Computer Programming vs. Computer Science (With Job Titles)

Updated 18 August 2023

Computer programming and computer science are both remarkable careers in the technology field. Despite their many similarities, they have key differences which make them significantly distinct occupations. Understanding what each discipline entails can help you choose a suitable career to pursue. In this article, we define the fields, provide their similarities and differences, discuss job titles in each group and list skills required to perform tasks in these fields.

Computer programming vs. computer science

To distinguish computer programming vs. computer science, you can start by understanding their definitions. Computer science involves creating computer processes, while computer programming entails designing commands for these computing systems. Below are their definitions:

What is computer programming?

Computer programming is a series of commands that delegate how a computing gadget operates. It entails programmers who write and develop code that instructs applications and software programs on running. Programming codes can range from simple addition commands to complex gaming and sensory applications. A programmer can perform the following tasks in their field:

  • writing and testing codes

  • updating old or faulty programs

  • identifying, analysing and solving bugs in programs

  • offering cyber-security

  • editing source-code

  • giving technological support

  • supervising operating systems

  • operating database systems

Read more: What Does a Computer Programmer Do? (With Career Steps)

What is computer science?

Computer science is a field of study that involves the analysis and research of algorithms, data formats and artificial intelligence. The discipline also incorporates arithmetic theories and electronic circuitry design since it has a foundation in mathematics and engineering. Computer scientists study and use programming, but it's only a single element in the field. An expert in this field may execute the following roles at work:

  • design algorithms

  • research issues facing the field

  • conduct theoretical analysis

  • fabricate computing languages

  • enhance the functioning of hardware

  • test new systems and databases

Read more: What Is a Computer Scientist? Duties, Skills and Education

Similarities between these two fields

Computer programming and computer science have similarities in their study and occupational roles. Individuals in these fields may work together to accomplish software-related tasks which depend on both areas. Below is an illustration of their comparability:

Overlapping areas of study

The two courses incorporate programming languages into their curriculum. Coding is a skill that can help computer scientists and programmers automate applications and programs. It's also a technique that can help them stay updated and grow with technology.

Developing systems

Systems development can involve defining, creating and testing software programs or applications. Computer scientists can develop algorithms and databases for the system after analysing algorithms and mathematical theories for the software. Programmers can review the documentation provided by the scientists to create an executable application.

Related: ​System Engineer Job Description (With Duties and Skills)

Specialising opportunities

These two technology fields are diverse and individuals can advance and specialise in their preferred occupations. Computer scientists can become experts in multiple disciplines such as artificial intelligence, data science or networking and communications. Programmers frequently gain prowess in a specific coding language or application structure.

Differences between programming and computer science

The following fundamental differences can help to distinguish between these two careers:


To advance in both careers, the specialists may gain certifications. A computer science documentation course may focus on cloud computing, database technologies and cybersecurity. A programming certification may primarily entail coursework on diverse coding languages. You can apply for the following credentials to enhance your skills:

Computer science

Computer scientists can advance their skills by studying a certification that fits the specific computer science field they intend to join. It can make you more marketable and increase your chances of higher pay. Accredited certifications that can help you advance in this career include:

  • Certified Analysis Professional

  • Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP)

  • Certified Data Professional

Related: How to Write a Computer Scientist Resume (With Example)

Computer programming

This discipline can mainly involve writing code using a suitable language for the application's purpose. Understanding the various programming languages can add value to a company. The following certifications can help you achieve the knowledge:

  • C Programming Language Certified Associate (CLA)

  • C++ Certified Associate Programmer (CPA)

  • CompTIA Security+


The two careers comprise different field roles and responsibilities. A computer scientist can create databases and algorithms by analysing computing theories, while a programmer creates executable applications using an applicable code and language. Their roles in a company can depend on each other but are entirely different.

​Related: ​Manager of IT Job Description (With Responsibilities)


The national average salary of a computer scientist is $7,944 per month, while the national average salary of a computer programmer is $3,657 per month. These salaries may differ depending on the organisation you work for, your qualifications and your experience. You can also earn more by applying your skills and performing other personal computing jobs.

