Date First Published: 18th October 2023
Topic: Computer Systems
Difficulty Level: 3/10
Learn about what the difference between IT and computer science is in this article.
IT and computer science are sometimes confused and overlap with each other, but they are two different fields. There are some key differences between them that you should know. Computer science is the use of mathematics to develop and improve computer programs. It is only focused on designing and building computer programs and programming.
IT is a broader term which refers to using computer systems, networks, hardware, software, and storage to process and manage information and exchange data. IT specialists take what they have learnt about computing and use that knowledge in other industries, like maintaining and troubleshooting those computers and their networks, systems, and databases to ensure they run smoothly. Computer scientists have a deeper understanding of algorithms and programming languages, and use advanced algorithms to invent new tools to transfer and manipulate information.
Computer scientists will have knowledge of using computer systems, networks, hardware, software, and storage to process and manage information and exchange data and IT professionals may have knowledge of how to program, but they both have a different focus in terms of educational backgrounds. IT professionals focus more on running programs, whilst computer scientists focus more on building them. Due to this, computer science involves more independent work, whilst IT professionals frequently interact with others to help solve technical issues.
Working in IT means that people will be more focused on ensuring that computers, networks, and databases are functional and secure, whilst working in computer science means that people will be more focused on creating and improving software and computer programs to meet specific needs.
Jobs in IT will focus more on the operation of computers, networks, and systems so that people in an organisation can work more efficiently, whilst jobs in computer science will focus more on working with programming languages to develop or improve products. Some IT jobs, such as cloud computing and database administration overlap with computer science.
Since computer science is more focused on programming and software engineering, web development is more of a form of IT and not computer science. Computer scientists have good technical expertise in programming, whilst web developers focus on web-based systems. Most of the skills that web developers have, like data administration tools, and working with markup and stylesheet languages, like HTML and CSS fall under IT. A web developer is definitely not a computer scientist, but some computer scientists work in the field of web development.
There is no easy answer to whether computer science or IT is better. Both lead to different careers, require technical skills, and have different fields that people specialise in. The field you choose should be based on what you are interested in, your future goals, personal preferences, and what you want to study. If you are interested in mathematics, AI building, and programming, then computer science may be best for you. If you are interested in practical work in IT systems, like maintaining, updating, and troubleshooting systems, networks, servers, hardware, websites, databases, and other IT infrastructure, then IT may be best for you.
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