Despite bleak economic times, outlook for computer science majors looks bright

Theresa Scott and Theresa Scott

John Taylor wants to write computer code. The sophomore computer science major said he knew what he wanted to major in before he enrolled at the University.’ ‘I took my first computer science class in high school and I just fell in love with it,’ Taylor said. Taylor is among a growing group of students enrolling in computer science programs across the country, sparking a revival in the major that was previously considered a risky career path due to reports of overseas outsourcing. For the first time in six years, the number of computer science majors is on the rise, according to a Taulbee Survey conducted by the Computing Research Association. Aditionally, the major is up 6.2 percent from 2007 nationally and up 3 percent at BGSU. Computer Science Department Chair Walter Maner said he has noticed the increase and believes it’s time people began to see the positives of enrolling in computer science programs. ‘There is this perception that all computer science majors do is sit in a dark room alone and program stuff,’ Maner said. ‘That is not true at all anymore.’ Maner said the worry about the outsourcing of computer and IT jobs has been overstated and the number of IT jobs in the United States is greater than at the height of the dot-com boom in the 1990s.’ ‘People are starting to realize that the idea of outsourcing and jobs going offshore was largely a myth,’ Maner said. ‘There is a lot of room to make money as a computer science major and a lot of paths to take. Jobs here are actually increasing.’ According to a National Science Foundation poll, the projected job openings in computer-science related fields is at 140,000 jobs, which is almost three times more than openings for engineering jobs. The opportunity to make money is certainly a large draw for many students, Maner said. The average salary for a recent computer science graduate is $50,820, according to an analysis issued by the National Association of Colleges and Employers. Even among bleak economic times, the potential to earn is massive, Maner added. ‘Jobs are plentiful in computer science right now,’ Maner said. ‘As of right now, I don’t know one graduate who did not get a job in the field.’ The demand for computer science majors makes Taylor confident that he will find a job. ‘There are just a bazillion ways you can go with a computer science major, so I am pretty excited about it,’ Taylor said. The increase in knowledge-based jobs is not projected to decline anytime soon. The amount of network systems jobs are projected to increase by 53 percent by 2016, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics poll. ‘This is the best moment for computer science I have seen in my life,’ Maner said. ‘That means something, because I am an old guy.’ BY THE NUMBERS 140,000 – number of computer science job openings $50,820 – average salary for computer science grads 3 – increased percent of computer science majors compared to 2007