Cybersecurity vs. Computer Science: Which is Best?

Cybersecurity vs computer science

Computers have become a huge part of our daily lives. Computers can be found in almost every business and in almost every home. The increased use of computers and the internet have put a large demand for computer-based careers. The addition of the internet has increased the need for cybersecurity professionals. Professionals with degrees in cybersecurity and computer science have a great career looming ahead.

Computer science and cybersecurity programs are offered at every degree level from associate degree to doctoral degrees. While these two careers are very similar, they also are different and unique in their own ways. Both required training and education.

Cybersecurity vs. Computer Science

Even though computer science and cybersecurity are different, they often overlap each other. Computer science entails the study of both computing and computers. Cybersecurity also has to do with computers but is more of a subfield of computer science. Cybersecurity professionals must have a thorough understanding of computers, networking, and computing in general so they can not only identify possible cyber threats and data breaches but also come up with methods to prevent them and develop solutions.

When comparing courses in a computer science program and a cybersecurity program, you’ll find that although they have many different courses, there is some overlap between the two. The reason for this is that both programs require the knowledge of computers, computing, networking, and cloud computing. The main difference is that while computer science programs focus on computers and computing, cybersecurity programs focus more on security.

To simplify the cybersecurity vs computer science question, the biggest difference between a computer science professional and a cybersecurity professional is their basic duties. A computer science professional will focus on creating new features in data administration, computer software, and web development. A cybersecurity professional will analyze networks, set up firewalls, report data breaches, and audit security systems.

Cybersecurity Courses

The courses in a cybersecurity program may vary slightly by the degree level. For instance, an associate degree in a cybersecurity program will often not include general education courses. The associate degree program is geared towards the individual who wants to join the workforce as soon as possible.

A graduate degree in cybersecurity program will generally have more advanced cybersecurity courses such as security code development, cryptography, and advanced networking concepts. The bachelor’s degree is the most common degree level for cybersecurity students. They may have the following courses.

  • Database Design and Security
  • Cyber Policy, Law and Privacy Compliance
  • Cybersecurity Fundamentals
  • Networking Fundamentals
  • Cryptography
  • Math for Cybersecurity
  • Computer Science
  • Database Administration
  • Network Security

Computer Science Courses

Computer science degree programs are very common in most colleges and universities. They’re also offered at the associate degree level for students who want to join the computing world without spending several years in college. Computer science programs prepare students to work with software, applications, and deal with computer development. Computer science undergraduate students may typically find the following courses as part of their curriculum.

  • General Computer Science
  • Data Analysis
  • Introduction to Computer Systems
  • Algorithm Development
  • Programming
  • Software Engineering
  • Databases and Operating Systems
  • Math for Computer Science
  • Data Structures and Algorithms

Cybersecurity Jobs

Graduates of cybersecurity programs have a wide variety of jobs from which to choose. Although it may be considered a subfield of computer science, cybersecurity is a vast subject on its own. The career growth at 35% for these individuals during the 2021-2031 decade is must faster than average according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Security Software Developer – Security software developers use secure software development measures to develop and implement effective security solutions for an organization’s computer system. The BLS reports that these professionals should see job growth of 25 percent and a median salary of $109,020.

Degree needed: Bachelor’s

Penetration Tester – Penetration testers have the task of finding exploits in the network, computer system, and any web-based applications. They use legal hacking to help the business improve its security. Penetration testers, which are also categorized as information security analysts, should see a 35 percent job growth and a mid-range salary of $101,170.

Degree needed: Bachelor’s

Security Auditor – A security auditor assesses and inspects a business’s functions, assets and framework so that he may put together a report describing the company’s security system while also assess the effectiveness of its security protocols. Job growth of 35 percent is expected for security auditors.

Degree needed: Bachelor’s

Vulnerability Assessor – Vulnerable assessors scan through the computer applications to identify any vulnerabilities in the system and find methods to improve the organization’s overall security. These trained professionals should see an employment growth of 9 percent.

Degree needed: Bachelor’s

Information Security Analyst – An information security (InfoSec) analyst, while collaborating with an incident reporter, analyzes the network to aid in the detection and prevention of cyber threats and similar suspicious activities in the network. The BLS predicts job growth of 35 percent for these professionals and a median salary $102,600.

Degree needed: Bachelor’s

Computer Science Jobs

Graduates of computer science programs also have the possibility of many lucrative job opportunities. Because of the way computer science programs often overlap cybersecurity programs, they may have similar career opportunities, although, computer science graduates may have even more opportunities. The BLS also predicts very good job growth for these professionals between 2021 and 2031.

