Computer Scientist Job Descriptions, Average Salary, Interview Questions

What Does a Computer Scientist Do?

Computer scientists work to design, develop, and program software for use in a wide variety of applications and tools. The field is diverse and includes theoretical investigations, database theory, and software engineering. Computer scientists are proficient in numerical analysis, computational complexity theory, computer graphics, and multiple programming languages. They work with many different computer tools to find ways to innovate existing technologies and develop new and better ones. Computer scientists often work for universities, software engineering firms, research companies, or independently as IT consultants and freelancers.

Computer scientists must have excellent problem-solving and technical skills. They are analytically inclined and have a solid understanding of the scientific method. An aptitude for math and logical thinking is essential to this role. They must also be critical thinkers and have solid communication skills to be able to translate their work to a broader audience.

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National Average Salary

Computer scientist salaries vary by experience, industry, organization size, and geography. To explore salary ranges by local market, please visit our sister site

The average U.S. salary for a Computer Scientist is:


Computer Scientist Job Descriptions

It’s important to include the right content in your job description when hiring a computer scientist. The following examples can serve as templates for attracting the best available talent for your team.

Example 1

Does solving unique problems energize you? Do you like to create distinctive solutions? [Your Company Name] is hiring an experienced computer scientist to join our team! You must be able to multi-task and take a project from inception to completion with minimal supervision. As an ideal candidate, you have proven experience developing new computing languages, testing new systems and designs, and developing models and theories to address computing issues and increase the efficiency of computer software and hardware.

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Develop theories and tools to solve challenges and issues in computing
  • Create new computing languages, algorithms, and tools to make digital technology systems more efficient
  • Create and run experiments to test operations of new solutions and analyze and report on the results
  • Apply and adapt theoretical principles to develop new computer software and/or hardware solutions
  • Consult with end-users, managers, and vendors to determine computing goals and system requirements
  • Document and publish significant findings in computer science
  • Use a variety of programming languages, such as Java, C++, and Python

Education and experience

  • Bachelor’s degree in computer science or related field
  • 2+ years experience as a computer scientist or in a relevant role

Required skills and qualifications

  • Fluent in programming languages such as SQL, HTML, JavaScript, etc. 
  • Excellent analytical skills
  • Experience in software development, deployment, and testing
  • Thorough understanding of computer systems and how they work
  • Creative and analytical
  • Familiarity with web-based application development
  • Outstanding communication skills, written and verbal
  • Strong attention to detail 

Preferred qualifications

  • Certifications in programming languages and other various tech skills
  • Experience in software design, documentation, testing, and troubleshooting
  • Advanced math skills, including linear algebra, calculus, statistics, and discrete mathematics

Example 2


  • Function as investigative lead for a team of analysts while identifying active threats to the customer environment
  • As required, brief senior leadership daily on emerging threats, high profile incidents, and upcoming events
  • Possess experience leading cyber, technical, or analytical teams
  • Conduct cyber intelligence link analysis utilizing open-source and classified research on emerging/trending threats and vulnerabilities
  • Collaborate between CIRT elements as necessary during incident detection and response stages
  • Respond promptly to all request for support whether telephonic, via e-mail or instant messenger
  • Create releasable finished intelligence products and reports for the incoming shift as well as government leadership
  • Maintain incident case management database for all reported incidents
  • Analyze incidents and events captured in the Case Management Database for trends, patterns, or actionable information

Basic qualifications

  • A minimum of five (5) years of progressively responsible experience in Cyber Security, InfoSec, Security Engineering, Network Engineering with emphasis in cyber security issues and operations, computer incident response, systems architecture, data management
  • Familiarity with the following classes of enterprise cyber defense technologies: Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) systems; Network Intrusion Detection System/Intrusion Prevention Systems (IDS/IPS); Host Intrusion Detection System/Intrusion Prevention Systems (IDS/IPS) Network and Host malware detection and prevention; Network and Host forensic applications; Web/Email gateway security technologies; DOD 8570 IAT Level II
  • Excellent interpersonal, organizational, writing, communications, and briefing skills
  • Strong analytical and problem-solving skills

