Computer Science Vs Computer Engineering: Key Differences

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 20 October 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Computer science and computer engineering are two different fields that may closely relate to each other in terms of coursework and skills. There can be significant differences in the principles of these areas of study. Learning about these educational paths can help you determine the right career option for you. In this article, we compare computer science vs computer engineering, review the key differences of their learning objectives, explore the skills for each, discover the difference in career paths for each and see some tips to choose the right one.

Computer Science Vs Computer Engineering

Here are the key differences between computer science vs computer engineering:

What is computer science?

Computer science is the study of hardware and software systems, computational theories, scientific computing and other topics related to computers. By pursuing a degree in computer science, you can get a job in various industries such as health care, education and information technology. Studying computer science can help you understand the use of computers and data. You can learn how to use algorithms to solve problems. Many companies hire computer science professionals to handle their hardware, networks and data.

Related: 20 Best Computer Science Jobs In India (With Salaries)

What is computer engineering?

Computer engineering involves the study of electronic engineering and computer science. This branch of engineering can help you learn about design automation, networking, computer software and machine intelligence. Professionals with a computer engineering degree can design microprocessors, supercomputers or personal computers and improve their performance. Computer engineers are able to develop devices that run on computer technologies and computer networks to move data.

Related: How Much Do DevOps Engineers Make? (And How To Become One)

Difference Between Learning Objectives Of Computer Science And Computer Engineering

There are a few key differences in the primary focus of both areas of study. Computer science focuses on the working of computers. Computer engineering focuses on developing and designing hardware and software programs. Pursuing a degree in computer science can help you learn how to develop and maintain software systems. If you pursue a degree in computer engineering, you can learn about ways to use computing and engineering principles to build hardware or software systems. Here are the topics you may study in computer science courses:

  • Software development

  • Software testing

  • Web design and development

  • Computational problem-solving

  • Data mining

  • Data security

  • Data structures and algorithms

  • Operating system design

  • Cloud computing

Here are the topics you may study in computer engineering courses:

  • Computer architecture and design

  • Advanced mathematics

  • Microprocessor design

  • Software development

  • Biomedical engineering

  • Artificial intelligence

Related: How To Write A Computer Science Resume Objective In 7 Steps

Skills For Computer Science And Computer Engineering

Reviewing the following differences between the skill sets for computer science and computer engineering can help you understand what qualities you require for each:

Computer science skills

Here are the skills that a candidate pursuing a computer science degree may require:

  • Mathematical skills: The basic knowledge of algebra, calculus and statistics are essential to complete different types of projects.

  • Project management: Computer scientists may require project management skills for managing teams, budgeting, strategic analysis, risk management and developing ideas to achieve the desired result.

  • Technical writing skills: This skill can help you convey complex technical information and create document project data, applications with technical documents and technical manuals.

  • Problem-solving skills: Working on complex projects and algorithms may require good problem-solving skills.

  • Communication skills: With good communication skills, you can share technical data and ideas with your teammates.

Related: What Are The Courses After 12th Computer Science? (Job Roles)

Computer engineering skills

Here are the skills that you may require when pursuing computer engineering:

  • Coding skills: Computer engineering jobs may require knowledge of various programming languages such as HTML, Java and C++.

  • Networking skills: Computer engineers can use their networking skills to interact with other professionals in their industry and collaborate with them.

  • Creativity: Creative skills can allow computer engineers to develop innovative ideas that bring improvements to the existing systems and create new methods to create reliable software solutions.

  • Adaptability: Having adaptability can help computer engineering professionals work with the new changes in technologies and remain productive in diverse situations.

  • Communication skills: Computer engineering professionals can use communication skills during online meetings, seminars, communications with clients and collaboration with team members.

Related: How To Become A Software Engineer: A Complete Guide

Difference Between Career Paths In Computer Science And Computer Engineering

Computer science and computer engineering graduates can pursue different career paths depending on their skills, interests and experience. Here are a few examples of job roles that explain the career path differences between both areas of study.

Computer science jobs

Here are the common job roles that you can pursue with a computer science degree:

Web developer

The day-to-day duties of a web developer include writing and reviewing codes for websites, designing user interfaces, testing web applications and inserting multimedia content on a website. They monitor websites with the help of various testing tools and ensure the desired user experience. Web developers understand the client requirements and fix errors to improve the performance of a website.

Application developer

An application developer is responsible for coding, designing applications, troubleshooting errors and providing end-user support. They use project specifications to create application prototypes. Application developers also write codes to develop user-friendly applications. They often perform maintenance tests and create upgrades for existing applications.

Related: Best Engineering Courses For A Rewarding Career And Salary

Computer scientist

A computer scientist researches and uses computer systems and data. They gather and analyse data to create websites and applications. Computer scientists perform in specific areas like data structure and algorithms or information and database theory. They also publish research theories and studies in scientific articles or journals. Their day-to-day responsibilities also involve leading research projects, debugging software and programs, advancing power and efficiency of systems and testing algorithms and data structures.

Computer engineering jobs

Here are the common job roles that candidates with a computer engineering degree can pursue:

Hardware engineer

Hardware engineers develop and integrate parts and components of hardware systems. They design computer hardware and integrate them with software systems. Hardware engineers are also responsible for assessing the user requirements and integrating appropriate systems. They find errors in the existing hardware systems and troubleshoot them. Their job is to assemble hardware systems with designs from schematic diagrams.

Related: How To Become A Computer Hardware Engineer: A Complete Guide

Computer engineer

The key responsibilities of computer engineers include designing and assembling electronic circuits and maintaining computer systems. They troubleshoot errors in hardware and software and upgrade IT systems. Computer engineers also develop and deploy necessary software and programs through computer coding. They play a significant role in developing technological products for various industries, including health care and aviation.

Related: What Does An IT Engineer Do? (With 6 Steps For Becoming One)

Quality assurance engineer

Quality assurance engineers are responsible for planning and processing the testing of software and hardware systems. They make sure that the quality of the product is meeting the standards of the company and client requirements. They often collaborate with the product development team to test products at each phase of development. Quality assurance engineers ensure the development team follows necessary safety standards during the process. They may gather and analyse data and prepare reports on quality standards. Their job involves improving product quality, credibility and efficiency of manufacturing processes within the organisation.

Tips To Choose The Right Career Path

Here are some helpful tips to determine the area of study for you:

  • Find your interests. Candidates interested in learning about computing theory, computer networks and algorithms can pursue a degree in computer science. On the contrary, computer engineering can be suitable for candidates interested in design and development.

  • Estimate the expense of the course. You can estimate the expense of pursuing a degree in both areas of study depending on your location and type of university.

  • Evaluate your salary requirements. Review the salaries of various job titles in computer science and computer engineering to assess if they match your salary requirements.

  • Network with professionals. By communicating with professionals in both fields can help you gain insights and understand their workplace responsibilities.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are associated with Indeed.

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