Can a Computer Engineer Work as a Programmer?

Computer engineers are in increasingly high demand. Many people suppose their roles are similar to developer and programmer positions.

So, can a computer engineer work as a computer programmer?

It is a yes for sure. Both professions are responsible for developing the applications and operating systems necessary for running computers, though there are still distinct differences in their responsibilities.

Before deciding which career to pursue, it’s essential to look into this aspect so you can be well aware of how flexible this field is.

Can a CE Graduate Work as a Programmer?

Computer engineering (CE) involves the application of computers and computer-based systems. Thus, being able to tackle engineering tasks is synonymous with being able to carry out programming ones.

Computer engineers’ primary duty is to build computers, like supercomputers, workstations, and PCs.

They also design and develop computer systems like those in communication networks, phones, electronics, appliances, planes, cars, and other products.

These workers contribute to designing both software and hardware in computer systems. Thus, it’s no wonder they can also do a great job in programming.

That’s why employers usually value candidates with relevant programming experience and skills when recruiting for engineering positions.

However, while computer engineers can work as programmers, computer scientists design most system programs, like operating systems or programming languages.

Students seeking programming and engineering jobs can participate in the same internships to promote their career opportunities.

Are Computer Programmers & Engineers The Same Thing?

From a general viewpoint, all computer experts are programmers. They have to gain coding knowledge and experience to do well in engineering, and programming is one of the necessary skills to develop coding, software, and hardware.

programming code

However, engineers usually have to tackle a broad range of responsibilities. As developers, their duty is to turn dreams and vague ideas into reality or a viable product.

Meanwhile, programmers tend to cover a more limited range. A designer, developer, or software engineer will send them instructions, and they need to turn these instructions into code.

Also, programmers scarcely have to deal with design considerations, clients, and other wide-scope concerns.

What Qualities Should Computer Engineers & Programmers Have?

First and foremost, both occupations require strong analytical and problem-solving skills.

The ability to perform technical analysis and handle abstract concepts is imperative for systems mechanics since they have to deal with software controlling the computer’s efficiency and operation.

They usually need to carry out multiple tasks simultaneously, so it is crucial to show close attention and concentration on detail.

Also, creativity and ingenuity are necessary qualities for these two professions regarding designing new, functional programs.

It’s important to improve communication skills because programmers and engineers have to effectively communicate with end-users, team members, and other staff.

What Are Salaries for Computer Engineers & Programmers?

In 2023, programmers earned $50.64 per hour and $105,326 per year. Meanwhile, most employers working in the field of computer engineering earned $61.07 per hour and $127,038 per year.

Besides, systems software engineers’ average income was $64,29 per hour and $133,722 per year. This payment point was higher than wages for programmers and applications engineers.

What About the Working Environment?

Both occupations usually work in laboratories or comfortable, clean offices fully equipped with computers and computing-based equipment.

Computer engineers working for consulting firms and software vendors regularly travel to lead distance projects or meet customers.

computer engineers in military industry

In 2023, an average computer engineer and programmer worked about 45 hours per week. Yet, 11% of programmers and 15% of engineers worked 55 hours more per week.

Though these safe working environments rarely witness injuries, there are certain disadvantages.

Like programmers and engineers, those who sit in front of a screen for many hours consecutively every day are vulnerable to various health issues.

Some of those are wrist & hand problems like carpal tunnel syndrome, back discomfort, and eyestrain.

What Else Can A Computer Engineer Work As?

A certification in this field opens up countless opportunities before you. Here are some top career choices that a computer engineer can blend himself with:

  • Data analyst
  • Blockchain Developer/Engineer
  • Machine Learning Engineer
  • Data scientist
  • Software developer
  • Database administrator
  • Information systems manager

Are Computer Engineers Real Engineers?

Yes. Computer engineers work and devote their talents in the engineering field, and they’re real engineers.

Also, like electrical engineering workers, they have to take EE classes to build and promote skills. Yet, they’ll focus more on embedded systems, digital logic, microprocessor, CPU architecture, networking, computer hardware & software.

Simply put, people call them engineers because of these facts:

  • They deal with software development, smartphone applications, and programming.
  • They design and develop physical products.
  • They are responsible for developing networks and systems.


Computer programming is just one of the many careers you can choose from with a degree in computer engineering. Despite the fiercely competitive job market, working in the tech industry promises endless opportunities, provided that you’re passionate and talented.