With STEM careers growing at a rapid pace across the world, it is no surprise that many students are interested in a degree like computer science or computer engineering. Both of these are very popular and offer a good median salary. The fact that you’re probably reading this on a laptop or a smartphone should show you just how important computers, and courses like computer science, are in our modern lives. 

Not only are computer engineering and computer science fun and challenging fields with a focus on both hardware and software coursework, but they are also quite secure. In the words of a computer scientist who also happens to be a writer at PapersOwl, Sasha Adams, “Learning computer-related skills, concerning both software and hardware, is one of the most future-proof career options a student can explore.” Computing devices aren’t going anywhere, and that is why becoming a computer scientist or a computer engineer is a great idea. 

But one thing to understand when considering learning computer science or engineering is that they are both different. To become a professional in one, you might have to be exposed to the other but the overall subjects are not the same. 

Computer Engineering and Computer Science

The biggest difference between computer science and computer engineering is that the former is more related to software while the latter deals with physical components. 

Computer scientists deal with programming languages, operating systems, data structures, security, and much more. If you ever want to get some cybersecurity tips, for example, then you might want to get help from a computer scientist. 

On the other hand, computer engineers deal with the development of various physical components like memory chips, processors, devices for data storage, and more. Engineers actually have to learn a decent amount about software too since they have to marry physical parts with digital code. 

Different Curricula

Since CS and CE are different, students can expect to learn very different things in each. Computer science will teach you how to solve problems on a computer, to put it simply. You will also learn how to analyze data, build algorithms, create graphics, manage complex networks, and more. 

For aspiring computer engineers, the curriculum will be very different. As part of the best computer engineering programs, you will study now to design computer architecture, microprocessors, and integrated circuits. You will also be able to create computing systems. Computer engineering is something that can be slotted in between computer science and electrical engineering.

main board 89049

Some information in both computer science and engineering courses will overlap, like the use of mathematics and computational technology. Other soft skills will include creative and critical thinking, problem-solving, technical writing, etc. 

Different Job Roles

The opportunities that professionals of each career are able to get vary, quite drastically at times. This makes it even more crucial to choose your university program carefully. Here are some of the most common computer science and engineering jobs along with their annual salaries as per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS, that you will be able to apply for with one of these degrees.

Computer Science Roles:

  • Computer Scientist – If you wish to write software for various devices, this is the job for you. You will conduct design and research both as part of this computer science role. The average annual income of computer scientists is around $126,830.
  • Software Developer – As the name suggests, developers are responsible for developing applications and software solutions. To excel in this industry, you should be a strong programmer. The average income you can expect is $110,140 per year. 
  • Web Designer – For the more creative among you, your computer science degree can also help you design websites to maximize their usability, function, and aesthetics all at once. The annual average income of this career is $77,200.

Computer Engineering Roles:

  • Computer Engineer – Getting this degree, the first thing you can do is be a computer engineer. You will design and test various systems and components in this field. The average annual income for computer engineers is $119,560. 
  • Network Engineer – If you like testing and maintaining communications networks as well as ensuring security, this is the role for you. For your work in this role, you will earn $84,810 on average per year. 
  • System Engineer – If you choose to work in this role, your goals will include assessing and resolving any issues that may come up in computer systems. The annual pay in this field is $80,300 on average. 

It is important to note that you can find various other roles in the fields of computer science and engineering if you look online. These are just some common ones that you may bump into when you complete your degree. The database of available openings is often very vast and requires some careful analysis based on the kind of roles you wish to pursue. 


As you can now see, both majors of computer science and engineering are very different, even though some similarities do exist between them. Where computer science majors work on software solutions, CE graduates are more associated with computer hardware. Both of these have a healthy balance between practical science and theory, as far as the degree education goes. Which degree you choose is a matter of whether you’re more interested in management and programming or designing and building physical components. At the end of the day, computer scientists do make a little more than computer engineering graduates, but that contrast should not be the main factor in your choice.