General

General

Software Engineering vs. Computer Science: What’s the Difference?

by

Mustafa Ali

|

April 19, 2022

Software Engineering & Computer Science: Responsibilities & Salary

The software engineering and computer science professions may seem similar at first glance, but the differences become apparent when you explore them further. The most important question you should ask yourself is: Which profession is better suited for me in the long run?

Both software engineering and computer science involve computer software, including software development and other related fields. Individuals who are interested in a career in software development and computer technology often focus on one of two majors: computer science or software engineering (sometimes referred to as software development, but the two are not synonymous).

The primary difference is computer science was originally a sub-branch of mathematics. Computer science deals with the basic structure of a computer and is more theoretical, so it is more malleable in terms of specialization, with an emphasis on math and science. Software engineering is a field concerned with the application of engineering processes to the creation, maintenance, and design of software for a variety of different purposes. A software engineer designs customized applications per the requirements of an organization.

One of the main benefits of these vocations is that they offer the freedom of freelance engineering. With the increasing popularity of the gig economy, computer scientists and software engineers can reap the benefits as a freelance or contract worker.

As for which job is the right fit for you, it comes down to your preference. While both professions are computer-related, the emphasis is entirely different, and you should consider your interests and where you see yourself ten years from now. We’ll go into more depth about each industry, along with the average computer science and software engineer salaries.


Software Engineering vs. Computer Science

Software Engineer Job Responsibilities & Education

Software engineering deals with computer systems and understanding the most practical approach to computer development and use. Although, software engineers focus on software, they are also required to be familiar with hardware. Additionally, software engineering combines electrical engineering and science, with a focus on software-hardware interactions. Some of the most common programs offered in software engineering include processor interfacing, digital logical design, thermodynamics, power management, solid state physics, and magnetic fields. Degrees in software engineering are highly customizable, as programs often cover a wide range of interests. Ultimately, you are in control of your own degree as you focus on your interests, and this customizable degree will propel your profession into your desired career direction.

Computer Science Job Responsibilities & Education

Computer science deals with the basic structure of a computer and is more theoretical. As a result, it is more flexible in terms of specialization, with an emphasis on math and science. When computers were introduced, computer science degrees were conducted within the math department. Since computers have become an essential part of society, the branch degree has since expanded, but the focus remains unchanged. Some of the most common programs offered in computer science include programming, numerical analysis, algorithms and data structures, computer systems principles, the software process, and theory of computers.  

Software Engineer Salary vs. Computer Science Salary

What are the average software engineer and computer science salaries? An important consideration of any job is salary, but this should not be the only factor when choosing your profession.


Software Engineer Salary

Software engineers can expect high salaries, and the salary will depend on their skill set and specialization, as well as the actual position. Senior positions usually call for a doctoral degree or continued education. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median software engineer salary is $110,140 annually or $52.95 per hour. In addition, it is expected that the number of software engineering jobs will rise 22% by 2030.

Computer Scientist Salary

Fresh computer science graduates can expect a minimum annual salary of $39,000. This, again, depends on their skill set. Continued education and certification are always an option in the field and can lead to career advancements. Certification programs are available through professional organizations, software companies, and product and service vendors. There is room for growth with a median computer scientist annual salary of $81,991.

The ideal option for both professions would be adopting a freelance or consultant position. Freelance engineers will easily find remote jobs. The gig economy is booming, and businesses are urgently in search of engineers. The IT sector has been one of the fastest growing sectors over the past several decades, with the trend predicted to continue. Up-to-date knowledge is essential for all computer-related professionals as technology rapidly evolves.



Making Decisions

As discussed above, the main difference between software engineering and computer science is that software engineering focuses on the software, whereas computer science focuses on the hardware. Both branches require a solid knowledge of hardware, as software engineers are expected to implement solutions in addition to developing them.

If you are undecided about which profession to pursue, explore the programs offered at different colleges. Compare them and see which ones speak to you. Software engineers mainly deal with the application of engineering processes. They focus on programming and algorithms. Computer scientists deal mostly with hardware interface and software systems. If you are into creating apps and games, the latter is the right choice for you.

The question of a software engineer salary versus a computer science salary should not be the determining factor when choosing your profession. Both vocations are highly rewarding salary-wise, and rapid developments in the field will further step up the demand. Rather than choosing your future vocation based on median pay, it’s better to focus on your preferences and stay current with new technology, which will help boost your salary.
Enjoy your journey as you investigate these two rewarding professions.


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