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Non-Programming Jobs For a Computer Science Major? 936

An anonymous reader writes "I recently graduated from a 'major' university in America with a BS degree in Computer Science. I unfortunately must admit that I am not very skilled with programming. I finished with the degree, and I've spent much of my college career working a job doing technical support (fixing laptops, troubleshooting Windows problems, etc). What jobs can I get with a computer science degree that are NOT mainly programming jobs? A little programming wouldn't be bad, but none would be preferred. And what kind of salaries do these jobs typically fetch?"
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Non-Programming Jobs For a Computer Science Major?

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  • Geek Squad (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @01:11PM (#24017967)


    • Re:Geek Squad (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @01:54PM (#24018919)

      Funny, but pretty accurate.

      A CS major who can't (and doesn't like to) program? I don't want him pretending to be a programmer. I don't want him blindly leading a group of programmers. There's not much left aside from IT and help-desk jobs.

      • Re:Geek Squad (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ePhil_One ( 634771 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @02:50PM (#24019905) Journal

        There's not much left aside from IT and help-desk jobs.

        And what is wrong w/ IT and Hemp Desk type jobs? Ok, personally, I avoid Help desk work, but I consciously chose IT over programming because I didn't want to work in a cube interacting w/ a computer all day any more than I wanted to be an actuary working in a cube interacting w/ a computer all day (Double major, Math & Comp Sci). And since he's already held jobs in tech support, it should be easy to get hired.

        Of course, I leverage my programming skills a LOT writing scripts, etc. and could probably out program a lot of the developers I work with, but thats not a strict job requirement. Figure out what you are good at, and what you enjoy doing, then go after that job. Nothing wrong w/ a CS major selling insurance.

        • Re:Geek Squad (Score:4, Insightful)

          by pnutjam ( 523990 ) <[gro.zciworob] [ta] [todhsals]> on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @02:52PM (#24019935) Homepage Journal
          HELL YEAH.

          Sysadmin's and network admin's in the house!

          seriously, I have always concentrated on networking, which ends up requiring system admin and hardware troubleshooting. Steer towards companies who use IT and don't sell IT.
          • Re:Geek Squad (Score:5, Interesting)

            by mike_c999 ( 513531 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @03:54PM (#24021001)

            Got to agree with these last two posts... there's nothing wrong with helpdesk/IT/sysadmin/network admin jobs at all for someone with a computer science degree.

            After I completed my CS degree I started in helpdesk/user training. Fixing most problems before the more senior guys get to them lead on to a sysadmin job in the same company. I've now recently switched to a job as a network admin for the same university I studied at and couldn't be happier.

            Over this time I've had 5 satisfying years of work, used/setup/fixed more deferent technologies than you want to hear about. And all on salaries that I've been more than happy with.

            Oh and I do program. But for a hobby not for my job.

            Just my 2c

            • Re:Geek Squad (Score:4, Interesting)

              by SnapShot ( 171582 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @04:09PM (#24021283)

              You know, a friend and I were just talking about how work had pretty much destroyed the creative joy we used to get out of coding. I can certainly see the attraction to an IT/sysadmin/network admin career with coding (open source, of course) as a hobby.

          • Re:Geek Squad (Score:5, Informative)

            by COMON$ ( 806135 ) * on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @04:04PM (#24021199) Journal
            I will second this. I am A network Admin with A BSCS and I love it. I did not enjoy programming, it is a great tool but it is not what CS is about. All these arrogant fools who think a CS degree is for dev/programming work don't understand what CS is. Whether you are looking at a low level hardware developer or a tel-co coordinator. We are all operating in areas that are subsets of CS.

            As a network admin I get to use a lot of cool technologies and watch them come together to do what I need. You use your CS knowledge a lot in an abstract sense. The bad part of it is you have to climb through a lot of muck to get to a Network admin level. You have to deal with a lot of people who don't understand the field and will be your boss. You will work for crap pay at first doing things that make you cringe. But you climb fast if you are smart and able to take opportunity when it presents itself. I am in the midwest, only 6 years out of college making well above 50K.

            Stay away from 3rd party crap if you can, stay close to internal networking. 3rd parties aren't interested in really shaping technology, they just want to crank out a product and move on to the next paycheck. Internal IT gets to coordinate and work on the big projects and technologies. It is also far more rewarding to be part of a growing company and using your knowledge to solve issues and make business methods run smoother.

            You wont use your programming as much but you will find it extraordinarily useful when talking to co-worker programmers, or writing scripts to automate a task, or just troubleshooting an error.

            In summary: CS is not about coding, it is about shaping solutions via computational methods. I am not a programmer and I knew I wasnt in college, I was in your exact same situation a few years ago when I graduated and I LOVE what I do. Network administration is a blast.

            • Re:Geek Squad (Score:5, Insightful)

              by centuren ( 106470 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @04:31PM (#24021657) Homepage Journal

              We are all operating in areas that are subsets of CS. As a network admin I get to use a lot of cool technologies and watch them come together to do what I need. You use your CS knowledge a lot in an abstract sense.

