In a world that runs on technology, it is no wonder that IT professionals are in demand. Are you seeking an online information technology degree to help you advance in your career? To enter the IT industry, individuals must have specialized skills and knowledge. The demand has led to a renewed surge of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) degrees that prepare students for these high-demand jobs. Leading colleges offer a wide range of STEM degrees, each one offering specializations in specific areas. These degrees can be in IT as well as computer science. These degrees are very similar at their core. Still, they can be pretty different and influence students’ career paths.
It may be hard for students to understand which online information technology degree is right for them. Thus, it is essential to understand the difference between computer science (CS) and information technology (IT) degrees. Only then can they choose a major that suits them best and provides them with the knowledge and skills to succeed in technology.
What Is Information Technology (IT)?
An IT program teaches students both the business and technology needs of organizations. They learn to address the business side of computer science and help an organization function smoothly. Professionals in the field focus on computers and software to store, process, protect, transmit, and retrieve data. As IT majors, they learn to identify, configure and build complex computing systems and platforms to solve various business problems. They also focus on technology infrastructures like networks, servers, and databases and learn to keep a business’s technology up to date to function efficiently.
What Is Computer Science?
Computer science is a broad field. It focuses on creating, understanding, analyzing, and using algorithmic and mathematical processes linked to computer systems. Students who major in the field go on to work in areas like:
- software engineering
- scientific computing
- research and development
- software developer
- web developer
- computer engineering
Students gain sound knowledge about the principles of computation and the problem-solving process. Subfields within computer science include:
- artificial intelligence
- programming language theory
- software engineering
- computer engineering
- computer graphics
- computer security
- network security
- data science
- database administration
Computer scientists often:
- Work with computer architectures and operating systems
- Design and develop software for end-users, IT professionals, and embedded systems
- Write computer programs, including writing code that is up to date
What Is the Difference Between Computer Science vs Information Technology?
The future is bright for both computer science and IT graduates. The primary difference between the two fields is that IT professionals install, implement, and maintain computer programs and apply them to businesses. They use their skills to communicate with businesses to meet their needs through technology. Computer science professionals use fields like mathematics to develop and improve computer programs and use these skills in mathematics and theories to make information technology possible. Each of these disciplines demands different skills, aptitudes, and attitudes.
Students who enjoy working with others and finding solutions to technological problems should consider an online information technology degree. Students who are interested in learning the behind-the-scenes of computer software development consider a degree in computer science.
Information Technology and Computer Science – Which degree to choose and study?
Along with looking at the differences between information technology vs. computer science, students should also evaluate what kind of career paths they want to go into and which might be the best option based on their skills and work preferences. For students who are passionate about technology and want to get into the field, choosing between IT and Computer Science (CS) can be challenging. But they are not alone. This is one of the most frequently asked questions that colleges and enrollment advisors face. The confusion arises because, at times, the terms are used interchangeably. That’s why we will attempt to discuss the main differences between information tech degree programs and computer science programs. We will examine the different focuses of the different disciplines and what they mean for different student audiences and career paths.
Information Technology and Computer Science-Key differences
Computer Science programs train students to develop and test software and software systems. They learn to work with mathematical models, algorithms, data analysis and security, and computational theory. Graduates work as computer scientists responsible for establishing the computational principles that form the basis of all software that people and organizations use. Their work is behind security standards, data transfers and data storage, encryption, etc.
Information Technology degrees train students in developing, supporting, implementing, and managing computers and information systems. The best online IT degree programs teach students to work with software systems that include operating systems, web browsers, and mobile applications. They also learn to work with hardware systems like CPUs, RAM, and hard disks. Graduates go on to work as expert IT professionals in various industries and career paths. They ensure that computers, networks, and systems work well together.
How do specializations or concentrations differ between the fields of IT and Computer Science?
Now that we know the core differences between IT and Computer Science programs, it is time to look at what specializations or concentrations each of them offers. Delving deep into these will give students a better idea about each program and help them choose the stream that best aligns with their goals and interests.
Classes and specialization options in Information Technology degrees:
- Network Administration
- IT Security
- System Administration
- Enterprise Systems
- International Biometrics
- IT Management
- IT Strategy and Innovation
- Artificial Intelligence
- Computer Science specializations
- Machine Learning
- Data Science
- Human-Computer Interaction (HIC)
- Cyber Security
- Video Game Development
- Cloud Computing
- Computer Engineering
Classes and specialization options in Computer Science degrees:
- Information Technology
- Network Engineering
- Information Systems
- Operating Systems
- Information Security Fundamentals
- Database Fundamentals
- System Analysis
- Business Technology
- Network Administration
- Programming Languages
- Hardware and Software Troubleshooting
- IT Ethics
- Theory of computation
- Computer Science classes
- Software security
- Algorithms and data structures
- Computer graphics
- Linear algebra
- Web development
- Programming Knowledge
- Computer Engineering
Information Technology vs. Computer Science skills – Which aligns with your career goals?
