Hard or Soft?: Choices A CSE Major Must Make

Now you may be wondering, “What the hell do I mean by ‘Hard or Soft’?” Certainly nothing a dirty mind would think of. Computer Science is a very complex major, to learn and to understand. But what makes it even more complex is the paths this major branches off to when searching for jobs! Would I want to be a software engineer? A computer scientist? Or even a systems designer? Maybe I would want to attempt the hardware side of the whole computer science thing and be a computer engineer. People often ask me, what is the difference between a computer engineer and a computer scientist? Hopefully in this post, I will solve that question, and maybe even further my decision on which path of jobs to take in this daunting major.

In the software world, I am going to talk about the perks and even the consequences of being a software engineer. Some things I write about you might not even agree on, but hey at least one of us is benefiting.

The education to becoming a professional in the growing software field varies greatly. One software engineer could be credited without ever having a formal education and another could have a Master’s degree in computer science! The divide barely matters though. One person could get the same job as another, it all depends on each person’s fluency of new technology. However, most employers hire people who have a degree and experience with computer systems, so getting a degree is always a plus. A degree might even help you earn a higher salary! Speaking of salaries, the median salary of software engineers is a whopping $94,520! (According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics) But what is it like to be a software engineer?

Software engineers often work in teams to create ideas and produce software. This is important because the amount of new technology and tasks can be very overwhelming. Working in teams means that good personal skills are necessary to truly succeed in this field. As for the working hours, sometimes engineers are forced to work overtime due to deadlines for projects. Late nights are an ordinary thing for software engineers.

As for the hardware side of Computer Science, hardware engineers are often called computer engineers(surprise!). A B.S. in computer engineering or even electrical engineering is important to have a job in this field. These professionals develop and test the actual hardware systems that software engineers might work on, so working in labs might be possible if you’re interested in that! Salaries of a computer engineer are very similar to that of a software engineer, but what’s different is the growth of this field is much lower than the growth of many other jobs (Bureau of Labor Statistics). This means that finding a job in this sector is much more challenging(obviously).

The working environment for computer engineers is similar but very different than that of software engineers in my opinion. Although computer engineers work in teams just like software engineers, computer engineers can work in labs while researching better ways to make hardware more efficient. One risk though is the possibility of being outsourced.

My overall thought on these professions are the same. I am scared to take on whichever. As of right now I am enrolled in the Computer Engineering program, so I might be working more with hardware. I like both equally, but it’s hard for me to see myself in any of these professions. Hell I still don’t even see myself as an adult with a family making money. Hopefully through my journey at school, I’ll find the right niche for me, and hopefully I helped you find yours too.












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