So you want a degree in tech, but you’re not sure which route to take. These days, there are two strong paths to make a career in computers: Computer Science and Information Technology (IT).
Which is right for you?
A Comparison of Degrees
To begin, it’s important to understand the distinctions of each. In Computer Science, you’ll be learning how computers work. This could be anything from computer languages, software design, or hardware architecture. It’s just you and the computer having a conversation.
You’ll learn many of the same skills in IT, but your intentions will be different. You’ll become the mediator between the machine and the end user. Think of yourself as a translator- you speak both computer and human speech. It becomes your job to facilitate conversation between two speakers who are often mutually unintelligible. You’ll be learning skills like computer support, database and systems administration, and network architecture.
Job Salaries and Growth Potential
There’s a lot of overlap between IT and Computer Science careers. An IT person might find themselves writing code, and a Computer Science person might wander into networking. But generally speaking, many computer jobs are associated with one study over another.
Let’s look at some of the most recognized careers. For an IT sample, we’ll examine careers for Network Architects, Web Developers, and Systems Analysts. For Computer Science, we’ll look at Computer Programmers, Software Developers, and Hardware Engineers.
In this group, Computer Science has the salary advantage over IT. On average, a Computer Science degree will earn you about $12,000 more per year, a difference of 14% over IT.
However, here’s how these positions are expected to expand in the next ten years:
IT clearly comes out ahead. The average growth rate from our Computer Science sample is around 12%, well below IT’s 20%. Despite the lower overall salaries, IT studies may prove more marketable.
No matter which route you take, both courses of study are financially solvent. The US average household income is around $50,000. Virtually any job in either IT or computer science will pay you far more. Also take into consideration that the average rate of career growth is around 7%. Most technology jobs have growth rates substantially higher than that.
In short, both degrees are highly profitable and unquestionably relevant.
The most important thing to consider it your personality. If you care about technology and problem solving for its own sake, Computer Science may be the best fit. But if you’re more concerned about how people use technology, think about IT.