Computer Science Engineer vs. Information Technology

Computer Science Engineer vs. Information Technology: Which Career is Right for You?

Computer Science Engineering vs. Information Technology

It’s not surprising that people often confuse computer science and information technology (IT) because the two are often intertwined. Three different disciplines generally fall under the category of computer science: computer engineering, information technology, and computer science. 

What Does a Computer Scientist Do?

As the name implies, a computer scientist is actually a scientist. Rather than working with lab equipment, however, they use algorithms and math to find ways to transfer information. A computer scientist trades in beakers and test tubes for software and operating systems like Windows or Mac OS. Computer scientists also work with code and various programming languages. They’re able to understand computers and concepts in software design and development to the point where they can actually create a custom program or operating system and “tell it” what to do.

What Does a Computer Engineer Do?

While a computer scientist works with systems and software, a computer engineer works with the actual equipment that makes the computer function, such as the circuit board, router, and microchips. A computer science engineer is responsible for making these components work together versus manipulating the programs and software to make a system work a specific way. While a computer engineer may have a background or degree in engineering, they can benefit from a background in computer science, as they often work with hardware and software integrations. 

What Does an Information Technologist Do?

While a computer scientist builds the programs and software and a computer engineer builds the systems and components, an IT professional installs and helps to maintain and improve computer systems and networks. IT professionals can work in various industries and help to maintain the computers and networks that help a business or company run smoothly. Just about every company, from startups to large corporations, rely on an IT professional for any computer or technology-related issues. 

While the other two vocations rely heavily on math, engineering, and algorithms, information technology requires knowledge of database design, but may also require soft skills since many IT professionals work with clients. 

Computer Science Careers

Whether you’re most interested in computer science, engineering, or information technology, these are all growing, in-demand industries where you can find a rewarding career. Here are some potential jobs you can pursue depending on your degree and career path. 

Computer Scientist Jobs

With a degree and professional experience in computer science, you can pursue a career as a software developer, web developer, or systems engineer. Based on data from Indeed, the average base salary for a computer scientist is $107,082.

Computer Engineering Jobs

With a degree and experience in computer engineering, you can work in electronic product manufacturing, research and development, or computer system design. There are even some computer engineering jobs within the federal government, offering computer engineers jobs outside of the private sector. 

A computer engineer’s salary varies based on job title and location, however, according to Indeed, the average base salary is $90,742.

IT Jobs

We’ve already talked about becoming a dedicated IT professional for a company, but that isn’t the only route you can take with a background in information technology. Other IT careers include software developers, security analysts, network architects, computer support specialists, database or system administrators, and computer network support specialists. 

While the pay will vary based on the actual job title, according to Glassdoor data from 2020, the average base pay for an IT professional is $83,000. 

There is some overlap in the job titles and descriptions for these three categories. With a degree in computer science, you will have the tools and education necessary to pursue many of these career paths. The best one for you will depend on your personal interests, background, professional experience, and training. 

Earn Your Computer Science Degree From National University

No matter which route you decide to take within the realm of computer science, you can set yourself up for success by earning your degree. National University offers online and in-person courses to help you earn your bachelor’s or master’s in computer science. 

Not all jobs require a master’s in computer science, but continuing your education can help you learn and explore more complex topics within the field and may help you earn a higher salary. National University’s class schedules are designed specifically for working professionals, to help you complete your education on your own time. The four-week class schedules allow you to balance your education with work and family obligations so you can find a new job within your current career or explore an entirely new industry. 

In the Master of Science in Computer Science program, you’ll develop the skills to create and design complex software systems, evaluate computer security, analyze, design, and develop database solutions, and much more. Contact us to learn more about our computer science program and how you can start working towards your ideal career today!