What Pays More Computer Science or Software Engineer?

Tyler Yates

If you’re interested in pursuing a career in technology, you may have wondered whether computer science or software engineering pays more. The answer isn’t straightforward and can depend on various factors, such as location, industry, company size, and experience level. In this article, we’ll explore the differences between these two fields and try to determine which one pays more.

What is Computer Science?

Computer science is the study of computers and computational systems. It involves both theoretical and practical aspects of computing, from programming languages to algorithms to hardware design. Computer scientists develop new ways of computing and solving complex problems using technology.

What is Software Engineering?

Software engineering, on the other hand, focuses on designing and developing software solutions to meet specific business needs. It involves applying engineering principles to software development processes to ensure that products are reliable, scalable, and maintainable.

Differences in Education

To become a computer scientist, you typically need a bachelor’s or master’s degree in computer science or a related field. You’ll learn about algorithms, data structures, programming languages such as Java or Python, and other technical concepts.

To become a software engineer, you can also pursue a degree in computer science or a related field. However, many software engineers have degrees in areas such as electrical engineering or mathematics. They often have more specialized knowledge in different areas of software development such as front-end development or database management.

Differences in Job Duties

Computer scientists often work in research settings where they develop new algorithms or improve existing ones. They may also work on developing new programming languages or designing new hardware systems.

Software engineers typically work on developing software applications for businesses or organizations. They work with teams of developers to design and build software products from start to finish.

Payscale Differences

According to Payscale, the average salary for a computer scientist in the United States is around $83,000 per year. The salary range typically falls between $50,000 and $135,000 per year.

In comparison, the average salary for a software engineer in the United States is around $86,000 per year. The salary range typically falls between $62,000 and $127,000 per year.


In conclusion, there isn’t a significant difference in pay between computer science and software engineering. Both fields offer well-paying jobs with opportunities for growth and advancement.

Ultimately, your choice should come down to your interests and career goals. If you’re interested in developing new technology or algorithms and working in a research setting, computer science may be the right path for you. If you enjoy building software solutions that solve real-world problems and working collaboratively with teams of developers, software engineering may be more appealing.