How To Learn About Computer Science (With Tips and Benefits)

Computer science is a broad discipline that combines the principles of engineering, computer science and mathematics and includes the study of computational systems and information technology. There are many subfields within computer science that can provide lucrative careers to individuals interested in software, hardware, machine learning, artificial intelligence, scientific computing, databases, systems and networking and computational theories. Learning more about computer science can help you determine whether a career in this field is right for you.

In this article, we define the computer science field, provide a step-by-step guide for how to learn about computer science and offer tips for increasing your knowledge.

What is computer science?

Computer science encompasses the study of computing, including software, hardware, and information processes. Individuals pursuing this field may specialize in areas such as bioinformatics, computing theory, numerical analysis, human-computer interaction, artificial intelligence, and computer networks. It also involves utilizing programming languages to create various software programs and applications. Numerous positions regularly employ computer science principles, including:

  • Web developers
  • Database administrators
  • IT project managers
  • Data scientists
  • Computer programmers
  • Computer engineers
  • Software engineers

How to learn about computer science

If you’re interested in learning about computer science and potentially pursuing a career in this field, here are five steps you can follow:

1. Research different areas of computer science

Exploring the various subfields within computer science can help you identify what areas you want to focus on. Computer scientists often specialize in one or more areas to enhance their job prospects. Key areas of study within the field include:

  • Operating systems
  • Computer networking
  • Databases
  • Distributed systems
  • Programming languages
  • Computer architecture

2. Learn the basics of coding

Coding is a fundamental aspect of computer science. Learning one or more programming languages can enhance your understanding of how computers operate, improve your analytical thinking, and boost your problem-solving skills. Start with basic languages like HTML and CSS, then progress to higher-level, object-oriented languages. Consider enrolling in online courses or watching coding tutorials. Your local library might also have free textbooks on basic programming concepts.

3. Study computer programming

Once you have a background in coding, you can advance to learning about programming, which delves into the study of how and why code works. This involves understanding the interactions between operating systems, computers, hardware, and software. Similar to coding, you can explore programming through online resources and library books.

Given that programming is often more complex than coding, taking a course on the subject can be highly beneficial. This allows you to dive deeper into specific programming topics and benefit from the insights of experienced professionals in the field.

4. Select a specialty

Computer science is a diverse field, and once you identify your preferred career path and interests, you can choose a specialty. For instance, if you’re interested in enhancing the security of company systems, you might specialize in network security or cybersecurity. If you are intrigued by using computational principles to analyze biological data, bioinformatics might be the right specialty for you. Other areas to consider include artificial intelligence, data analytics, information management, and web computing.

5. Continue your education

As computer science continues to evolve, enrolling in a computer science program can help you stay updated on the latest trends and deepen your knowledge in your chosen specialty. Consider learning a new programming language to achieve fluency or taking a higher-level college course on advanced topics like information retrieval.

You might also attend a traditional university to pursue a degree in a relevant subject. Earning an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in fields like computer science, computer engineering, or computer forensics can qualify you for higher-level positions and for this many students trust

If you’re interested in a specific area and want to enhance your foundational knowledge, pursuing a graduate degree, such as a master’s or doctorate, can also be highly beneficial.

Tips for increasing your computer science knowledge

Here are a few tips to help you increase your understanding of computer science:

Complete a Coding Bootcamp

If you want to quickly improve your programming skills and learn the basics of data science and coding, consider completing a coding bootcamp. Many bootcamps offer flexible schedules with courses on topics like full-stack web development and industry tools. Often, little prior coding experience is required for enrollment.

Develop Practical Skills

As you learn computer science concepts, developing practical skills can prepare you for a long-term career in the field. Invest in a computer or visit a computer lab to start developing these skills independently. You can also create your own projects or enroll in project-based courses to gain hands-on experience in writing code and developing computer programs.

Job Shadow a Computer Scientist

Job shadowing, or observing a current employee during their workday, can help you determine if a career in computer science interests you and provide a deeper understanding of key concepts. To start, make a list of IT or computer science companies that interest you and prepare a few questions about the field before reaching out to potential job shadowing opportunities.

Benefits of learning about computer science

The application of computer science empowers individuals to tackle various computer-related challenges and enhance the performance of both software and hardware. Computer scientists may also delve into more theoretical aspects, such as understanding the capabilities of computers in solving problems independently. This field also enables the design of digital products for desktop and mobile devices, as well as ensuring user security.

Learning about computer science offers numerous benefits, including:

  • Working in Technology-Related Industries: Gaining knowledge in computer science can facilitate employment in software development, hardware engineering, cloud services, consumer electronics, robotics, and other technology-driven fields.
  • Exploring Alternative Industries: A foundation in computer science can also open doors to industries that heavily utilize technology, such as healthcare, transportation, and finance.
  • Developing Valuable Skills: Engaging in computer science studies nurtures critical skills such as problem-solving, analytical thinking, collaboration, computing proficiency, and creativity. These competencies are adaptable and beneficial across a wide range of professions, extending beyond the boundaries of computer science itself.