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Computer Science vs Information Technology

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Computer Science vs. Information Technology: Careers, Degrees, and More

Despite their many similarities, computer science and information technology are two different subjects. Computer science is the art of creating and programming computers. Information technology is the maintenance and troubleshooting of computers, their networks, systems, and databases to ensure that they function smoothly.

So while working in a computer science-based job might mean you’ll create software, design websites, or gather information on visitors to a website, a career in IT can mean you’ll make sure computers are functional and secure.

It is sometimes difficult to distinguish between IT and computer science. Working in IT may require some knowledge of computer science principles. Being a programmer means that you will be performing tasks that are more IT-related. Sometimes, IT work includes computer-science jobs like software engineering or web development. This can cause a lot of confusion.

Here are the basics:

  • Although there are overlaps in computer science and IT work, computer science generally involves designing and building computers as well as computer programs. IT is more concerned with managing computers within an organization and ensuring security, networks, and security are in place.
  • The salaries for IT- and computer science-based jobs vary widely. Some base salaries can easily reach over $100,000. Some entry-level IT work that doesn’t require a four-year degree may have lower salaries.
  • It may be more difficult to get a job in IT if you don’t hold a four-year degree.

Computer science vs IT careers

Both IT and computer science careers can lead you to many different places, but each has its own path. Computer science jobs will generally involve programming languages and data processing to improve or develop products. IT jobs will be more focused on computer networks and system operation so that other employees can perform their tasks smoothly.

Many roles can cross the line between IT and computer science, such as cloud computing or database administration.

Salary information for IT and computer science

Both IT and computer science salaries vary greatly. Higher salaries may be offered for jobs that require advanced knowledge to program, build or maintain computers. Some entry-level IT jobs require no four-year degree. However, starting salaries may be lower for generalist positions. Below is a sample of the salaries for various IT-related and computer science jobs.

Computer science jobsSalary (average base salary in the US, Glassdoor)IT jobsSalary (average base salary in the US, Glassdoor)
Web developer$68,858Computer technician$37,990
Robotics engineer$90,624Technical support$40,837
Full-stack developer$98,256Cybersecurity specialist$78,444
Software engineer$104,749The administrator of the system$79,708
Artificial intelligence engineer$106,375The administrator of the database$80,772
Back end engineer$107,941The administrator of the network$84,570
Data scientist$114,673Cloud engineer$109,541

Computer science and IT skills

Below is a list of things that you may need to know as an IT professional or computer science professional.

Computer science skillsIT skills
Programming languages like Python, C++, HTML, CSS, JavascriptProgramming languages, particularly scripting languages such as Python and Powershell
Statistics, algebra, or calculus?Troubleshooting techniques
Familiarity and familiarity with code sharing platforms such as GitHubConfigure your network
Understanding the lifecycle of software developmentSecurity infrastructures such as setting up routers and firewalls
Machine learning and deep learning are two examples of artificial intelligence, along with tools like Apache Spark or Hadoop.Hacking and penetration testing
Data analysis and database tools such as SQL, MongoDB, or PostgreSQL.Data administration skills like SQL

Is it possible to switch from IT to a job in computer science, or vice versa?

It is possible to switch careers from IT to computer science or vice versa. It is possible to switch from a career in IT to something closer to computer science. If you want to become a front-end engineer, for example, you might find programming languages like HTML, CSS, and Javascript useful to know. Look at several job descriptions to get an idea of the skills required for your new position. You can then enroll in courses or a boot camp to learn the skills you want.

How to get started in IT and computer science

A degree will help you be competitive for many computer-based jobs. However, entry-level IT jobs may require a less rigorous degree requirement.

You can get an entry-level IT certification if you don’t have any college IT experience. Or, consider a professional certificate program such as the Google IT Support Professional Certificate.

Computer science vs IT degrees

Many universities and colleges offer computer science or other related degrees like computer engineering. Some colleges may offer information technology degrees or computer science specializations. What can you expect to learn from them and which ones should you choose?

Computer science degrees usually aim to teach the fundamental mathematical and scientific concepts that underlie computers and their programs. Computer science degrees can lead to software and hardware design, programming languages, data structures, and artificial intelligence concepts. Computer science degrees might require mathematics, statistics, or engineering courses.

A degree, or specialization in information tech, can help students learn essential networking concepts, security practices, and application development. Information systems can also be called similar fields of study.

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