Computer engineering VS software engineering: Which one is right for you?

The immense technological advancements in recent years have made one thing clear—every aspect of our daily lives today is dominated by computers and software.

The tech industry is so dominant that professions like computer engineers or software engineers are well-known among people across all social strata.

Know more about our programmes

Know more about our programmes

Gisma - Business School

More than often, the terms ‘computer engineers’ or ‘software engineers’ are used interchangeably quite erroneously. Although both career paths share several similarities and belong to the same broad domain, there are many differences between them.

This blog can help you decide which career option is more suitable for you and help you determine software engineering requirements.

Let’s dive deeper!

What do you mean by computer engineering?

While computer and software engineering both cater to computers, one subject is a subset of another. Computer engineering is a far broader discipline, with software engineering being one of its sub-domains.

Computer engineering largely deals with the design and creation of different computer systems and their ancillary parts. The subject focuses on designing the hardware of a computer, although it also includes creating software to supplement hardware designing.

Introduction to software engineering

Simply put, software engineering is diagnosing problems or potential gaps in the operation of computer systems and designing solutions for them. It involves more design elements, testing and implementation of computer software and hardly concerns the hardware of computer systems.

What are the primary differences between computer engineering and software engineering?

There are several distinct differences between software/computer engineers and software developers. We have listed the top ones below in a tabular format for easy reference.

What is a computer engineer’s job description?

Computer engineers are responsible for designing, developing, and testing computer hardware components and systems. They work on a wide range of tasks, including researching new technologies, designing computer chips and circuit boards, and ensuring that computer hardware functions properly. Computer engineers may also be involved in the development of software that interacts directly with hardware components.

Computer engineering

Software engineering

Increases your understanding of computer systems and their processes.

Helps you improve computer efficiency and accuracy by designing software updates.

Suitable for people who want to explore domains like artificial intelligence, machine learning and cybersecurity.

Suitable for people interested in front- and back-end development, web development and website design.

Computer engineering is a broader domain with several sub-disciplines.

Software engineering is narrower as a domain than computer engineering.

A computer engineering degree typically includes subjects like computing devices, database management and DevOps.

A software engineering course consists of subjects like coding algorithms, front-end development, and language uses.

Computer engineering has a broad career scope in different industries.

Software engineering has a comparable career scope in different industries.


What are the primary job responsibilities of computer engineers?

Most computer scientists or engineers are involved in studying and theorising different hardware and software aspects of computer systems and their parts.

Gisma - Business School

Additionally, they also dabble in associated subjects like database systems, computer networks, and monitoring systems.

Becoming a computer engineer would require you to be adept in theoretical aspects of computer operations, the uses and importance of different computer parts and computer networks.

Find out more

Find out more

Are computer engineers in demand?

Yes, computer engineers are in high demand across various industries, including technology, telecommunications, automotive, aerospace, and healthcare. With the increasing reliance on technology in both consumer and industrial applications, the demand for skilled computer engineers continues to grow. Additionally, emerging fields such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and cybersecurity are creating new opportunities for computer engineers.

What does a software engineer do?

Software engineers, also known as software developers or programmers, are responsible for designing, developing, testing, and maintaining software applications or systems. They work closely with clients or end-users to understand their needs and requirements and then use programming languages and development tools to create software solutions. Software engineers may specialise in different areas such as web development, mobile app development, or systems software development.

This career path requires immense expertise in different computer programming languages and principles of software design.

What is your career outlook if you pursue computer engineering?

Computer engineering is one of the most widely used disciplines today, with its applications spanning different industries. Therefore, investing in a computer engineering degree can allow you to explore exciting and diverse roles across different domains.

Here are a few worthy job options that you would be eligible for after your computer engineering degree.

  • Desktop support technician
  • Help desk analyst
  • Database programmer
  • Systems analyst
  • Database administrator
  • DevOps manager
  • Hardware engineer

What are the career prospects if you take up software engineering?

You can come across software engineers working in different fields and disciplines today, including automotive, healthcare, and even casino management. Courses in software engineering can also help you explore interesting positions in data science, artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Here are some intriguing job roles for software engineers that might catch your eye.

  • Computer programmer
  • Web developer
  • App developer
  • Information security analyst
  • Network architect
  • Senior software developer

What are the educational requirements for becoming a computer engineer?

To become a computer engineer, you need a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering or computer science. You can further improve your expertise by following up with a master’s degree in computer engineering.

Computer engineering is quite a competitive domain today. Hence, simply getting a formal degree won’t help you sustain your career in the long run. There are many ways in which you can sharpen your edge when it comes to computer engineering skills, such as:

  • Coding boot camps
  • Hackathons
  • Seminars and conferences on computer networks or databases and frameworks­­

What are the educational requirements for software engineering?

Since computer engineering and software engineering are fairly similar, a bachelor’s degree in computer science can also provide a solid foundation for you to become a software developer.

Alternatively, you can acquire a bachelor’s degree in software engineering and start acquiring expertise in different coding languages such as C++ and Java.

You can also find several industry certifications that can help your coding skills stay current. Some of them include:

  • Certified Secure Software Lifecycle Professional (CSSLP)
  • Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD)
  • Oracle Certified Professional (OCP)

What are the top skills to become a computer or software engineer?

Both software engineer and computer engineer career paths are incredibly technical and competitive in today’s landscape. Hence, you would need a strong suite of technical and soft skills to stay relevant in the industry.

Here are some of the most important skills required to become a software or computer engineer.

  • A keen eye for detail
  • Adaptability and willingness to learn new skills
  • A commitment to keep learning and a growth mindset
  • Strong coding skills and knowledge of computer algorithms
  • Teamwork skills
  • Expert knowledge in computer systems and networks
  • Strong analytical and logical reasoning skills

Which profession has better salary prospects—computer engineering or software engineering?

Salary prospects are an important consideration for any career path, irrespective of the domain. If you want to enter the computer science industry, it is only natural if you would want to know, “How much do software engineers make” or “How much do computer engineers make?”

Fortunately, there isn’t much difference between a computer engineer and a software engineer in terms of annual compensation. The US Bureau of Labour Statistics estimates that the median software engineer salary is $110,140 globally.

Computer engineers might make a little less than software engineers. The same report puts the median global salary for computer engineers at $91,991.

Enquire now

Enquire now

Gisma - Business School

However, you can increase this figure by boosting your employability with additional certifications.

Computer engineering VS software engineering—Which is right for you?

The ultimate choice between a computer engineering and software engineering career path depends on your professional aspirations and priorities. If you are interested in the theoretical aspects of computer systems and want to go into system design, you will make a capable computer engineer.

On the other hand, if you are adept at coding and find it interesting to develop software solutions, becoming a software engineer can be worth your while.

In both cases, pursuing a formal bachelor’s or master’s degree in the subject can give you an ideal foundation to start your career.

The GISMA Business School in Germany offers a relevant BEng Software Engineering programme and a MEng Computer Science programme. Both programmes are designed for tech enthusiasts who want to build a career in the global IT industry.

The programmes yield limitless career opportunities such as building complex IT systems, designing cybersecurity software or developing visually stunning games.

Click  here to apply for the Master’s of Engineering in Computer Science at GISMA.

Click  here to learn about the Bachelor’s of Engineering in Software Engineering at GISMA.


Frequently Asked Questions

 – This article was written by Sweha Hazari.

Related Blogs

Explore an Education in Germany

A Global Education at Gisma: Everyone should be able to access a world-class education in Germany, no matter where you are in the world. Offering both online and on-campus learning, we foster cross-cultural collaboration, equipping students to become leaders who shatter boundaries.
Read More