IT vs. Computer Science: Which Degree Is Right for You? [Infographic]
You’re intrigued by the world of tech. Combine your passion for the field and the bright prospects for computer and IT jobs, and it’s easy to see why you plan on pursuing a career in the technology sector.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment in computer and information technology roles is projected to grow 13 percent through 2026, which is nearly two times faster than the average projections of all occupations.1 Combined with a median annual salary average of $86,320 across all computer and technology occupations, it’s no wonder that you’re motivated to work in this field.1
You know that a degree in computer science or IT can help get you where you want to be, but you’re not sure which is right for you. What’s the difference between information technology and computer science anyway?
Computer science vs. information technology: Side-by-side breakdown
On the surface, it’s simple to see why there’s some confusion when looking at computer science versus IT. There’s a lot of overlap in skills and duties, but when you dig into the details, you’ll find some distinct differences. To make it as simple as possible, we created this infographic to provide you with side-by-side comparisons, so you can decide which tech degree is best for you.
IT vs. computer science: The basics
Though an IT and computer science degree can both prepare you for jobs in the tech field, they often appeal to different types of people based on the slightly varied skill sets. Computer science involves more independent work creating computer programs and applications, using algorithms and writing code. On the other hand, IT professionals focus more on using technology to support business goals while frequently interacting with others to help solve tech issues either over the phone, in person or via email.
Personality-wise, those more suited to independent work behind a desk may find themselves drawn to computer science while those who enjoy hands-on work assisting others may find more fulfillment in IT.
What is information technology?
Information technology (IT) encompasses all of the technology a company uses and how they use it. This includes aspects of hardware, software, cloud computing and storage. Those who work in the IT field find themselves working with all or some of these components and often interact directly with the individuals they’re assisting.
What is computer science?
Computer science involves more of the happenings behind the hardware, like software and software development. Those in the field work with application creation, database systems, programming languages and computing theory. Their work tends to be more individual in nature.
Comparing computer degrees
A bachelor’s degree will serve you well in both the computer science and IT sectors. Time invested in a formal education setting will help you develop the precise skills and characteristics employers are seeking. In an analysis of job postings, we found that 89% of computer science positions require applicants to hold a bachelor’s degree.2 The same is true for 84% of IT positions.3
Though the path to obtaining a bachelor’s degree in either subject will differ somewhat, here’s a taste of what to expect with each.
Information technology degree overview
If you chose to earn a bachelor’s degree in IT, you can look forward to many interesting classes, such as:
- IT Operations Management
- Infrastructure and Hardware
- Enterprise Application Support
These courses and more will help you gain the knowledge and hands-on experience you’ll need to secure positions such as:
- Computer Support Specialist
- IT Project Manager
- Network Administrator
Computer science degree overview
The curriculum included in a computer science bachelor’s degree will equip you for success in the field. Common courses include:
- Mobile Application Development
- Introduction to Business Intelligence
- Advanced Cloud Computing Technologies
The skills and training you receive in this program will help qualify you for positions such as:
- Systems Software Developer
- Mobile Software Engineer
- Cloud Application Engineer
Which computer degree makes sense for you?
When it comes to choosing a degree in IT versus computer science, you really can’t go wrong. Both education paths will lead you to a thriving industry—it really depends on your personal skills and interests.
If you find yourself drawn to information technology, learn more about what your career will look like in our article, “What Can You Do With an IT Management Degree?”
If you’re more interested in the why and how behind all the tech, learn more about how you’ll apply all that in our article, “What Can You Do With a Computer Science Degree?”
1 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, [accessed August 2019]. Information represents national, averaged data for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. Employment conditions in your area may vary.
2 Burning-Glass.com (analysis of 1,075,216 computer science job postings by education level, July 2018 – June 2019)
3 Burning-Glass.com (analysis of 139,535 IT job postings by education level, July 2018 – June 2019)
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was originally published in 2014. It has since been updated to include information relevant to 2019.