Cyber Security vs. Software Engineering: What's the Difference?

There are many great jobs and career paths within the tech world. However, there are so many that the field can be hard to navigate. Luckily, cybersecurity and software engineering are always good choices to consider. 

However, many people don’t fully understand the differences between these two industries. This article will alleviate this misunderstanding. Keep reading, and you’ll discover more about what makes these jobs similar and what sets them apart.

Related: Steps To Become a Software Engineer

What Is Cybersecurity?

The actual field of cybersecurity is about protecting computer systems. It is anything that involves keeping everything from networks to cell phones safe from bad actors. This has been important for many years yet is growing even more important in a world where cyberattacks are rising

Those working within the world of cybersecurity take on many different roles. Some develop software that will be put in place to defend computer systems. Others do penetration testing to see where systems are compromised. Still, others work on constructing firewalls or monitoring systems. A lot is going on within this work, and thus, there are a lot of different jobs to do within it. 

What Is Software Engineering?

Software engineering is about building software. However, it isn’t just about building any old software. It is about building software to address needs and situations currently unaddressed by anything else out there. This involves creating entirely new frameworks and then working within them. 

Accomplishing this requires in-depth knowledge about nearly every aspect of software design. This includes proficiency with a variety of programming languages and operating systems. Together, all of this knowledge is used to engineer the software. 

What Do Both Jobs Do? 

The day-to-day tasks in cybersecurity and software engineering are very different. 

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The world of cybersecurity is incredibly vast. Those working in cybersecurity will be responsible for different tasks depending on which specific sector of the industry they work in. 

Information security analysts are all about dealing with threats. They will keep an eye out for vulnerabilities and work toward addressing them when they are found. They will also look out for security breaches. In the unfortunate situation where a security breach takes place, they will have a system in place to fix the issue and prevent as much damage from happening as possible. 

Both jobs are also responsible for working with companies and individuals. They tell the people they are protecting, how they are protecting them and what they can do to help. 

Cybersecurity engineers, also known as cybersecurity analysts, are the planners. They create and implement plans and security protocols with the aim of protecting computer networks and mobile devices from hacking, malware, or other intrusions. These engineers also create and update software and hardware that allows them to implement these plans.

Software Engineering

Software engineering is every bit as vast as cybersecurity and may even be more so. Because of this, software engineers work on many different things. 

Some are responsible for just about everything related to the creation of new software. This includes building it from the ground up and then taking it past that point by maintaining and testing it. 

Others may be responsible for building software relating to a specific system. 

What Do Both Jobs Require? 

Neither of these are jobs that you can jump right into. Both require a lot of skill, knowledge, and training to succeed. 

Both jobs require a knowledge of general computer systems, computer science, and math. This includes knowledge of computing languages. Both also benefit from a bachelor’s degree in related fields or a similarly related certification. 

In addition, some soft skills are helpful in both careers. Cybersecurity engineers need to be able to work with others and have communication skills that will allow them to alert others about cybersecurity issues. Similarly, software engineers need to be able to work with a team and communicate with clients to find out what they need. 

However, a job in cybersecurity requires specific knowledge and experience relating to the field of cybersecurity. This includes knowledge of current threats and threats that may be on the horizon. It also includes experience in the field and fighting against or protecting against threats in the past. 

Meanwhile, a job in software engineering requires a more in-depth knowledge of computer science. It also benefits from specific experience relating to software development. 

Related: Best Career Focused Coding Bootcamps

How Well Do Both Jobs Pay? 

Both of these jobs are some of the more lucrative jobs in tech. This is especially true on the higher end of the spectrum. 

Jobs in cybersecurity start around $45,000 and average around $110,823 per year. Somewhere around this average is where many jobs in cybersecurity fall. However, there is the possibility of making much more than the average. 

Meanwhile, jobs in software engineering usually pay a little bit more. Careers in this field tend to average in at around $120,730. Once again, starting salary starts lower than this, but the potential to rise past this number is there as well. 

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Which Job Is Better? 

Both cybersecurity and software engineering have their advantages and disadvantages. This means that the best job is the one that appeals the most to you personally. 

Cybersecurity is great if you have any experience in the industry, you like solving puzzles, and you like the thought of being part of the fight against hackers. However, it might not be for you if you hate dealing with high-stress situations or if you can’t multitask. 

Software engineering is great if you are interested in creating computer systems, are creative, and like the thought of bringing software to life. However, it might not be for you if you aren’t ready to pursue creative solutions to problems.

Cybersecurity vs. Software Engineering

Jobs in cybersecurity and software engineering both require a lot of skills and experience. While some of these skills and experience are similar, a lot of it is different and will require specialization in order to make it. However, these are rewarding careers that are well worth the effort anyone puts into going after them. 

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