              I lol'd @ this description of subsets of CS. Programmers, skilled in computer science, wrote a bunch of cool technologies that come together to do what people need, and you as a network admin get to watch (apt-get install cool-technology).

              I've always loved server/network administration and security (more so than programming), but I don't really buy your romanticism of it. All the useful tools in the admin arsenal have been created by very talented programmers and engineers.

              Admins have a lot of hard work to do like anyone else, but really, there's no pretending it's on the same level as the work that was put out to create all those admin tools (including the operating system itself).

              Of course, that's not the bulk of programming jobs; there is plenty of demand for programmers who will never get to do anything particularly interesting for their company.

              • Re:Geek Squad (Score:4, Insightful)

                by xappax ( 876447 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @04:58PM (#24022063)
                All the useful tools in the programmer arsenal have been created by very talented lower-level programmers.

                And all the useful tools in /their/ arsenal have been created by very talented electrical engineers.

                And all the useful tools in /their/ arsenal have been created by very talented physicists.

                So I mean, you can go down that road if you want, but it doesn't end with programmers looking smart.
              • Re:Geek Squad (Score:5, Insightful)

                by vidarh ( 309115 ) <> on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @05:48PM (#24022637) Homepage Journal
                Having been on both sides of the fence (28 years since I started programming, still actively doing it, 12 years of assorted development and operations work and managing both engineering and ops teams):

                Your attitude is very common with programmers - I'm surprised to hear it from someone saying they love server/network admin etc. more -, and it's one of the reasons why programmers usually make exceedingly bad network admins / sysadmins / operations engineers.

                Far too many programmers tends to think they do all the cool stuff, and everyone else are just useless fluff (witness the flood of "wow, Google sounds like heaven since the project managers don't get much say" posts to an earlier article), and that lack of understanding means that a lot of programmers have no clue what (often trivial things) they can do to make life simpler for everyone else, and show scarily little appreciation for the amount of work people around them do to work around the problems caused by primadonna programmers that deliver poorly documented, badly written pieces of shit and refuse to acknowledge there are problems with their code.

                I write this as someone who much prefers programming - I love it - but who very often ends up picking up the pieces, because I actually also care about operational issues, cost issues, usability issues etc. which programmers seems to like to pretend doesn't exist.

        • by ZiggyStardust1984 ( 1099525 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @03:01PM (#24020109)
          IANAL, but a hemp desk job is probably illegal in most of the U.S.
        • by Myopic ( 18616 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @04:07PM (#24021257)

          And what is wrong w/ IT and Hemp Desk type jobs?

          If you have any openings at the Hemp Desk, I'd like to apply.

        • Re:Geek Squad (Score:4, Insightful)

          by ILongForDarkness ( 1134931 ) on Wednesday July 02, 2008 @03:51AM (#24027073)
          Yeah, and also there are a lot of programmers that don't have a clue how a computer works. Admittedly I might have a weird prospective because I got a degree in physics with a specialization in condensed matter along with digital electronics and programming courses. However, I run into a lot of top notch (and I mean at the independent well respected consultant, guy that gets flown to conferences to speak because he is the world expert in the field level guys) that can't figure out if their computer isn't working because of the PSU or HDD failure.

          There is more to computers than being able to program them, and I've met a bunch of programmers that don't have a deep understanding how logic gates and such work, can't get around concepts such as cashe locality etc. They are great Phython, Java etc programmers and just trust the language/API's to do things well for them. Anyways that is my rant, I hope that some day the free market will learn that an IT guy can be of equal worth to a company as development staff. Currently where I live a starting IT guy makes about 50k and a starting developer 90k or so, and that is no where near being fair. For the most part a developer can start being productive in a couple weeks where as in a complicated environment an IT guy can take 6 months before they can do things by themselves. However, the salary's don't even out over time even though the IT guy needs more "training" (and thus is of greater value added :)) than the developer.

      • Re:Geek Squad (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Chode2235 ( 866375 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @04:05PM (#24021229)

        Are you crazy. There are a ton of opportunities for people with technical aptitude, and the abstraction and logical problem solving ability a CS program teaches you.

        I am now in Customer Relationship Management marketing, where we do database marketing, customer behavior modeling, segmentation etc.

        We desperately need people who know there way around large data warehouses, can hack some basic SQL and code, and can figure out how to get the data that is locked up by IT into a format that we can use to drive meaningful customer experiences.

        I imagine there are plenty of other professions where the ability to manipulate data, and drive business objectives based on it, is a highly demanded skill and can be highly rewarded financially.

        CS != programming. In fact I would discourage any CS students from going into IT. IT is dead, its just the 21st century equivalent of paper pushing. Most IT shops are big bloated bureaucracies. They totally kill creativity. Go into the buisness side and actually have an impact and some influence.

