When Canadian technology experts look at the country’s strongest innovation hubs, few stand out: Toronto, due to its sheer size and a variety of startup accelerators through institutions like MaRS; the Ottawa suburb of Kanata, which benefits from its proximity to federal government and military headquarters; and Vancouver, which lies adjacent to traditional American tech centres in Washington and California.
But Kitchener-Waterloo remains Canada’s leading technology hub, housing cutting-edge research and development by some of the world’s top companies and a two internationally recognized universities. With the Faculty of Science located on Wilfrid Laurier University’s Waterloo campus in the heart of the Waterloo region, Laurier’s new online Master of Computer Science (MSc) program offers students a direct route into a booming industry.
As an online program, Laurier’s MSc allows students from around the world y to benefit from Waterloo Region’s unique high-tech ecosystem. As part of our ongoing coverage of the field, today we’ll be examining five career options for graduates of Laurier’s Master of Computer Science program and potential salary expectations.
Top Five Careers for Master of Computer Science Graduates
According to the most recent statistics, the fields of computer science (CS) and IT are thriving. Between 2016 and 2026, CS and IT will add over 500,000 jobs to the North American economy, growing it by over 13%. These fields also pay considerably better than the average. The median annual salary for employees with a Master of Computer Science degree was over $80,000 in May 2017— compared to an average of just $37,000 for all occupations. [i]
"For software developers, the hunt for the next killer app remains ferocious between existing market leaders and hungry upstarts. The average median pay for a developer is above $100,00 per year, and there are prodigies who make many times that amount. This is perhaps the most sought-after career in technology today."
Canadians are benefiting from this rising tide. Although it was once feared that Canada would face a shortage of over 200,000 programmers and IT professionals by 2020, the country’s tech sector is now flourishing to the point that fewer are being forced to move to America to pursue higher paying opportunities.[ii] Here are five of the most in-demand positions:
1. Computer and Information Research Scientist
With much faster than average growth over the next 10 years, even within tech, computer and information research scientists are experiencing a moment. This challenging and rewarding profession requires at least a Master of Computer Science as an entry-level degree, but those who pursue this route can expect to earn well in excess of $100,000 per year. Computer and information research scientists are the rarefied thinkers who take on the challenge of pushing technological innovation forward through experimentation, intense study and practical testing. There is always a high demand for these highly-skilled workers, and as the economy continues to be driven by artificial intelligence (AI) , there is no looming ceiling on the profession’s growth.
2. Computer Network Architect
We live in highly interconnected times, and the people who facilitate the practical end of making those connections are computer network architects (CNAs). Although the profession’s growth rate is a relatively low (for tech) 6% over the next ten years, this is mostly reflective of the current size of the job market (there being over five times as many network architects as IT research scientists). Computer network architects design and build the various networks (LAN, WAN, intranet, cloud configurations) that the modern work world relies on. CNAs average roughly $104,000 per year.
3. Computer Programmer
Computer programmers work for every type of company in every field, virtually everywhere in the world. Theirs is the language modern business truly speaks. Programmers average about $82,000 per year though there is a wide range of potential salaries based on industry, experience and skill-set. Interestingly, the computer programming niche is seeing a slight downturn compared to other industries, facing a projected 7% decline by 2026. If this seems counterintuitive, the x factor is that it is somewhat easier to outsource programming jobs than it is, for example, a network architect’s work. While still a very safe career choice, workers are advised to improve their skills and education wherever possible to ensure they remain indispensable.
4. Software Developer
This is the 800 lb. gorilla of the industry, with over 1.25 million software developers currently employed, and a staggering growth rate of 24% over the next ten years. The growth of the Internet of Things ( IoT) means even our toasters will need software written to regulate their functions, and the hunt for the next killer app remains ferocious between existing market leaders and hungry upstarts. The average median pay for a developer is above $100,000 per year, and there are prodigies who make many times that amount. This is perhaps the most sought-after career in technology today.
5. Information Security Analyst
Another rapidly growing profession is information security analysis. Projected to increase by 28% by 2026, this boom reflects the increasing amount of information which is stored remotely, and the ever-evolving cyber-threats which shadow any technological innovation. ISAs help to identify potential risks, secure vulnerable data and respond to attacks. With an average median pay of just over $95,000 per year, skilled ISAs are handsomely remunerated for the peace of mind they provide their employers.
Find out more about how Canada’s Most In-Demand Degree is a Master’s in Computer Science and The 5 Benefits of Online Study.