Cyber Security vs Software Engineer | Modis

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

Modis Posted 26 January 2021

Have you ever wondered what is the difference between a software engineer and a cyber security engineer? Or how to get hired as an engineer?

Maybe you always pictured yourself working in the technology field but can't decide on cyber security vs software engineer. If you're looking for a job as an engineer, the job market can be seriously intimidating. When you don't have help it can feel like you're flying blind.

Well, here's some good news: We're going to help you land your first engineering job!

The market for both cyber security and software engineers is hotter than ever but do you know the difference between these roles?

In this post, you'll learn what a cyber security engineer is, how these differ from a software engineer, and which skills and experiences will help you put your best foot forward. You'll also learn how to become a software engineer.

Individual working on code

What is a cyber security engineer?

Cyber security engineers are the people who help organizations protect their information technology (IT) security systems from potential hackers and cyber-attacks. And they go by many names. Sometimes they're called information security engineer, information systems security engineer, information assurance engineer, security analyst, or security engineer.

Although these terms are often used interchangeably, security analyst roles usually focus on identifying cybersecurity weaknesses, while security engineers focus on proactively building defensive systems like firewalls and intrusion detection systems.

In any case, cyber security engineers safeguard sensitive business data from criminals looking for ways to infiltrate private databases.

Cyber security engineers find, look into, and deter intrusions. They also solve technical problems with IT equipment and software. Companies expect security engineers to collaborate with other IT professionals to solve security problems.

Duties could include installing firewalls, implementing intrusion detection systems, conducting tests, security assessments, and risk analyses, evaluating new security measures, and making IT security recommendations.

You'll be expected to understand firewalls, virtual private networks (VPN), data loss prevention, IDS/IPS, and security audits. When you look at job openings you may see employers looking for:

  • a Computer Science, IT, or Systems Engineering degree or related experience
  • experience with incident detection, incident response and forensics
  • knowledge of firewalls functionality and maintenance, Office 365 Security, VSX and Endpoint Security
  • adept with Python, C++, Java, Ruby, Node, Go and/or Power Shell
  • awareness of cybersecurity trends and hacking techniques

Here are a few common cyber security roles along with their median base salaries according to our2021 Technology & Engineering Salary Guide:

  • Cyber Security Analyst: $94,467
  • Cyber Security Architect: $126,072
  • Data Security Analyst: $ 94,529

What is a software engineer?

Software engineers are computer science professionals who use engineering principles and programming languages to build, maintain, test, and evaluate software for computers and applications.

As you may have guessed, software engineers have a few different names as well. Sometimes they're called programmers or developers. The US Department of Labor, reports more than 1 million people were employed as software developers in 2019. Demand is high with the job outlook expected to grow 21% over the next 9 years.

Software engineers build software products, maintain network security, develop computer games and customer-facing web pages, and run computer information systems.

Broadly speaking, there are two kinds of software engineers: applications software developers and systems software developers.

Software engineers may build and maintain the systems that run devices and networks. Or, they might build apps that let users perform specific tasks on computers, cell phones or other mobile devices.

To excel as a software engineer you'll need to know programming languages, how to monitor and evaluate system performance, and how to resolve technical issues like software system design and maintenance.

When you look at job openings you may see employers looking for:

  • a solid background in engineering, mathematics, and computer science
  • a bachelor's degree in computer science, software engineering, or another related field
  • software engineering or software development experience
  • hands-on programming experience using relevant languages
  • experience using relevant tool suites
  • strong written and verbal communication and interpersonal skills
  • creative problem-solving skills
  • a comprehensive understanding of computer science concepts
  • excellent coding skills

As with cyber security engineers, there are many different kinds of software engineers. Here are a few common roles along with their median base salaries according to our 2021 IT & Engineering Salary Guide:

For even more details on salaries and workforce trends, download a free copy of our 2021 Technology and Engineering Salary Guide.

How to become a software engineer

So, how do you actually land a job as a software engineer? Here are a few tips to get you started.

  1. Bolster your technical skills: The best way to learn is by doing. Do whatever you can to get experience be it engineering internships, earning an engineering degree, or going to a coding bootcamp. Another way is to get all the knowledge you can from code reviews and tutorial websites
  2. Market yourself: Create a portfolio to showcase all of your projects. This will help demonstrate that you have some basic knowledge and initiative. You should also put together a resume detailing your education and experience. These are the basic marketing materials you will need to sell yourself to potential employers.
  3. Build your network: If you want to get a great engineering job, attend every career fair and engagement event possible. Reach out to people who work at your dream companies and ask for informational interviews. Consider joining a professional network, like the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) or the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and participate in their conferences.
  4. Prepare for your interview: Read everything you can about the company. Try to find out where the business is headed and how you can add value as an engineer. You could book some mock interviews to get practice. It may also be a good idea to get your resume critiqued by a professional recruiter. Don’t forget to take the extra set up steps when preparing for a video interview
  5. Use all the resources available to you: To increase your chances of success be sure to take advantage of all your opportunities. For example, Modis makes it easy to search IT and engineering jobs on our website.

Key Takeaways

As you prepare to navigate the job search and interview process, keep in mind that you don't have to do it on your own. Engineering is an exciting field that allows you to get paid well to solve interesting problems every day.

No matter whether you decide to pursue a career as a cyber security engineer or a software engineer -- both are flourishing and companies are constantly looking for talented engineers.

Join our global community.

At Modis, we focus on connecting your skills and intelligence to the IT and engineering opportunities you need to thrive.

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