Cyber Security vs Software Engineering: The Difference?

Cyber Security vs Software Engineering: The Difference?

Are you trying to decide on career between cyber security vs software engineering?

In this article we’ll compare the difference between these two fields of study and help you decide which is right for your future career path.

Interested in learning the difference between cyber security and network security?

My Opinion…

If you’re trying to decide between a career in cyber security vs. software engineering, there are pros and cons to either industry. At the end of the day, the only truly important question to ask yourself is where your passion lies!

If you already have a degree in software engineering or are contemplating it, then you’re most likely technical in nature. So, if you enjoy the software development/coding side of the house, then software engineering is probably your best bet.

However, if you’re interested in taking it a step further and understanding how the security piece works, then I suggest you go ahead and get your software engineering degree then either a) take the few extra courses to get a minor or major in cyber security or b) obtain security certifications when you’re ready.


Builds a foundation. Software engineering gives you a solid foundation for software and its ability to enable interoperability between different devices, which of course is the basis for cyber security. By getting your software engineering degree, you’ll already have the background knowledge.

Easier to switch. Trying to move into software engineering with a cyber security background is much more difficult if you ever decide to change your mind. Software engineers by their very trade are required to learn extensive amounts of coding skills which isn’t as necessary for cyber security professionals. By doing it the way I suggest, you’ll have the best of both worlds and can choose from a variety of careers.

Career options. With some experience, you won’t have to worry about being denied a career in cyber security and will most likely know the lingo to give you the advantage over others.

However, read further if you’d like some more insight.

Cyber Security Vs Software Engineering: Overview

The first thing to understand is that software engineering is a field of study and a job title (software engineer) whereas cyber security is a field with many different job titles and responsibilities.

What Is Cyber Security?

Cyber security is an umbrella term that encompasses different types of activities whose goal is to protect the IT infrastructure from unauthorized access or harm and plays an important role in ensuring that an organizations data remains secure.

These activities also cover non-technical measures such as policy development, awareness raising campaigns, and training programs for employees.

What Is Software Engineering?

Software engineering is a field that covers the process of designing, creating, debugging, and maintaining the software architecture of an IT infrastructure.

It’s an interdisciplinary field that covers everything from writing code and designing applications to managing teams and building the software infrastructure. Its goal is to create software products that are useful and usable by customers.

What Are the Responsibilities of a Software Engineer?

Software Engineers work on a wide range of projects, including operating systems and applications for mobile devices or desktop computers. They may also focus on developing specific parts of an application, such as performance monitoring or error handling.

Requirements Gathering. Before the implementation of any software architecture, engineers must determine the products usage, technical and non-technical requirements, as well as understand the limitations of the environment in which the software will operate. This can be a whole field unto itself commonly known as requirements engineering.

Design. Once the requirements have been well established, software engineers work to create a model of the software architecture. The design will represent how the software will function within the major components and subcomponents of the system and how it will facilitate the interaction between those components. The design process is complex and is intended to identify functionality and system vulnerabilities.

Development & Maintenance. After the design of the system architecture is complete, coding and testing of the system software begins. This is likely to be the longest phase of the software development life cycle as vulnerabilities and new features are continuously being identified.

Deployment. Deployment activities such as beta testing, client release, and production release require technical scrutiny as the product is now public facing and will elicit extensive customer feedback regarding any software bugs or features in the beginning. Therefore, it’s important for the software engineer to aid the management team in overseeing software deployment and be able to provide immediate technical response and updates.

Teamwork. Software engineers work in teams alongside designers, end users, product and project managers, marketing and sales teams, quality assurance engineers, testers and other professionals who work together on projects from start to finish.

Communication. Software engineers work in a variety of settings including commercial, government, and non-profits and often work in teams on large projects. In this environment, they must be able to communicate effectively with other team members and managers so that their roles and responsibilities are clearly defined.

Technical Writing. Being able to develop technical documentation is a must! The documentation supports other development teams in cross-collaboration efforts and is maintained as a record for future design and development activities. Technical documentation should communicate clearly to all team members, and clients, the technical concepts and details about the software architecture and how it functions.

What Can You Do with a Degree in Cyber Security?

If you’re considering a degree in cyber security, you’re not alone; the field is growing at an astonishing rate. But what do you do as a cyber security professional?

And how do you know if this is the right career path for you? Let’s look at a few jobs are in the industry and what they require.

Jr. Cyber Security Engineer. A cyber security engineer is usually responsible for designing and implementing cyber security measures that protect information systems, networks, and data against criminal or malicious activities. In addition to these tasks, they also perform other general IT functions such as system security administration and maintenance.

As a junior engineer, you’ll be expected to have knowledge of basic cyber security concepts and functions. You should also be able to apply this knowledge in real-world situations by using it to solve problems and create new solutions for organizations that need your help.

Cyber Security Analyst. A cyber security analyst is responsible for analyzing the network infrastructure which involves monitoring everything from traffic patterns to user activity, identifying and reporting upon potential threats, and proposing solutions to those threats. Security analysts are expected to learn how to operate network security scanning and monitoring tools.

Cyber security analysts may also train other employees on how to protect their data and prevent data breaches, as well as analyze data breaches to determine how they happened and how to prevent similar breaches in the future.

Computer Forensics Analyst. A computer forensics analyst is a person who is trained to collect, examine, and preserve digital evidence from a computer system. They are responsible for investigating a cyber-attack or other crime that involves computers. The analyst will use software tools and techniques on the system to determine who was involved in the crime, and how it happened.

A forensic analyst must be able to work with different types of software tools to recover data from various types of storage media. They must also have excellent communication skills since they will often be called upon to present their findings in court as an expert witness. A computer forensic analyst works with law enforcement agencies and private organizations that need help investigating cyber-crimes or other incidents involving computers.