        • Re:Geek Squad (Score:5, Insightful)

          by afidel ( 530433 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @04:22PM (#24021495)
          Without IT you wouldn't be doing a lot of data manipulating or useful work because your stuff would be broken. A sysadmin is the plumber of the 21st century, a skilled craft that is under appreciated but none the less invaluable. The difference is most medium sized businesses on up need one or more full time sysadmins whereas they generally don't need a full time plumber unless they are making some liquid product.
      • by klubar ( 591384 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @04:13PM (#24021363) Homepage
        The background that you've learned in CS is valuable in a wide variety of positions. You should look at technical sales (also known as sales engineers), marketing (especially for technical/software products), consulting, product management. Presumably you've gained some good technical skills and how to learn complex materials quickly--all important job attributes. You should be better qualified for many of these positions than liberal arts majors.

        However, all of these jobs require good communications skills--the ability to write well and communicate clearly. I hope you didn't skip those courses--the liberal arts candidates often have an advantage in those skills.

        Depending on the university you went to, your grades and presentation skills, starting salaries could be in $30 to $40's for most of those positions. Another alternative would be to pursue a professional degree like an MBA or JD.
    • Re:Geek Squad (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Noodlenose ( 537591 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @03:27PM (#24020537) Homepage Journal
      Invest some more time and effort, get a postgraduate degree (maybe even a MBA if you're not the world's brightest) and you will be able to get a proper job.
  • Program Manager (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MarkPNeyer ( 729607 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @01:12PM (#24017987)

    You could get a job as a Program Manager or similar position. They do more design work than actual programming. Those positions pay about the same as programming positions.

    • Re:Program Manager (Score:5, Informative)

      by SQLGuru ( 980662 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @01:18PM (#24018143) Journal

      Where I work (large company), Program Manager is in the business and writes requirements. Project Manager is the I/T function that deals with the schedules. Program Managers need to understand the processes in the business in order to document them.

      If you want to continue in a more technical vein, then System Engineering, DBA, Network Administrators, etc. all would be a good fit.

      Incidentally, Project Management is the fastest way into people management around here. So if you have aspirations in that direction, go get your PMP certification (Project Management Professional). While it's "just a piece of paper", for some reason people like it.


      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Korexz ( 915405 )
        UMM... doesn't a PMP require something like 4500 hours of work experience to acquire?
        Category 1: With a baccalaureate degree PMP candidates must:

        1.Document at least three calendar years experience in project management (during the past six years), including at least 4,500 hours experience within the five recognized project management process groups.
        2. Document at least 35 contact hours of formal training in project management.
        3. Pass the PMP Certification Exam.

        It's not something to go chase just bec
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      You could get a job as a Program Manager or similar position. They do more design work than actual programming. Those positions pay about the same as programming positions.

      In my experience, a program manager who isn't at least potentially good at programming doesn't make a very good manager. But my sample is limited.

  • How about (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @01:12PM (#24017989)

    How good are you at computer security? You could be a penetration tester or security consultant.

  • by swb311 ( 1165753 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @01:13PM (#24017999)
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @01:45PM (#24018751)

      + tips

    • by gunnk ( 463227 ) <gunnk AT mail DOT fpg DOT unc DOT edu> on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @01:46PM (#24018775) Homepage
      Actually, you have a point.

      The person asking the question tells us about skills he lacks more than skills he has. Makes it awfully hard to make a useful suggestion.

      The little offered is that he's done some tech support. If that's your strong suite, then the answer for a newly-minted college grad from Comp Sci is...

      tech support.

      Then again, if you don't really like that work you should just go find something completely different to do. A solid technical degree has appeal to employers even when it has nothing to do with the job.

      Hmmm... if you're just starting out then go find a job (any job!) related to what you really want to do. Worry less about the money or benefits. Fresh out of college you just want a foot in the door of the career you really want even if there are long hours and little pay. After three years in the workforce potential employers care EVERYTHING about your experience and NOTHING about your degree.
  • by Kr3m3Puff ( 413047 ) <<me> <at> <>> on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @01:13PM (#24018017) Homepage Journal

    Accenture is always looking for fresh faced graduates who can't actually do anything.

    • Re:Accenture... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @01:19PM (#24018167)
      Why is this modded "funny"? It's insightful as hell.
    • Re:Accenture... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @01:24PM (#24018257)

      As a former Accenture employee I can tell you that this is 100% true, but a few years at Accenture right out of college sure looks good on your resume.

    • by dedazo ( 737510 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @01:28PM (#24018363) Journal

      You were modded funny, but your comment is right spot on. Also, their pay is commensurate to actually doing nothing.

      If I had a nickel for every smart Accenture consultant I've ever met, I'd had me a whole dime.

