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Information Technology vs Information Systems
If you like technology and the way in which it can be used to work with and interpret information, or you enjoy working with hardware, software, and finding or providing solutions, information technology or information systems are two areas you could learn more about if you want to pursue a bachelor’s degree.
Depending on your background and education, a bachelor’s degree in one of these areas can help you progress toward a career where your skills will always be in demand. If you already work in a technology-related field, a bachelor’s degree can help open doors to a better job and a higher salary.
Choosing one area over another might be a hard decision, but the good news is that both fields share many similarities and only have minor differences, so an incorrect choice isn’t possible. However, the degree you choose might prepare you for certain roles over others, and that will influence the salary you can make once you are out in the work world.
Similarities & Differences
Information technology and information systems are often thought to be the same thing. Both areas deal with the usage of computers, so both could be considered subcategories of the other. The truth is, while more similarities exist between these two areas than differences, there are some small differences.
Information technology is more about the hardware (computers, but also other external pieces like monitors, mice, keyboards, printers, etc., as well as the internal components that make up these devices), software (applications that run on computers like word processors, Internet browsers, etc.), and telecommunications (networking, both external and internal, which allows for information to be shared with others). Very often, people who work in information technology work behind the scenes to support those who use those devices, or are those who create the software, web pages, and build networks.
Information systems is about the creation, sharing, and distribution of information that is generated by computers and their users. Common types of information systems are operation support systems, management information systems, decision support systems, and executive information systems. While people who work in this area do work with computers and software and need access to networks, they are primarily concerned with extracting data from various sources (internal or external servers, or the Internet) in order to accomplish various tasks.
People who choose a career in information technology may work for organizations like hospitals, transportation, retail, health care, government (both local and national), or even IT consulting companies. Typical career choices in information technology are as follows:
- Software Developers
- Information Technology Consultant
- Computer Forensic Analyst
- Information Technology Business Analyst
- Computer Network Architect
The kind of coursework one may encounter while pursuing a bachelor’s degree in an information technology area can also vary, but some of the courses could be legal issues in Internet security, operating systems concepts, and scripting languages. Those who choose to pursue a career in information technology and are the most successful should have (in addition to advanced computer skills) analytical, creative, problem solving, and multi-tasking abilities, as well as the desire and ability to learn from hands-on, real world situations.
Much like information technology, a career in information systems can encompass many areas. But since information systems focuses on using technology to generate and obtain information, some typical areas where career seekers may work in are business, college, management, computer support, and computer systems analysis.
People who choose to pursue a degree in information systems might do coursework in computer science, numerical analysis, software and hardware, and even robotics. It will be helpful for those who choose to focus in this technology area to have mathematical and analytical skills, organization skills, and communication skills. Out in the work world, they will be faced with problem areas, so they must be creative with the ability to find and propose solutions.
Salary & Career Outlook
Salaries can vary greatly for jobs in information technology and information systems. Salary can be based on many factors, such as someone’s skills, experience, background, and education. Chances are high that if people going into either of these fields further their education with either a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, or certifications, they will receive salary increases along with the ability to specialize in different technology areas.
Currently, the average salary for an information technology specialist is $56,806 and can go as high as $130,000, if not higher. Career outlook for someone with an existing job in information technology or a bachelor’s degree in the field is good with a projected 12% growth through 2028 and the addition of 546,200 jobs. Most of these jobs will be in the areas of cloud computing, big data, and information security.
For someone who desires a job in information systems, the average salary for the position of information systems analyst is a little higher at $65,287 and can reach as high as $100,000, if not higher. Career outlook for someone that wants to work in this technology sector is also quite good. A 9% growth is projected in information systems jobs through 2028 with jobs in cloud computing and the use of IT services in health care.
Choosing to obtain a bachelor’s degree in information technology or information systems can be a difficult decision to make. But the good news is that these two fields are so closely aligned that a degree in either area will yield good results when a graduate is looking for a job or a career advancement from their existing IT job.
If you already work in the technology field, it’s a matter of choosing a school that offers a program that is right for you. Sometimes, a current employer may even assist you with tuition costs or even reimburse you for them once you’ve graduated.
For those with no degree or a general associate degree, you should investigate whether a bachelor’s degree in either of these two areas would be useful to you. Write out your own questions and try to answer them, or refer to this document that takes you through some questions, then suggests what path is best.
There are several programs out there, so do some research and read about the requirements, such as CityU’s BS in Information Technology program. If you already have a bachelor’s degree and have been working in a technology field for a while and, perhaps, believe more education in a specialized area of technology would be beneficial outside of what certifications can offer you, then a master’s degree may be an avenue you might wish to pursue like CityU’s master’s in information security.
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