To the novice, the fields of Computer Science and Information Technology (IT) Management may look very similar. However, a closer look shows these two fields, although equally important, may attract different types of people seeking different professional experiences. While some colleges and universities across the country offer both types of degrees, they often do well to distinguish between both programs in order to give their students a better chance at finding the right fit for their education. Below is a quick description breaking down some of the characteristics of each field.
The best way to begin understanding Computer Science is to realize the adjective of “computer” describes the noun of “science.” As Jessica Blanchard writes, computer scientists “are focused with the theory of computational applications. That means they understand the ‘why’ behind computer programs. Using algorithms and advanced mathematics, computer scientists invent new ways to manipulate and transfer information. Computer scientists are generally concerned with software, operating systems and implementation.” This field may be a better match for the introverted or independent researcher who finds satisfaction writing code, developing algorithms, and dealing with the intricacies of operating systems.
A Computer Science major will focus heavily on mathematics and sciences. There may also be an emphasis on the fundamentals of electronics, engineering, and some technology. A computer science degree will train students in how to study algorithms, programming languages, network systems, and operating systems. The best degree a budding computer scientist can pursue is one that equips them with analytical and critical-thinking skills, where they are encouraged to develop and express their ingenuity and logical thinking.
Careers in Computer Science
Like many technology-based positions, jobs in Computer Science are expected to grow at a fast pace in the coming years. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a 19% increase in Computer Science jobs from now until 2026. That is much faster than the national average. Many students who seek degrees in Computer Science will go on to work for companies as software engineers, computer programmers, systems engineers, and software developers. BLS also reports a healthy median annual salary of over $110,000 for professionals within the Computer and Information Research Sciences.
IT Managers are overseers of an organization’s technical properties including computer systems, networks, data, and software. Much of their time is spent finding creative and timely solutions for technological issues. They may have direct contact with or work to manage teams responsible for maintaining operating systems and programs designed by programmers and computer scientists. Successful IT Managers are able to communicate with both technical and nontechnical teams effectively and are well served to have a passion for the use of technology within an organization. IT managers are often called upon to discuss business needs with clients and help inspire employees to work at the pinnacle of their performance.
Most IT Managers have completed an upper-level degree in technology and management. Many of the nation’s best business schools now offer online master’s in IT Management and master’s degrees in Information Systems and Technology both online and in the classroom. One such program is delivered at Florida State University’s College of Business. The school’s 33-credit hour Master’s of Science in Management Information Systems features the convenience of a 100% online format. Concentration courses within this program include Information and Technology Management, Social and Organization Issues in MIS, Project Management, Advanced Project Management, Corporate Information Security, Knowledge Management and Business Intelligence, E-Business, and Marketing Strategy. Another high quality online Master’s of Science in Information Systems degree is featured at the Raymond J. Harbert College of Business. “The online MSIS program consists of 30 hours of course work or 10, three-credit hour courses. Required courses include Database, Systems Analysis and Design, and the final project course.”
Careers in IT Management
Graduates with an MS, MIS, or MBA are then ready to consider taking technical management positions in organizations. Some graduates lacking professional work experience may find more opportunities available to them as programmers, analysts, and technical support specialists. The higher-ranking positions include network systems engineers, systems administrators and computer and information systems managers.
Both fields of Computer Science and IT Management play big roles in the future of global business. Understanding the difference between the two is the first step in knowing which direction to take for the future.