    • Re:Accenture... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by erik umenhofer ( 782 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @01:49PM (#24018827) Homepage

      Accenture is a good place to start out of college, they baby you, but it can teach you how to work in the corp world. Although, I know of people who are complete failures in life/work that have been there for years and years and can't get fired for some reason. It's the place to be if you want to learn how this world works these days with off shoring, project management at an enterprise level, etc.

      Accenture's projects range from $10-$1000 Million, yeah that's billion. So you have a chance to work on some huge projects.

      The other good part is, if you are bored, you can bounce around to do other things.

    • Re:Accenture... (Score:5, Informative)

      by all5n ( 1239664 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @01:57PM (#24018993)

      My main problem with accenture is that they will take someone with a psychology degree, send them to a 2-3 week training camp on how to program in C, Java, whatever, and then send them to the client to rack up the billable hours.

      It amazes me that companies let them get away with staffing such underqualified individuals at their expense.

      Also, having dealt with such individuals, it is maddening to try to get any work out of them. The most basic computer science concepts are missing...

    • The last fresh-faced Accenture hire I saw was extremely hot... and being a Slashdot regular, finding myself in the presence of 'teh hotness', I found that she indeed did do something. Fortunately the rest of the class was not aware of it, so to speak.

  • Depends (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @01:14PM (#24018025)

    What else besides Computer Science do you know something about? Your degree is only limiting if it is the only experience you actually have. If you have some real world experience then do whatever you know how to do.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by HikingStick ( 878216 )
      You really hit on a key point here. A four year degree shows that you had some perseverence and got throuhgh the program. That BS should make you marketable across many industries, even those which are not directly tied to technology.

      What do you want to do? It would have been much better for you to have tackled that question before pursuing your degree, or at least before your final two years. Talk to your college's career services office and ask them to put you through the ringer--personality type asse
  • BS? (Score:5, Funny)

    by AllIGotWasThisNick ( 1309495 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @01:14PM (#24018031)

    with a BS

    Looks like you'd be perfect for management.

  • by BradleyAndersen ( 1195415 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @01:14PM (#24018033)
    You don't say whether or not you even want to use the degree ... are you interested in CS at all? If you are, there are plenty of IT jobs sans programming ... Sys Admins typically start out well enough and need to do some scripting, but not generally too much programming (where scripting = perl and programming = java, for example). Do what makes you happy, or you'll end up a crusty old man better armed than your local militias ...
    • by cream wobbly ( 1102689 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @02:20PM (#24019363)

      Well, well. In among all the cruft, a shiny little nugget of useful info.

      Get familiar with Linux (no, not like that, silly). Get some idea of Solaris. Get a job at your local University and work the helldesk. Get to know the technologies, their faults; learn scripting (you're not very good at programming, but you can extract all the pngs from a set of rpms in one line, right? good. you can script); but most of all, get to know how people work. Learn to ask the right questions. Two to three years. That's your apprenticeship. You can live in your Mom's basement with your PS3 and your Xbox and your ... questionable interest in photography of the human figure.

      Now, you have Web admin, DB admin, or straight up sysadmin at your disposal. At this stage, you have to choose. Do you want a starting salary of $65k, $65k, or $65k? Do you want to move to the Bay Area for $85k? It should take you three or four years to climb the salary ladder to about $80k (100k in the Bay Area). That was your journeyman stage flashing by. Buy yourself a nice little two-seater sports car and tell your Mom it has to be garaged or the resale value will plummet.

      Oh look. All of a sudden without even thinking about it, you're collecting libraries of useful scripting routines. Your personal wiki on your laptop is full of useful Notes To Self. You wanna go a-contracting? Great. $130k+ to the man in the Mercedes. Just make sure you have no nasty diseases and buy an expensive healthcare pacakge. Prefer a salary and someone else paying for healthcare? Go for it. Collect $100k+ and take your wife and baby to the Bahamas this year. Fifteen years of this and you'll feel tired, but hey...

      Now you can join the crusty brigade.

  • Anonymous (Score:5, Funny)

    by daliman ( 626662 ) <> on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @01:14PM (#24018039) Homepage

    Yes, anonymous was probably the right way to go with that submission on this site ;)

  • Entry level QA (Score:5, Informative)

    by 2nd Post! ( 213333 ) <> on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @01:15PM (#24018045) Homepage

    You can probably get QA easily enough, especially if you can write automation scripts or programs.

    Pay is probably 3/4 of a programming position.

    • Re:Entry level QA (Score:5, Insightful)

      by RazorBlade99 ( 69657 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @01:30PM (#24018413)

      Just wish people quit pushing the ones that can't hack in CS to QA. I work for a software company as a developer, but so wish the QA people aren't just CS rejects. They need to be good at what they do and good QA people are hard to find. There can be a lot of scripting and programming in QA in the right environment and not just script monkeys that runs what they are told. QA really is a calling.

