Cyber Security vs Computer Science: Which Career Path Is Better?
Today’s tech market offers tons of lucrative job opportunities. Some of these positions have similar responsibilities and technical skill requirements. Cyber security and computer science are two such fields. Here, we explain what cyber security and computer science jobs entail and discuss the different educational paths you can take to pursue careers in these fields.
Keep reading to discover more about cyber security and computer science and find the career path that suits you best. If you are interested in finding out the key differences between cyber security and computer science careers, then you are in the right place.
Cyber Security vs Computer Science Job Description
Cyber security is a subset of computer science. As a cyber security professional, you are responsible for stopping cyber threats and developing security measures for computer systems. You will also be dealing with network architecture and cloud protection.
Computer science, on the other hand, is a much broader field. This means that a computer science professional can work in many more computer-related areas such as software development, software engineering, network security, artificial intelligence, and cloud computing.
What Does a Cyber Security Analyst Do?
A cyber security analyst protects an organization’s networks, software, and entire information technology architecture from potential or ongoing cyber attacks. A cyber security analyst conducts penetration testing, network risk assessments, and evaluates system security breaches to implement an optimal cyber defense.
The responsibilities of cyber security analysts also include taking a wide variety of preventative measures to stop cyber attacks, constantly monitoring the network, and implementing IT security measures.
What Does a Computer Scientist Do?
A computer scientist works with software technologies and computing systems to create, manage, and provide solutions for all technology-related fields. Their job is to create new and efficient software technologies and program algorithms. To do that, they use mathematics, physics, and programming languages.
Unlike computer engineers, computer scientists do not focus on technology hardware. They can work in a variety of scientific fields including big data, mobile application development, and video game development.
Cyber Security vs Computer Science Salary
The average salary for cyber security and computer science professionals varies according to experience, state, and employer. The median salary for both professions also differs based on an individual’s educational background.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average salary for information security analysts, which includes cyber security analysts, is $103,590. Meanwhile, computer and information research scientists earn, on average, $126,830.
Cyber Security vs Computer Science Learning Paths
The learning paths available to build a career in cyber security or computer science are varied. You can enter both these fields via college degrees, coding bootcamps, certifications, and online courses. You can get a Bachelor’s Degree in Cyber Security or attend a cyber security bootcamp to prepare for a variety of cyber security positions.
Similarly, depending on your choice of computer science profession, you can either get a computer-related degree, get a coding bootcamp education, or enroll in online courses. For example, if you want to become a data scientist, you can get a Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree in Data Science or learn the basics through online courses.
How to Become a Cyber Security Analyst
You can become a cyber security analyst by earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science, Cyber Security, or another relevant field. Many have also entered the industry through a cyber security coding bootcamp program. However, the standard educational requirement is a bachelor’s degree in a computer-related field.
How to Become a Computer Scientist
The standard qualification to become a computer scientist is a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science, Mathematics, or Software Engineering. However, you can also get an associate degree to qualify for entry-level computer science jobs.
Finally, many professionals got the education they needed to break into the industry via a coding bootcamp. Coding bootcamp students become software developers, software designers, programmers, database administrators, and a plethora of other tech roles.
Cyber Security vs Computer Science Degree Curriculums
The curricula in a cyber security and a computer science degree differ in several ways. Computer science majors study an array of technical subjects that cover everything from development, security, programming, and data science. Cyber security programs, on the other hand, focus on networks, servers, and software security.
What Courses Do Cyber Security Majors Take?
- Network Security. A network security course covers the different security measures to protect the computer network. You will learn network analytics, network defense, firewalls, and security software. You will also learn about the different types of networks.
- Cyber Security Laws. This course covers computer security federal laws and the different ethical practices in cyber security.
- Computer Forensics. Computer and cyber forensics courses teach you an amalgamation of computer science, data science, and cyber security laws. You will learn to combine these fields to gather evidence and conduct penetration testing.
- Ethical Hacking. You will learn how to penetrate an organization’s system. The goal is to find weak points in the system’s defenses and take preventive measures to secure sensitive information.
