Is computer science hard? Yes, computer science can be hard to learn. The field requires a deep understanding of difficult topics like computer technology, software, and statistical algorithms. However, with enough time and motivation, anyone can succeed in a challenging field like computer science.

Computer science has become an increasingly popular choice for students and many tech enthusiasts may wonder: is computer science hard to learn? Unfortunately, many choose not to pursue the subject because CS has a reputation for being difficult. This prevents people from taking the time to really understand what computer science is. 

This guide will determine if computer science is hard to learn. We will look at some of the core factors that make computer science difficult, different ways to study computer science, and some of the top careers in this field. If you are wondering, “how hard is computer science?”, then continue reading to find out.

Why Is Computer Science So Hard?

A laptop screen in a computer lab displaying lines of code
Why does computer science have a reputation for being so difficult?

Computer science has the reputation of being a difficult major to pursue, but why is computer science so hard? It is likely because computer science involves understanding statistical algorithms and learning programming languages. Although coding isn’t hard to learn on its own, the combination of coding and statistics complicates the process, making computer science hard.

While these fundamentals may seem like a lot to newcomers, the level of computer science difficulty depends on the type of job you want. Some tech roles only require basic knowledge of these CS fundamentals. Alternatively, if you work with AI and machine learning, you will need advanced knowledge of computer science. Continue reading for some reasons why computer science is hard to learn.

There’s A Lot of Math

One of the main reasons why computer science is difficult is the amount of math involved. Learners will need a good understanding of algebra, calculus, discrete mathematics, and statistics. If you struggled with math during high school, you will fall behind quickly and fail to grasp the key fundamentals of computer science.

Learning Programming Is a Key Component

Coding is very important to computer science. Typically, you need a thorough understanding of C and C++, but other languages may include Python and Java. Learning to code is not too difficult, even for those with limited tech backgrounds. But computer science is difficult because you need to learn coding and math.

Computer Science Requires the Study of Tough Subjects

If you want to study computer science, you must be prepared for tough subjects that cover an array of information. Students will participate in hands-on learning, practical learning, and theoretical learning of advanced topics. Furthermore, the level of subjects in computer science courses is quite advanced.

Qualities to Succeed in Computer Science

If you want to know how to succeed in computer science, remember that certain qualities will help ensure you remain relevant in your field. Not only should you have excellent technical skills if you want to succeed, you should also have computer science soft skills, such as communication, problem-solving, leadership, creativity, and critical thinking. 

Furthermore, being passionate and having the drive to learn will get you far in the tech industry. Be ready and excited about facing the challenge, nurture your critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and aim for greater flexibility and resilience. A positive attitude and determination can go a long way.

Ways to Study Computer Science

If you want to know how to study computer science, there are two main ways to go about it, depending on your availability and resources. First is the traditional path of going to college or university and enrolling in a computer science degree program

Second, there is the newer and nontraditional path of attending a coding bootcamp. Students can also pursue computer science certificates or enroll in computer science courses. You can earn an impressive computer science starting salary through any one of these methods. 

Computer Science Degree 

Most colleges now offer bachelor’s degree programs in computer science and an increasing number are offering master’s programs as well. Students who pursue a CS degree spend a considerable amount of their time learning algorithms. Computer science education also teaches various coding languages, such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Ruby, Python, and Perl.

Even with so many available resources, a computer science major is still hard. Student loans and scholarship programs are also available for those who need a little help to pursue their education. Furthermore, the average computer science salary for degree holders is $81,000 per year, according to PayScale.

Computer Science Bootcamp

Bootcamps are fast-paced, short-term, intensive, and specialized programs that focus on various IT subjects. These include computer science, data science, software engineering, and cyber security. At the end of a bootcamp, students often receive a computer science certificate or other relevant certificates as tangible proof of their new skills.

You can attend a computer science bootcamp online or in person. An increasing number of students are choosing bootcamps instead of bachelor’s degrees. Bootcamps specialize in one topic and are aimed at beginners with no computer science background. They are also cheaper than bachelor’s degrees and take less time to complete.

However, completing a computer coding bootcamp is hard and requires dedication. Students must learn a wide variety of computer science topics in a short space of time. This means the learning is intensive and time-consuming, and won’t be suitable for students who wish to retain a full-time job.

