Cybersecurity vs. Software Engineering

Cybersecurity vs. Software Engineering

August 11, 2021

Prospective computer science professionals have a myriad of career options available to them. From mobile application design to information security, the career field is vast and varied. Two of the fastest expanding tech career paths are cybersecurity and software development, both of which offer competitive salaries and plenty of growth potential.

If you’re trying to decide between the two, consider what type of work is most appealing to you. Cybersecurity professionals are highly focused on information security, helping companies develop strong defenses against cybercrime and cyberattacks.

Software development is all about creating applications and software. It’s a more creative career path than cybersecurity, but it requires an in-depth knowledge of programming languages such as Python and Java.

Let’s dive into some of the other differences between cybersecurity and software engineering.

What pays more: cybersecurity or software engineering?

Most computer science careers have competitive salaries, and both cybersecurity professionals and software engineer salaries can bring in six figures.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), information security professionals in the U.S. earn on average $113,270 per year, or $54.46 per hour. Salaries can range depending on where you live, but full-time cybersecurity jobs are on the rise everywhere. 

Software engineers earn slightly more than cybersecurity professionals; the BLS found the 2021 median pay to be $120,990 per year or $58.05 per hour for a freelance programmers’ income.

Both cybersecurity professionals and software engineers often obtain a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree to work in their field, but it’s not the only option to get trained. Bootcamps, such as those offered by Eleven Fifty Academy, are a great way to get trained for both career fields. 

Salaries tend to be higher for professionals who have a bachelor’s or master’s, but bootcamp graduates can earn competitive salaries the longer they work in the field.

For example, the average salary after a coding bootcamp ranges from $50,000–60,000, whereas a college graduate could earn as much as $72,000 in their first job as a software developer.

What is the difference between a software engineer and a cybersecurity engineer?

Both software engineers and cybersecurity engineers design and develop computer programs, but cybersecurity engineers focus on security measures for computer systems. 

Software engineers

The primary role for a software engineer is to write code to create computer programs. Software engineers will learn to use coding languages such as Python and JavaScript to create both mobile and computer applications to perform a specific task. Software engineers are also great at problem-solving and often make operating systems run more smoothly.

Cybersecurity engineers

A cybersecurity engineer will develop and execute security measures to protect a company or organization’s computer network. Cybersecurity professionals are trained to ward off malware by setting up or updating firewalls and using operating systems such as Linux to maintain network security.

Cybersecurity analysts will often practice ethical hacking and penetration testing to help them spot weaknesses in a system. By building strong intrusion detection systems, cybersecurity engineers can prevent cyberattacks more easily.

Is it difficult to go between working in software engineering and cybersecurity?

While both cybersecurity and software engineering deal with computer systems, the methodologies, training, and knowledge base are quite different. 

Cybersecurity engineers will either obtain a cybersecurity degree or will attend a training bootcamp to get qualified. There are highly specific skills for cybersecurity analysts; penetration testing, intrusion detection, and ethical hacking are processes taught in college or academies such as Eleven Fifty. 

Software engineers are also highly skilled in their field and will dedicate time and energy into learning programming languages to help them carry out their work. While a cybersecurity engineer could learn how to write code to work in software development, it’s a new skill that isn’t typically taught in cybersecurity training.

Moving between the two fields isn’t impossible, but it will require additional education to fill in the gaps. Software engineers will need to learn cybersecurity skills to change careers, and cybersecurity engineers will need a strong understanding of coding languages to make the switch. 

Will cybersecurity or software engineers be more in-demand in the future?

Both cybersecurity careers and software engineers will likely be in-demand for years to come. Cybersecurity has become increasingly more important as more aspects of our lives are digitized. Security software can hardly keep up with the amount of cybercrime that happens on a daily basis, making information security engineers a vital role in today’s tech world.

Software engineers will also have continued job security as software application development shows no sign of slowing. Today, tech companies require software engineers to continuously maintain and update their programs, making software developers a crucial element in the information technology industry.

Eleven Fifty bootcamp grads typically land their first jobs soon after finishing their training. Finding a job after attending a cybersecurity bootcamp is likely: 80 percent of graduates find work within 50 days of graduation. 

Not sure if software development or cybersecurity is right for you?

Eleven Fifty Academy makes it easy for you to test the waters for a career in web development or software engineering. With our free intro courses, you learn the basics of the path you’re most interested in and gain insight into what each class entails. From there, you can make an informed decision about whether software development or cybersecurity is the best career for you.

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