Cognitive science has become an increasingly popular major to study, and it isn’t surprising because the field touches multiple exciting areas such as:
- Artificial Intelligence (AI)
- Big Data
- Interaction design
This article answers the following questions:
- What is Cognitive Science?
- What jobs are there for those who have taken a cognitive science major?
- How can you steer your education towards a specific career?
Note! This article is based on my own experience which is that I majored in Cognitive Science for my Bachelor’s degree at the University of Gothenburg.
The reason why I’m writing this article because I wished there was one like this when I started studying. And therefore, I want to provide this for others now.
Many students want to study Cognitive Science, primarily from a pure point of personal interest in the field. However, that can make it difficult to know how to use the education for a future career. And that’s where this post comes in.
The topics that will be covered
This article is aimed at students or future students of cognitive science.
- Firstly, I’ll start with an introduction to cognitive science as a field.
- Secondly, I’ll explain what you can do with a degree in CogSci after graduation, and what salary to expect.
- Lastly, I’ll give some tips on how you can utilize your education to the fullest. Such as: what can you do to optimize your chances of employment?
I’ll also give some tips on further studies.
1. What is cognitive science?
2. What can you work with after graduation?
3. Is the salary good?
4. How can you handle the breadth of the discipline?
5. What master’s programs can you do after?
Note! Different universities have different niches for their CogSci programs depending on the faculty’s specialty. For example:
- Artificial intelligence & data
- Neuroscience & biology
- Interaction design & human-computer interaction.
So, read carefully about the specific program you’re thinking of applying to.
Think about how well it fits with your personal interests.
What is Cognitive Science?
Cognitive Science is a broad, interdisciplinary field and it takes in knowledge from multiple subjects such as:
- Data science
In its essence, the field is about investigating the minds of humans and other intelligent animals as well as intelligent man-made machines.
Further, it’s about trying to understand how thought, memory, and natural intelligence work.
To give you a clearer picture, here are some topics I studied:
- Why do we behave as we do?
- How does the brain process information (perception, attention, language, memory, and more)?
- Can we think thoughts/have intelligence without knowing any words or languages?
- How do children learn a language?
- How do we teach AI machines how to learn a language?
- How do memory, emotions, learning work biologically in the brain?
- How does neuron (our brain cells) activity lead to thoughts?
- Do we have free will?
- What is consciousness?
- Can an AI have consciousness? What if they learn to think, “feel”, and interact as we do?
- How do we know that we perceive the world as it is?
- Data science:
- How can we create smart machines (AI) that have the intelligence we have?
- How can we recreate our brains in machines?
Some of these fields cross paths and lead to topics such as
- Interaction design and human-computer interaction
- Human factors
- Big data and decision making
- Game design
Since the field is so broad, there are a lot of different niches a student can specialize in.
Most programs in cognitive science allow for many electable courses so that a student can dive into a specific area.
Jobs for Cognitive Scientists
After an education in cognitive science, it’s common to work with things concerning humans and technology.
Here are som examples of jobs & career paths for cognitive scientists:
- Interaction Designer & UX/UI Designer
- Software Testing
- Technical Writer/Technical Communicator
- Artificiell Intelligence
- Web Developer
- Software Developer
- Big Data Scientist
- Data Analytics
Cognitive Science Salary
The majority of jobs and careers in this field pay quite well since count as IT and tech jobs.
But, note that salaries vary by country, region, job, and company type.
So, there isn’t one single specific salary number.
However, you can look up the average salary in your country for:
- UX Designers
- Software Developers
- Data Analysts
- Technical Writers
Tailor your Cognitive Science Education
Most importantly to keep in mind: Cognitive science is a very broad field. This is why it’s important to tailor your education towards your own interests and the career path you hope to embark on in the future.
So, my recommendation is to take advantage of elective courses if your program has them.
Think about what type of work you’d like to do in the future and act accordingly. Things like these are good to have figured out as soon as possible.
If you are for example interested in UX/UI design, then it’s a good idea to choose more courses in:
- Interaction design
- Human-computer interaction
- Graphic design
- Front-end development
If you’re interested in for example development, then you should choose more courses in:
- Data Science
It’s also a good idea to get an internship or relevant part-time or seasonal job before finishing your studies.
This will increase your chances of employment after graduation.
Master’s Programs for Cognitive Science
It can be a good idea to continue with a master’s degree after a bachelor’s in cognitive science in order to develop a niche.
So, here are a few examples of master’s degrees:
- Interaction Design
- Example: Chalmers University
- Human-Computer Interaction (HCI)
- Example: KTH
- Psychology & Neuroscience
- Example: Berlin School of Mind and Brain)
- IT-Project Management
- Data Science
- Digital Design
- Web development
- Example: Linneaus University