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

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 generalised 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.
Computer Science: most opportunities exist with software development companies.

Networks: organisations such as banks, insurance companies and large government departments which rely on networked information require graduates with this specialisation to deal with network management and systems design. The explosive growth of 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 specialisation find opportunities in company forecasting, planning or research organisations 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.

Personal Requirements

  • excellent oral and written communication skills
  • inquiring and inventive mind
  • good decision-making and problem-solving skills
  • aptitude for Mathematics and Computer Science
  • enjoy detailed work that requires precision
  • able to manage and organise projects
  • keenness to learn, and logical reasoning

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

Compulsory Subjects: Mathematics (if you intend studying IT degree at university)
Recommended subjects: Information Technology.

  • If you intend studying a degree or a diploma in IT at university then you need a matric with a Bachelor's pass or a Diploma pass.
  • Meet the admission requirements (APS) set by the university.
  • There are alternative routes into IT which do not require a Bachelor’s or a Diploma pass and which do not require Mathematics.

What to Study

Degree: BEng Computer Engineering - UP, NWU, or Electronic Engineering - most universities, e.g. NWU, UP, UJ, US, UKZN. 

A person who has obtained a recognised BSc (Eng) or BEng degree is eligible for registration as Engineer in Training. After gaining at least 3 years of appropriate practical experience, a computer engineer may register as a Professional Engineer under the auspices of the Engineering Council of South Africa.

For Computer Scientists, 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 specialised work in computer science and programming.


  • companies that supply and service computers
  • government departments
  • provincial administrations
  • computer bureaus
  • such companies as: Spoornet, Telkom, Denel
  • universities and universities of technology
  • any company or business using computer systems and networks
  • self-employment, a registered engineer with the necessary experience and initiative, as consultant

Further Information

Computer Society of SA 
ICT House
546 16th Road
Constantia Park [Unit No.3]
Tel: (011) 315-1319

Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA) 
1st Floor, Waterview Corner Building
2 Ernest Oppenheimer Avenue
Bruma Lake Office Park, Bruma
Johannesburg, 2198 
Tel: (011) 607-9500

Society for Professional Engineers
P O Box 78433
Sandton, 2146
Tel: 076 435 0892

The Director
Computer Users’ Council of South Africa 
P O Box 1688
Halfway House, 1685 
Tel: (011) 805-3151/2 

Engineering News Magazine

Project Management South Africa (PMSA)
PO Box 4328
Sandton, 2128
Tel: (011) 257-8003

Getting Started

  • develop your mathematical, communication and computer skills
  • arrange to take an aptitude test, to determine whether you have the necessary ability for this type of work
  • speak to people in this field of work
  • try to obtain vacation work in this field

Programmes by Study Institutions


Study Computer Science at Stellenbosch University

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