University of Phoenix: Understanding Information Technology and Information Systems

Though the terms information technology (IT) and information systems are sometimes used interchangeably, they do not refer to the same things. Instead, these terms represent two separate though closely related fields. For anyone considering an education and career in technology, it’s important to understand the differences between the two.

Here, we provide an overview of IT and information systems, the careers available in these sectors, and the related degree programs on offer at University of Phoenix.

Information Technology: An Overview

A broad field, information technology involves the use of computers and other physical devices to create, process and provide access to all kinds of electronic data or information. IT primarily focuses on the computer infrastructure that collects, stores and transforms this data. The four key areas of IT include:

1.    Hardware

Hardware refers to the physical constituents of computers and IT equipment including modems, routers and supporting components like cooling fans and power cords. Hardware stores and runs software.

2.    Software

Software refers to the programs that operate on hardware devices such as computers and mobile phones. Some examples of software include word processors, accounting systems and smartphone apps.

3.    Databases

Databases collect and store digital information on physical hardware like servers or drives. Databases need organizational software to sort, locate and transform the data into insights and information that humans can use.

4.    Networks

People use digital networks to communicate and access information. Professionals working in the field of IT create and secure these systems to ensure unauthorized users cannot access private data.

Information Technology Careers and Degrees

As technology continues to evolve, the field of IT is ever changing, too. From the worlds of business and health to personal data, information technology touches almost every aspect of modern life. As such, the IT sector offers a range of professional roles and rewarding career paths focusing on systems administration, cybersecurity and more.

For anyone interested in a career in IT, University of Phoenix offers various information technology degrees that can help individuals pursue a tech education including an associate degree in IT, a bachelor’s degree in IT, a bachelor’s degree in computer science and a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity. Meanwhile, those with an existing tech-related degree can enhance their education with IT college credit courses.

Information Systems: An Overview

Information systems are a way to collect and store data for further analysis or processing. While information systems specialists may recruit IT infrastructure in their roles, their primary concern is the access and use of data.

Before the advent of the digital world, information systems existed offline in the form of paper files or notebooks. Today, information systems run predominantly on computers and carry out countless specialized tasks like analyzing data, gathering insights to inform decision making and feeding information into artificial intelligence or machine learning programs.

Information Systems Careers and Degrees

The field of information systems offers a variety of specialist careers. Due to the rapid growth of innovations in data science and machine learning, positions that require qualified professionals are in high demand. Common career options for individuals who hold information systems degrees include:

  • Business analyst
  • Information systems manager
  • Software developer
  • Systems analyst
  • Database architect

Those interested in pursuing these kinds of roles could benefit from pursuing an information systems degree program at undergraduate or graduate level. Similar to the field of IT, a bachelor’s degree in computer science can provide a strong foundation for further learning as well as a bachelor’s degree in computer information systems or management information systems.

A master of information systems degree, such as the one available at University of Phoenix, allows students to build on a bachelor’s degree in related subjects like IT, information systems and computer science. The master’s degree program involves the study of analytics and data science and incorporates classes on management and communication.

For professionals with industry experience, the University also offers a competency-based master’s degree in information systems that can turn expertise and knowledge into credit and help develop new skills.

Choosing the Right Technology Field

While the fields of information technology and information systems require varying technical knowledge, early education in either subject will be similar to ensure students understand the basics.

When it comes to making a decision between the two fields, individuals would do well to consider which is the best match for their experience, interests and professional goals. For those interested in maintaining a broad knowledge base, IT could be the better career choice. Those preferring to focus on the analysis and use of data may wish to pursue a career in information systems.

University of Phoenix offers 19 technology degrees that align with 63 occupations, and students can tailor their chosen degree with elective options in IT fields like cybersecurity and software development. Keeping up to date with the evolving industry is crucial, and many programs line up with industry certification exams offered by leading organizations, such as the International Council of E-commerce Consultants.

About University of Phoenix

University of Phoenix is furthering the educational ambitions of adult and nontraditional learners and helping students navigate the career options and degree programs that best suit them. The University’s degree programs correlate to over 300 in-demand career paths including in cybersecurity, nursing, education and business, and they provide online classes, flexible start dates and multiple scholarship opportunities that make it possible for anyone to earn the degree they need. What’s more, University of Phoenix’s Career Services for Life® commitment to active students and graduates provides the resources needed to be prepared when entering the workforce for no additional charge. These services include career guidance, resume and interview support and education and networking opportunities. For further details, visit