Information Technology

Information Technology vs Information Systems: The 17 Most Common Tech Jobs Explained

Information Technology vs Information Systems: The 17 Most Common Tech Jobs Explained
Think of IS as bridging the gap between people and the system, helping them make sense of information within that system. Meanwhile, consider IT as a subset of IS, helping people better utilize information through technology. Image from Unsplash
Rina Diane Caballar profile
Rina Diane Caballar April 27, 2019

Information systems and information technology are both highly profitable careers—but in order to land the top jobs, you'll probably need a master's degree.

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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the U.S. job market for computer and information systems managers is estimated to grow much faster than average, at a rate of 12 percent between 2016 and 2026. The same is true for computer and information technology professions, with a projected growth rate of 13 percent. As of May 2017, BLS reflects a median annual wage of $84,580 for computer and IT professionals. The average yearly wage for computer and information systems managers is even higher at $139,220, with the top 10 percent of workers earning over $208,000 each year.

Information systems and information technology may be profitable careers, but the terms are often interchanged and used synonymously, which can confuse anyone interested in pursuing a technology-related career. So what’s the difference between these two fields? What jobs can you look forward to and how do you know which path to take?

Information systems vs. information technology: what’s the difference?

Both fields deal with information, but the key difference lies in their focus. Information technology involves the design, implementation, maintenance, or support of the technology components behind a system—be it databases, networks, hardware, software, or other tools. Information systems, on the other hand, involves managing information within the entire system—from the technology to the people and processes designed to create, distribute, manipulate, and store information.

Think of IS as bridging the gap between people and the system, helping them make sense of information within that system. Meanwhile, consider IT as a subset of IS, helping people better utilize information through technology.


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What are the most popular information systems jobs?

A lot of the skills you gain in information systems can be applied to various sectors. Some of the most common information systems jobs include:

  • Business Analyst ($69,163 average base pay) Business analysts assess and document the business requirements behind systems. They also manage the relationship between business and technology teams.
  • Business Intelligence Consultant ($86,889 average base pay) Business intelligence consultants evaluate a company’s existing processes and provide recommendations to improve them.
  • Information Systems Analyst ($66,680 average base pay) Information systems analysts design solutions to make systems more efficient and effective.
  • Information Architect ($96,435 average base pay) Information architects organize information to make it easily understandable by users. For example, in the case of a website, information architects define what information goes on which page, how pages relate to each other, and how information on each page helps users fulfill their needs.
  • Information Systems Manager ($91,587 average base pay) Information systems managers oversee the implementation of information systems activities, including evaluating upgrades, analyzing the costs and benefits of new technologies, and creating information standards, to name a few.

As you progress throughout your career, you can take on more leadership roles or even level up to a chief information officer ($146,212 average base pay), focusing on the long-term and big-picture information goals of a company and how to meet them.

What are the most popular IT jobs?

With the skills you acquire in information technology, you may be qualified for different roles. Some of the most common entry-level IT jobs include:

  • Computer Support Specialist ($52,810 average base pay) Computer support specialists provide technical support to organizations or assist users with their technical problems.
  • Database Administrator ($87,020 average base pay) Database administrators work with databases to manage, organize, and store data. They ensure data is always accessible and secure.
  • Information Security Specialist ($95,510 average base pay) Information security specialists devise and execute security measures to ensure the safety of data, networks, and systems.
  • Network Administrator ($81,100 average base pay) Network administrators design, build and maintain the networks that keep computers, applications, and systems connected.
  • Software Developer ($103,560 average base pay) Software developers write and test code for software programs and applications. Similar job titles include application developers, computer programmers ($82,240 average base pay), software engineers, and web developers ($67,990 average base pay).

As you go up the IT career ladder, you can move on to more senior roles, such as:

  • IT Project Manager ($97,312 average base pay) IT project managers track budgets and organize tasks and timelines of an IT project to ensure a smooth delivery.
  • IT Manager ($97,461 average base pay) IT managers are tasked to lead an IT team and make decisions on technical activities.
  • IT Director ($130,421 average base pay) IT directors oversee the entire IT department of a company. They supervise IT managers, implement policies, coordinate budgets, and play a role in hiring staff for their department.
  • Chief Technology Officer ($164,934 average base pay) Chief technology officers focus on technology plans and strategies for the entire organization.

What are the educational requirements for jobs in IT and IS?

Information systems jobs require an information systems degree. Some universities offer a bachelor’s degree in Business Information Systems, with a focus on the business and communications side, while others offer a degree in Management Information Systems, where you’ll learn to use information and technology to make better management decisions. If you want to advance your career or boost your earnings, consider getting a master’s in information systems.

Most IT jobs require a computer science or information technology degree, where you’ll learn the fundamentals of computer architecture, computer networks, databases, and programming, among others. Getting a master’s in information technology might be worth it if you want to stand out from the competition.

Which is best for you: information systems or information technology?

Our ever-increasing thirst for information and the constant advancements in technology fuel the need for information systems (IS) and information technology (IT) jobs. This makes IS and IT lucrative fields to work in, and these careers will continue to be in demand for years to come.

With a booming tech sector and a solid occupational outlook for both information systems and information technology, choosing a career in either field will be a sound investment and a worthwhile endeavor.

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About the Editor

Tom Meltzer spent over 20 years writing and teaching for The Princeton Review, where he was lead author of the company's popular guide to colleges, before joining Noodle.

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