      • Re:Entry level QA (Score:5, Interesting)

        by raddan ( 519638 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @02:34PM (#24019633)
        Unless you're Donald Knuth, QA is essential-- no doubt. But it's not very exciting, at least when a project's programmers consider your work to be a bug reporting service. I think that's why the CS drek lands there. If QA people regularly had a hand in design, then I think the field would be quite different.
      • Re:Entry level QA (Score:4, Insightful)

        by gosand ( 234100 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @03:22PM (#24020459)

        Just wish people quit pushing the ones that can't hack in CS to QA. I work for a software company as a developer, but so wish the QA people aren't just CS rejects. They need to be good at what they do and good QA people are hard to find. There can be a lot of scripting and programming in QA in the right environment and not just script monkeys that runs what they are told. QA really is a calling.

        That's exactly why I chose it in 1995. I graduated in '93 with a CS degree... went to work at Motorola... entry level build engineer/release management. Maintained shell scripts, did software builds, etc. After a year was given the choice of paths - join the dev team or join the test team. I chose the test team, it's just what I'm better at. And I've met as many bad programmers as I have bad testers over the years.

        And for the record people, QA is not testing - that's QC. Yeah, I know everyone calls it QA, but it's not correct. And even worse, you don't "QA something"... ugh. I've done my share of testing, test planning, requirements analysis, inspections, etc. I've now gotten into test management, and don't regret my initial choice. Programmers can make more, especially if they're good at a language in demand. But I can test anything. (system level testing, not looking at code and writing unit tests) I don't need to know the latest HOT language to be able to test things. I feel it's more flexible and I can get into other areas of software development if I choose to (I have dabbled in project management over the years)

        It's a big big software development world out there, don't pigeon-hole CS people as programmers. Learn that there is a LOT more to software development than just programming. You WANT your testers, managers, and requirements people to have CS degrees. IMO, everyone needs to be more versed in the entire SDLC, it makes for a more well-rounded team.

  • by kgb1001001 ( 199064 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @01:15PM (#24018049)

    Project Management
    Product Support
    Software Sales
    Systems Administration

    Programming is just one part of computer science; there are needs for all of these other areas as well.

    • by Jerry Coffin ( 824726 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @02:14PM (#24019295)

      Project Management
      Product Support
      Software Sales
      Systems Administration

      Programming is just one part of computer science; there are needs for all of these other areas as well.

      Computer science has to do with research into computing, algorithms, etc. Programming, for the most part, is related to software engineering (though some programming also involves computer science). Most of the other jobs you mentioned have nothing to do with either one though.

      The simple fact that a job is involved, to some degree or other, with computers, does not mean it has anything to do with computer science. In fact, more often than not, computer science is done with a pencil and paper. Software engineering is typically done with a computer, but primarily to run a text editor or (possibly) something like a UML editor.

      Let me give one small example: from a viewpoint of computer science, graphics cards really only come in two varieties: those that you can program, and those that you can ignore. From a viewpoint of software engineering, there's more difference between cards, but it's expressed primarily in terms of the shader model the card implements. If you care much about things like how fast of RAM it has, chances are that neither computer science nor software engineering has much to do with that interest (which isn't to say that a computer scientist can't also enjoy playing a game now and again -- just that he knows the difference between the two).

      The OP should really sit back and think about what he wants to do. The simple fact that he hasn't done much, or been taught much about, programming shouldn't be a major handicap if he honestly has a desire and aptitude for doing so.

      It's a bit belated, of course, but if he doesn't want to program, he should sit back and think about 1) what he's good at, and 2) what he enjoys. He should then try to come up with jobs that are at least somewhere close to the intersection between the two.

      Until or unless he does that, he's pretty much setting himself up for misery, failure, or most likely both. Most people have a hard time enjoying being bad at something for very long, and most people have a hard time caring enough to do things well if they don't enjoy it to at least some degree.

  • Applied Statistics (Score:3, Informative)

    by Kensai7 ( 1005287 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @01:15PM (#24018069)
    Are you good at maths? I would probably say something like statistics in applied disciplines such as Biomedicine. Medical Scientists and Researchers are always short off smart guys who can help them analyze data and publish fancy data reports.
  • by Actually, I do RTFA ( 1058596 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @01:16PM (#24018077)

    What jobs can I get with a computer science degree that are NOT mainly programming jobs?

    A lot of jobs you could get with any or no degree: financial services; screenwriter; salesman; etceta. If a job doesn't require a specific degree, and few do (accounting, law, medical fields, anything that requires certification), then you could probably get involved even if it's unrelated.

  • by Gazzonyx ( 982402 ) <> on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @01:16PM (#24018089)
    You are in a unique position; us programmers can't stand to be in management, we simply cannot do our jobs there (not to mention we're slightly introverts!). If you are skilled and don't mind managing, you can bring home a decent wage. Especially if you know how to manage programmers! Good management for a development team is a sorely needed position.

