Computer Science vs. Computer Engineering: A Comprehensive Comparison

If you love playing with logic, solving problems, understanding solutions, and always like to obtain strong command over new technology, computer science is a career path you must explore. And gladly, The IT industry is expanding like fire day by day all over the world. Especially in the United States, computer science jobs are one of the highest-paid jobs nowadays.

Moreover, the demand for highly skilled computer professionals is increasing day by day. According to the statistical forecast of the Bureau of Labour, 1.4 million CS-related jobs will be available within the year 2020 against only 0.4 million appropriately skilled graduates.

More than 95 % of these jobs require relevant skills, knowledge, and experience in basic and advanced proficiency corresponding to computers. And indeed, it should be obtained through an advanced University degree in computer science or computer engineering or both.

If you have googled typing Computer Science Jobs by now, you have most likely got two of these similar terms repeatedly- “Computer Science” and “Computer Engineering.” And like the majority of the individuals, you got yourself confused between this too. The purpose of this article is to provide you with a clear and precise comparison of computer science and computer engineering.

If you are just about to start your career and wondering about the best career path according to your choice and market analytics and interested in computer science and computer engineering, choosing one between computer science and computer engineering can be very puzzling.

Explore more and more about the similarities and differences between the two disciplines, including necessary skills and knowledge, career outcomes, and find out which one is perfect for you.

Computer Science vs. Computer Engineering: Introduction & General Overview:

Computer Science

Computer science includes the knowledge of computers and the study of computational systems. Computer scientists work on theoretical knowledge and researches and Calculate factors of software program and software program structures withinside the layout and improvement phases.

Moreover, computer scientists study, observe and contribute in fields that focus on artificial intelligence and machine learning, neural networks, computer networks, web security and systems monitoring, database management, interactive response (user interaction), natural language processing ( NLP ), compiler constructions, mathematical analysis, developing programming languages and new theories regarding computing as well as its progress and processes.

Even though computer scientists being able to study the principles of software engineering (a particular part of computer engineering), this area of study is the only shared characteristic between the two disciplines.

Computer Engineering

Computer engineering encompasses designing, planning, development, maintenance, testing, and evaluation of computer software. In technical terms, computer engineers are often called “computer programmers,” “software developers” or “software designers” because the domain of computer engineering generally requires proficiency in programming languages, knowledge about principles of software design and development.

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Computer engineers are the programmers who test and perform automated and manual quality assurance checks on new and developing software to ensure its efficacy and eventually confirm efficiency in its real-world application. Computer engineers are generally familiar with theories surrounding software use. But working with computational theories always may not fall under their job description, whereas computer scientists are the workers who propose, construct, and verify theories about programming and operation.

RolesComputer ScienceComputer Engineering
PerspectivesTheoretical & Mathematical Development & Management
InterestsMaths & LogicsMaintenance & Coordination
FieldsArtificial Intelligence
Machine learning
Security
Graphics
Project Management
Quality Assurance
Software Testing
ObjectivesAdvance theoretical approach
Research & Improvement
Building and maintaining software and observing their life cycles

Computer Science vs. Computer Engineering: Knowledge & Skills

Knowing about the required skills and knowledge domain of computer science vs. computer engineering will allow you to determine both their similarities and disparities. Considering your career goals is a must for determining your educational discipline.

For example, suppose you are interested in working in the field of cryptography and cybersecurity or as an admin of a network or system. In that case, computer science can be a wise choice for you. But If your goal is to gradually evolve yourself as a software architect or a full-stack (front – end) web developer, a degree in computer engineering will thoroughly equip you for the job. Advanced computer science curricula thoroughly cover networking knowledge and systems security protocols while teaching language-based programming and appropriate mathematical concepts.

computer science

Computer scientists generally have these following proficiencies:

  1. Basic knowledge of working in Structured Programming Languages, e.g., C
  2. Object-Oriented Programming Languages such as C++, Python, and Java
  3. Complete proficiency on the maintenance of both Linux and Windows operating systems
  4. Data structures and algorithms.
  5. Managing computer Networks work and complete knowledge on network issue handling
  6. Basic number theory, cryptography, and cybersecurity
  7. Knowledge of coding, debugging and testing operations