5 career options in computer programming

Below are some job positions you can pursue in computer programming:

1. Network system administrator

National average salary: $2,918 per month

Primary duties: Network system administrators can be responsible for the daily management and supervision of network systems. They primarily work within their team and may not be very prominent, but their functions in an organisation are crucial. They can plan, maintain and instal the following components:

  • local area networks

  • wide-area networks

  • information transmission systems

  • intranets

2. Software quality assurance personnel

National average salary: $3,417 per month

Primary duties: A quality assurance personnel's leading role is to ensure that software programs and applications meet standards. This career can be essential to a software development company to help them identify bugs and coding errors in applications. It helps to ensure that the complete version the clients launch to the market is efficient, competitive and secure. A software quality assurance personnel can also:

  • create test plans and processes

  • document test procedures

  • instal computing test programs

  • record application defects

  • conduct third-party tests

Related: How to Become a Software Tester: Overview, Duties and Salary

3. Computer programmer

National average salary: $3,803 per month

Primary duties: The primary role of computer programming is to create code that automates the functions of applications and software. Software development companies may also require them to update source-code, design integrated development environments and manage different operating systems. Their roles may be essential to ensure that applications don't lag during use.

Related: 20 Common Scala Interview Questions (With Sample Answers)

4. Web developer

National average salary: $4,117 per month

Primary duties: The key responsibility of a web developer is to create, supervise and operate websites. They may be responsible for the entire appearance and user feel of a website. A web developer can perform the following roles:

  • understand relevant website coding languages

  • design and test websites

  • track website traffic

  • troubleshoot company sites

  • create design specifications

  • update sites

5. Software developer

National average salary: $5,310 per month

Primary duties: The primary role of software developers is to create computer programs by understanding user requirements and designing applicable software. They can develop system, utility or application programs. Below are some of their responsibilities at work:

  • design efficient and executable code that suit client requirements

  • collect and analyse user feedback

  • write technical documentation

  • debug and upgrade existing programs

5 career options in computer science

You can join the following occupations in the computer science field:

1. Hardware engineer

National average salary: $3,902 per month

Primary duties: Hardware engineers design the physical elements of a computing gadget. Their primary roles in a corporation may include creating new hardware equipment, testing their functioning, analysing the performance and managing these systems. When the user's requirements change, they redesign this hardware to suit client needs.

2. Systems analyst

National average salary: $5,274 per month

Primary duties: These analysts' primary role is assessing and evaluating database errors and offering recommendations on advanced analytics tools to boost productivity. They study the most current database systems to ensure that all applications run efficiently. To satisfy their consumer's needs, they may also focus on financial technology and engineering.

3. Database administrator

National average salary: $6,757 per month

Primary duties: Database administrators can maintain and protect sensitive data in a firm. These specialists also arrange confidential data records, such as a bank, payment and client data. They can accomplish this task by updating and integrating the most recent applications.

4. Data scientist

National average salary: $7,360 per month

Primary duties: Data scientists primarily operate in groups or individually to evaluate data and resolve specific information systems challenges. After gathering this data, they clean it and analyse patterns that help them design algorithms. Data scientists assist businesses in making informative decisions by developing statistical models to solve existing challenges.

5. Information technology architect

National average salary: $9,603 per month

Primary duties: IT architects may principally arrange and administer a company's safety, telecommunication and related technology elements. They may also supervise systems to ensure that a company follows set policies. The roles can allow them to work in large and small organisations.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location. Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.


Explore more articles

  • How to Become a Radiographer Assistant (With Definition)
  • A Complete Guide to Applying for a Work Permit in Singapore
  • 11 Systems Administrator Roles and Responsibilities
  • How to Become an Interior Designer (With Role and Salary)
  • What Is Job Classification? A Definitive Guide and Types
  • How To Become a Tutor in Singapore: Job Duties and Skills
  • Accounting Position Titles (Plus Duties and Salaries)
  • 12 Common Magazine Editor Roles and Responsibilities
  • What Does a Career in Law Look Like? (Plus How to Become a Lawyer)
  • What Does a Bank Relationship Manager Do and How To Be One
  • 20 Examples of Essential Mortgage Advisor Skills
  • How To Become a Robotics Engineer (With Steps and Salary)