Technology is an increasingly prominent part of how business is done, so managing corporate and customer data is a top priority for many companies. As this trend continues, the need for data scrutiny is only going to become more crucial. That means that potential career opportunities for students who are interested in computer science are increasing.
Management information systems (MIS) and cyber security are two prominent fields that both involve ensuring the integrity of computerized data. While the two professions share certain similarities, the differences between management information systems vs. cyber security are significant enough that they are considered two separate professions. It is important for aspiring IT professionals who may be pursuing a bachelor’s in cyber security or a bachelor’s in management information systems to understand what these differences are so they can pursue a career path that best fits their interests.
Management Information Systems Defined
Those in the management information systems field oversee a company’s digital information flow and behavior. They are responsible for making sure the sharing, storage, and accessibility of corporate data are operating at optimal levels, without internal or external forces slowing down these and other processes. In the event of a systems disruption, the information systems manager must use analytical and critical-thinking skills to find appropriate solutions.
What is Cyber Security?
Professionals in cyber security are primarily charged with keeping company data secure. They use their analytical abilities to spot potential weaknesses in corporate networks, computer systems and cloud resources and develop solutions to these vulnerabilities — ideally before they are discovered outside the organizations. In some cases, cyber security agents use ethical hacking tactics to break into their own networks from the outside and fix security holes before a malicious attack can occur.
Similarities and Differences Between the Two Professions
When comparing management information systems vs. cyber security, it’s easy to find some crossover in skills and responsibilities. For instance, both types of professionals must ensure IT systems are functioning properly and have up-to-date information on network status. Both positions also require strong analytical competencies to spot system deficiencies. Critical-thinking and problem-solving skills are imperative in both roles to prevent security weaknesses from causing greater issues.
Those in MIS and cyber security also need ongoing study and education to maintain their technical knowledge and proficiency in the latest system technologies.Those in either field may be in charge of leading a team to oversee a company’s network. Because of their versatile skill sets, both information systems managers and cyber security professionals may work in a wide range of industries, such as healthcare, finance, manufacturing, retail and more.
The primary difference between the two professions largely comes down to how they apply their respective competencies in a business setting. An information systems manager focuses on a company’s network efficiency, making sure that computerized systems and online resources are functioning properly. A cyber security specialist, on the other hand, primarily seeks out weaknesses and vulnerabilities within a network’s security system.
Management Information Systems Careers
Students have the ability to pursue careers with many types of companies after earning a management information systems degree. For instance, some graduates may pursue careers as systems analysts. These IT professionals use comparative analytical skills to determine the efficiency of a company’s computer network and suggest changes to implement improved systematic processes. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for a systems analyst with professional work experience was approximately $88,300 in 2017.
A degree in management information systems may also lead to a career as a computer network architect. This profession involves designing, creating, and building a company’s data communication networks, which may include wide area networks (WANs), local area networks (LANs), and intranets. The BLS indicates the 2017 median pay for computer network architects was around $104,600 per year.
Some graduates of MIS programs seek careers as software developers. This position typically oversees an interdisciplinary team of information technology professionals who collaborate to design and create software products. The 2017 median pay for this position was roughly $103,500 a year, according to the BLS.
Additionally, some management information systems degree-holders pursue careers as database administrators. Professionals in this role typically use software to organize and store critical corporate data, including financial records and customer service metrics. The BLS states that the 2017 median pay for this position was around $87,000 per year.
It should be noted that the above salaries for each career are not a guarantee of what can be universally expected. There are several factors that can factor into the actual salary received, such as experience level and the region where the work is conducted. Additionally, these salaries listed are not indicative of what can be achieved at an entry level.
Cyber Security Careers
Earning a degree in cyber security may lead to a career as an information security analyst. Professionals in this field identify vulnerabilities within corporate networks or systems. They are also charged with creating solutions to fix these weaknesses before a breach can occur. The BLS lists the 2017 median pay for this position at about $95,500 per year, although this number can fluctuate based on experience and position location. Furthermore, the BLS indicates a high demand for this field, projecting a 28 percent increase in the number of jobs between 2016 and 2026, a much higher growth rate compared to the average for all U.S. occupations.
Cyber security degree-holders may also embark on careers as cryptographers. This profession combines mathematics, statistics, and computer science to create algorithms and various security systems to encrypt and encode data. Cryptographers often ply their craft in workplaces where the protection and transmittal of data is extremely sensitive, such as in government agencies.
Those with cyber security degrees may also pursue careers as computer forensics experts. These individuals work in conjunction with law enforcement officials to obtain information from computers to aid in solving crimes. According to compensation tracking website PayScale, the 2017 median salary for computer forensics experts with work experience is about $70,000 per year.
Degrees and Certifications
Most cyber security and information management positions require a bachelor’s degree in a computer science-related field, although some advanced positions may require a master’s degree. In some cases, employers may also require professional certifications, which indicate highly developed skills within the field. Some of these certifications, such as the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certificate, cover general competencies, while others drill down into more specific aspects of the computer science field, such as systems auditing or penetration testing. Some certifications may have certain prerequisites in place before a certification exam can be achieved. The most common prerequisite in place is years of experience, which can differ based on the certification. Additionally, certifications such as the Certified Ethical Hacker certification may require ongoing education and periodic certification renewals due the industry’s ever-evolving nature.
Two Career Paths, One Goal
If you are up to the challenge of keeping corporate computer systems and key data secure and operating at peak efficiency, earning an online Bachelor of Science in Cyber Security or a Bachelor of Science in Management Information Systems at Maryville University could be a key step toward a career in these high-growth fields.