Computer and Research Scientist – Computer scientists are in high demand, with job growth exceeding 21%, which is much faster than average. Most computer scientists work full-time, but many can now work remotely. As a computer scientist, you’ll design new ways to use existing technology, and be on the cutting-edge of new technology such as AI.

Degree needed: Master’s

Software Developer – Software developers are the masterminds that create the software programs that do specific tasks for the user, whether it’s business software, digital games, or educational software. They also spend much of their time developing and writing programming codes. Software developers should see a job growth of 25 percent and a median salary of $109,020.

Degree needed: Bachelor’s

Computer Programmer – These professionals are very similar to software developers in that they also write the codes for programs. While the software developer is the one that develops the software, computer programmers are the ones who write the code to make it work. Due to the ability to write code remotely from anywhere in the world, job growth for computer programmers is currently at a decline of ten percent.

Degree needed: Bachelor’s

Computer Systems Analyst – These specialists assess an organization’s computer system and make recommendations as to necessary changes in software and hardware. The BLS predicts computer systems analysts could see job growth of nine percent.

Degree needed: Bachelor’s

Computer Hardware Engineer – Computer hardware engineers not only create computer hardware but also develop and assess the physical components that make up a computer such as a circuit board. They can expect job growth of five percent. The addition of centralized networking and computer services has resulted in slower demand for these workers.

Degree needed: Bachelor’s

Web Developer – Web developers create the websites used by individuals and businesses. They not only design the technical structure of a webpage but also monitor the pages, visitors, and any issues the website might be having. Web developers could see job growth of 23 percent.

Degree needed: Bachelor’s

Database Administrator – Database administrators analyze, study, and organize the data in a computer system to ensure others can use it effectively. They also assist in the improvement, development, and storage of data resources. These professionals should experience a nine percent job growth during the decade of 2021-2031.

Cybersecurity Salary

Cybersecurity not only has the prospect of good job growth soon, but they can also expect some very good wages. It’s important to realize that wage potential can be affected by various factors, including degree level, training, relevant work experience, certifications, employer, and location. Below are the average wages cybersecurity professionals earned nationwide according by either a May 2022 BLS report or a 2023 PayScale report depending on available data.

  • Security Software Developer – Security software developers earn annual wages ranging from $64,470 to $168,570 with the average wage at $120,730.
  • Penetration Tester – Penetration Testers earn annual wages ranging from $60,000 to $139,000 with $91,818 being the average wage according to a 2023 PayScale wage report.
  • Security Auditor – Security Auditors earn annual wages of $63,000 to $103,000 or more with the average wage at $84,039.
  • Vulnerability Assessor – Vulnerability Assessors earn annual wages of $61,000 to $132,000 with an average wage of $91,168 as reported by PayScale in July 2023.
  • Security Analyst – Security Analysts earn annual wages of $61,520 to $165,920 with the average wage at $102,600.

Computer Science Salary

Graduates of computer science programs seem to be in demand almost everywhere. The additional computer usage in the world helps these professionals be in a position where they can have lucrative careers. Below are the average annual wages earned by these computer science specialists across the nation as of a May 2021 BLS report. As with cybersecurity wages, many factors can affect wage potential.

  • Computer and Information Research Scientist – The annual median wage is $131,490 and the range is from $74,210 to $208,000, and this job is growing at a rate of 21% which is much faster than average.
  • Software Developer – Although the average annual wage for software developers is $109,020, their wages can range from $64,470 to $168,570 or more.
  • Computer ProgrammerComputer programmer’s wages range from $47,560 to $155,240 or more with an average yearly wage of $93,000.
  • Computer Systems Analyst– The average annual wage for computer systems analysts is $99,270 with wages ranging from $60,680 to $158,010 or more.
  • Computer Hardware Engineer – Computer hardware engineers earn annual wages ranging from $77,100 to $192,110 or more with the average yearly wage at $208,000.
  • Web Developer – Web developers earn an average annual wage of $78,300 with wages ranging from $38,550 to $168,200 or more with an average annual wage of $77,200.
  • Database Administrator – The average annual wage for database administrators is $96,710 with wages ranging from $48,880 to $151,400 or more.

So, Which to Choose? Computer Science or Cybersecurity?

With equal job growth and job prospects, the choice comes down to personal preference and specialization. If you enjoy finding solutions and do the type of work that cybersecurity entails, then that may be the career for you. However, if you want a more well-rounded education so you can work in a variety of fields, then you should pursue computer science. Good luck!