Mechanical Engineering Vs Software Engineering: Salary, Similarities, Difference & Job Outlook

Just like Mechanical Engineering, Software Engineering adopts a set of mathematical based principles and theories to arrive at an endpoint. However, distinct differences exist between the two lucrative professions. So, in this article put together by The World Scholarship Forum, we’ll dissent the two different disciplines while stating the points where they converge.

The average wage for a Mechanical Engineer, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, is  $89,800, with the top ten percent earning up to $131,350. While the median annual salary for a software developer in the United States is $110,000.

In this post, we’ll talk about Mechanical Engineering, and Software Engineering. Stating the differences and similarities that exist between the two professions. Carefully read through to pick up the key points.

A quick view of the table of contents below will give you an overview of what to find in this article.

What Is Mechanical Engineering?

Mechanical engineering is one of the oldest and most diverse engineering disciplines. It is the branch of engineering that involves the design, production, and operation of machinery by applying physics, engineering, mathematics, and materials science principles.

Mechanical engineering is seen in areas such as composites, mechatronics, and nanotechnology, and often overlaps with manufacturing engineering, metallurgical engineering, civil engineering, aerospace engineering, electrical engineering, chemical engineering, industrial engineering, and other engineering disciplines to varying amounts.

Technically, Mechanical Engineering is the application of engineering concepts and problem-solving techniques for any product, from design to manufacture to the marketplace. Mechanical engineers evaluate their work using the concepts of motion, energy, and force — ensuring designs work securely, effectively, and reliably at all costs.

How To Become A Mechanical Engineer?

Becoming a Mechanical Engineer in Arizona isn’t one out of the woods, you need to take the following steps:

OBTAIN A BACHELOR’S DEGREE IN MECHANICAL ENGINEERING

The BLS notes that most entry-level jobs in the industry require a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. Students may also opt to complete a pre- Engineering degree of two years and consider the associated job as a mechanical drafter. Afterward, they can choose to transfer to a four-year school to complete the remaining requirements for the baccalaureate.

Bachelor’s degree coursework incorporates moderate and advanced mathematics, life and physical sciences, engineering, and design. Students will be in a computer lab, too, working with advanced computer-aided design (CAD) software.

The program offers courses that will prepare students to specialize in one or more sectors of mechanical engineering. For instance, medical engineering technology coursework concentrates less on theory and more on the practical utilization of design principles. Internships and co-ops in mechanical engineering are often part of a degree program.

EARN AN ENGINEERING LICENSE

In the United States, all Mechanical Engineers delivering services directly to the general public are expected to hold a State license. However, students can apply for a license from the ABET-accredited Engineering program, after completing a bachelor’s degree in engineering. In addition, Engineering graduates must also pass the fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam provided by the National Council of Engineering and Surveying Examiners to become qualified.

After four years of active service, engineers can write the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam to become Professional Engineers (PEs).

Employers may honor licenses from other states given that the original licensing requirements are equal or greater to those in the new state.

OBTAIN CERTIFICATIONS 

Though this is optional, certifications, like those granted by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, allow Engineering graduates to show competency in specific fields of mechanical engineering. These fields include advanced control systems design, advanced materials mechanics, stress analysis, convection heat transfer, and dynamic systems.

While optional, certifications highlight one’s skills for employers and help qualify Engineering graduates for career-advancing jobs in Mechanical Engineering.

What Do Mechanical Engineers Do?

To complete the daunting task of shaping an idea into reality, mechanical engineering combines creativity, knowledge, and analytical tools. This in turn affects all and sundry.

Mechanical engineers have a huge range of opportunity and their education mirrors this breadth of subjects. Students focus on one area while growing analytical and problem-solving skills applicable to any engineering situation.

Duties of a Mechanical Engineer

  • Running simulations to test designs before building them
  • Testing prototypes of electrical components
  • Developing more efficient car and airplane engines, including electrical engines
  • Supervising production of their designs to ensure manufacturing standards for safety and reliability are met
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Disciplines within mechanical engineering include the following;

  • Acoustics
  • Aerospace
  • Automation
  • Automotive
  • Autonomous Systems
  • Biotechnology
  • Composites
  • Computer-Aided Design (CAD)
  • Control Systems
  • Cybersecurity
  • Design
  • Energy
  • Ergonomics
  • Human health
  • Manufacturing and additive manufacturing
  • Mechanics
  • Nanotechnology
  • Production planning
  • Robotics
  • Structural analysis

How Much Does A Mechanical Engineer Earn?

