You’re looking at computer technology as a field of study, but you aren’t sure whether to major in computer science vs software engineering. You’ve heard there’s a lot of math in computer science, but you also know there’s a lot of hardware-related classes in software engineering. Does it matter which route you choose?

Computer science and software engineering are not the same. They are two programs of study that focus on different parts of the tech industry. The path you take depends on what you want to do in the technology field. The best way to decide is to look at the requirements of each program and the available careers.

Computer Science Vs Software Engineering

When it comes to computer science vs software engineering, these two tech professions are similar in many ways. They both focus on computer software and everything associated with it, such as application development, software architecture, or systems software. Both fields want students to develop a thorough knowledge of computers, computer software, and its applications.

The differences between the two fields are based on the terms – engineering and science. Engineers are tasked with finding solutions to problems, while scientists concentrate on research and development. This distinction carries over into computers. In general, engineers are concerned with the more practical aspects of software development. In computer science, a person enjoys solving abstract problems and research.

The two fields of study have overlapping requirements. They both focus on a comprehensive understanding of computer technology and coding. But, one is more oriented towards the development process and the other towards the theory of development.

What Do Computer Software Engineers Do?

Computer software engineers are often divided into two types: application software developers and systems software developers. Both develop software, but one is focused on end-user applications while the other is more concerned with back-end operations.

Applications Software Development

Applications software developers follow a set of engineering principles to build a software product to meet end-user requirements. Application developers may write programs that connect the user interface with the programs that process and store information. Or, they may develop the front-end or user interface component.

Depending on the area of software development, a software engineer may use JavaScript, HTML, or CSS. Back-end developers use server-side languages such as Python, Java, PHP, and Ruby. The languages depend on the environment in which the software is developed. However, most companies have coding standards to comply with.

Systems Software Development

Systems software development is associated with back-end development such as operating systems and network programs that support the applications. System developers may serve as IT managers or system architects. They have responsibility for both the hardware and software needs of an organization.

Systems developers use software optimization techniques enabling applications to run effectively. Their work includes writing code for new software programs or integrating disparate software products onto one platform. They are often tasked with keeping an enterprise operating efficiently.

Careers in Software Engineering

Qualified software engineers can work in almost any industry. IT firms may seem the first choice, but government agencies, healthcare, logistics, or manufacturing all need software engineers. Even industries such as fashion or design need software engineers.

Some typical roles include developing mobile applications, developing web applications, and managing databases. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for application developers is $103,620 and $110,000 for systems developers.

How to Become a Software Engineer

Completing a two- or four-year degree is the traditional route to finding a career in software engineering. Individuals with math- or engineering-related degrees have found software engineering positions. Sometimes taking additional classes such as software modeling or software design can help transition into a software engineering position.

Formal degrees are not the only path to becoming a developer. Online programming courses can help people acquire coding skills needed for software development. The path to becoming a software engineer depends on you and your career goals.

What Do Computer Scientists Do?

Individuals with a computer science degree are often asked to develop or research new technologies. They combine concrete and abstract concepts in the field of technology to arrive at solutions that advance industrial boundaries. In general, computer scientists develop and improve algorithms, computing languages, and system designs. They try to research and improve the reliability and efficiency of computer software.

Careers in Computer Science

Computer science majors can have jobs in any industry. Information technology, database management, or computer support are all areas that are needed in all business sectors. Technical and IT firms are not the only options. As enterprises become more dependent upon technology, the need for computer scientists will continue to grow. Emerging positions in the field of computer science may include careers in cloud computing, robotics, and development.

Employment forecast within computer and information technology occupations is expected to increase by 13% between 2016 and 2026. The median salary among computer and information research scientists was $118,370, and the median salary among computer network architects was $109,020. Software developers’ median salary was $105,590.

How to Become a Computer Scientist

To become a computer scientist you must have relevant, up-to-date industry specific skills.  Today, having a four-year degree in computer science is no longer a requirement. Computer science focuses more on the theory surrounding computing and demonstrating an ability in the following areas can help you move into the world of technology:

  • Algorithms
  • Programming
  • Mathematics
  • Data Structures
  • Software Security
  • Operating Systems

Course work or online courses in product and project management are vital to computer science majors who are looking to advance their careers. Companies are always looking for technical people with knowledge on how to manage a software development project.

Learn to Program Online

Whether you are deciding to learn computer science vs software engineering, programming skills are a must. The best programming language to learn first depends on what type of work you want to pursue. Programming in any language provides a foundation for learning additional coding languages. You can learn to program online, so why limit yourself to only one or two languages? The more you know, the more versatile and employable you become. Don’t put off your goals to learn technology. Learn how we can help you achieve your career goals.

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