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CS vs IT – Which Is a Better Career Choice for 2020?

As we enter the new decade, let’s put the age-old “Computer Science vs Information Technology” debate to rest.
If you are interested in pursuing a career in software development, you would know that this comparison between these two has sparked a lot of discussion over the years. Today, we will settle this argument once and for all!

Various studies suggest that many students are unable to decide their field of study before they enter university. One reason behind this is lack of proper research and guidance while they were in high school. To make an informed decision, students need complete, accessible information about both options. We will provide all this information to you today.
We will talk about the major differences between Computer Science and Information Technology, as well as how these two are similar to each other. Our IT vs CS discussion will also advise you on which one would work best for you. Furthermore, we will shed light on the various career paths that open up for CS and IT graduates.

Our sound logic, along with some solid facts and figures, will help you answer a lot of your queries on IT vs Computer Science.


What Is Computer Science?

We will soon delve into the specifics of the discussion on Information Technology versus Computer Science. But first, let’s talk about what exactly Computer Science is.

Let us first break down the term ‘Computer Science’ into two. Once we grasp the meaning of science, it will become much easier for us to explain what Computer Science means.

Science refers to the act of conducting a thorough study of a subject. It involves the processes of observation as well as hands-on experimentation and testing in order to gain complete knowledge about the subject. That makes Computer Science an exhaustive study of everything related to computers.

what is computer science?
What is Computer Science?

You can divide Computer Science into two broad categories – theory and programming. In order to be a computer scientist, you need to be able to do two things:

  1. First, you must understand precisely how a computer works.
  2. Then, you apply whatever theory you learnt to efficiently communicate with and make better use of computers via programming.

Let us explain this to you in simpler terms.

Suppose you want to bake a cake. Would you be able to do that if you did not know about the ingredients? Of course not. You must know how much flour, baking powder, sugar or eggs would go into your cake. Knowing the recipe is the theoretical part.

Next comes the process of baking itself. You mix all the ingredients into a batter and put it into the oven. After some time, your cake will be ready to eat!

That is how Computer Science works too. So what are the ingredients of Computer Science?

Most Computer Science programs cover the following subjects in varying levels of detail/depth:

  • Mathematics
  • Electronics
  • Physics
  • Programming
  • Other engineering electives

What Is Information Technology?

The field of Information Technology is mostly focused on the business applications of computer-related knowledge. It does not focus much on the programming aspect, unlike CS.

IT students learn how to solve business problems by using technical resources efficiently. Regardless of which industry you are part of, you may be presented with applying your IT skills to its business processes.

An essential part of IT is information exchange. Considering the name of this field, it is quite clear that a large part of this field is heavily reliant on data.  Wherever there is transmission or exchange of data happening, you may have an opportunity to improve this process via efficient IT solutions.

Besides data management, you also have the option to solve networking or security problems. You can think of yourself as a troubleshooter. Whenever a member of an organization faces any technological challenge, who do they call for help? That’s right – an IT professional.

What is Information Technology?
What is Information Technology?

So whether you choose to join a software house or a supermarket, there will always be a need for an IT person. Here’s what you will have to study to qualify for such a position:

  • Networking
  • Telecommunications
  • Database design and management
  • Programming fundamentals
  • Mathematics
  • Management information systems (MIS)
  • Other domain-specific software, e.g., for accounting or inventory

Information Technology VS Computer Science: Which Degree Is Right For You?

Are you finding it difficult to choose between a CS and IT degree? Let’s break things down and make it easier for you to decide.

There are two important questions that you need to answer honestly before you make your decision.

  1. What do you want to do?
  2. What are you good at?

The first question is a simple one. Once students finish high school, they may be lost and confused about picking a major. However, they do have a fair idea about their interests. Here is an example.

Student A is interested in making mobile apps and websites.

Student B is curious about computer networking and communication and managing databases.

Student A may not know which language they want to master, which technology stack they want to work on, or other programming specifics. Student B also might not be an expert in either area of interest. What should they do in this situation?

CS vs IT - Which degree is right for you?
CS vs IT – Which degree is right for you?

One possible solution is that both students pick subjects that cover all of their potential areas of interest. A could choose CS, and B could choose IT. Once they study these subjects in detail, they will be able to make a better decision about what option they want to stick with as a career in the future.

This brings us to our second point: What are they good at? If Student A is skilled at coding, they could easily choose Computer Science as their major. On the other hand, if student B is better at database-related tasks, they would be more likely to go for Information Technology.

Is Information Technology Easier Than Computer Science?