Typical skills that a computer engineer utilizes higher-level include the following ones:

  1. Complete knowledge of computer hardware architecture and its functionalities (including troubleshooting)
  2. Excellent command over using RESTful API
  3. Knowledge of coding, debugging, designing and testing operations
  4. Being Comfortable to work with a wide range of software, which can be highly specialized depending on the company or industry;
  5. Ability to build your PC systems and repair or maintain device drivers according to need

Computer Science vs Computer Engineering: Job Descriptions and  Market Analysis

A precise comparison of Job Posts is presented in the following table:

Computer ScienceComputer Engineering
1. Programmer
2. Mobile Developer
3. Cloud Developer
4. Business Analyst
5. Developer Advocate
6. Research & Development Director
7. Data Scientist
1. Software Developer
2. Software Engineer
3. Software Manager
4. Technical Product Manager
5. Implementation Consultant
6. Software Project Director
7. Security Engineer
8. Agile Engineer
9. Web Developer

Currently, The industry of Information and Communication Technology is expanding very fast with growth and so as its job opportunities. According to a recent study, Careers in computer and information science are predicted to increase by 19 %t by 2026. Computer hardware engineer jobs are expected to grow 5% in the same time frame.

The median pay for IT professionals in 2019 was $122,840 per year, which is $59.06 per hour. This salary is comparatively handsome than most other professionals. CS major graduates can earn 40 percent more than other college majors. On average, in the last few years, computer scientists are paid $118,370 per year, and computer engineers earn $114,600 per year.

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N.B: The median pay is the payment, at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount, and half are paid less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $69,990, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $189,780.

Not only do these career paths are furnished with lucrative salaries and stable job growth stats, but also earning a degree in either field can pave the way for versatile career options. For Instances, one can quickly switch from conventional management or IT jobs to data analytics position with a computer science degree, as you learn how to apply statistical methods to large datasets with computational methods.

The employment of computer professionals is projected to grow 16 percent from 2018 to 2028, which is very high compared to the average for all occupations. Both computer scientists and computer engineers usually enjoy excellent job facilities due to their high demands, because many companies report difficulties in finding these highly skilled professionals.

Other notable fields which are hiring both computer scientists and engineers are the artificial intelligence (AI) and the virtual reality (VR)or augmented reality (AR) industries. By a recent forecast, The global Artificial Intelligence (AI) industry is expected to reach $ 169,411.8 Million by 2025, from $ 4,065.0 Million in 2016, growing at a CAGR of 55.6% from 2018 to 2025. 

Similarly, The VR/AR industry is predicted to be a $9.9 billion field by 2022 and has seen a 93 per cent increase in job demand in the past year. Virtual reality is not only a glorified gaming system, but instead is revolutionizing health care, architecture, military and defense, and education. Increase in penetration of smartphones & connected devices in various application sectors and development of the gaming industry boosts the augmented and virtual reality market growth. The global augmented and virtual reality market size was $11.35 billion in 2017, and the augmented and virtual reality market forecast is projected to reach $571.42 billion by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 63.3% from 2018 to 2025. (Source: Allied Market Research)

So, A degree in either computer science or engineering will be valuable for anyone wanting to break into this industry.

Computer Science vs Computer Engineering: Course Curriculum

As we are well-aware of the job markets, let’s have a closer look at these two degrees, their offered courses. A curriculum-based comparison will allow you to differentiate both the degrees notably.

Though courses vary according to institutions, you will be provided with a general overview here:

Courses Offered in the First Year:

Computer Science

  • Designing Functional Programs
  • Algorithm Design and Data Abstraction
  • Algebra
  • Linear Algebra 1
  • Calculus 1
  • Calculus 2

Computer Engineering

  • Programming Principles
  • Data Abstraction and Implementation
  • Linear Algebra for Engineering
  • Calculus 1 for Engineering
  • Calculus 2 for Engineering
  • Algebra for Honours Mathematics
  • Physics of Electrical Engineering 1
  • Electricity and Magnetism
  • Digital Circuits and Systems
  • Linear Circuits
  • Methods of Software Engineering

As you can understand, the first-year courses are quite similar as they make a fresher go through computer basics and fundamental logic.

