October 13, 2022
At some point in your training or career, you will need to determine what kind of work you want to pursue. 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 mindset.
We will examine the differences between information technology and computer science. We will also look at the kind of career you can expect with each, and which might be the best option for you based on your skills and work preferences.
At a high level, IT (information technology) careers are more about installing, maintaining, and improving computer systems, operating networks, and databases. Computer science (CS) focuses on using mathematics to program systems to run more efficiently, including in design and development.
While a 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 ways, but CS graduates have opportunities immediately available to them that IT-qualified workers do not.
The work environments of these 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 path appeals more, there’s plenty of potential for career growth and lucrative job opportunities in both fields.
To begin a career in IT, you should have a two- to four-year degree in an IT-related subject. However, some IT professionals start in lower-level positions, such as help desk support, without a degree and receive training through their employer to help them advance.
In addition to relevant education, training, and experience, skills considered essential for IT roles include aptitude with Linux and SQL, as well as project management, technical support, and customer service skills.
As you progress through an IT career, computer science skills and programming knowledge can help you advance and pave the way to a computer science career. With both career paths, IT professionals are expected to keep up-to-date with the latest technologies.
IT jobs are on the rise and are estimated to grow 13% from 2020 to 2030, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. IT professionals are in high demand and can expect an average annual salary of $92K and a range from $64K to $134K.
IT specialists’ responsibilities can differ greatly but, in most cases, they solve business process issues using their technology expertise. They usually work as part of a team and with other departments or clients, implementing technologies within existing systems that help meet the goals of the client or business.
There’s room for specialization in IT, too. This might include finding a niche in networks, security, cloud computing, and more. A systems or database administrator role is a common career progression for IT professionals as well.
Most computer scientists start by earning a degree with a computer science major. Most often, they obtain 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 keep up-to-date with coding.
Besides the education, certifications, and experience needed to demonstrate competency, a computer scientist should have skills such as SQL, Java, and Linux capabilities, software and systems engineer skills, and information systems knowledge. With those skills, computer scientists can work in diverse IT professions, as well as a few specialized options that we’ll look at next.
As with information technology roles, computer science roles are growing faster than most occupations and will see similar job growth as IT roles by 2030. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a software developer with a computer science background can expect a median salary of $110K with a salary range of $65K to $170K.
With the right qualifications, computer scientists can find many different careers, 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 have skills such as deep programming knowledge and information systems analysis that allow much more opportunity to freelance. At FieldEngineer.com, you can access freelance roles that fit your experience, interests, and skills. Just upload your resume to view the most relevant opportunities.
IT specialists are always needed in all industries, and computer scientists are more concentrated in tech-industry jobs.
In addition to working as an employee within organizations, sites like FieldEngineer.com make it easy to find freelance work. More businesses are recruiting specialists on-demand to help complete projects rather than managing all projects in-house, so freelance work can help you maintain a lucrative and expanding career.