Natural and Applied Sciences Division

Computer Science

Computers are part of almost everything we do, from GPS systems in the cars we drive to the cell phones and music players we use. Because computers are so much a part of our society, most businesses and other organizations use computers extensively. In fact, the most rewarding careers, both financially and intellectually, need a deep understanding of computers and computing.

Computer Science is the study of computation and its application through the use of computers. Computer science is a fascinating and challenging subject that deals with big questions like, "What is intelligence and can we reproduce it in a machine?" Or, "How do we make sense out of the billions of gigabytes of data on the Internet?" As a computer science student, you will explore these exciting topics and many more.

Computing drives innovation in many areas including business, engineering, entertainment and science. It is the intelligence and creativity of the computer scientist that is responsible for the technological innovations that have so radically transformed every aspect of our society and our lives. Computer software, the instructions that computer scientists give to computers, have provided the necessary tools to unravel the human genome, research AIDS vaccines and monitor the environment (to mention a few). If you want to make a positive difference in the world, study computing.


Computer Science Career Opportunities

Computer scientists and engineers continue to be in great demand. As businesses everywhere use increasingly sophisticated and complex computer technology in their daily operations, there is a greater need for the expertise of highly-skilled professionals. As a result, there are more jobs created in the U.S. than are transferred offshore.

In fact, good jobs -- offering a high salary, interesting work and benefits -- are plentiful in the computer science field. However, to obtain one, you will need to complete a minimum of a Bachelor's degree in the subject area. Most colleges and universities offer degrees in computer science and computer engineering, and Cabrillo College courses transfer to the majority of them.

Once you have completed your degree in computer science, a typical career path is software development. The U.S. Department of Labor lists software developers among the fastest growing occupations in the US [1]. The most recent study projects that software developer jobs will grow by 24.0% nationally in the ten-year period ending in 2026. In comparison, the average job growth rate for all occupations is 7.4% for the same period. In California, jobs for Software Developers, Applications are expected to increase by 40.1 percent, between 2016 and 2026 [2], far exceeding the average rate for all occupations of 10.7%.

Because of the high demand for job candidates with a Computer Science background, careers in computer science related fields are well-remunerated. The average starting salary for a new Computer Science graduate is over $72,000 per year nationally, while the median salary for all Software Developers and Programmers is over $103,000 annually [3]. In comparison, the median salary for all occupations is $50,516 per year. Thus, as a Computer Science graduate, you can expect to make more than twice the salary of most occupations.

  1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Software Developers.
  2. Software Developers, Applications in California.
  3. May 2018 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates #15-1130 (latest available).

Computer Science Degrees and Certificates

Computer science is much more than programming. Programming is merely the process of translating the procedures we want a computer to execute into instructions it can follow. The more crucial aspect of computer science is determining what we want the computer to do in the first place. Thus, while the knowledge of a language like C++ or Java is important, programming is only one of the tools that allow you to achieve great things with computers.

Computer science has many sub-fields including: algorithms and data structures, computer graphics, programming language theory, software engineering, computer architecture, databases, artificial intelligence and human-computer interaction. At Cabrillo, you can get the foundation you need to excel in these areas when you transfer to a four-year college or university. Or if you are more interested in a two-year degree or certificate, we offer those as well. Some of the fields you can explore with us are described below.

Computer Engineering

Computer engineering combines elements of electrical engineering with computer science. Computer engineers develop the circuits and hardware for computer-based systems, including the processors at the heart of all computers. As a student in this discipline you will study the designs of digital hardware and software such as MP3 players, X-ray machines and even robots. (more...)

Game Programming

As part of game development, the game programmer utilizes his or her computer science skills to create computer graphics and animation displays, to play music and sound effects, to develop intelligence for game characters, and to enable intuitive human-computer interaction. The knowledge and training that a game programmer receives are useful in other industries such as simulation (airplane simulators), telepresence (remote surgery or bomb disposal robots), assistive technology (smart prosthesis), and movie animation and special effects. (more...)

Software Developer

The software that tells the computer how to perform its tasks can be very complex to create and some software takes years to develop. To handle this complexity, software engineers define software requirements, develop software systems, tools, and methods as well as constructing the software for computer applications and systems. They draw on knowledge from fields such as computer engineering, computer science, management, mathematics, project management, quality management, and systems engineering. (more...)

Web Programming

When a Web-page designer wants more interactive and dynamic Web pages, he or she learns to use client-side and server-side programming languages. On the server, a developer must often design and program databases. The combination of client-side and server-side programming enables many of the newer Web services like Google Maps, MySpace and YouTube. (more...)