Mechanical Engineers are well paid, as are careers in many other Engineering fields. Mechanical Engineers gain well above average over each stage of their careers compared with other fields. The average wage for a Mechanical Engineer, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, is  $89,800, with the top ten percent earning up to $131,350.

Mechanical Engineering Job Outlook

Employment of mechanical engineers is projected to grow 4 percent over the next ten years, as fast as the average for all occupations. Mechanical engineers can work in many industries and on many types of projects. As a result, their growth rate will differ from the industries that employ them.

Mechanical engineers are projected to experience faster than average growth in engineering services as companies continue to contract work from these firms. Mechanical engineers will also remain involved in various manufacturing industries, particularly in automotive manufacturing. These engineers will play key roles in improving the range and performance of hybrid and electric cars. However, employment declines in some manufacturing industries will temper the overall employment growth of mechanical engineers.

What Is Software Engineering?

Software engineering is a branch of computer science that includes the development and building of computer systems software and applications software. Computer systems software is composed of programs that include computing utilities and operations systems. Applications software consists of user-focused programs that include web browsers, database programs, etc.

There is a lot of investment going into software engineering at the moment due to the increasing reliance on mobile technology, venture capital-backed start-ups, the growing complexity of technology, and emerging industries. The demand for skilled and qualified software engineers seems to have no end. This demand is strengthened by a changing economic landscape and fueled by the need for technology solutions. With billions of physical devices around the world that are now connected to the internet and that are collecting and sharing data, all industries are quickly becoming technology-driven industries.

Software engineers have extensive knowledge of programming languages, software development, and computer operating systems, and they apply engineering principles to software creation. By applying these engineering principles to every stage of the development process, from requirements analysis to the software process, they can create customized systems for individual clients. Just as a civil engineer will make sure that a bridge has a solid foundation, a software engineer will also begin with a thorough study of requirements and work through the development process in a systematic way.

How To Become A Software Engineer?

Software engineering is a dynamic profession, one that adapts as new technologies are developed. Because of its nature, there are multiple entry points into the profession. Although no single path to becoming a software engineer exists. However, the steps below outline the general path to becoming a Software Engineer.

Attain an undergraduate degree

Getting a formal education is the first step near becoming a software engineer. Prospective students can select from both traditional and non-traditional training programs to gain the education necessary to pursue entry-level positions. Some options include:

  • ASSOCIATE DEGREE (TWO YEARS) – Most times employers prefer candidates with a four-year degree. However, an associate degree can open the door to entry-level jobs in the field. Students may choose to seek majors in several related areas, such as software engineering technology or software systems engineering. Curriculum centers on the core principles of software engineering, programming languages, and modern approaches to software development.
  • BACHELOR’S DEGREE (FOUR YEARS) – A bachelor’s degree in computer science, or a related field, is the traditional minimum degree preferred by employers. Bachelor’s degree in a related field exposes students to a broader curriculum, one that provides a foundation in mathematics and computer science. Furthermore, students acquire a comprehensive understanding of programming, software architecture, and software testing.
  • CODING BOOTCAMP (8 TO 12 WEEKS) – Coding boot camps are a moderately new educational path for aspiring software engineers or developers. These programs ideally last between eight and 12 weeks and place students into a hands-on, keen learning environment. Upon graduation, students are well suited for entry-level careers as software engineers or developers.

Undergo Internship

Completing an internship equips students with real-world experience. Technology companies may offer internships for students with a bachelor’s or master’s degree who are seeking to expand their skills in specific areas, such as Java, XML, or SQL. Ideally, internships last between three and six months and allow students to work on distinct projects or products related to their skills.

Pursue a Specialization

This aspect of becoming a Software Engineer is very important. As a potential Software Engineer, you are expected to choose an area of specialization. Generally, there are two specializations within software engineering: Applications and Software/Systems Development. However, different areas of practice exist within each of these areas. Software engineers may wish to become experts in a single programming language or type of development. Here is a list of example specialty areas to consider:

  • Web development
  • DevOps
  • Mobile development
  • Technical stack (e.g., Python, Ruby)

Scout for entry-level job opportunities

After earning a computer science or related degree or completing a Bootcamp program, the next step is to explore out entry-level employment.

