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Understand The Difference: Software Developer vs Software Engineer

Wondering what tech career to choose? Don't know the differences between a software developer and software engineer? Explore these two lucrative careers and decide which is the best fit for you.


Individuals in the tech field, interchange the terms software developer and software engineer. This can be confusing to those needing to explore which career they wish to pursue. Software developers and software engineers sometimes have overlapping work but, they approach these work tasks differently.

Software Developers vs. Software Engineers

Below, we identify the similarities and differences between software developers and software engineers. But first let us understand what of both of these careers are responsible for.

Software developers build the computer applications that allow users to do specific tasks. They also create the underlying systems that run the devices or control networks. Duties of a software developer include but are not limited to the following:

  • Analyzing users’ needs, then designing and developing software to meet those needs

  • Suggesting software upgrades for customers’ existing programs and systems

  • Designing each piece of an application or system and plan how the pieces will work together

  • Create a variety of models and diagrams showing programmers the software code needed for an application

  • Ensure that a program continues to function normally through software maintenance and testing

  • Document every aspect of an application or system as a reference for future maintenance and upgrades

Software Engineers take a broad view of a project’s system and software requirements, planning its scope and order of work. These workers may direct software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers. Daily requirements of a Software Engineer include but are not limited to the following:

  • Extensive knowledge of a wide range of programming languages

  • Proficient in software development and computer operating systems

  • Proficient in advanced mathematics

  • Ability to apply engineering principles to software creation

  • Leadership skills

  • Ability to debug software and systems

  • Ability to create scalable domain-specific pipelines and languages

  • Ability to create the tools needed to develop software

  • Project management skills

Which Career Is Right Fit For Me? Software Engineer or Developer?

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics places both software designers and software engineers in the same category when assessing the job outlook for each field. Employment of software developers and software engineers is projected to grow 22 percent from 2020 to 2030. About 189,200 openings for software developers, software engineers, and related jobs are projected. The future is bright for these career paths as demand builds for the skills and knowledge of both software developers and engineers. As technology advances and the need for innovative software grows and this is where these careers hold their value.

Ready to take the next step? Talk to a computer science expert here.

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