To the average person, computer science and information technology might just seem like different names for the same thing.
Well, computer science and information technology are related, but in the actual sense, they are two distinct fields when it comes to studying and choosing a career path.
In this article, you’ll learn about the difference between computer science and IT. By the end of the article, you’ll also get pointers on choosing a career path between computer science and information technology.
NB: This article is not a black-and-white comparison of computer science and information technology. If you specialize in certain aspects of either field, you're likely living fine and are earning good money. You can choose a career in either a computer science field or IT and do well.
Table of Contents
- What is Computer Science?
- What is Information Technology?
- What is the Difference between Computer Science and Information Technology?
- Further Reading
What is Computer Science?
Computer Science is the study of computers and everything related to them with the end goal of processing information. The things related to computers that you might study in a computer science degree program or bootcamp include:
hardware and software components
algorithms and data structures
and many more.
Computer science is one of the following five interrelated fields of study. The other four are:
Computer Engineering: the practice that combines computer science and electrical engineering for the purpose of creating hardware, software, and network-related solutions
Information Systems: the study that deals with the usage of computer hardware, software, and networks for collecting data and processing them into information.
Information Technology: the study of managing and delivering information with computer systems
Software Engineering: the design, development, testing, and maintenance of software in the form of applications, web applications, or mobile applications. A software engineer can also specialize as a backend, frontend, or fullstack engineer. We'll take a look at those 3 specializations soon in this article.
Career paths you can follow in Computer Science include but are not limited to:
Fullstack Engineering: Fullstack engineering combines frontend and backend engineering with computer science principles to implement web and other related solutions.
Data Science: the gathering and analysis of data with the purpose of getting actionable information that can lead to data-driven solutions.
Artificial Intelligence Engineering: the study of developing, testing, and maintaining computer systems that can perform the same activities humans perform.
System Analysis: deals with the analysis of a system within a business to find the goals and problems they face, so a viable solution that can solve the problems can be implemented.
Database Administration: the management and maintenance of database management systems (DBMS) such as PostgreSQL, MySQL, Apache Cassandra, MongoDB, and lots more.
What is Information Technology?
Information technology (IT) is the management of computers and information systems. Information technology encompasses both the hardware and software components of computer systems.
The aim of information technology is to coordinate and assemble existing computer systems to solve a problem.
IT professionals are also responsible for troubleshooting any issues with computer systems – making sure they are well managed and function as expected.
The career paths you can explore in the IT world include but not limited to:
Business Intelligence Analysis: the analysis of data and processing them into viable information that can help a business make better decisions.
Customer Support Technician the personnel who deliver actionable technical support to the customers of a company.
Cybersecurity: the practice of protecting computer hardware, software, and network-related components from cyber crimes and attacks.
Cloud Computing: the delivery of computer services (mostly storage) over the "cloud" instead of using local servers or personal computers.
Augmented Reality (AR): the distribution of sensory information such as visuals, sounds, and other perceptions through glasses or smartphones.
Virtual Reality (VR): the design and implementation of computer-generated environments that appear to be real.
What is the Difference between Computer Science and Information Technology?
Computer science and information technology are related, as you can now see. But there are still some differences between them, which we'll explore now.
The main difference between computer science and information technology is this: computer science professionals are responsible for developing and improving computer systems when it comes to hardware and software.
On the other hand, information technology (IT) professionals are responsible for maintaining those hardware and software components and applying them to the exact day-to-day life they are meant for, or the problems they are developed to solve.
For example, in a company that has a full-fledged IT department, the software engineers (remember software engineering was listed as a career path in computer science) can develop a software program hosted on the internet.
In that same company, cybersecurity professionals (cybersecurity is a career path under information technology) would be the ones to make sure the software is protected against hacking and other cyber-related crimes.
The same cybersecurity professionals would also play a major role in recovering the software if attackers temporarily bring it down.
This article showed you what distinguishes computer science from information technology. You also got to see the career paths open to you in each field.
If you are still a little confused about the difference between computer science and information technology, consider this analogy:
Computer science professionals are like the farmers that plant crops and maintain them till they are harvested.
On the other hand, information technology (IT) professionals are like storekeepers that make sure the harvested crops are well preserved in storage facilities such as silos, barns, pits, cribs, and so on.
Thank you for reading.
- If you want to learn about Computer Science in depth, you can check out Harvard's CS50 Intro to Computer Science course on freeCodeCamp's YouTube channel.
- If you want to read more about what Information Technology is, here's a helpful overview.
- And if you want to learn more about IT infrastructure, here's a helpful freeCodeCamp article for you.