Is Computer Science Oversaturated?

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This is whether computer science is oversaturated.

The number of computer science graduates has been steadily increasing.

If you want to find out whether supply is greater than demand in computer science, then this article is for you.

Let’s dive right in!

Whether Computer Science Is Oversaturated

Over the last 40 years, the number of computer science graduates has been steadily increasing. But the number of jobs is growing even faster as computer science develops and has a lot of different fields. 

Today, computer science is needed everywhere—in business, public sector, and private life. From the newest cloud computing applications for human resources to government agencies that electronically process data to your mobile phone.

So if you want to be a computer scientist, this is a good move in general. However, since computer science is so diverse, you will need to pick one field to develop. 

The most promising areas are:

  • Artificial intelligence
  • Cloud computing
  • Data science
  • Databases
  • DevOps
  • Information security

Still, all developers have relevance, including web developers and mobile app developers.

Overall, computer science’s labour market is not oversaturated; experts are in demand and salaries are high.

More and more companies let their employees work from home. It’s likely that this trend will continue. 

Remote work has a lot of advantages like no need to maintain the office and employees don’t waste time on the way to work. All of that makes the need for experts in cloud technologies and remote work technologies even greater. 

Besides, the trend towards remote work creates an opportunity for professionals in developing countries to get higher-paying jobs without moving. This trend also has a downside for those who now live in countries with high wages. 

The competition is getting fiercer.

It is possible that some of these specialties will lose demand, but if you possess a strong domain and fundamental knowledge, you should be able to retrain and find a job.

Computer Science in a Nutshell

So what exactly is computer science? 

According to Wikipedia, computer science is the study of:

  • Algorithmic processes
  • Computational machines
  • Computation itself

Maybe it doesn’t sound exciting at first. But computer science is much broader than the definition suggests. 

You just need to dig a little deeper. Computer science includes areas such as:

  • Artificial intelligence
  • Bioinformatics
  • Cloud and distributed computing
  • Computer architecture and organization
  • Computer graphics and visualization
  • Computer networks
  • Computer vision
  • Cryptography
  • Game development
  • Image and sound processing
  • Information security
  • Machine learning
  • Medical informatics
  • Robotics
  • Software development
  • Virtual reality
  • Lots more

If you want or already have a degree in computer science, you might be worried about your job prospects.

Is the computer science job market oversaturated?

Is it true that there are already too many people in this field, and a computer science degree doesn’t make sense?

Demand for Computer Science

The entire history of computer science fits in the life of a single person:

Queen Elizabeth II was born before there was a single computer in the world.

The first general-purpose electronic computer appeared only in 1946. It was the ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer). 

ENIAC’s weight was 30 tons, it consumed 174 kW of electricity, and the CPU frequency was just 100 kHz.

Below is a table that compares the ENIAC, which took up an entire room, to the modern phone you carry in your pocket every day:

ENIACiPhone 12
30 tons226 grams
Occupies an entire roomFits in a pocket
Consumes 174 kW of energyConsumes 600 mW in video mode (2775 mAh / 17 h * 3.7 V)
More than a million punched cards were needed to solve the problemTo watch 4k video, you just need to press your finger on the screen.

A development of computer science so rapid could only lead to educational reform: computer science degrees.

Below is a chart of graduates with bachelor’s degrees from US colleges and universities including computer science:

The graph shows that the number of computer science graduates was vanishingly small at the beginning. And since then, there have been more and more computer science experts and engineers.

It’s not an explosive growth that may lead to oversaturation, but it’s a steady growth in demand for computer science specialists.

This growth is also related to the expansion of computer science. 

At the beginning, there was a demand for specialists to design, maintain, and work on huge computers like the ENIAC. There weren’t too many of those, so there wasn’t a huge demand for computer science.

Now, computer science is everywhere. 

Almost, no modern business can function without information technology. 

For example, even single people who sell handcrafts on Etsy. Or especially those: without Etsy, no customers. And Etsy itself is computer science in its purest form.

Etsy needs computer scientists to develop and maintain its site, to provide its infrastructure and hosting, and analyze their data.

How to Get the Most Out of a Computer Science Degree?

Generalists make up the minority in Computer Science. 

After you finish your degree, you will probably specialize in a specific area of computer science such as:

  • Cloud computing
  • Data analysis
  • Development
  • Network infrastructure
  • Support

Let’s look at the most promising computer science careers in 2021:

According to Career Karma, below is the median pay and projected growth rate of different tech jobs:

Tech JobMedian PayProjected Growth Rate
Artificial Intelligence Engineer$ 146,085344%
Data Scientist$ 100,56015%
Information Security Analyst$ 99,37031%
Software Engineer$ 107,51022%
Computer Research Scientist$ 122,84015%
Data Analyst$ 118,37016%
IT Manager$ 146,36010%
Database Administrator$ 93,75010%
Web Developer$ 73,7608%
Computer Hardware Engineer$ 117,2202%
Computer Systems Analyst$ 90,9207%
DevOps Engineer$ 111,31121%
Computer Network Architect$ 112,6905%
Java Developer$ 103,46419%
Tech Sales Engineer$ 103,9006%
PHP Developer$ 86,61613%
Python Developer$ 85,571
Network and Computer Systems Administrator$ 83,5104%
Mobile Application Developer$ 73,034
Web Designer (UX / UI)$ 64,030

The most demanded and highest paid jobs are related to: 

  • Data science
  • Security
  • Software development

All data-processing and data-gathering jobs are growing, and more of them are expected in the future. 

Overall, artificial intelligence engineer jobs increased 344% from 2015 to 2018. 

These positions require excellent math, stats, and programming skills. It’s a good deal of knowledge. But you can make nearly as much in less knowledge-intensive positions like as a database administrator, web developer, DevOps engineer.

The development of neural networks requires more experts in information security; a critical area in this field is the fight against deep fakes. 

Once one of the areas becomes more comprehensive, a single person may not be able to cover the entire volume of knowledge and skills sooner or later. Then it is divided into several smaller areas. 

Instead of one profession, a dozen new ones show up. That happened with computer science, and that happened with data science. 

Now data science comprises several subcategories like:  

  • Data analyst
  • Data engineer
  • MLOps (Machine Learning Ops) engineer
  • AI engineer
  • Data architect
  • Statistician

It’s best to pick a narrow field in computer science and develop in it. 

So first you need to have a basic understanding of computer science, and then you should already know what you like and develop in that direction.

The time of narrow specialists is now, and they’re really needed. There is still a need for broad-based specialists who can see the picture completely, but not nearly as much as narrow specialists at various levels and directions.

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