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Computer Scientist
Computer scientists not only understand the intricate innards of a computer, they also know how to write programs and have an intimate knowledge of everything relating to computers.

Computer scientists can be involved in all dimensions of computers, including: hardware electronics, operating systems, artificial intelligence, communication related information such as programming languages, and all aspects of applications, that is, software.

When employed, computer scientists may specialize in hardware, programming or theory. They can also develop virtual reality in robotics. However, they tend not to specialize in only one field and are, therefore, sought after as employees.

There has been much debate about definitions for this subject area. Some examples of these are: computer science is the study of computers and the major phenomena that surround them; computer science is the body of knowledge concerned with computers and computation; computer science is the study of knowledge representations and their implementations; and computer science is the study of abstraction and the mastering of complexity.

In one sense, it is easier to define what computer science is not. It is not the study of programming, as that is too limited. It is not learning to use computer applications (word processing or spreadsheet packages).

Computer science has been defined as the discipline of computing the systematic study of algorithmic processes that describe and transform information: their theory, analysis, design, efficiency, implementation and application.

Computer scientists need to understand the science that underlies the software aspect of computer systems and the interrelationship between software and hardware systems, as well as issues related to efficiency and usability, with most emphasis usually placed on software.

When studying computer science, emphasis is usually placed on the analysis and design of algorithms, which are a generalized form of representing problem solutions. Computer scientists need to be able to analyse and solve problems, by finally translating their solutions into particular software tools and a given computer environment.

Some computer scientists end up in managerial positions as leaders of information systems development projects or Management Information Systems (MIS) managers. They often act as facilitators between software developers and clients.

Graduates going out into the workplace often begin as programmers (later becoming systems analysts and project leaders) with companies such as big mining or financial institutions, some join firms of computing consultants, some join the internet service provider companies, and some start their own computer (software or hardware) companies, etc.

The term ‘Information Technology’ is sometimes used to encompass all aspects of computers. People in information technology usually assist businesses and industries to computerize operations in manufacturing, finance, law, mining and transportation, and other areas.

Computer Science: most opportunities exist with
software development companies.

Networks: organizations such as banks, insurance companies and large government departments which rely on networked information require graduates with this specialization to deal with network management and systems design. The explosive growth of the Internet will see an increasing demand for such skills.

Information Systems: industry and business need information systems specialists. Graduates with combined degrees have special scope because of their knowledge of other areas.

Statistics and Applied Mathematics: graduates with this specialization find opportunities in company forecasting, planning or research organizations and large government departments involved with projections.

Information Technology is an exciting industry in which to be involved. A recent survey of the paying professions showed IT to be ranked among the five highest average incomes, and in most countries the demand for IT professionals far outweighs the supply.

Some other areas of specialization within computer science include:

- Computer Software Development
- Computer Systems Development and Maintenance
- Computer Management
- Computer Consultancy
- Teaching
- Research

Satisfying Aspects
- being the ultimate specialist in a very large field
- solving problems
- good remuneration and fringe benefits
- being at the cutting edge of technology

Demanding aspects
- hard work
- sometimes many hours are needed to solve problems
- difficulty in staying abreast in the field

- excellent problem solving skills
- teaching ability, being able to explain solutions
- great interest in computers
- highly intelligent and logical thinker
- able to work independently and in a team
- high degree of concentration
- patient and persistent
- good mathematical skills
- enjoy putting information into logical sequence

School Subjects
requirements for a degree course

Each institution will have its own minimum entry requirements.

Compulsory Subjects: Mathematics
Recommended Subjects: Physical Sciences, Information Technology

Degree: BSc with majors such as Information Technology, Electronic Engineering - most universities. Also Bachelor of Information Technology degrees are offered at some universities - RU, UCT, UWC, NMMU, UFS, Wits, US, UP, UNISA, UKZN, UJ. UZ, UFH, NWU, Monash.

The more theoretical majors lead to specialized work in computer science and programming.

- software houses
- financial institutions
- insurance industry
- scientific, research and educational institutions
- government departments and organizations
- non-governmental organizations
- mining companies
- manufacturing facilities
- transport systems and telecommunications
- Internet service providers

Computer Society of SA   
P O Box 1714
Halfway House, 1685
ICT House
546 16th Road
Constantia Park [Unit No.3]
Tel: (011) 315-1319 Fax: (011) 315-2276

ISETT (Information Systems Electronics & Telecommunication Technologies)
P O Box 5585 Halfway House 1685
Tel: (011) 805 5115 Fax: (011) 805 6833