    Just my $0.02. Any fellow programmers want to back me up or dispute my claims?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I'm not a professional programmer, yet, but if I was I would probably resent being managed by someone who fails at CS. But I don't know about others...
  • Well.... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Seakip18 ( 1106315 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @01:16PM (#24018093) Journal

    I find it a little difficult how you made it through a CS degree without working on code. Then again, "programming" is not experience in one language or expertise in using pre-built functions. If you know algorithms, logic and how a piece of generic code works, you are already a programmer. You just haven't done it long enough to become biased on one language. That will come in time.

    So, do just not enjoy programming or do you not know enough?

    A System Admin or "plumber" is your best bet for getting a job. It really depends then on your experience with certain platforms, programs, System tools, etc. Same goes for a Network Admin, email admin, etc.

    I still wonder how you hacked it through a Computer Science degree without loving code. Why didn't you get a Business IS or Business degree instead?

  • Lawyer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lymond01 ( 314120 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @01:17PM (#24018109)

    If your grades were decent, consider law school. People who are successful there aren't only good BSers, but have a strong sense of logic, generally something you possess if you're into programming or math.

    Of course, if your grades in programming weren't that good, don't let that stop you. The practice of law is overrated. :-)

  • by alta ( 1263 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @01:18PM (#24018141) Homepage Journal

    In every company I've worked at, from ones with thousands of employees, to ones with a dozen, we have learned that programmers make horrible sysadmins. I don't know if it's the training they receive, a personality thing, or what... So please don't do it!

    Now if you told me you FAILED at being a good programmer, I'd hire you on the spot as a sysadmin ;)

    • by pyxl ( 7689 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @02:28PM (#24019529)

      In my experience, programmers tend to not be paranoid or methodical enough for sysadmin work. They also get frustrated too fast when faced with weird problems involving software they have no experience with or view into. (It helps a bit to point out to them that debuggers/tracers are not just for finding bugs, and they can be used on other people's software too, including closed-source vendor software).

      I've seen a LOT of "we'll just try this out", with no voice in the back of their mind screaming at them "THAT IS A PRODUCTION SYSTEM YOU FLAMING IDIOT DO YOU EVEN HAVE THE CODE AND DATA BACKED UP YET OMFG!!!!" to help them pause and reconsider exactly how bad the situation can become if "just try this out" doesn't actually work. This seems to come from being used to just working in development environments that they can break and/or restructure all they want with essentially no impact to other people, or their (own personal) income/employment status.

      Finally, they seem to be used to working on a single codebase at a time, with an essentially static operating platform - they don't generally have a visceral sense of multisystem interactions, or multisystems management issues, patching, platform versioning problems, and so on, because they tend to just not deal with those types of issues daily.

      There's more, but that's generally the highlights of what I've personally seen. The most important part is that they tend to lack a seriously well-developed (and experienced...sigh...) sense of paranoia. Fear of horrendous production outages combined with a healthy skepticism of software's actual ability to function correctly until proven to do so (including patches...*sigh*) is, in my experience, the bedrock that a really good sysadmin stands on.

  • by sirwired ( 27582 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @01:18PM (#24018145)

    I do enterprise level tech support for a tech company you most certainly have heard of, supporting $M+ installations of computer storage. I've done this for just under a decade, and make pretty excellent money doing it. My salary right out of school was in line with the students that did take dev jobs.

    Before graduating, my experience was identical to yours, doing PC work, a little bit of web work here and there, etc.

    Except for a couple of scripts here and there, I have not written a line of "real" code since day one.

    I was actually pretty decent at programming, but didn't enjoy it. (I was a CompE, not a CompSci.)

    I am pretty concerned that it is July and you don't have a job yet. The "college hiring cycle" is kinda over... That means you may be stuck with true entry-level jobs, instead of the "college hire" jobs, which in my company anyway, are a bit different. (An entry-level support tech is going to be working the call center, while a college-hire tech is going to be working in Level 2 or 3, right off the bat (with a whole lot of OJT, of course.))


    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by zerocool^ ( 112121 )

      I can confirm this - just go do something you like and get good at it.

      I have $liberal_arts_degree, but after working for $webhosting_company and $random_consulting_firm, I moved to doing Linux sysadmin work for $major_university_with_30000_students, and after a couple of years I moved to $major_hosting_provider_who_advertises_on_slashdot, and now I really love my job and I get paid $plenty.

      Do something that you like, practice until you do it well, and find a good company to work for. The execution may be d

  • by BorgDrone ( 64343 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @01:19PM (#24018151) Homepage

    Well, you could take the specification from the customer, to the programmers.

    If you've got people skill that is.

  • by revlayle ( 964221 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @01:20PM (#24018173) Homepage
    (sorry if already mentioned)

    Maybe going into a Business Analyst position any sort of Software/Development Analyst might be for you? They gather requirements and provide functional and sometimes technical specification documents for software dev shops.

    ...OR... QA with a programming knowledge can garner good money at some companies these days.

