May 22, 2019
At some point in your training or career, you’re going to have to make a distinction in what kind of work you do. The two most distinct paths you’re likely to encounter are Information Technology and Computer Science. It’s easy to confuse the two, but each of these disciplines demands a different set of skills and a different kind of attitude.
Here, we’re going to look at the differences between information technology and computer science. We’re also going to take a look at the kind of career you can expect of each, and which might be the best option based on your skills and work preferences.
At a glance, IT (information technology) careers are more about installing, maintaining, and improving computer systems, operating networks, and databases. Meanwhile, computer science is about using mathematics to program systems to run more efficiently, including in design and development.
While computer science education isn’t necessary for an IT career, some IT education is fundamental for a computer science degree that later leads to job opportunities. IT can be specialized in many different ways, but CS graduates have opportunities immediately available to them that IT qualified workers don’t.
The work environments expected from both careers can vary widely, too. Most IT professionals work as part of a team in an organization, serving internal needs or working directly with clients. Computer scientists, however, work in businesses, colleges, video game development companies, or as freelancers. Regardless of which appeals more, there’s plenty of potential for career growth and lucrative job opportunities in both fields.
To start a career in IT, you normally require two-to-four-year degree programs in an IT related subject. Some IT team members do start off in help desk positions with much less education and receive training through their employer, however.
Alongside the right bachelor’s degree, training, and experience, skills considered essential for IT roles include aptitude with Linux and SQL, as well as project management skills, technical support skills, and customer service skills.
As you progress through an IT career, computer science skills and programming knowledge can help you advance. As such, IT can serve as an entryway to computer science careers. Either way, IT professionals are expected to keep up to date with the latest technologies.
IT jobs are ever on the rise, with an estimated 15 to 37% increase in open job roles by 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It’s one of the fastest growing occupation types of them all, with high demand leading to an average annual wage of around $86k.
The work of an IT specialist can differ greatly but, in most cases, they are there to solve business processes using technologies they have expertise in. Most often they work as part of a team and with other departments or clients. A lot of the work of an IT professional involves finding and implementing technologies with existing systems that help meet the goals of the client or employer.
There’s a lot of room for specialization in IT, too. This might include finding a niche in networks, security, Cloud computing, and more. A systems administrator or database administrator role is a common career progression for IT professionals, too.
Most computer scientists start by earning a degree with a computer science major. Most commonly, they go for four-year degrees that include placement positions in tech-driven organizations and environments. Computer scientists aiming to work in software developing are also expected to teach themselves coding consistently.
Besides the experience needed and the certifications to help prove their competency, there are skills a computer scientist is expected to show. Like those in IT professions, SQL and Linux capabilities are expected, but so are Java, systems engineer, and software engineer skills, alongside knowledge on information systems.
With those skills, computer scientists can find places in all kinds of IT professions, as well as a few exclusive options that we’ll look at next.
Just like information technology roles, computer science roles are growing at a rate faster than most occupations. There are expected to be up to 22% more computer science jobs by 2026, with the average developer with a computer science background making around $93k.
With the right qualifications, computer scientists can find careers of all kinds, including in programming, operating systems development, software engineering and as senior IT professionals. Some of the fastest growing computer science jobs include roles such as web developer, computer systems analyst, systems engineer, and software applications developer.
Computer scientists also have skills such as deep programming knowledge and information systems analysis that allow much more opportunity to freelance. At FieldEngineer.com, you can see what kind of freelance roles can fit your specific type and level of skill. By uploading your resume, you can begin to immediately look at the most relevant matching opportunities.
There’s always room for IT specialists in organizations of all kinds, while computer scientists are more concentrated in tech-industry jobs. However, that’s a fast-growing industry, so there’s no shortage of roles for those in both types of tech career.
Besides working within organizations, sites like FieldEngineer.com make it much easier to find freelance work. More and more businesses are recruiting specialists on-demand to help complete projects rather than managing it all in-house, so finding a good supply of freelance work can help you maintain a lucrative and ever-growing career.