If you’re interested in creating computer hardware and the software that goes along with it, you may want to know how to combine an electrical engineering degree with a computer science degree. At least as far as computer engineering is concerned, computer science and electrical engineering are very closely related, and the people in these two fields work closely together to design hardware at the same time as designing the software to run on it. For example, when Apple designs a new iPhone or MacBook model, electrical engineers work together with computer scientists to design low-level computer code that runs as efficiently as possible on the hardware.
There is an overlap in the skills needed to be a computer scientist or a computer engineer, although most programmers don’t require and don’t have a lot of engineering knowledge. To get a job designing the operating system for a hardware device like an iPhone, programmers usually need a master’s degree or quite a bit of computer engineering education. A double major in these two subjects can also open many doors in the field of low-level programming and OS design.
What Do Computer Scientists and Electrical Engineers Do?
Computer scientists are experts in sequential algorithms, discrete mathematics and computer programming, while electrical engineers are expert problem solvers with specialized knowledge of physics and applied mathematics, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These subjects cover broad fields by themselves, but when you combine them, you narrow down the types of jobs you will be qualified to do because you become highly specialized.
If you choose to double-major in computer science and electrical engineering, you will be qualified to do any type of work in either of these fields, and you will be highly qualified to design the hardware and low-level computer code for electronic devices. If you get a computer science bachelor’s degree and an engineering master’s degree, or vice-versa, you will be a highly specialized programmer or engineer who is qualified for advanced employment. Although you will mainly be qualified to design computer hardware and low-level software, there is a wide range of work within this category.
Actually, you will be qualified to do any sort of computer programming, but you will have the best prospects in the specialized field of OS design and low-level programming. Alternatively, if you choose to take the engineering route, you will be qualified to design computer components and electronic devices, but your best prospects will be in the narrower field of computer architecture and low-level programming, because the job growth for electrical engineers is expected to be very slow.
Job Outlook for Computer Scientists and Electrical Engineers
Computer scientists have some of the best job prospects in the economy, with 22-percent growth projected for the next ten years. Electrical engineers, however, have some of the slowest job growth in the economy at only 4 percent. By combining these degrees and specializing your skills, you can take advantage of the abundant CS opportunities while at the same time differentiating yourself from other programmers. Most programmers focus on high-level programming and software design and don’t have the skills to design low-level software.
Related Resource: Data Warehousing
Computer science and electrical engineering are two of the most challenging degrees you can get, and although the market for engineers is somewhat dormant, programmers with low-level coding knowledge are in high demand. If you like the idea of designing the way computers process data, you should combine and electrical engineering degree with a computer science degree.