  • by Maglos ( 667167 ) <{cb} {at} {}> on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @01:21PM (#24018189) Homepage
    If you did good in english, you could write documentation.
  • by intx13 ( 808988 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @01:21PM (#24018199) Homepage
    As is said often on Slashdot (and bears repeating), CS is not software engineering and there are many opportunities in the field that are not assembly-line-programming jobs.

    What comes to mind for me, however, is that if you have a problem with programming after going through 4 years of computer science education, maybe it's not the programming in X, Y, or Z language that you don't like, but the whole idea of thinking in processes, algorithms, computational theory, etc. If you don't like coding in C++ you may still enjoy a job in CS... but if you don't like coding in C++ because you don't like thinking about and designing processes and algorithms then maybe computer science as a field isn't for you. Not every CS job will involve writing the boring "phone book" applications you did in school... but every CS job will involve the theory behind those applications, at some level of abstraction.
  • by ibmjones ( 52133 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @01:24PM (#24018269) Homepage

    A little programming wouldn't be bad, but none would be preferred.

    If you want to succeed in IT, you NEED programming. You may not be building enterprise-level programs - but when comes to pushing updates, creating a simple Intranet, building or troubleshooting a compiled/interpreted application or just plain keeping yourself sane*, having a programming background goes a very long way.

    Perhaps IT is not a best fit for you.

    *For some of us, it may be too late. :D

    • by Bandman ( 86149 )

      As much as I hate to say it, I agree with ibmjones.

      I've never met an IT worker worth their salt who didn't do at least a little programming, whether shell scripts or excel macros.

      If you're in IT and you can't or won't program, you're probably answering a phone.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by rubycodez ( 864176 )

        no way, world is full of turnkey solution systems where programming isn't even allowed by admins or support. And network engineers, SAN engineer, architects, hardware techs...they don't program, nor do most windows admins for that matter.

  • THANK YOU! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by clintp ( 5169 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @01:40PM (#24018641) I mean this:

    Thank you for admitting that programming isn't your thing. Thank you for not subjecting your fellow programmers to years and years of bad code, grumpy job performance, and being a drag on other coders' lives. Thank you for letting our managers hire people who want to do this job, instead of those just killing time.

    I'm sure you're a fine person, but thank you for not working here as one of my developers. You are too honest for management or sales, but I'm sure you'll find something good to do.

    Now if we can only get other CS majors who shouldn't be programming out of the trenches, life might improve.

  • by doug ( 926 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @01:42PM (#24018699)

    Although programming is the visible face of computers, most jobs using them have little/no programming requirements.

    • test - some testers automate tests, some just run 'em
    • project manager - keep track dates, but you have to understand the geeks
    • build/CM - some roles require perl/Makefile, others don't support - there is a whole lot of user hand holding that needs to happen
    • documentation - good tech writers are as valuable as developers
    • technical sales - can you hide a product's warts long enough to sell it?
    • administrators - both the classic IT role, and as a system upgrade specialist
    • teaching - there seem to be more ads than ever for computer classes

    Do you have people skills? Can you attend meetings all day without retching? If so, consider management. I don't care if my manger can code his way out of a paper bag as long as he can keep me out of meetings. He does have to know enough to kinda keep up in the technical discussions, but that is about it.

    But my advice to you is to get out of the computer field. It doesn't appear to be where your interest lies. Find something else that you like doing and aim for the computer end of that industry. It may be too late for you to become a doctor, but hospitals have huge support staffs and working with already written medical software might be more rewarding for you. Or perhaps you can get teaching license and help run a high school program.

    Be creative. There are lots of related fields where your skills might get you a job that you like. You might be surprised at what you can find and can talk your way into. Heaven knows that over the years I've seen countless EEs who end up with software jobs, and are often poorly suited for them.

    - doug

    PS: I intentionally left marketing off the list. If you need to stop and bounce an idea off of slashdot, you don't have what it takes for marketing. And you are a better person for it.

  • Technical Sales (Score:3, Informative)

    by jmcharry ( 608079 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @01:58PM (#24019013)

    If you are outgoing, technical sales might be a good fit. The received view among engineers at least used to be that the very top of the class ended up becoming professors, making very little. The next cut design engineers, doing OK, but nothing spectacular. Below them were the manufacturing engineers, making about the same. The C students, however, ended up in sales and made the most of any of them.

  • by wrfelts ( 950027 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @02:06PM (#24019159)

    "I recently graduated from a 'major' university in America with a BS degree in Computer Science. I unfortunately must admit that I am not very skilled with programming.

    Unfortunately, many who focused on programming in college also aren't very skilled in programming...

    There are many areas to choose from that don't require skills in programming. You should, however, keep yourself versed in understanding how to read a program. It is a necessary skill no matter what area of expertise you choose.

    I wouldn't recommend "support" unless you like being attached to a phone or stuck in a dead-end job diagnosing why a PC won't boot. If have any talent in seeing skills in other people or managing a project, I would recommend PMI certification (Project Management). That allows for a clear path to management.