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Due to the trend, Software Engineering has been rated as one of the best entry-level careers available, according to Forbes. No matter how small the job may seem to be, prospective software engineers should take advantage of the opportunity and garner relevant experience.

GET CERTIFIED (Optional)

Software engineering is precise and technical, and gaining certification validates an applicant’s knowledge and abilities. Along with experience, certification improves one’s marketability in an increasingly competitive marketplace. Certifications are available from technology vendors (e.g., Microsoft, Cisco, and Oracle) as well as professional organizations (e.g., IEEE) and are tailored to specific areas of practice.

ATTEND CONFERENCES (Optional)

Through conferences, Software Engineers stay informed with the latest developments in both the general profession and their specialty. Moreso, conferences are a great way to network with other engineers and discover new products, business practices, and technologies. Conventional conferences for software engineers include; International Conference on Software Engineering and the International Conference on Automated Software Engineering.

EARN A GRADUATE DEGREE (Optional)

It is true that a bachelor’s degree qualifies you to be a Software Engineer. However, a graduate qualifies you for management and leadership positions in the industry.

In addition, Software engineering than just programming. Software engineering demands interdisciplinary skills such as critical thinking, cost analysis, and project management. These skills can be enhanced through a master’s program in computer science, computer engineering, information science, or software engineering.

What Do Software Engineers Do?

Software Engineers are in high demand. Therefore, they often receive many inquiries a month from recruiters and head hunters. A Software Engineer employs mathematical analysis and the principles of computer science in order to design and develop computer software.

There are many types of software that a Software Engineer can develop, such as operating systems, computer games, middleware, business applications, and network control systems.

Generally, Software Engineers perform the following functions;

  • Analyze users’ needs and then design, test, and develop software to meet those needs.
  • Recommend software upgrades for customers’ existing programs and systems.
  • Design each piece of an application or system and plan how the pieces will function together.
  • Create a variety of models and diagrams (such as flowcharts) that show programmers the software code required for an application.
  • Software Engineers ensure that a program continues to function regularly through software maintenance and testing.
  • Document every aspect of an application or system as a guidebook for future maintenance and upgrades.
  • Collaborate with other computer specialists to create excellent software.

Furthermore, Software Engineers must also possess interpersonal skills, and be able to efficiently communicate with users in order to train, test, and debug software all the way to the end product.

How Much Does A Software Engineers Earn?

Software engineers typically receive much higher than average salaries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for a software developer in the United States is $110,000. This number is higher in cities with higher costs of living. Wages typically start from $55,236 and go up to $155,991

Where Can A Software Engineer Work?

Technology is growing at a fast pace, and openings in software development are growing right along with it. For software engineers with valuable interpersonal skills, management roles are widely available. Interpersonal skills (or soft skills) include communication, conflict management, empathy, leadership, listening, negotiation, a positive attitude, and being able to work as part of a team.

Individuals who are skilled communicators and are technically sound have many options available to them. They can, in time, qualify for a variety of roles – Senior Engineer, Team Lead, Architect, Manager and can eventually make their way to senior management.

A Software Engineer’s career opportunities:

Junior Web Developer

This is the starting point for an individual right out of college or an accelerated course could get with little to no computer programming experience. One can start scouting for job postings as a junior web developer with a working knowledge of HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and jQuery.

Requirements for a junior web developer include:

  • being able to write simple scripts
  • having an understanding of the expected application lifecycle
  • possessing a fundamental understanding of database and application services, such as caching and queues.

Software Web Developer, Sr. Software Web Developer

A software web developer, or senior software web developer is one who has professional programming experience. These can be highlighted through his ability to…

  • write complex code
  • understand databases, application services, and application lifecycle development
  • proficiency in creating entire applications.

Much of a software engineer’s career path will involve spending several years as a senior web developer.

People who don’t fancy the idea of management and prefer to stick with writing code can spend many years or even their entire career as a senior web developer.

Lead Software Engineer

For someone who wants to take on additional responsibility and more of a challenging role, a lead software engineer or architect role may be a great fit.

Lead Software Engineers guide other engineers and programmers, and the role is seen as a mid-level management position. However, Lead Software Engineers still write code, but also cooperate with others regarding workflow priorities and implement final decisions. They have years of programming experience in a specific subject matter.