Network Security Administrator. A network security administrator is a person who is responsible for implementing and managing policies and procedures to ensure the security of computer networks and their users. The network security administrator typically works closely with system administrators and other IT staff to ensure that all aspects of the network are secure. Interested in learning more about becoming a network security admin.

What Can You Do After Getting a Software Engineering Degree?

Of course, software engineer is the most obvious option for someone with this degree, but it’s also one of the best ones if you’re looking for a career that provides stability and growth opportunities.

Software engineers are in high demand; according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the field is experiencing over 20% job growth and will continue to grow rapidly over the next decade.

Additionally, look at some (not exhaustive) of the job titles you can achieve with a software engineering degree:

1. Data Engineer

2. Data Scientist

3. Database Administrator

4. Front or Back-End Engineer

5. Full-Stack Web Engineer

6. Game or Graphics Engineer

7. Machine Learning Engineer

8. Quality Assurance Engineer

9. Software Architect

10. Systems Engineer

11. Technical Lead or Manager

12. Test Engineer

13. Web or Mobile App Developer

Is Cyber Security Harder Than Software Engineering?

The answer is a resounding “YES!” There are several reasons why cyber security is harder than software engineering:

Complexity: If you’re a software engineer, you can generally rely on two things: 1) what your software does with the user interface and 2) how it functions within the system; but when it comes to cyber security, there are so many other factors at play. It’s not just about making sure that there aren’t errors in your code—it’s about being able to anticipate every possible method someone could try to break into your system.

Scope of knowledge: Software engineering requires you to be an expert in one area of computer science (like databases), but cyber security encompasses all areas of computer science—from cryptography to networking to system administration. There’s no way any one person could possibly be an expert in all these different fields, so you need a team that can bring all their expertise together to provide a holistic view of the systems you’re trying to protect.

Teammates: When building software for companies, it’s common for there to be a small team working on a project at any given time, which is especially true for startups. With cyber security, there are usually dozens of people working across multiple teams and disciplines who need to coordinate with each other frequently over long periods of time. It’s very common for the security teams to collaborate with upper management, engineering teams, software developers, end users, and regulators (if any).

Although cyber security is “harder” than software engineering, the salary is usually commensurate with the level of effort. However, that doesn’t mean it’s hard to learn cyber security.

Cyber Security Vs Software Engineering Salary

According to PayScale, the average software engineer salary is $89k and ranges between $64k to $130k. The average cyber security engineer salary is $98k and ranges between $69k to $139k.

As previously mentioned, software engineering is a field and title whereas cyber security is a field with many different roles and salary ranges; however, for simplicity the salary range listed is that of cyber security engineer.

But the difference in those numbers isn’t just about the skill sets of the jobs themselves. There are other factors at play that can make one career path more lucrative than another.

For example, if you’re a software engineer working at a small company, you may be able to negotiate better pay with your boss because they value you more than they would an employee at a larger firm.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a job as a cyber security professional and want to work in a smaller company where there are fewer employees overall, it may be hard to find one because there’s less demand for those skills outside of larger companies that have teams dedicated specifically to this type of work.

Can A Software Engineer Work in Cyber Security?

Absolutely! Software engineers make great candidates for positions in cyber security because they have experience with coding and testing—two skills which are essential to cyber security.

In fact, there are many software engineers who’ve made the transition to cyber security. If you’re interested in making this shift yourself, here are four things you should know:

It’s Not That Difficult. As long you remain on the technical side of the house, you’ll find that it won’t be that different from what you’re already doing. If you choose to move into the governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) side of things, there’s a learning curve, but it shouldn’t be too difficult with a software engineering background.

No Additional Degree Needed. If you’re looking at cyber security as a career path but don’t want to go back to school, there are still options available such as online courses to learn new skills. Though these programs aren’t always recognized by employers mainly because they haven’t been accredited yet, that still shouldn’t stop you from your professional growth.

Just Get Certified. You’ll want to obtain security certifications from organizations like ISACA and CompTIA, which offer training programs specifically designed for professionals interested in moving into this field. While it’s true that many cyber security roles require a degree or certification, it is possible to enter the field without either.

You Have the Advantage! You’ll want to keep your eyes out for open positions at companies that already have teams of cyber security experts on staff. These companies will often be happy to hire someone with experience in software engineering who wants to make the switch.

Which One Is Better Software Engineering or Cyber Security?

Software engineering and cyber security are two different fields with two different focuses.

Cybersecurity is a branch of computer science that deals with the protection of information systems and networks while software engineering is the process through which software is created, enhanced, and maintained.

Both work with software, but each has its own set of goals; software engineers have an end-product in mind when they begin their work: a finished program that accomplishes whatever task it was designed for.

Cybersecurity experts, on the other hand, are concerned with protecting systems from intruders and malware before any damage can be done—which means they need to think about different aspects of computer security to protect against threats as early as possible in their development cycle. Security has no end-product and is a continuous improvement process.

Both fields require extensive training, but each has its own unique challenges and rewards. If you’re interested in working in either field, it’s important to know what those differences are before making any career decisions!


Cyber Security vs Software Engineering: What’s the Difference?

My Opinion…

Cyber Security Vs Software Engineering: Overview

What Is Cyber Security?

What Is Software Engineering?

What Are the Responsibilities of a Software Engineer?

What Can You Do with a Degree in Cyber Security?

What Can You Do After Getting a Software Engineering Degree?

Is Cyber Security Harder Than Software Engineering?

Cyber Security Vs Software Engineering Salary

Can A Software Engineer Work in Cyber Security?

Which One Is Better Software Engineering or Cyber Security?

by Amit Doshi

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