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How Do You Become a Computer and Information Research Scientist?

The role of computer and information research scientist in the IT industry requires the highest level of knowledge. People who work as research specialists develop the most advanced computer systems in use. They usually work for the federal government, scientific research labs or in universities.

The computer research scientist uses the cutting edge technology to develop and prove new theory and concepts that bring about advances in computing technology. One example of pioneering work done in this top career is that which produced the Internet in the first place. Other examples would be virtual computing and the cloud. Even the technology behind such giants as Google™ would have employed these top computer specialists.

Careers in information technology research would require an advanced college degree in computer science, computer or electronic engineering or computer information systems. That would require at least a master's degree or Ph.D. to gain initial employment. A master's degree usually would take at least one year of study beyond a bachelor's. A doctorate (Ph.D.) would require at least two more years of advanced study beyond the master's.

Knowledge in different fields of specialty may also be required. For example, a computer research scientist working for a company that specializes in genetics would benefit from a background in biology. If the computer research scientist worked for a computer company such as Intel™, for example, an undergraduate degree in electronic engineering might be helpful for obtaining a position and building a career.

The research scientist may also work in highly specialized fields that can make use of his or her specific knowledge. For example, computer scientists may work for NASA (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration) and maintain computer systems that guide spacecraft or satellites. The research scientists might work on theoretical computer models that predict the weather or on the development of an entirely new computer chip. Others may work with robots and computers to enhance manufacturing. Computer and information research scientists can be found working in multiple industries.

A person entering this top computer field would need to have a number of skill sets and personal characteristics. The research scientist must be detail oriented and capable of logical thinking. He or she must also be creative and analytical. The research scientist must have advanced knowledge of math and be able to use it along with strong analytical thinking and problem solving skills. They, like other computer professionals, must be detail oriented and possess excellent communication skills.

The average salary for this top job was $105,298 in 2012. The number of jobs in the field is smaller than that of a database administrator or networking specialist and expected to grow by 19% between now and 2020. A growing specialty field for the research scientist would be in the area of security, bioinformatics or hardware development. An even smaller number of available positions would be available as professors and researchers in the academic environment.

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