This question is often part of the classic “Computer Science vs Information Technology” debate. Let’s answer it for you in as easy a way as we can. Here are a few things you must remember:

  • Most people think IT is easier because it has a narrower scope than CS. However, that is FALSE. The scope for both majors is very wide. And so is the learning.
  • Plus, the concept of easy and difficult is relative. If you can’t understand something, you will think that it is difficult. But if your concept is crystal clear,  you will surely say, “Oh, that’s a piece of cake!”
Information Technology vs Computer Science
Information Technology vs Computer Science
  • The third factor is your area and level of interest. For example, if you like swimming but hate cooking, you will definitely find it much easier to learn the former. When interest peaks, we allow ourselves to learn new concepts. So, if you are not interested in learning a particular subject, it may end up making you want to skip classes, or even doze off during lectures.

Studying IT subjects means you will be going through basic programming lessons, perhaps, or databases and computer networks. Unlike IT, Computer Science is based on a lot of mathematics, computation theory, and concrete programming concepts. Now it is up to you to decide which of these things are easy for you, and which are not.

Is Information Technology a Branch of Computer Science?

An important question that comes up in the IT vs Computer Science comparison is: Is IT a branch of CS or are they the same?

Most colleges offer a degree in either CS or IT. Very few offer both CS and IT simultaneously because of the overlapping syllabus. If there were any significant differences between them, more colleges would consider offering both programs separately.

These are the key differences between their course contents:

Computer Science Information Technology
Computer Theory Programming fundamentals
Programming Databases fundamentals
Software Engineering Cloud Computing
Data Structures Systems and Network Administration
Database Systems Network Security
Operating Systems System Integration and Architecture
Theory of Automata Applications of programs developed by CS majors

There is also a difference between the job opportunities available for graduates of the two majors. Some particular jobs are better suited for IT graduates. CS graduates are better at other jobs that are specifically for them. Therefore, career options differ for CS and IT graduates.

The work environment also usually differs. IT professionals typically end up working in strictly business settings. CS grads, on the other hand, have a wide range of possibilities for potential workplaces – software houses, businesses, educational institutions etc.

Jobs Available for Computer Science

In recent years, we have noticed that when it comes to Computer Science vs Information Technology, many people opt for the former due to higher-paying jobs. The job market for Computer Science is expected to keep growing over the coming years.

Jobs Available for Computer Science
Jobs Available for Computer Science

According to an official report by BLS, the average annual salary for both system and application software developers was over USD 100,000 in mid-2018.

If you want to have that kind of money in your pocket, then here is what you need to know:

What would you need to be good at? Which jobs would be best for you?
Advanced programming knowledge Software Developer
Attention to detail Software Engineer
Analytical skills Systems Engineer
Creative thinking Network Engineer
Teamwork and coordination Web Developer

Jobs Available for Information Technology

Much like Computer Science, the field of Information Technology is also highly rewarding in terms of monetary compensation. Many of those who pick the latter from CS vs IT do so because IT jobs don’t require advanced programming expertise or theoretical knowledge. With a bachelor’s degree in Information Technology, you gain all the skills necessary for entering the IT job market.

Jobs Available for Information Technology
Jobs Available for Information Technology

This is what your life would look like if you picked Information Technology:

What would you need to be good at? Which jobs would be best for you?
Technical knowledge Database Administrator
Critical thinking Network Architect/Administrator
Creative problem-solving Information Security Analyst
Project management IT Auditor
Basic programming knowledge Technical Support Specialist
Analytical skills

CS VS IT: Google Trends for 2019

Let’s look at the CS vs IT debate through numbers to better understand their trend of popularity worldwide. For 2019, this is how the search terms ‘Computer Science’ and ‘Information Technology’ fared in the ‘Jobs and Education’ category. The graph depicts the interest of people in both fields of study, measured by comparing how often they were searched on Google.

As you can see, the two graphs are almost identical to each other, without any major variations. So it’s safe to say that both CS and IT are equally popular fields of education and employment, and there is hardly any major distinction between them to begin with. When it comes to deciding which one to choose between CS and IT, it simply depends on where your interests lie, the skill set you have, and the education or employment opportunities available to you.

Let’s Recap…

As we discussed in our IT vs Computer Science debate, there is not much of a difference between IT and Computer Science. The course material varies slightly, and studying each subject has its pros and cons.

Computer science focuses on the efficient development of applications. On the other hand, Information Technology is more devoted to figuring out how to use those applications for solving business problems.

CS vs IT
CS vs IT

Employers don’t care much about what you study, CS or IT. There are tons of jobs open for both majors. In fact, the job opportunities for IT, Computer Science and other technology-related majors will undergo a 13% growth between 2016 and 2026. So you have nothing to worry about when it comes to a better salary and job availability. What you do need to consider when choosing from “Computer Science vs Information Technology” is the kind of work that is expected from the graduates of each major.

So make sure that you land a job that matches your skillset and interests, and you will be good to go!

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Sasha Reeves

The author Sasha Reeves

25 years old. Computer scientist and content creator by day, struggling musician by night. Survives on cat videos and bad pop music.

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