Courses Offered After First Year:

Computer Science:

  • Introduction to Combinatorics
  • Probability
  • Statistics
  • Data Structures and Data Management
  • Foundations of Sequential Programs
  • Logic and Computation
  • Object-Oriented Software Development <- not required in for Software Engineering majors
  • Computer Organization and Design
  • Algorithms
  • Operating System
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Computer Engineering:

  • Chemistry for Engineers
  • Digital Computers (includes assembly language)
  • Computer Networks
  • Advanced Mathematics for Software Engineers
  • Introduction to Combinatorics
  • Statistics for Software Engineering
  • Engineering Economics: Financial Management for Engineers
  • Foundations of Sequential Programs
  • Data Structures and Data Management
  • Software Engineering Principles 
  • Algorithms
  • User Interfaces
  • Concurrent and Parallel Programming 
  • Introduction to Database Management
  • Logic and Computation
  •  Operating Systems
  • Software Testing and Quality Assurance
  • Software Design and Architectures
  • Software Requirements Specification and Analysis
  • Design Project

Course Comparison Summary

Don’t get too overwhelmed seeing this much information here. I will try to summarise the above circumstances in easy words.

Computer Science encompasses more specific higher-level courses relevant to security, computer vision, artificial intelligence, and database management.

Contrastingly, Computer Engineering requires more courses relevant to engineering fundamentals, software testing, designing, debugging, and other specifications.

How Should You Choose the Right Path?

  • Choose Computer Science if you are comfortable with maths, logic, problem solving, and want to get into specialised fields of artificial intelligence, machine learning, cryptography, number theory, game theory, and design. You can contribute to computational theories and advanced mathematics by choosing computer science.
  • Choose Computer Engineering if you have the ability to handle, coordinate, manage, repair, and maintain life cycles of software. You can work in tech-giant companies as a software developer, engineer, or manager with a degree in Computer Engineering.
  • However, as two of the disciplines are strongly correlated, they have a handful number of overlaps in the job outlook. If you are too confused and like both, you can pick any of the two and later switch for the other if you have a change of mind.

Still, Confused?

Even after all this, if you are still having confusion and seek expert advice. Here is my opinion. If you’re looking forward to getting one of the highest-paid ( more than $8000 per month) jobs “A software Engineer” in America, Computer Science should be a better choice.  These jobs are available both in tech-giant companies ( e.g. Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and so on) and highly growing companies (like Dropbox, Lyft, Snapchat, Pinterest, etc. ).

Most likely, these industries seek individuals with solid and clean coding skills, passion for problem-solving, interest, and patience for long projects as well as fundamental knowledge of data structure and algorithms.

The best-known way to improve these skills is to practice writing programs and solving logical problems with patience. As this practice is very time consuming, it is a must to have much free time for practicing these skills. Generally, engineering students remain busy with their academic studies. They do not get much time to practice and develop this coding skill.

Moreover, as there are options to choose elective courses, you can easily adjust your curriculum with trending job market demands. Yes, there are also benefits of learning fundamental skills of engineering. But, if I were you, I would choose flexibility and time over predefined capabilities. But this is only a personal opinion. You can study and stalk both of the disciplines and choose according to your interests and preference.

Advice for You!

The job posts corresponding to computer engineering graduates often overlap with those of computer science. Since computer engineering is a combination of computer science and computer engineering, job opportunities can be quite similar in both of the fields. Computer engineers can also work in many programming jobs or hardware engineering jobs. Furthermore, almost every industry requires some level of computer engineering to be correctly operated.

Both fields require a high proficiency in at least one programming language. The more programming languages one learns, the more job posts one will be qualified to apply for. As the opportunities are huge, you can pursue a particular sector that seems best according to your knowledge and skills. 

Conclusion

Any of the disciplines you decide to study, you need hard work, high dedication,  and regular practice to achieve your career ambition. Fortunately, the demands of the graduates of both disciplines are not decreasing any time soon. So, Best of Luck! Happy Career Planning!