A traditional degree or the best online IT degree programs cover theoretical and practical applications of the technologies they cover. While every job may have additional requirements, the skills required to succeed as an IT professional or Computer Scientist may overlap quite a bit. Some of the most essential skills students need to develop are:
- Communication (oral and written)
- Analytical thinking
- Project management
- Attention to detail
- Team collaboration
- Technical support
- Customer service
- Aptitude with Linux and SQL, and related technologies
- Programming languages
Computer Science Vs Information Technology-Career outlook
To start a career in information technology, students must complete a four-year bachelor’s degree or a related subject. A degree can set you on a solid path to being competitive for many types of computer-based jobs. Others can opt for a computer science undergraduate degree. Computer science skills and programming knowledge can help one advance even in an IT career. IT and computer science careers can take you in many directions, but they do have distinct paths. Students with bachelor’s degrees can start in help desk positions and learn more on the job. They can then advance to graduate-level programs. These will help them grow in their careers. IT professionals work in various industries, while computer scientists may work in very niche areas.
A career in information technology
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, IT jobs are on the rise and will continue to grow at an estimated 15% through 2031. It’s one of the fastest-growing occupations with high demand for degree holders, leading to an average annual wage of around $97k.
What do IT professionals do?
IT professionals primarily work as part of a team and with other departments or clients. The work of an IT professional typically means solving issues related to business processes using technologies they have learned. A database or systems administrator job is one of the more common career choices for IT professionals. They focus on getting and implementing technologies with current systems that help meet the client’s or employer’s goals. Students specializing in a particular area can have an IT career in networks, Cloud computing, and security, among others.
A career in computer science vs. information technology
A computer science major prepares students to work as computer scientists and engineers in tech-driven organizations and environments. They learn computer science principles such as the basics of coding and software development along with the experience and the certifications to prove their competency. Along with knowledge of information systems, they are also expected to have SQL and Linux capabilities, systems engineer, Java, and software engineer skills.
What do computer science professionals do?
Computer science jobs are growing at a fast rate and are expected to be up to 22% by 2026, with an average developer salary of around $93k per year. Computer scientists who hold at least a bachelor’s degree can work in programming, web development, operating systems development, system engineering or software engineering, software applications development, and as senior IT professionals or computer systems analysts.
Both fields have a huge need for well-trained employees as they lack qualified professionals with good computer and digital skills.
Students who are enrolled in an information technology bachelor’s degree should ensure that they complete all internship and capstone requirements. That, along with various work placement opportunities, will help them gain as much hands-on experience as possible and improve their eligibility for jobs.
Information Technology vs. Computer Science Programs-A look at various jobs and related salaries
Salaries for both IT and computer science may vary quite a bit. Jobs requiring specialized knowledge, past experience, or a degree may lead to higher salaries. Entry-level IT or generalist jobs often don’t need a four-year bachelor’s degree. Graduates can quickly enter the workforce, maybe with lower starting salaries but have immense growth potential. Here’s a quick overview of salaries from various computer science and IT careers. We’ve included the average salaries in the US based on data from Glassdoor, PayScale, and Salary.com.
Information Technology jobs and salaries
- IT Technician – $41,513 USD/year
- IT Business Analyst – $72,188 USD/year
- IT Consultant – $82,791 USD/year
- IT Project Manager – $490,149 USD/year
- IT Director – $123,688 USD/year
- IT Security Analyst – $102,600 USD/year
Computer Science jobs and salaries
- Java Developer – $82,639
- System Analyst – $69,085
- Computer Scientist – $82,447
- Web Designer/Web Developer – $78,300
- Data Scientist – $98,782
- Software Programmer – $67,546
- Business Analyst – $72,188
- Systems Engineer: $84,556
- Software Developer: $76,113
Information Technology and Computer Science degrees lead to different careers and offer different opportunities to specialize. So, one is not better than the other, just different. Students have to explore these differences to see what attracts them most about each program.
At a glance, both information technology and computer science degrees touch upon computer and hardware systems basics. While IT covers operating networks, installing, maintaining, and improving computer systems and databases, computer science uses mathematical solutions for program systems to run more efficiently. The former is sometimes considered to be fundamental for a computer science degree though not always the vice versa. Computer scientists work in businesses, game or app development companies, or teach in colleges. Most IT professionals work in an organization, serving internal needs or for clients. Both degrees offer lucrative job opportunities and have immense potential for career growth.
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