- Security Design Principles. This course teaches you principles used to deter cyberattacks, identify system flaws, and mitigate risk. You will learn to apply such principles to create a robust security system.
What Courses Do Computer Science Majors Take?
- Algorithms. The curriculum in a computer science degree covers computer algorithm analysis and design. You will learn algorithmic design paradigms, logarithmic functions, linear algebra, probability, and data structures.
- Computer Architecture. A computer architecture course covers digital design, hardware description languages, computer technology, software behavior, and computer organization.
- Artificial Intelligence (AI). An AI course covers machine learning, natural language processing (NLP), programming automation, statistics, and the different types of AI.
- Calculus. Computer science degrees also include calculus courses where you will learn derivative applications, integrals, graphic rates, calculus theorems, functions, and limits.
Cyber Security vs Computer Science Bootcamps
Aspiring cyber security experts and computer science technology specialists can get the training they need to be job-ready through a coding bootcamp. Coding bootcamps are short-term tech training institutions that teach you essential industry skills and get you ready for technology jobs.
5 Best Cyber Security Bootcamps
1. Code Fellows
- Cost: Ops and cyber security courses cost between $99 and $5,000
- Program Length: 8 hours to 9 weeks depending on the course
Code Fellows offers five courses in its cyber security program with the goal of teaching you everything you need to become a cyber security engineer. You will learn about the different career paths in cyber security and study network and system administration, computer operations, and ethical hacking.
Code Fellows is a popular bootcamp that also offers software development programs. It has an impressive 96 percent job placement rate. Today, the school’s graduates work at top companies including Amazon and Microsoft.
2. Flatiron School
- Cost: $16,900 (Cybersecurity Engineering)
- Program Length: 15 weeks (full-time); 20, 40, or 60 weeks (flexible)
Flatiron School is a top coding bootcamp offering online and in-person courses in cyber security engineering, data science, software engineering, and product design. Around 91 percent of the bootcamp graduates secure a lucrative tech job within 180 days of graduation.
Whether you are a beginner or want to learn advanced cyber security engineering, the school has got you covered. Its courses cover phishing prevention, cryptography, Internet of Things (IoT) security, Python, threat intelligence, network security, and governance.
3. Fullstack Academy
- Cost: $15,980 (Cybersecurity Analytics Bootcamp)
- Program Length: 13 weeks (full-time), 26 weeks (part-time)
Depending on your cyber security background, you can enroll in the school’s Hacking 101, Intermediate Cyber Prep, or its Cybersecurity Analytics Bootcamp. You will learn Linux, data encoding, ethical hacking, AWS, incident response, and system hardening.
Aside from cyber security, Fullstack Academy has courses on data analytics and coding for beginners and intermediate learners. The academy reports a 97 percent job placement rate and its graduates work at many high-profile companies.
- Cost: $6,500 (Cybersecurity Bootcamp)
- Program Length: 12 weeks (full-time), 24 weeks (part-time)
The cyber security bootcamp offered by this school is beginner-friendly and will get you job-ready in as little as three months. You will learn network security principles, data encryption and decryption, vulnerability identification, hardening techniques, cyber forensics, and security architecture.
If you are looking to learn data analytics, web development, or UX/UI design, Ironhack is also a good option. With over 600 hiring partners and an 89 percent job placement rate, the school is a leading tech training institution.
- Cost: $9,540 (Cyber Security Career Track)
- Program Length: 6 months
Springboard’s cyber security bootcamp is offered in partnership with CompTIA and teaches you malware, authentication models, access control models, risk assessments, and vulnerability remediation.
The school also has programs on cyber security, data science, data engineering, machine learning engineering, UX/UI design, data analytics, and software engineering. Springboard is an excellent option if you are looking for a bootcamp that offers a job guarantee.
5 Best Computer Science Bootcamps
- Cost: $19,350 (Software Engineering Immersive Program)
- Program Length: 12 weeks
Codesmith’s Software Engineering Immersive Program covers full stack software engineering, machine learning, and computer science. The computer science curriculum consists of algorithms, data structures, system design, and programming paradigms
Codesmith is a software engineering bootcamp offering classes in New York, Los Angeles, and online in both part-time and full-time formats. The school’s graduates work at industry-leading companies like Google, Amazon, and LinkedIn and earn an average salary above $100,000 per year.
