The Bureau of Labor Statistics has made it clear that STEM careers are going to grow quite a bit over the next ten years. If you’re trying to decide between computer engineering and computer science, you’ll be going into a STEM career. Both of these career options are excellent and growing.
While these can be similar career options, they are also rather different. Deciding between computer engineering and computer science isn’t easy. Let’s look at the differences and what each of these is to help you decide.
What is Computer Engineering?
Computer engineering focuses on the hardware of computers and computing systems. It’s a combination of electronic engineering with computer science. You may work with memory chips, output devices, networking components, data storage devices, microprocessors, and other hardware components.
What is Computer Science?
Computer science is the study of computational systems and computers. As a computer scientist, you will likely work with software and software systems. This type of career has quite a bit to do with how the software works with the software systems.
The Main Differences Between Computer Science and Computer Engineering
It might be easier to decide between computer science and computer engineering by looking at the differences. The biggest difference is the side of the computer and computer system you will work with.
As a computer engineer, you will focus on the hardware. You will need an in-depth knowledge of computer hardware. This type of career will also include engineering software, along with testing it.
If you go into computer science, you will work with the software of computers and computer systems. You will work to develop software. It’s common for a computer scientist to design information systems, as well.
Similarities Between Computer Engineering and Computer Science
While these two careers work on opposite sides of a computer system, they do have some similarities. Some of the things they have in common include:
- A need to be fluent in programming languages
- A need to have excellent mathematical skills
- Both must be very good problem solvers
- It’s necessary to be a good communicator for both careers
Another difference is the type of mathematics each will need. A computer scientist needs to understand statistics and linear algebra. If you go into computer engineering, you will need to understand the mathematics used for software programming and hardware construction.
Computer Engineering vs Computer Science: The Salary
Your salary will depend on the actual job you take. If you go into computer engineering, you will likely work as some type of engineer. The highest paying type of job in this field is one as a firmware engineer. According to Indeed.com, you can earn around $107K per year as a firmware engineer.
Those going into computer science take on several different jobs, as well. The average salary for a computer scientist is about $104K per year.
When it comes to salary, computer engineering and computer science offer similar options. It depends on which type of job you take on in these fields. Some salaries will be much lower than the salaries listed above, but most computer engineers and computer scientists will make more than $70K per year.
Computer Engineering vs Computer Science: The Necessary Education
There are several different paths for your education if you go into computer engineering or computer science. Depending on the type of position you want to take on, you might study IT management, data analytics, computer engineering, or computer science. There are several degree options that fit for these two career paths.
If you specifically want to go into computer engineering, make sure you get a degree in computer engineering. A degree in computer science will often not fit as well for computer engineering.
You may need a master’s degree, depending on the career trajectory you prefer. A master’s degree can help you specialize in a specific area, too. You can get a bachelor’s degree in computer science and specialize in software engineering. This can help you stand out for a computer engineering job.
Most computer scientists have master’s degrees. However, it’s less common for a computer engineer to have a master’s degree. This is one of the reasons computer scientists tend to make more money than computer engineers.
Some of the common computer science courses you may take during a degree program include:
- User Interface Design
- Game Theory
- Cloud Computing
- Operating System Design
- Advanced Software Development
- Data Structures and Algorithms
- Data Analysis
- Data Security Programming
If you decide to study computer engineering, some of the common courses will include:
- Game Hardware Design
- Artificial Intelligence and Robotics
- Microprocessor Design and interfacing
- Electronic Circuit Design
- Digital Signal Processing
- Mobile Device Engineering
- User Interface Design
- Digital Logic and Machine Design
Both degree options will also include a variety of mathematics courses.
Common Jobs for Computer Science Majors
- Web Developer – You will work to develop and design websites in this type of career.
- Application Developer – This type of career will have to do with software applications, including modifying and updating existing software.
- Computer Scientist – You will be in charge of inventing new technology to solve real business and science problems.
- Database Administrator – This type of career will put you in charge of making sure a company’s data is available and protected.
- Data Scientist – As a data scientist, you will analyze raw information to identify patterns and improve businesses.
Common Jobs for Computer Engineering Majors
- Quality Assurance Engineer – As a QA engineer, you will execute tests to ensure the quality of the product.
- Computer Engineer – As a computer engineer, you will test, develop, and evaluate software.
- Hardware Engineer – This type of job will include designing, developing, and testing hardware.
- Software Engineer – As a software engineer, you will use computer science principles to develop and design computer software.
- Firmware Engineer – If you want to create and implement algorithms for hardware, this is the job for you.
Whether you choose to go into computer engineering or computer science, you’ll likely land a high-paying job. Make sure you look at both options before you choose the right career for you.