Can Computer Engineers Be Software Engineers?

Tyler Yates

Computer engineering and software engineering are two fields that are closely related to each other. While both may seem interchangeable, they have distinct differences in their disciplines, skills, and job requirements. In this article, we will explore the question – Can Computer Engineers be Software Engineers?

What is Computer Engineering?

Computer engineering is a field of study that focuses on the design, development, and maintenance of computer hardware components. It includes creating microprocessors, circuit boards, computer networks, and other computer-related devices. Computer engineers work with a variety of programming languages such as C++, Python, Java to develop complex systems.

What is Software Engineering?

Software engineering is an area of study that focuses on developing software systems and applications. The software engineer designs the architecture of software applications and develops algorithms for various computing problems. They also write code in programming languages such as Java or Python to create efficient software solutions.

The Overlapping Skills

While computer engineering and software engineering have different disciplines, there are overlapping skills between these two fields that can enable computer engineers to become software engineers.

Programming Languages

Both computer engineering and software engineering require proficiency in programming languages such as C++, Python or Java. As a result, computer engineers already possess the necessary knowledge to write code for developing software applications.

Data Structures and Algorithms

Software development requires knowledge of data structures and algorithms which are fundamental concepts taught in most computer engineering programs.

Hardware Knowledge

Computer engineers have extensive knowledge of hardware components used in computers such as microprocessors or circuit boards. This knowledge can be beneficial when developing low-level system applications such as device drivers or firmware for embedded systems.

The Differences Between Computer Engineering And Software Engineering

While there are similarities between these two fields, there are significant differences as well:


Computer engineering focuses on hardware development, while software engineering is all about software development.


Computer engineers need to have an in-depth understanding of computer architecture and electronics. On the other hand, software engineers must have a strong background in coding, algorithms, and software design principles.

Job Roles

Computer engineers typically work on designing and developing hardware components such as microprocessors or circuit boards. Software engineers work on developing software applications or systems that run on these components.


In conclusion, while there are differences between computer engineering and software engineering, there are overlapping skills that can enable computer engineers to become software engineers. With proper training in programming languages and data structures, computer engineers can transition into software development roles.

However, it’s important to note that both fields require a different set of skills and knowledge. Therefore, it’s essential to evaluate your interests before making any career decisions.