2. Hack Reactor
- Cost: $17,980 (Software Engineering Immersive Bootcamp)
- Program Length: 12 weeks
Hack Reactor is a leading tech training school that provides coding bootcamps and professional development courses on data structures, computer architecture, and reactive programming, among other topics.
The school offers a Software Engineering Immersive Bootcamp. This 12-week program will help you become a software engineer able to build complex applications. You will be trained in in-demand technical skills as well as the soft skills you need to get far in your career.
3. Fullstack Academy
- Cost: $16,980 (Software Engineering Immersive Bootcamp)
- Program Length: 13 weeks
Fullstack Academy offers an immersive coding bootcamp program where you will learn computer science fundamentals. Topics include algorithms, data structures, space and time analysis, object-oriented programming, and front end and backend development. You can also learn object-relational mapping (ORM) tools, SQLite, and PostgreSQL.
4. First Step Coding
- Cost: $999 (Introduction to Coding, online)
- Program Length: 4 weeks
First Step Coding offers an introductory course that teaches the basics of coding and computer science. It’s important to note that First Step School is not a bootcamp per se; rather, you can think of it as a tech training school with introductory courses.
5. Tech Elevator
- Cost: $15,950
- Program Length: 14 weeks
Tech Elevator boasts an astounding job placement rate of 90 percent and a graduation rate of 95 percent. Its more than 2,000 graduates attest to the quality of the education imparted at this school.
Cyber Security vs Computer Science: Which Career Path Should I Take?
Both cyber security and computer science offer high salaries and job security. Which field you choose to pursue will depend on your interests and goals. If you want to become a network security specialist and are interested in protecting networks from unauthorized access, then cyber security is the field for you.
However, if you are interested in other technology fields, including software development, software engineering, or database design, then pursuing a computer science degree would be a better option. Below we explore some of the reasons to choose career paths in either of these fields of study.
Why Choose a Cyber Security Career?
- High demand. According to an article from Forbes, the cyber security industry is currently facing a nationwide shortage of talent. Thus, getting a cyber security education will equip you with highly in-demand skills for the present and future job market.
- Mentally stimulating. The cyber security concentration is a growing and challenging field, where you are constantly looking for the best ways to prevent cyber attacks and learning new ethical hacking techniques. If you enjoy solving problems, this is a field that will constantly stimulate your mind.
- Competitive salary. Due to the rising demand for cyber security skills and the shortage of talent, cyber security experts are among the best-paid people in tech.
Why Choose a Computer Science Career?
- Limitless career opportunities. The computer science field offers plenty of career opportunities in an array of areas including software development, data science, artificial intelligence, and network systems administration.
- Growing field. The technological field is constantly evolving and will continue to do so as the digitization of the world progresses. Given this, getting a computer science education is one of the wisest investments you can make.
- High annual wage. Computer science careers provide some of the highest salaries across industries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for computer and information technology occupations is $91,250, which is much higher than the national average salary.
Cyber Security vs Computer Science FAQ
Can I pursue a career in the cyber security field with a computer science degree?
Yes, you can pursue a cyber security career with a computer science degree. This is because cyber security is a subset of computer science. While an academic degree continues to be the most common educational pathway, an increasing number of aspiring cyber security experts are choosing to join coding bootcamps.
What do computer science degrees and cyber security degrees cover?
A Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science will cover programming languages, data structures, algorithms, statistics, calculus, software development, and plenty of other tech topics. A cyber security degree focuses on network and server protection and covers threat intelligence, network security, and ethical hacking.
Do cyber security jobs pay more than computer science jobs?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), information security analysts earn a median salary of $103,590, while computer and information research scientists make $126,830. However, annual salaries for cyber security and computer science jobs vary depending on experience, educational background, company, and location.
Is cyber security harder than computer science?
Both cyber security and computer science are considered challenging fields. Exactly how challenging depends on the student’s aptitude for the subject matter and their educational background.