Computer Science Certificate

A computer science certificate is ideal for professional learners or students looking to learn a specific area of computer science. It is not too hard to get a certificate in computer science because the programs tend to focus on a few subjects, as opposed to covering a wide variety of topics like a bachelor’s degree.

Computer science certificate programs might not be enough to qualify you for employment, but they are ideal if you want to upskill or career switch. You can get a certificate in computer science from highly-reputable schools. Some of these schools may allow you to transfer credits earned to a bachelor’s program.

Computer Science Course

There are a variety of resources online for learning computer science, no matter your skill level. If you are keen to learn computer science but have limited time, a computer science course can offer the ideal solution. Some of the best online computer sciences courses cover AI, computer networking, machine learning, and computer programming.

If you are looking for a top computer science course, you should consider massive open online courses (MOOCs). One of the best MOOCs for computer science is the Introduction to Computer Science course offered by Harvard and edX.    

Top Computer Science Careers

A video game developer testing a game for bugs
Game developer is one of many possible careers for computer science majors.

While learning computer science can be challenging, it will be well worth your time and money once you have landed your dream job. Depending on your specialization, there are many paths you could take when choosing computer science careers. Here, you’ll find a list of the five best careers in computer science.

Computer Systems Analysts

Computer systems analysts supervise software systems and implement new procedures and solutions. Their goal is to help the company’s information systems run as smoothly and efficiently as possible. 

Systems analysts are specialists in both business and information technology. They work to effectively combine the two so that business and profit are maximized. If you are looking for a high computer science salary, this might be the role for you. On average, computer systems analysts make $99,270 a year and there is a projected nine percent growth in this field.

Game Developers

Game developers design and develop games for different media, including game consoles, mobile devices, and online web browsers. This profession includes writing and debugging code as well as creating engaging visual graphics to represent characters, scenery, objects, storyline, and more. 

Game developers typically work in a team setting and can specialize in specific areas of design. Game developers make an average of $78,790 in the United States. The job growth is average too, at five percent, as video games are hugely popular and advancing every year. 

Mobile Application Developer

With smartphones becoming so popular, mobile application developers have become an essential and widely sought-after profession. Mobile application developers largely work with either Apple or Android systems to create apps and other mobile device information applications. Mobile application developers earn an average salary of $76,523 per year.

Software Engineer

Software engineering is one of the highest-paying and most sought-after computer science careers. Often, software engineers are hired by a corporation where they design and produce software. The goal is to create programs that optimize efficiency for both the user and the company. 

This involves using coding and mathematics to develop products like websites, business applications, databases, operating systems, and more. Software engineers make an average of $109,020 per year. Furthermore, the job growth rate is 25 percent for the next decade which is much faster than other professions.

Data Scientist

Demand for data scientists has progressively risen as the tech industry boomed in the last decade. These tech professionals use advanced algorithms and statistical models to understand and evaluate how to better reach and advertise to consumers. 

Analyzing data has become an essential part of a business’s growth and success and is a growing field as technology advances. This means that data scientists make an average of $131,490 per year. There is also a 21 percent growth in job openings.

Why Computer Science Is Worth the Challenge

So, is computer science hard? Yes, CS can be a challenging career path to pursue. That’s mostly because it involves advanced mathematics and various coding languages that take long hours to master. If this subject is so hard, why study computer science? Computer science can be a very rewarding and profitable career venture.

Is Computer Science Hard to Learn? FAQ

Is learning computer science hard if you have no programming background?

Computer science is hard for someone with no experience. However, most computer science programs cover the basics of programming languages and skills. So, this is not something to worry about. There are also plenty of short-term courses online that teach you the basics of programming.

What level of math is needed to excel in computer science?

To excel in computer science, you’ll need to be proficient in math, particularly discrete math and logic, linear and abstract algebra, and statistics. While there is a lot of math for computer science students to learn, it is important you don’t let this put you off from choosing computer science as a major.

How long does it take to study computer science?

How long it takes to study computer science depends on your educational path. A Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science typically lasts three to four years. Coding bootcamps, on the other hand, are usually three months to a year.

What’s the starting salary for computer scientists?

According to ZipRecruiter, an entry-level computer scientist’s salary is between $31,500 and $52,000 per year. This is a good salary for an entry-level job and computer science professionals can easily earn 6-figure salaries once they gain experience.

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