Psychology & Computer Science Combined: Careers?

Here are careers that combine psychology and computer science:

There are actually a lot of careers that combine both fields of expertise.

In research spaces, professionals look at cognitive science, bioinformatics, human-computer interaction, and artificial intelligence.

Outside of research, both disciplines work on software development and the user experience.

So if you want to learn all about careers that combine both psychology and computer science, then this article is for you.

Let’s get started!

Psychology & Computer Science Combined: Careers? (Many)

Can You Be a Computer Scientist and a Psychologist?

Yes.

There are all kinds of double majors in college, and if you get a degree in both computer science and psychology, you can seek out work that uses both of them.

That said, this is a bit of an uncommon mashup.

More importantly, it’s not required for work in any of the career fields I’m going to list.

In most cases, you can work in these areas as a computer scientist or a psychologist.

But, if you happen to have both degrees, these fields will probably appeal to you the most.

What Careers Use Both Computer Science and Psychology Areas of Expertise? (2 Categories)

I have a lot of potential careers here for you, so I’m going to break them apart and talk about each of the major fields individually.

Even before that, the two categories need a little explaining.

You have probably heard of the concept of research and development before.

They tend to go hand in hand.

For the most part, jobs that use psychology and computer science live in the research and development space.

But, to keep things easy to follow, I’m actually going to separate these concepts.

I’ll talk about research fields that combine psychology and computer science.

In a separate group, I’ll talk about development careers.

Those will be fields that get outside of formal research and into the development of goods and products.

#1 Research

Even though these careers are all about research, that doesn’t mean that they exist exclusively in academia.

Sure, you can study any of these professionally at a college or university.

You will also find government research on these topics alongside private-sector research.

The point is that we’re looking at areas of research more than specific products or services you might professionally build or develop.

Cognitive Science

Let’s get into this. 

Cognitive science is the study of how thinking works.

It gets into very base-level ideas of thinking, recognition, and understanding, and it’s a research area where psychology and computer science combine very well.

On the one hand, you have psychologists trying to understand the brain and the mind and how they work on a fundamental level.

On the other, you have computer scientists trying to develop an idea of artificial cognition.

They’re exploring the idea of how a computer understands and processes information and how that relates to cognition.

The truth is that both areas of research constantly borrow from each other, and the two sides of this coin have pushed cognitive science pretty far in the past few decades.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) is definitely an area with a lot of development, but for now, we’re focusing on the research behind it.

This is really a narrower branch of cognitive science.

When researching artificial intelligence, scientists have a few important questions to answer.

What actually qualifies as an artificial intelligence?

It would take insights from both psychologists and computer scientists to satisfactorily answer the question.

Other ideas explored in this research include how artificial intelligence can mirror human intelligence.

And, if it can, what can that tell us about human cognition?

Bioinformatics

Bioinformatics is a field where biology and computer science perfectly intersect.

Essentially, it’s the study of how computer systems impact biological research.

That might seem a little weird, so let me give an example. 

The human genome project used computers to map the entire genome of the human species.

It involved tons of researchers going through tons of data, and computers were involved throughout.

A bioinformatics researcher would look at two possibilities with this example.

What tools can be developed to promote the research?

How are existing tools used in this research?

When it comes to psychology, bioinformatics is everywhere.

Psychologists constantly use computer tools to push their research, analyze data, and more.

All of this ties into bioinformatics.

Human-Computer Interaction

Lastly, psychologists and computer scientists often combine forces to understand how computers and humans can interact with each other.

At the very beginning, this research produced the mouse and keyboard as we know them today.

Advances in this research led to voice controls, eye-tracking software, and even neurological interfaces.

At a research level, scientists consider both directions of human-computer interaction.

How can humans give information to computers?

And, how can computers relay things to humans?

You can see why psychologists and computer scientists work together here.

You’re trying to seamlessly combine ideas of human and computer behavior.

It’s hard to imagine a research field that more perfectly encapsulates both disciplines.

#2 Development

We’ve covered the main areas of professional research that clearly combine computer science and psychology.

Now, we can look at what comes out of that research.

These careers still combine both disciplines, but now we’re looking at things that are much closer to markets.

This isn’t research for the sake of research anymore.

These are so-called industry jobs.

Language-Based AI

Technically speaking, there are a lot of different AI careers, and any of them can combine psychology and computer science.

As you’ll see with other careers, there’s actually a natural, frequent crossover between the disciplines.

But, language-based AI is a perfect example, so I’m going with it.

Language-based AI is the development of computer systems that aim to understand human language.

So, a voice recognition platform would fit this mold, and you would want psychologists and computer scientists working on the problem.

Psychologists help to identify and define language patterns in humans.

Meanwhile, computer scientists make the computer systems that utilize those definitions and patterns.

What you might not realize is that the most prolific AI in the world is language-based, and you probably use it every day.

I’m talking about Google.

The search engine ultimately tries to understand the language that you type into a search in order to feed you results.

To get those results, it also has to understand the language present in the websites that it ultimately lists for you.

You had better believe that Google employs both psychologists and computer scientists to develop and advance this artificial intelligence.

User Experience

If you took that last link, then you saw some job postings under this heading too.

User experience is important to pretty much every tech company.

It’s a big topic, and it can make or break hardware and software sales.

As the name implies, user experience experts are trying to understand how users feel about technology when they use it.

That’s a broad description, and it involves a lot more than the survey you ignore every time you install a new app on your phone.

User experience experts try to anticipate user reactions before a computer tool even goes to market.

So, they use psychology research and tools in order to broadly define a user experience based on the design of the tool.

From there, they can get more specific, and if they’re successful, they can root out negative user experience aspects of a tool before it ever sells.

Meanwhile, computer scientists are using all of this information and feedback to modify the tools.

Psychologists and computer scientists have little choice but to lean on each other, rather heavily, in the user experience space.

Tech Support

You need a psychologist for tech support?

Well, if you’ve had a bad experience, that might feel relatable.

But, that’s not really what I’m talking about.

Help desk level tech support usually doesn’t involve psychologists or computer scientists.

Instead, I’m referring to the development of tech support platforms.

If you call AppleCare, you won’t talk to an expert in either of these fields, but the design of that interaction is influenced by both.

Naturally, computer scientists are going to build the communication infrastructure that allows you to get help from tech support in the first place.

And, psychologists are going to provide feedback on the user experience.

Even beyond that, psychologists will help analyze communication tools for basic efficacy.

If you’re using live chat to get help with a computer problem, a psychologist had input to discern whether or not the chat was readable or useful in basic ways.

Add in the fact that a lot of companies now use AI to direct calls or even try to answer chat support, and you see that psychology and computer science are deeply intertwined when it comes to building tech support infrastructure.

Psychology-Related Software

This last section is really the application of bioinformatics.

That might be a bit of a generalization, but the idea is pretty simple.

Psychologists need computer tools for their work.

Sure, computer scientists will build the tools, but they have little chance of success if they don’t partner with psychologists along the way.

So, the two fields are combined for software development.

In fact, this happens for software that isn’t designed specifically for psychologists.

All software has psychological components, and even beyond basic user experience analysis, psychologists can help with software development by providing insights on communication and how humans think about things in a general sense.