Computer Science vs IT: How are they different?

The digital era has heralded the advent of several mobile apps and innovative technologies that has made life easier for us. These apps and technologies are the by-products of Computer Science and Information Technology (IT), two fields that have witnessed a boom in India. As a result, many students wish to build a career in one of these domains. However, there are several differences between the two fields. Before delving into the differences, let’s get an overview of Computer Science and IT as two distinct disciplines.

If you opt for Computer Science as your undergraduate course of study, you will rigorously study discrete mathematics and computer science theory. The course will give you a strong understanding of choosing the correct design patterns, algorithms, and data structures for programmes. You will also learn one or two programming languages, usually C++, Python, or Java. Upon learning these languages, you can go on to become software developers or web programmers. Other career options include researching this field in your alma mater or pursuing advanced specialised roles such as artificial intelligence programming. However, to pursue such specialised roles, you must learn programming languages such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript, MySQL, and PHP.

If you opt for IT as your undergraduate course, you will study storing, processing, securing, and managing information, i.e., database administration. Since these processes are standard in every operation system, the course will educate you about operating systems such as Linux, Apache, Windows Server, Oracle, MySQL, and Microsoft SQL Server. By acquiring this understanding, you can find work in domains such as information security, network architecture, database administration, systems administration, and computer support. However, if you wish to pursue advanced job roles in IT, you must enroll in specialised programmes or take elective courses. For example, if you plan to pursue a career in information security, you must have the know-how of discrete math and algorithms. It will require a specialised Computer Science elective.

Now, let’s understand how Computer Science differs from Information Technology.

Differences between Computer Science and Information Technology

So far, we have seen that a career in Computer Science or Information Technology requires different sets of skills to chalk out a successful career in either field. A career in IT requires you to install, organise, and maintain computer systems, as well as design and operate networks and databases. On the other hand, a career in Computer Science focuses on efficient programming using mathematical algorithms. If software is your forte, a career in Computer Science beckons you; if knowledge in hardware is your strongest suit, go for a career in Information Technology.

Usually, professionals working in Computer Science prefer to continue in software development, designing apps, and writing code. However, many in IT prefer to make inroads towards a career in programming as well. It will make them eligible to work in a business environment as software developers, who also have sound knowledge in internal networks and computer systems. Possessing such a high-level of hardware and software knowledge opens up the opportunity to grow and earn a high salary for IT professionals.

Overall, the fields of Information Technology and Computer Science are interrelated with each other. Opting for a career in either field will lead to similar jobs. Let’s take a look at them.

Career Options in Computer Science

These are a few job-roles you can pursue in Computer Science:

Software Developer – As a software developer, you will be responsible for the development, design, and execution of software products for an ongoing project. You must analyse your users’ needs, understand the programming requirements of the software product, and monitor the designing, testing, and development of the product. You must also work closely with other developers, UX designers, businesses, and System Analysts to develop the product at an optimal level.

Programmer Analyst – In this job role, you will develop and maintain applications and their databases by evaluating client needs, analysing their requirements, and developing software systems. After that, you will prepare a work-flow chart, which includes encoding project requirements. Moreover, you will ensure smooth coding by modifying the program sequence of codes in a particular programming language.

Career options in Information Technology

Here are a few sought-after career options in IT:

Database Administrator – You will be in complete charge of your organisation’s database system. From installing and maintaining server performance to optimising their security, you must manage the database access. Moreover, you have to diagnose and troubleshoot database errors, create database reports, and be available on call-support.

IT Specialist – As an IT Specialist, you have to meet the IT needs of an organisation. It includes installing new software and hardware components, regularly evaluating IT systems, securing data storage, and supporting day-to-day operations of your organisation’s computer network.

Now that you know the differences between the two fields, choose a career path that aligns with your professional strengths. Science and Technology will propel your professional career while also equipping you to contribute to India’s emergence as an IT superpower.

(Authored by Aravind Kumar Rajendran, CEO of Academic Initiatives, KGiSL Institute of Technology)

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