The information technology industry is flourishing. Thus, there is a very high demand for specialists with backgrounds in cyber security, computer science, and similar backgrounds. If you are interested in the field but can’t decide between cyber security and computer science and want to have some reliable information before making your big decision, keep reading.
Cyber Security vs. Computer Science: Differences
Before moving into the specifics of computer science and cyber security, this section will shortly summarize the key differences between the two and ease your dilemma on computer science vs. cyber security.
- Different focus/curriculums: Programs in cyber security will prepare you for online security, risk compliance, security awareness, and similar, whereas in computer science programs, you will learn more about the application, software, and computer development.
- Different career opportunities: With a cybersecurity specialization, you will qualify for security-related positions, including security engineer, security architect, information security specialist or analyst, and similar. On the other hand, a computer science background will lead you to professions such as application development, software engineering, data analysis, and similar professions.
- Different wages: The sections on salaries given below will answer your potential dilemma on cyber security vs. computer science. It will be demonstrated that both fields translate into lucrative wages, with some cyber security professions paying slightly higher than the computer science ones.
What Is Cyber Security?
Cybersecurity is also known as information technology security or electronic information security. Cyber security refers to the practice of protecting critical information and systems from potential cyber-attacks, whether the ones originating from inside or outside the company or organization.
Nowadays, it has taken a central role in society since smartphones, computers, and the internet have become an integral part of our modern lives. In such a regard, cyber security prevents hackers from getting hold of our online bank accounts and other essential data.
Cyber security applies in various forms, including but not limited to:
- Network security: aims to protect a computer network from intruders, such as targeted attackers or opportunistic malware.
- Information security: protects the integrity and privacy of information during storage and transit.
- Application security: intends to keep the software and other devices free from attacks.
- Operational security: consists of the processes and decisions needed for handling and protecting data assets.
The question of whether a cyber degree is a must to exercise the profession is a bit difficult to answer. Like in any other information technology branch, one can secure entry-level job positions without a college degree, of course, provided that they possess a set of relevant IT security certifications or some previous experience in the field.
However, when it comes to advancing to higher positions, a bachelor’s degree and even more a master’s will make a difference. Indeed, this will mostly depend on the companies’ employment criteria and policies, but in general, skills and knowledge gained through a bachelor’s or even master’s degree might prove strongly necessary for companies specializing in developing and implementing security systems, where even one error might lead to severe data loss and potentially even financial ruin. Thus, most companies set strict educational requirements to minimize such occurrences.
To begin with, cybersecurity is a lucrative, growing industry, offering countless employment opportunities. In this regard, a cyber security background will enable you to access numerous career opportunities, including engaging in the capacity of:
- Information security analyst
- Information security specialist
- Digital forensic examiner
- It auditor
- Security systems administrator
- Security engineer
- Security architect
- Cryptography engineer
- Cyber security manager, and more.
Salaries in cyber security are pretty lucrative. Check below the average salaries of some of the professions mentioned above.
- An information security manager earns around CHF 143,256 per year,
- An information security specialist’s annual salary is CHF 120,043,
- An IT auditor earns CHF 124,444 yearly,
- A security engineer, on average, earns CHF 129,960 per year,
- A security architect earns a yearly average of CHF 143,305.
To excel in cybersecurity, you need to develop a set of hard and soft skills. Some of the hard skills required include:
- The basics of computer science,
- Great command of at least one programming language such as Java, C#, C++, PHP, or similar,
- Knowledge of SIEM, which stands for Security Information and Event Management,
- Knowledge of Cisco hardware and software,
- Familiarity with Mitre Att&ck framework,
- Extensive knowledge of UNIX, Linux, and Windows operating systems and similar.
On the other hand, some of the soft skills that are essential for professionals in the field include:
- Critical thinking,
- Creative and technical problem-solving skills,
- Great communication skills,
- Great listening skills,
- Attention to detail,
- Adaptability, and flexibility.
What Is Computer Science?
Computer science is a broad and relatively complex field, meaning that there are countless things to be explored for the rest of our lives. At its very essence, it deals with different software systems and helps in learning about potential problems, seeking to prevent them, and ultimately solving them. Click here to learn more about this fascinating field.
As already indicated, IT-related professions may also be exercised with relevant certification. However, it is worth emphasizing that with a bachelor’s and even more a master’s in the field, you will have the opportunity to get extensive knowledge and skills in dealing with computer science problems.
Apart from that, you will touch on different fields, which will help you assess your skills and interests and facilitate your specialization choice. Indeed, your employment opportunities in higher positions may also depend on the level of education in the field, especially in companies with strict employment policies.
There is a promising job outlook in computer science since smartphones and computers are an undivided part of our lives nowadays. The demand for professionals in computer science is constantly growing, so there are countless opportunities for the latter to engage in different areas of computer science, including applications development, software engineering, data analysis, IT consulting, and many others.
In terms of organizations, there is a place for computer engineers almost everywhere. As such, they may find themselves engaged in the government, the healthcare industry, and the private sector or even start their own business.
It is crucial to note that computer science is the fifth-largest sector in Switzerland, which amounts to about 5% of the country’s wealth. So, pursuing such a career in Switzerland is definitely worth it.
Computer science is one of the most paying careers in Switzerland. More specifically:
- An IT system architect pursuing a career in Switzerland earns an average salary of CHF 121,000. This is one of the highest salaries in Switzerland.
- A software engineer is, on average, paid CHF 94,294, which falls in the top 14 highest-paying careers.
- Further, an app developer earns approximately CHF 82,237.
- A data analyst, on average, makes CHF 87,525 per year.
- An IT consultant reaches an annual average of CHF 96,152.
Like in cyber security, to excel in computer science, you will need to develop a set of essential hard and soft skills that include but are not limited to hard skills such as:
- Data analysis,
- Technical writing skills,
- Excellent knowledge of SQL, Statistics, or Python,
- Knowledge of cloud platforms such as AWS, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure.
Some of the soft skills needed involve:
- Time management,
- Effective communication,
- Critical thinking,
- Attention to detail.
The Bottom Line
Now that you are more familiar with different aspects of cyber security and computer science, including education requirements, skills, career opportunities, and salaries, we hope it is easier for you to make a well-informed decision on your future career.
Ultimately, it always comes down to your interests, skills, and professional objectives. Indeed, the choice is not easy, so consider and study the crucial aspects of the two degrees explained in this article.