It’s a common misconception that computer science and software engineering are the same thing. Despite having many overlapping areas, these two areas of study are very different from one another.

If you are thinking of specializing in either field, it’s important to know the key differences. We’ll take you through exactly what makes them distinct, from both an academic and professional point of view.

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What is Computer Science?

Computer science is a broad subject that covers anything and everything to do with computers. Topics include programming, user interface design, computer graphics, simulation, databases, data processing, networking, artificial intelligence, visualization, hardware systems, and software applications.

Being a branch of science, computer science has a theoretical and research-based approach to computers and computer programming. As a discipline, it explores algorithms and the limits of computation.

Computer science involves lots of math, logic, algebra, programming, data abstraction, and physics. Data Scientists or Computer Science researchers use common mathematical principles to transform unstructured data and develop computer systems. Computer Scientists can follow a career in academic research or apply their skills in industry.

Computer science is a wide ranging subject that has an abstract and theoretical approach to computers. There are plenty of ways you can apply computer science knowledge on the job; but if you’re hoping to learn job-ready skills, then software engineering is probably more applicable to achieving your career goals.

What is Software Engineering?

The software engineering path is much more specialized than computer science. It is primarily concerned with the development and maintenance of computer software. To fully understand Software Engineering, we first have to define exactly what we mean by software.

Software (also known as an application or program) is a collection of digital instructions that command computer hardware to perform a useful job.

Any task that your computer, phone or even TV carries out, will be following software code. From operating systems like Android, iOS and Windows, to social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. They all use software of one form or another.

If you are thinking of majoring in Software Engineering, you should be aware that it tends to have a more rigid curriculum. Your learning will focus around the software development lifecycle. This includes planning, designing, implementing, testing, deploying and maintaining software.

Software Engineering vs Computer Science: What’s The Difference?

It’s important to note that in industry, the differences are not so apparent. There are hardly any differences in careers based around Computer Science and Software Engineering. The roles are almost the same for both professions. It would therefore be safe to assume these differences are only relevant during study.

What Are The Required Skills to Major in Computer Science and Software Engineering?

Potential Career Opportunities

With an expertise in computer science or software engineering, you’ll have a wide range of technology-driven careers to choose from. Computer science graduates can generally adapt to work in any job related to programming or coding.

The following are some of the career options open to a computer science graduate:

With a knowledge of software engineering, you’ll be in the running for positions like:

This list of impressive titles demonstrates why software engineering is such a desirable skill.

Top Paying Entry-Level Tech Jobs

Start Your New Career

Clearly, with the right computer science or software engineering skills, you can enjoy a high salary even in an entry-level position. If those job descriptions have sparked your interest, then take a look at our complete guide to careers in web development.

If you’re ready to take action and advance your career today, consider enrolling in an online Web Development course. This software engineering bootcamp was designed by experts, with the ultimate goal of getting you hired.

Unlike a computer science degree, bootcamps focus on the specific skills employers need today: meaning you’ll be ready to enter the job market and enjoy a lasting career.  

Let’s kickstart your future as a software engineer.

Which Tech Career is Right for You?

Ready to change your career and join the world’s next workforce? At Thinkful, we’ve got your back with various tech programs to get you equipped with in-demand skills.

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