1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Engineering CompSci vs Software Engineering

  1. Feb 12, 2013 #1


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    You know the deal. Very controversial topic.

    I'm currently enrolled in double major computer science and honors math, computing theory and numerical methods.

    Lots of different opinions on which one is better than the other in terms of a career.

    Pay is always debatable in the sense that one can make more than the other and vice versa, but which one is more consistent at making more money?

    Which one has more demand? Recently the demand for computer science majors has risen so dramatically; Starting salaries at big tech companies are hitting 6-figure starting rates. Then again, a software engineer can do the same job and has professional backing so they have almost as much demand I would say?

    Although, being a P.Eng means you can be held liable if something goes wrong. If it does, then it's on your head, literally.

    What are your views on this matter?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 13, 2013 #2
    That is a little bit of a deceptive statement. The entry level pay for top tier applicants at a few big internet companies might push 6-figures. Those companies also get applications from 50% of the CS and SE graduates (lucky if you even get a response to submitting a resume), tend to work people 60+ hours a week, and are based in a very expensive area to live.

    Degree wise, overall it doesn't really matter. SE and CS are almost always going to compete for the same jobs and I don't know that either has a leg up on the other one. Entry level what can set one apart is showing something initiative and ability. Write a cell phone app and try to sell it through Apple app store or do research into data mining or something of the sort.

    Not sure if I have ever heard of a software engineer getting a PE. I suppose it is possible, but am not sure what jobs it would be needed for.
  4. Feb 13, 2013 #3

    D H

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    Exactly. The median salary in the US for entry level programmers with a bachelors degree is $55,000.

    Apparently so in Ontario, Canada. Elsewhere, no.

    Companies that build commodity software products hire lawyers to write those beastly end user license agreements that completely remove any responsibilities for usability, correctness, and any side effects caused by the software. Companies that develop custom software have tests for correctness etc. spelled out rather clearly in the contract. The practice of building and releasing software without the official blessing of a certified professional engineer is so widespread that the concept doesn't quite make sense.
  5. Feb 14, 2013 #4
    Sometimes salary is not all that matters, job satisfaction also stand out as an important parameter but I guess that is an topic of another forum.
  6. Feb 14, 2013 #5
    A software engineer is bound to get higher pay and have more demand. Usually when places list the need for a computer science major they need them for software engineering related topics. Software engineer is more likely to get you a high paying management position at a fortune 500 company. Where as computer science is much better suited for academic and research purposes.

    Now if you can come up with a revolutionary idea with your computer science research you could end up very wealthy. But software engineering is bound to be more consistent, high paying, stable, and always in demand.

    Software engineers are more like people who design, write, and make business applications more so then computer science.

    Computer science is much much more theoretical, studying algorithms for speed. Designing computer languages, and overall theoretical ideals. Computer Science is a science as opposed to software engineering which is much more engineering/applied.

    In my opinion at least computer science is more interesting then software engineering.
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2013
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook