Cyber Security vs. Software Engineering: Similarities & Differences

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a software engineer working on two computers

When discussing jobs in the world of technology, there are a lot of options out there. Finding the best one is a matter of understanding the options and how they are different from one another. 

This article will tackle two of the more well-known options: cyber security and software engineering. These fields are quite different yet still have some overlap. Keep reading to discover the similarities and differences between these two career paths.

Related: Cyber Security Vs. Web Development: What’s the Difference?

Cyber Security

Cyber security is what the name implies. Jobs in this field are focused on protecting computers, the networks connecting them, and the data they hold. They protect these things from cyber-attacks which could corrupt data or let it fall into the wrong hands. On top of this, cyber security can involve helping a company recover if a cyber attack is successful. 

This is critical for businesses. It protects the business’s data and the data of its clients, customers, and any other entities they come in contact with. 

What Does a Cyber Security Professional Do? 

Cyber security issues come in a number of different forms and impact companies in several different ways. Because of this, cyber security is a job with a lot of variety to it. 

Defense is a huge part of it. Many cyber security jobs involve examining the current system to look for vulnerabilities. Upon identifying these vulnerabilities, they will then go about finding a way to eliminate the problem and protect the system. 

Monitoring is another large portion of these jobs. Companies need to be aware if a cybersecurity breach has taken place in order to address it. This ensures they can take immediate action and minimize damage.

What Skills Are Required? 

All cyber security jobs require intense knowledge of the cyber security field. This includes knowledge of cyber security issues, potential threats, systems of defense, and any other relevant information. It also includes the ability to stay up to date with all of this information, as almost all of it is constantly growing and evolving. 

In addition, many cyber security jobs require the ability to properly communicate with others. They need to be able to communicate information with employees in order to make sure they are engaging in safe behaviors. 

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What Is the Job Market Like? 

Years ago, only large companies needed to care about cyber security. Now, almost all companies do. This trend has had a massive impact on the field already and is set to continue to do so. 

Jobs in cyber security are already in high demand. However, this demand is only going to grow. It is expected that, from 2021 to 2031, the demand for cyber security professionals will grow by around 35%. This is a growth rate that is much faster than average. 

This high demand has led to high wages. Cyber security professionals can expect to make over $70,000 annually. However, many positions take this further and can pay over $100,000.

Software Engineering

woman wearing blue typing on a computer

Software engineering involves creating computer programs and operating systems. Typically, this involves many people working in many different roles, with software engineers being part of the larger process. 

Without software engineers, most programs and systems would simply never be built. This makes them valuable to any companies involved in creating these. 

Related: How to Become a Software Engineer Without a Degree?

What Do Software Engineers Do? 

Software engineers do work that is very different from the work done in cyber security. While cyber security focuses on protecting an existing system from threats, software engineering focuses on creating new systems

However, there are places where these two jobs may overlap. When cyber security experts design systems to protect computers from cyber attacks, they perform work similar to what software engineers do. Both require problem-solving and a knowledge of how to create something digitally. 

What Skills Are Required? 

While the job requirements of software engineers and cyber security professionals are very different, many of the skills are similar. Both need to be familiar with computer structures. Both also need communication skills to operate within a team. 

However, a software engineer needs to have knowledge of data structures, programming languages, software testing, and computer science. They don’t need to focus as much on the cyber security issues that are important in the cyber security field. 

What Is the Job Market Like? 

The job market for software engineers is strong. Demand is high and is expected to stay high in the future. Specifically, the market for software engineers is expected to grow by around 25% over the next ten years. While this is positive, it is not as strong as the growth in cyber security. 

However, when it comes to compensation, jobs in software engineering fare very well. Some estimates place the average annual salary at around $90,000. However, many jobs in this field make more. Software developers make an average of around $120,000, and software quality assurance analysts make an average of around $100,000. Other positions pay more or less, but many tend to be around these values. This makes careers in this field very lucrative. 

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Which Option Is Best?

Three people working on computers in an office

Cyber security and software engineering are both good career choices. So, is either better than the other? 

Cyber security may be the better choice if you care more about job security. The demand for jobs in this field is higher and is expected to grow faster. People qualified for jobs in cyber security will likely have an easy time finding employment far into the future. 

Software engineering may be the better choice from a monetary aspect. Careers in this field tend to pay more, with even average pay being very high. The fact that high-paying software engineering jobs are common makes this a great choice. 

However, in the end, these two career paths aren’t that different. What it really comes down to is which sounds like something you would enjoy more. 

Cyber Security vs. Software Engineering

Cyber security and software engineering are both great fields. They feature jobs with rising demand, offer great compensation, and put you at the center of a growing industry. Ultimately, you can’t go wrong with either of these choices. 

Related: Is Software Programming For Everyone? (2023 update)