Information Technology vs Computer Science: Which Degree is Right for You?

If you are considering a career in technology, you may be deciding what path to take. The two career paths that you’ll encounter most often are Information Technology and Computer Science.

Though these two careers both involve technology, they are different. What are the main differences between the two? Which one is best suited for you?

We will look at each of these fields in detail so you can make an informed choice.

What is Information Technology?

Information technology (IT) focuses on the configuration of computer systems to solve business problems. Unlike computer science, which focuses primarily on programming, information technology deals with hardware and software resources like computer networks and security, cloud computing and storage, virtualization, servers, databases, data analysis, operating systems, and setting up specialized software.

Many laypeople refer to “I.T.” as a catch-all term for anything to do with computers or programming. IT professionals are usually responsible for building and managing computing systems and networks in an organization. An IT specialist may also be responsible for technical support internally or externally for an organization.

One more essential difference between IT and computer science is the IT professional is often public facing, helping others within an organization with network or hardware support.

What is Computer Science?

Computer science (CS) is the study of computation and programming. A computer science degree prepares you to study algorithms, information storage and retrieval, computation, and how to write software. Some jobs that a computer science curriculum prepares you to create websites, mobile applications, or web applications. Computer science also deals with newer technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML).

Computer science programs give a student in-depth knowledge of computational processes and programming. Jobs that rely on CS tend to have people working behind the scenes coding programs and software, as opposed to IT jobs which are more public facing.

Note: MTI College offers Information Technology degrees and certifications, but not Computer Science degrees.

Computer Science vs IT Skills and Traits

Both IT and computer science focus on technology, but each have differences that set them apart. Knowing what inherent traits and learnable skills set you up for success in each field can help you decide which path is best suited for you.

CS Traits and Skills

Computer science deals mostly with software, web, and application development. These traits and skills are most advantageous for a successful CS career.

  • Basic Communication Skills
  • Analytical Thinking
  • Creativity and Innovative Mindset
  • Detail-Oriented
  • Problem-Solving Abilities
  • Advanced Programming Language Knowledge
  • Strong Mathematic Skills
  • Complex Understanding of Data Analysis
  • Ability to Focus for Long Stretches of Time

IT Common Skills and Traits

Information technology requires a large amount of knowledge about network infrastructure and security, data storage and analysis, and cloud administration.

These are skills and characteristics that will help you excel in an IT career.

  • Software Knowledge
  • Basic Programming Skills
  • Strong Project Management
  • Analytical Thinking
  • Problem Solving Abilities
  • Technical Knowledge
  • Strong Interpersonal Skills
  • Great at Communication
  • Understanding of Complex Business Processes and Structures
  • Excellent Written and Presentational Abilities
  • Desire to Keep Up With Technological Trends
  • Sees How Complicated Systems Work Together

Remember that both computer science and information technology are vast fields. One is not easier or more difficult than the other. Both of these areas have so much to learn, and many people have different aptitudes, so whichever one you choose should be based on what is most interesting to you.

Career Growth and Salary Expectations

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), computer and information technology jobs are projected to increase by 11% from 2019 to 2029, which is much faster than the average of all jobs in the US.

The median annual salary for all jobs in computer and IT jobs is significantly higher than the median of all jobs in the United States in 2021. The BLS has a resource page for current median salaries for various computer and IT jobs on their website.

For IT jobs, most employers require various certifications that demonstrate proficiency. Certain positions nay require degrees or equivalent experience. These may include the CompTIA A+ certification, Network+ certification, Security+ certification, or Amazon AWS Certified Solutions Architect.

Computer science jobs usually require CS degrees or equivalent experience. These jobs can range anywhere from web developers building web applications to computer and information research scientists working on machine learning algorithms.

Comparing IT and CS Programs

When you look at different schools for information technology or computer science programs, what can you expect to find on the curriculum?

IT Programs

A typical IT program might include the following:

  • Networking Concepts
  • Computing Infrastructure
  • Operating Systems
  • Cloud Administration
  • Network Security
  • Server Management

Some of the career paths that an IT certification or degree program might prepare you for include:

Technical Support Specialist: These IT professionals help troubleshoot computer, network and software issues.

Network Specialist: These professionals set up, maintain, manage, and upgrade networks. They may also collect performance data, monitor network security, and make sure the network is running efficiently. Network specialists may build local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), and Intranets.

Cybersecurity Specialist: Cybersecurity professionals detect malicious threats and proactively implement changes to prevent vulnerabilities in an organization. These professionals may be responsible for installation, administration, and troubleshooting of security solutions.

Cloud Solutions Architect: Cloud architects take technical requirement of a project, and design and guide the construction of the final architecture. They often analyze complex business objectives and find how to use cloud technology to create solutions.

CS Programs

Computer science programs usually include these components:

  • Programming Fundamentals
  • Mobile Application Development
  • Data Structures
  • Database Management
  • Business Intelligence
  • Advanced Cloud Computing

Here are some of the careers that a computer science degree can help prepare you for:

Web Developer: These programmers build and maintain websites.

Software Engineer: These engineers develop software to run on different operating systems, on the web, or on a mobile application.

Database Administrator: A database administrator is in charge of a company’s database, necessary updates, protecting the database from security threats, database optimization, and making sure the database runs efficiently.

Computer Scientist: A computer scientist may program and code complex algorithms, design systems that are self-learning, and work with complex mathematical equations and theories that deal with development of technology.

No matter which technology path you choose to pursue, be sure to research schools and find a reputable, accredited school with a track record of graduates finding jobs after graduation.

Start Your IT Career Today

You can get the skills and certification you need from MTI College, and be on the way to turning your passion for technology into a good career. The degree and certification programs at MTI College prepare you for employment in Information Technology or AWS Cloud Administration. For more information, contact our Admissions department today.

Want to learn more about MTI’s programs?

Our admissions team will help you find the perfect program to meet your goals. Financial aid is available to those who qualify.

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