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An Overview of Computing Disciplines

An Overview of Computing Disciplines


If you’re someone looking to change careers or just get into something with technology on the side, then having a good understanding of the types of jobs within the computing field is a great thing to have. With that in mind, we’re going to show you what the major disciplines are within the computing field as well as some of the types of jobs you can get with those disciplines.

The Association for Computing Machinery outlines five major disciplines within the computing field, Computer Science, Information Systems, Software Engineering, Computer Engineering, and Information Technology. While all five disciplines fall under the computing field, they are all very different and require different skillsets. Some of these skillsets, of course, require College education, but other skillsets can simply be through a self-learning process.

Computer Science

The two disciplines overlapping the most are Computer Science and Software Engineering. Both focus heavily on the development of software, whether that be an operating system, independent applications, programs for Law Enforcement, video games, and more. However, Computer Science is more geared towards robotics, bioinformatics, and new ways to use computers.

There is a broad list of things you can specialize in within Computer Science. Some job titles you might find within the field are an AI Software Engineer or a Bioinformatics Analyst. Not only that, but you’ll see postings for things like Data Architects, Security Architects, Robotics System Engineers and more.

Software Engineering

Software Engineering is focused more on the development and maintaining of software products, such as Windows or Android. The discipline is also usually more customer-focused, as more often than not, they’re developing a product to deliver to the customer. Computer Science and Software Engineering are similar in that they are heavily focused on software, but they also have their own distinct niches and roles within computing.


Software Engineering is a much more specialized field, as it usually has to deal with strictly things like software development and web development (yes, many people lump web development into this category). In this area of expertise, and on the software side of things, you’ll be able to find job titles like Software Developer, Senior Software Engineer, Programmer Analyst and a few more similar titles. These are broad job titles, as the job title truly varies from company to company. For instance, one company might want a Software Developer that specializes in C++ and .NET frameworks while another company might expect their Software Developer/Engineer to specialize in C#, Java and Python.

The same rules apply for web-based job titles in the field, such as Front-End Developers, Back-End Developers, Database Administrators, and so on.

One neat thing in particular about this field as that it’s very beginner-friendly. Programming isn’t easy to pick up; it takes a certain level of dedication and resilience. However, there are plenty of job openings for junior positions, where those just starting out will be in a healthy environment for improving their skillset and eventually move up to an Intermediate or Senior position.

Information Technology

Information Systems and Information Technology also overlap a bit, but any well-researched individual will realize how distinct these two fields are. The Information Systems specialist’s goal is to meet the needs of a business heavily reliant on information while the Information Technology specialist is focused on that from a technology or hardware aspect. Both focus on the needs of the business, but the former tends to implement efficient systems while the latter fixes them.

Job titles in the field are pretty straight forward: you’ll find things like Information Systems Specialist or Information Technology Specialist. Often you’ll find managerial titles as well, such as IT Manager or IT Project Manager. IT Consultants are fairly common titles as well.

Similar to Software Engineering, you’ll find a lot of junior and senior-level titles as well, allowing people of all skill levels to jump in the field.

Computer Engineering

Out of all four of these disciplines, Computer Engineering is the most distinct and needed specialist in order for these four other disciplines to function. The Computer Engineering specialist focuses on the design and construction of hardware from prototypes to the finished product. His or her goal is to create hardware like motherboards, memory, and etc. More recently, the Computer Engineer has been in demand for creating embedded systems, such as mobile phones with embedding software like Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and so on.

You might find jobs titles like Senior Software Engineer or Software Engineer II within the Software Engineering field. In Information Systems, you might find System Administrators or Network Engineer titles. IT Consultant and Health IT Specialist are common within the Information Technology field as well. Finally, popular job titles you might find within Computer Engineering are Embedded Software Engineer or a Firmware Engineer.


When it comes down to it, Computer Science, Information Systems, Information Technology, Software Engineering, and Computer Engineering all works towards a common goal in computing: making the world a better place by developing and creating systems that enhance human life, whether that be through luxury products or systems that make work just a little bit easier.

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Jul 18, 2016

643 Articles Published