Software Engineer vs Network Engineer - 7 Key Differences

Software Engineer Vs Network Engineer – 7 Key Differences

Every computer science student would have come across this confusion at any point whether to choose the path of Software Engineer Vs Network Engineer?

In this article, I explore Software Engineering vs Network Engineering trying not to be bias coming from a Software Engineering background :).

Software engineering vs network engineering is a debate that has been rehashed from time to time in business circles. Both of these disciplines are essential, but which one is the “right” one? Should one be chosen over the other? This article attempts to objectively answer that question by separating the two with a common factor that both of these fields share.

Network engineering and software engineering are both basic computer sciences. But, there are so many variables between the two that make each field so different.

Key differences between the role of Software Engineer vs Network Engineer

#1 – Difference of Tasks

One obvious difference is the amount of time it takes to complete each task. Network engineers must troubleshoot problems in the network as it exists, while software engineers must develop new software as it is being developed. They also must work to troubleshoot potential problems as it arises before the software is available for mass production.

#2 – Accessibility

Another variable is whether or not one would require physical access to the network. While network engineers can do that physically, software engineers must come up with the idea and code for their solution in a virtual manner. As networks get more complex and technical in nature, the idea of using a virtual medium for a given task becomes more plausible. However, if one can not physically access the network, the engineer must have some kind of patching device to send their changes to the rest of the world.

#3 – Investment

A third difference is the amount of money that one is able to invest in their career. Network engineers have to buy their own equipment while software engineers need to pay for the tools they need in order to effectively do their job. Additionally, network engineers must know how to deal with routers and various types of connections while software engineers must understand how to use the different types of software programs they might need to develop their work. This difference in the amount of money necessary to pursue a career in either field might seem like a considerable difference in the long run, but in reality, it does not make a very big difference when the jobs are done.

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Network Cabling

#4 – Staying up to Date

Of course, the biggest factor for most network engineers is the fact that network technology is constantly advancing. Engineers must learn as much as they can about each new type of technology as it emerges to ensure they are able to answer questions of customers as quickly as possible. In addition, network engineers must keep track of the ever-changing rules of networking, so they can provide technical support to their customers in a timely manner. While many network engineers can stay completely up-to-date on the latest trends in technology, others must stay on top of those trends to write the new software code. It might sound like a difficult task, but in reality, this is much easier than it sounds.

#5 – Code of Conduct

Network engineers will often have to follow a strict code of conduct. They must make sure that all of their discussions with customers are conducted in an ethical fashion, and they cannot utilize any kind of outside resources or software while on the job. Many times, software engineers are also required to write custom software or implement business logic in new ways to test the system itself. The amount of work involved in this job role is staggering in its scope. One hour of typical code written by one of these engineers could be responsible for thousands of lines of code written by ten other engineers.

#6 – Risk Factor

When a network engineer has to follow a strict code of conduct, this limits the amount of risk they can take when they start working. With so much responsibility placed upon them, network engineers must know exactly what they need to do and how they are going to do it. For example, they might find themselves having to create a new network routing policy in order to handle a newly discovered network vulnerability. They also need to know how to troubleshoot certain issues as they come up, such as dealing with an outage that was caused by a software package that was improperly installed.

#7 – Responsibility

The final major difference between software engineering and network engineering is whether or not the software engineers are primarily responsible for writing the software or managing the network. Network engineers are responsible for installing and maintaining networks. When a software developer is involved, they usually write the software but only handle the business side of things such as bug-fixing and support. When it comes down to it, the winner between software engineering vs network engineering is more or less a tie. Both job titles require many similar components, so if you want to become a software engineer, you may want to consider a career in network engineering.


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