People wondering what an algorithm specialist is might be surprised at the answer because algorithm specialists are a complex mixture of several different individuals. They’re part computer programmer, part mathematician, part algorithm developer and part quality assurance manager. This highly-qualified individual is a combination of all the above because that’s what all takes place during the creation of algorithms. Here is an overview of an algorithm specialist, including what they do, how to become one and career outlook for this profession.

What is an Algorithm?

To fully understand what an algorithm specialist is and what this individual does, it’s important to understand algorithms and how they work. They are described as sequences of instructions that perform specific tasks or tell the computer what tasks to perform. They’re often compared to a recipe. A recipe gives you a list of all the ingredients it needs as well as in what order they should be added. Algorithms work in much the same way. There are a group of codes, symbols and numbers that all have a specific meaning and must be entered in a certain order.

What is an Algorithm Specialist?

An algorithm specialist is a computer scientist who performs research and designs algorithms for educational and real-world applications. Algorithm specialists perform research to learn how to make faster and better-running sequences for applications that are too complicated. They’re always looking for ways of improvement. As mentioned above, algorithm specialists also do computer programming and must be very good at mathematics because the algorithms consist of many numbers. They also play the part of a quality assurance specialist because they are constantly making sure the finished algorithm is working to perfection. Just creating the algorithm is not always enough to satisfy the algorithm specialist because they are always researching and practicing ways to make the program run faster and better. Algorithm specialists are used in most areas of our lives. Every program you ever use on a computer is created with algorithms.

How to Become an Algorithm Specialist

Algorithm specialists are listed under the category of computer and information research scientists by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). To become a computer and information research scientist, an individual must have a master’s degree in computer science. Computer scientists who work as algorithm specialists typically must have a doctoral degree, which can take six to eight years to complete. Individuals pursuing this degree should have good quantitative problem-solving skills and a solid background and love of mathematics. Students can expect to take the following courses:

  • Algorithms
  • Dynamic programming
  • Data analytics
  • Computer science
  • Engineering
  • Data structures
  • Python
  • Algorithms in Java

Algorithm specialists perform many sophisticated programs such as data mining, automated financial trading, physics simulations, artificial intelligence and quantum computing, among other things.

Career Outlook for an Algorithm Specialist

Algorithm specialists are often employed by academic institutions or companies that work with algorithm technology, such as Google or IBM. Because of their complex work, they receive excellent salaries and are very much in demand. The BLS states that because it is a small occupation, there will probably not be a lot of new jobs created in the near future. However, they are still predicted to see an employment growth of 19 percent during the 2016-2026 decade. As of May 2017, these professionals earned wages that ranged from $65,540 to more than $176,780 with the average annual wage at $119,570.

Since our world has become so computerized, algorithms are used in almost every area of our lives. Individuals who love numbers and solving programs may find this an exciting career once they learn exactly what an algorithm specialist is all about.

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