Technical Architect

Technical Architects still write code occasionally as well, however, they are mainly accountable for designing complex systems that other web developers will execute. The role of an architect is highly technical.

Development Team Lead, Software Development Manager

As a Development Team Lead or Software Development Manager, your duty is to manage teams of developers, large-scale projects, and hiring and firing developers.

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Mid-level managers keep track of productivity and workflow in the department and report to a senior manager. A senior manager in turn coordinates the needs of the project leader with the development team, which requires wonderful people skills and the ability to resolve conflict effectively.

Director, Vice President, Chief Technology Officer

Senior management such as Director, Vice President and CTO report to the CEO or to the company’s board of directors. They manage the work of other managers and often have some accountability towards setting strategic and corporate direction.

If managing people is just not something you are interested in, a career as a software engineer still provides such a nice level of income that you can still be a team player and have a rewarding career.

Software Engineer Job Outlook

The job outlook for software engineers and developers is 24 percent growth—much quicker than the national average for jobs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Because of the highly technical skillset and the low number of qualified engineers, the pay rate for software careers is high.

What Are The Differences Between Mechanical Engineering and Software Engineering?

Like earlier highlighted, Mechanical Engineers have different job roles from Software Engineers. While both are branches of engineering, the differences between these two engineering programs will be ascertained by comparing, responsibilities, the job outlook, and income level.

Mechanical Engineering Vs Software Engineering: Difference in responsibilities

Mechanical engineers design tangible consumer parts and products, while software engineers develop digital products and systems. Furthermore, the work of mechanical engineers depends on their understanding of physics while Software engineers rely on algorithms and complex mathematics.

In a nutshell, Mechanical Engineers design technology for systems like Vehicles and other mechanical and electrical appliances while Software Engineers develop computer and phone programs.

Job responsibilities of a mechanical engineer include:

  • Running simulations to test designs before building them.
  • Testing prototypes of electrical components.
  • Developing more effective car and airplane engines, including electrical engines.
  • Overseeing production of their designs to ensure manufacturing standards for safety and reliability are met.

Job responsibilities of a software engineer include:

  • Utilizing computer programming languages, such as Java, to build algorithms.
  • Modeling the computer code needed to build the software by creating charts or other visuals.
  • Assuring that all parts of a network are integrated and function together.
  • Addressing any issues or bugs during software development by periodically testing it.

Mechanical Engineering Vs Software Engineering: Job Outlook

Employment of mechanical engineers is projected to grow 4 percent over the next ten years, as fast as the average for all occupations. Mechanical engineers can work in many industries and on many types of projects. As a result, their growth rate will differ from the industries that employ them.

On the other hand, the job outlook for software engineers and developers is 24 percent growth—much quicker than the national average for jobs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is because the high technical requirements don’t match the number of available Software Engineers.

Mechanical Vs Software Engineering: Income Level

The average wage for a Mechanical Engineer, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, is  $89,800, with the top ten percent earning up to $131,350.

Software engineers typically receive much higher than average salaries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for a software developer in the United States is $110,000.

Similarities Between Mechanical Engineering and Software Engineering

Mechanical Engineers depend on some of the programs and software produced by the Software Engineers to perform efficiently. For instance, CAD (computeraided design) software is used by architects, engineers, drafters, artists, and others to create precision drawings or technical illustrations. CAD software can be used to create two-dimensional (2-D) drawings or three-dimensional (3-D) models. On the other hand, most of the hardware tools used by Software Engineers are products of Mechanical Engineers.

Furthermore, most of the systems built by Mechanical Engineers make use of computer programs. However, both may work on teams with other engineers, artists, and production managers.

FAQs On Mechanical Engineering Vs Software Engineering

What is mechanical engineering?

It is the branch of engineering that involves the design, production, and operation of machinery by applying physics, engineering, mathematics, and materials science principles.

How much does a mechanical engineer earn?

The average wage for a Mechanical Engineer, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, is  $89,800, with the top ten percent earning up to $131,350.

What is software engineering?

Software engineering is a branch of computer science which includes the development and building of computer systems software and applications software.

How much does a software engineer earn?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for a software developer in the United States is $110,000.

Conclusion

These distinct fields of Engineering have over the years staked a great claim in the global workforce due to their level of impact. Nevertheless, they are wonderful professions with different diverse prospects.

References

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