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Computer Science or Electrical/Computer Engineering?

  1. Apr 19, 2013 #1
    Given that I am interested in both fields, which degree would give me the most job options after graduation (the degree is ECE, electrical and computer engineering)? For example, do employers consider applicants with an EE/CE (or in my case, ECE) degree when hiring software developers, or do they tend to look more for CS majors? Would getting the ECE degree limit my potential to work in software if I so choose?

    The way I see it is that, with an ECE degree, I could potentially choose to work in hardware or software after graduation, whereas with a CS degree I'm more restricted, as in I must work software. Is my intuition correct? Does anyone have any insight as to what would provide the broadest opportunities for employment in a related field, i.e. electronics engineer, electrical engineer, software engineer (I don't want to be teaching math at a community college, for instance...)?

    What is employment for EE graduates like? I have checked the BLS says 6% job growth from 2010-2020 but I'm not sure whether to bite, given that the BLS also predicted growth in computer programming jobs over a decade ago, and instead of growth there has been a decline (from around 400k to around 300k as of 2011)...

    Thanks in advance for any advice!!!
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 19, 2013 #2
    After doing some research, those huge layoffs to engineers in the past few years (even recently Boeing and HP layed off thousands of engineers) due to offshoring makes me lean towards CS, but I've also heard the same applies to CS, although job growth for software engineers is pretty high as the BLS reports. I just don't know what to believe!
  4. Apr 20, 2013 #3
    My friend is doing a combined electrical engineering and computer science degree. Is that available to you?
  5. Apr 20, 2013 #4
    Unfortunately that is not available to me unless I double majored, but the CS degree and ECE degree have a good amount of overlap so getting a minor in CS would be easy.
  6. Apr 29, 2013 #5
    Scientists and engineers are both interested in the nature of things, in understanding how ideas and objects in the world fit together. But in general, they seek to understand the nature of reality with different ends in mind: the scientist seeks this understanding as an end in itself, the engineer in order to build things. Thus CS is closer to the underlying theory of computation, with its roots in mathematics, and CEN is closer to the design of physical devices, with roots in physics and chemistry as well. Students with an urge to build things, to measure how things work in the laboratory, those attracted to physics and chemistry as well as mathematics, should seriously consider CEN. Students with an interest in the true nature of symbols, information and their manipulations, the forms and limits of algorithms and data structures, should consider CS. Of the three great divisions in computing, namely theory, software and hardware, to a first approximation theory goes with CS, hardware with CEN, and software with both, but mainly with CS. The more general the software, the closer to CS; the more hardware-specific, the closer to CEN. Thus a student interested in creating his own new general-purpose computer language would best be served by a CS degree program, while one interested in designing a software interface for a new high speed serial device by the CEN degree program. Students undecided between the CS and CEN programs are urged to discuss the matter in depth with academic advisors within the CSE department, the College of Arts and Sciences (which administers the CS programs), and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (which administers the CEN program).

    Average Computer Scientist Salary: $76000
    Average Computer Engineer Salary: $89000

  7. Apr 29, 2013 #6
    When I see these types of numbers I have to wonder what is being considered as a 'computer scientist'. There are many low(er)-paying, less-skilled jobs that can be considered as part of CS even though they don't really require a degree. However, in the case of computer engineer, you're almost certainly considering people with at least a bachelor's but, more often than not, a master's. I wonder what the CS salary would look like if only these people were considered.

    Personally, I don't know a software developer that makes less than 100k.

    All that said, the important thing is to follow one's interests. Let the money come after.
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