Programming Skills Needed as a Computer Scientist

Programming Skills Needed as a Computer Scientist
Programming Skills Needed as a Computer Scientist

Computer science skills are in high demand, especially programming skills. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment in computer and information technology occupations is projected to add 667,600 new jobs and grow 13 percent from 2020 to 2030 (much faster than the national average). Additionally, BLS reports that Computer and Information Research Scientists with a Master’s degree earn approximately $126,830 per year.

Many professionals enroll in a Master of Computer Science program to expand their knowledge, skills, and career opportunities. A Master's in Computer Science often incorporates core competencies in artificial intelligence, data mining, learning sciences, game development, mobile computing, and security. 

Learn more about the most commonly used programming languages in today’s job market, fundamental programming skills used by Computer Scientists, and how you can take the next step to learn these skills and become a Computer Scientist. 

The Most Common Programming Languages Used in 2022

New technologies continue to usher in new programming languages and require refined programming skills. For example, the advancement of open-source software (OSS) gives rise to new languages. 

Over the years, developers have learned to use various programming languages. For example, in 1969, the language “B” was popular amongst developers (the forerunner to the present-day language “C”). In the 1990s, the rapid growth of the Internet led to radically new platforms and languages, like JavaScript and Ruby. Programming languages vary based on the industry or organization; however, there are ten programming languages most commonly used by computer scientists today:

  1. Python 
  2. Java
  3. JavaScript
  4. R
  5. C
  6. C#
  7. Kotlin
  8. PHP
  9. Go
  10. Swift

Top Programming Skills for Computer Scientists

In addition to being familiar with today’s top programming languages, there are several fundamental skills every computer science professional needs for success in the field. These computer science skills range from cleaning and organizing data to setting up a website’s Application Programming Interface (API). Required programming skills vary based on the professional's role, organization, and industry. However there are several fundamental skills that nearly every professional in computer science is familiar with. Students who wish to transition into Computer Science roles must learn competencies in six essential programming skills, including:

  • Algorithm coding
  • Data structure
  • Web and multimedia coding languages
  • Data management coding languages
  • Application Programming Interface (API)
  • Git

Algorithm Coding

Every computer uses an algorithm to perform functions. An algorithm is a set of instructions used to solve a problem or complete a task and uses computer programs to automate many operations. For example, algorithms are designed to execute stock trading, asset management, and loan pricing in banking and financial services. As a result, the financial market is highly dependent on the accuracy of algorithms built by programmers.

In a Master of Computer Science program, students learn how to develop algorithms to solve computational problems and test to ensure the algorithm application can thoroughly and efficiently meet the challenge. In addition, this practice teaches students to generate coding solutions related to hardware, networking, programming language, or overall software performance. 

Data Structure

Data structures and algorithms are essential in all areas of computing, from operating systems and networking to programming languages. A data structure is a way to store and organize data to be accessed and updated on a computer. Five data structures are considered essential computer science skills in today’s digital-first landscape, including:

  • Linear Data Structures
  • Nonlinear Data Structures
  • Sorting Algorithms
  • Searching Algorithms
  • Graph Traversal Algorithms

Web and Multimedia Coding Languages
Web and Multimedia Coding Languages 

A deep understanding of website coding is one of the top skills Computer Scientists need to be successful in their careers. Website coding allows professionals to use four primary coding languages to create, edit, and publish written content and visual imagery for the front-end user. Coders typically leverage HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and PHP to optimize user experience and constantly refresh an organization’s website to be functional, easy to navigate, and simplified for users.

  • HTML: Every computer science professional must understand the two standard coding languages, HTML and CSS. HTML stands for HyperText Markup Languages and is used primarily on web pages. HTML is a markup language working behind the scenes to determine the content structure on the front end of a website. Programmers use HTML to enhance user experience (UX), improve website readability, and ensure the font and content structure are consistent and on-brand.
  • CSS: CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheets and displays the style and presentation of a web page. Where HTML is crucial for content readability, CSS is even more essential for visual display and UX. Every organization wants to deliver a seamless, efficient, and delightful experience for its website visitors. Programmers and web developers can work with content and design teams to optimize web pages from the inside out using CSS code.
  • JavaScript: JavaScript is one of the longest-standing codes for front-end development. This scripting language enables programmers to update content, control multimedia, animate images, and make web pages more interactive for users. HTML, CSS, and JavaScript work together to create an intuitive website with working written content and imagery. Every computer science expert needs to understand these three types of code.
  • PHP: The final hard skill for programmers to add to their computer science toolbox is knowledge of PHP. PHP is an open-source server-side scripting language used to develop static or dynamic web applications. PHP stands for Hypertext Preprocessor (originally “Personal Home Pages”). The benefits of PHPs include their ability to deliver intelligent code completion and validate errors in real-time. Developers use common PHP platforms like Dreamweaver, CodeLobster, Zend Studio, and Rapid Php Editor.

Data Management Coding Languages 

Computer Scientists need a place to store data records and easily access, organize, and manage these data stores. As a result, Computer Scientists must understand data management coding languages, including SQL and NoSQL, to perform their daily tasks. 

  • SQL: SQL stands for Structured Query Language and is a domain-specific language used by programmers and developers to manage data stored in a relational database management system (RDBMS) or stream processing in a relational data stream management system (RDBMS). Computer science professionals learn how to leverage SQL to manage structured data. SQL is essential in many types of data searches, data manipulation, data definition, and data access control.
  • NoSQL: A NoSQL database provides a mechanism for data storage and retrieval that is not modeled in the tabular relations format used in SQL. The main difference between SQL and NoSQL is that SQL uses relational databases to model data as records in rows and tables, showing the relational links between data. In contrast, NoSQL is a type of database management that does not reveal these relational patterns. As a result, NoSQL tends to be agile, often contains enormous volumes of data, stores structured and unstructured data, and works with modern application paradigms like microservices and real-time streaming. 

Application Programming Interface (API)

An API is an Application Programming Interface, a software intermediary that allows two applications to talk to each other. This intermediary technology will enable companies to make their applications’ data and functionality accessible to external third-party developers, business partners, and internal teams. For example, any time a web user sends an instant message, browses Facebook, or checks the news on their phone, they use an API. Developers help produce outstanding APIs by designing, testing, building, managing, and iterating different versions.    


Git is software that allows users to track changes within file versions. Programmers use Git collaboratively to develop source code and access historical changes during software development. According to Git’s website, it's a “free, open-source distributed version control system designed to handle everything from small to very large projects with speed and efficiency.” Git makes teamwork and collaboration more efficient and transparent for medium to large teams interacting remotely online. 

Learn Essential Programming Skills in a Master of Computer Science Online

Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s (WPI) Master of Computer Science (MCS) incorporates these key skills for computer science students to succeed in today’s job market. WPI welcomes students to join an international reputation for innovative excellence, advancing the ever-growing computer science field while collaborating with industry partners. 

Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) is well known for its experiential learning model, which provides real-world knowledge and develops leadership, collaborative, and critical-thinking skills. WPI’s Master of Computer Science takes place 100% online and balances theory, technique, and application to prepare you with the most in-demand skills for sought-after roles in the industry. 

This 30-credit hour program was developed for those without a bachelor’s in computer science. The MCS online program includes built-in bridge courses and allows the ability to customize your education by choosing one of 4 focus areas or creating your own from electives in these areas: 

  • AI & Machine Learning
  • Big Data Analytics & Management
  • Cybersecurity (MCS only)
  • Business Intelligence

WPI MCS students find a supportive infrastructure and encouraging environment at WPI. Students graduating from the MCS program successfully forge ahead in diverse areas, including medical imaging, systems security, intelligent tutoring, health informatics, and data mining.

WPI’s MCS online degree will help prepare you to build, improve, and innovate technology:

  • Learn tools and theories in the design of software, databases, algorithms, and computing systems
  • Create and encode algorithms in software languages such as Python
  • Analyze and design non-numeric algorithms and writing programs that integrate them with various data structures such as lists, stacks, queues, trees, and graphs

By earning your MCS online degree at WPI, you will become part of the alumni family at a prestigious, respected university that is ranked:

  • #4 National Universities Where Grads Are Paid Well by U.S. News and World Report (2021)
  • #5 in Best Career Services by The Princeton Review (2019)
  • Among the top 25 STEM Colleges by Forbes, Top 60 Most Innovative Schools by U.S. News & World Report, and Top 30 Best Value Colleges by

Develop the knowledge you need to design and deploy real-world marketplace solutions. Learn more about the Master of Computer Science Online program at WPI.