learn more!

Job Overview

Find Related CareersSOURCE: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Computer and information research scientists push back the limits of computer science by planing and developing new technologies and pursuing undeveloped uses for existing technology. They help solve complicated computing issues for engineers and mathematicians. By using new code languages, tools and means for people to interact with computers. After developing and designing new software packages, they plan experiments to examine the efficiency or effectiveness of the program, study the results and publish papers on their discoveries.

Requirements and Qualifications

Most computer and information research scientists work full time, with independent researchers having more flexible schedules. Some qualities you may find helpful to develop for a career in computer and information research science include advanced mathematical skills, ingenuity, being detail-oriented, logical and critical thinking skills, analytical and communication skills.

Typical Education

A Ph. D. in computer science or a similar field is required for most computer and information research scientists, requiring four to five years’ of additional studies and research beyond a bachelor’s degree. If you would like to specialize in a particular branch of computer science, additional knowledge or education may be required. Some positions in the federal government may only require a bachelor’s degree, but competition for these positions are very high.

Steps to Become a Computer and Information Research Scientist

While working on your educational program, you will choose a specialty and conduct research within that sector. As this will pertain to the type of research you will do down the road, you will want to choose something that interests you or that you enjoy working on. If you are able to get a graduate assistantship in the department you are working in, this will contribute both valuable knowledge as well as experience and references you may use on your resume once you leaves school.

Similar Jobs

Does a Ph. D. sound like a little too much time in school? Not quite what you want to do as a career? That’s okay, here are some more related careers that you might be interested in!

  • Great at planning and managing a variety of projects? Computer and information systems managers plan and direct the use, improvement and replacement of an organization’s computer assets.
  • What does it take to make it break? Computer hardware engineers conceptualize, design, build and examine the performance of computer boards, chips and other hardware.
  • Do you have great foreign language skills? Computer programmers have knowledge of a variety of computer languages to build software programs.
  • Are you good with handling information? Database administrators maintain, store, secure and call up data stored in a computer system.
  • Have an urge to share your knowledge? Postsecondary teachers teach college courses, conduct research and write research papers on a large variety of topics.
  • Good at solving problems and creating systems? Software developers plan and design software programs that run computers or help users complete tasks.


As of May 2010, the average annual pay for a computer and information research scientist was $100,660. Individuals who have taken this career path typically work full time. There is some flexibility of schedule for independent researchers.

Job Outlook

It is expected that computer and information research scientists will see a somewhat higher than average increase in opportunities at 19% over the next decade, compared to 14% for all occupations. Much of this growth will come from research into computer security, mobile technology and cloud computing. Computer and information science researchers will have excellent prospects, as very few individuals pursue a Ph. D. in computer science.