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?
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.
I.T. encompasses a vast spectrum of systems and applications. They include common networks most of us use every day, such as telephone and point-of-sale systems. At the other end of the spectrum are comparatively obscure, poorly understood systems like blockchain, used in cryptocurrencies and other transactions. In between lie background systems such as databases and inventory management, crucial to businesses, corporations, and government agencies. (
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the computer and information technology job market should grow by 15 percent between 2021 and 2031, creating more than 682,000 new jobs. Earning a Master of Science in Information Technology builds skill sets in critical areas that include cloud computing, algorithms, big data, business intelligence, cybersecurity, data science, machine learning, and IT management, among others. ( )
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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:
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.
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:
As you go up the IT career ladder, you can move on to more senior roles, such as:
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.
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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