    Another good area is QA/Six Sigma type work. If you are good at math and can wrap your head around the metrics of improvement and testing from a quantitative and qualitative framework, this is an excellent and challenging field. There will be some "programming" involved, but usually things like Excel macros and such that relate to statistics. (On a side not: beware of Excel's statistics related functions. Many of them are terminally ill and have been from the beginning. Verify all your data and test multiple scenarios with a handy TI or HP calculator beside the keyboard.)

    In almost all IT-related fields the time from expert to out-of-date is around 6 month if you aren't studying. Security work has a shelf life of 1 to 2 months, though. So unless you don't mind intense study for the entire time you are working, stay abreast of security but avoid it as a career. I do have some friends, however, who love the field and have stayed for years. It's more about your disposition than anything.

    On the salary basis, don't get too excited. Since you are just starting out, stay light on your bills and choose a targeted path. If you get stuck on too high a standard of living too early, it is almost impossible to switch jobs, if needed, to better align yourself with your career growth plans. In the first 5 to 7 years, expect to switch around a bit to get into the proper career groove. Then, lay down some time in 1 (maybe 2) semi-long-term spots that are challenging and will grow your skills.

    Keep an open mind. I have been a bonifide expert in several technologies that became extinct overnight. You can't really predict with any certainty what will and what won't last. Keep up with multiple areas and technologies at once.

    Always keep your eyes open for good high-level positions that you can do with a little stretch. Also keep in touch with education. If you have a BA or BS, go for an MS or two. MBAs may be boring but they open doors for you. PhDs are typically overkill and tend to sap the brains and make the decorated individual quite useless in a real-world IT scenario.

    Blog smart, publish often, write books. Even if you stink at writing, get good at it (and get a good editor until you are). The published will always get a job.

    About "blog smart"... Don't be stupid. Stay out of politics and your personal life. The Myspace/Facebook generation keeps shooting itself in the foot because all their dirty laundry is aired out in the public. As a very unfortunate example, if you like you music edgy (pick the genre) and blog about it, you could lose out on a job interview to someone with less experience and harder music tastes who doesn't blog about it. Corporate hiring wonks are relying more and more on internet research for candidates.

    I've been through 24 years in this industry in everything from programming to system admin to security expert, with a lot of things in between. Stay light, even with a family. This can be a feast or famine industry. Keep your possessions liquidable and classically sparse. When the money rolls in, don't spend it all. Sock it away. Invest some. "matress" some

  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @02:23PM (#24019425) Homepage Journal

    Civil Engineers choose their major with the idea that they are going to build bridges when they graduate, but its a decade or more before anybody entrusts them with that. What they do when they get out is more like figuring out how many gallons of paint it will take to paint the traffic lines on the bridge.

    People coming out of a CS program aren't good for much right away. There are exceptions of course. Developing software is like music; anybody can do it if they apply themselves, and after a while with the right coaching and effort they can become passable. But then you've got Mozart, who was composing at age 5. If you were Mozart, you'd probably know it. The fact that you say you aren't good at programming only means you're more self-aware than others. Very few people coming out of school are good, although very few people know how not-good they are. It takes a year or two of seasoning to get up to speed.

    I'd suggest you don't worry about what you are good and not good at yet. You don't really know at this point. You should look into things you think you aren't good at -- you might surprise yourself.

    I'd look for a good employer. One doing interesting things, with happy employees. Then learn the kinds of things on the job your employer needs. You didn't think you were done learning did you?

  • by jocknerd ( 29758 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @02:37PM (#24019703)

    The person went through 4 or 5 years of school and got a CS degree but doesn't want to program? Ok, fine. But didn't something interest you in that time? Database development? Database design? Networking? Maybe you should stay in school and get a Masters in Business so you can then boss around programmers. :-)

  • by buddyglass ( 925859 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @02:59PM (#24020049)

    Basically you're looking at in house IT (installing and maintaining enterprise software applications, working an internal helpdesk, provisioning servers and/or desktop machines, etc.), customer-facing phone or email support (ick), or some sort of sales engineer (SE) position where you're just a salesperson with a technical background and in-depth product knowldge. Or you could teach high school level Computer Science or "Computer Applications" (e.g. "How to use MS Office") courses.

    Check out (or similar) for what each of these would pay in your area.

  • Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by silentrob ( 115677 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @04:24PM (#24021525)

    A non programmer who majored in CS? Why?

    Do you like computers and their applications to business? MIS degree
    Electrical components? electrical engineering degree
    computer hardware? computer engineering degree
    maybe you like money? law or medicine
    an easy piece of paper? anything liberal arts

    No offense, but why the hell did you pick CS if you don't enjoy programming? That's kindof like majoring in psychology when you hate dealing with or analyzing people.

  • One option (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mikeq ( 113400 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @05:57PM (#24022729) Homepage

    If you can't do it, teach it.

"You must have an IQ of at least half a million." -- Popeye