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

Example 1


  • 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 2


  • 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 3

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

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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