Preferred qualifications

  • A bachelor’s degree or additional years of related experience
  • Excellent interpersonal, organizational, writing, communications, and briefing skills
  • Strong analytical and problem-solving skills

Example 3


  • Possesses comprehensive knowledge of the theoretical foundations of computer science, including computer system architecture and system software organization, the representation and transformation of information structures, and the theoretical model for such representations and transformations
  • Support the IPT by providing information on the design characteristics, limitations, and potential applications of systems having the ability to transform information, and of broad areas of applications of computing which have common and differing structures, processes and techniques, and recommendations on the way forward
  • Analyze and review technical documents for compliance with objectives and thresholds, articulate findings and remedies or alternatives


  • Must possess an active and transferable DoD security clearance with current investigation at the required level. Must be able to maintain the required clearance
  • Bachelors Degree in Computer Science from an ABET accredited computer science program
  • 10 years of experience in the respective technical/professional discipline being performed, 3 of which must be in the DoD environment
  • OR, 15 years of directly related experience with proper certifications as described in the Functionally Aligned Job Descriptions, 5 of which must be in the DoD environment
  • Has the knowledge, experience, and demonstrated ability to perform relevant tasks
  • Must be able to work independently and apply the proper procedures and process related to this area of expertise.
  • Shall also have the ability to problem solve and troubleshoot various situations to develop successful outcomes within established program/project guidelines
  • Ability to effectively and professionally interface with all Program Office and Support Staff

Example 4

Essential duties and responsibilities

  • Have knowledge of TCP/IP, information security/authorization profiles, or security administration of Unix or Windows network/systems
  • Have knowledge of Government security policies and familiarity with security-related technologies and auditing tools
  • Be capable of providing security engineering analysis on a variety of information systems
  • Be capable of developing security accreditation/certification documentation and creating and maintaining security policy and procedures
  • Be capable of performing security certification engineering analysis, vulnerability assessments, and risk assessments
  • Be capable of designing and configuring security tools
  • Be capable of developing test procedures, establishing test environments, executing security certification test/demonstrations/evaluations, documenting results, and developing reports, conclusions, and recommendations
  • Be capable of conceptualizing and implementing security systems and architectures


  • Two years of substantial experience working in the field of information security

Education and certifications

  • Current IAT Level II certification Security+ or equivalent
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science, Electronics Engineering or other Engineering or Technical discipline OR In Lieu of a degree, the applicant must

Candidate Certifications to Look For

  • AWS Certified Solutions Architect: Professional. This credential, offered by AWS, demonstrates a candidate’s skills in implementing cloud initiatives and validates their ability to design, deploy, and evaluate applications on AWS within diverse, complex requirements. AWS recommends that candidates have two or more years of hands-on experience designing and deploying cloud architecture on AWS, knowledge of a scripting language, and familiarity with Windows and Linux environments. To earn certification, they must pass the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional exam.
  • Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP). The CCSP credential recognizes a candidate’s advanced technical skills and knowledge to design, manage, and secure data, applications, and infrastructure in the cloud using best practices, policies, and procedures established by the cybersecurity experts at (ISC)². The CCSP exam evaluates their knowledge and expertise across six security domains, including cloud concepts, architecture and design, cloud data security, and cloud application security. 
  • Certified Software Development Professional (CSDP). The CSDP exam, administered by the IEEE Computer Society (CS), is an advanced certification for experienced software engineers. The CS recommends that candidates have at least two years of related professional experience or a computer science education. Prerequisites for the CSDP are CS certifications in software requirements, software design, software construction, and software testing. The CSDP proves a candidate’s proficiency in standard software development practices. Certification is valid for three years.

Sample Interview Questions

  • What is your experience with algorithms and data structures?
  • In the past, how have you solved complex software problems?
  • Are you familiar with software design patterns and when to use them?
  • What do you do to stay on top of industry trends and technologies?
  • Did you ever work on a project that required parallel or distributed processing?
  • In a large codebase, how would you approach debugging a production issue?
  • Do you have any experience with databases? If so, what systems have you used?
  • Can you describe a time when you had to optimize the performance of a particularly slow section of code?
  • Would you be able to tell me about a machine learning or artificial intelligence project you worked on?
  • How do you approach testing and quality assurance for the software you develop?

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