“Seeking Frontend Developer”, “Hiring backend engineers”, “Software Engineer II”, “Junior Back-end Developer”, “Junior Programmer”
The amount of jobs postings for software engineers/developers/programmers is overwhelming, but job titles can be confusing as well. What makes a developer different from an engineer? Aren’t they the same thing? If you’re an engineer, are you also a programmer? What’s the difference?
- “Experience working with a Front End framework such as React/Angular/Vue/Ember”
- “Experience with HTML, CSS…”
- “Programming knowledge in one or more of these languages…”
- “Experience with relational databases such as…”
These are just a few qualifications companies are looking for in candidates — but they were all under these three various titles of engineer, developer, and programmer. With this in mind, let’s learn a little more about what makes each role unique.
What’s a software engineer?
A software engineer “design[s] software programs and often participate[s] in the details of their development.” They “apply engineering principles and systematic methods to develop programs and operating data for computers.” (ComputerScience.org)
What’s a software developer?
Meanwhile, “software developers are the creative minds behind computer programs. Some develop the applications that allow people to do specific tasks on a computer or another device.” They “are in charge of the entire development process for a software program”. (BLS)
What’s a software/computer programmer?
A software programmer “creates the code for software applications and operating systems…the programmer writes code that converts that design into a set of instructions a computer can follow…The programmer continues to evaluate programs that are in use, making updates and adjustments as needed.” (https://www.thebalancecareers.com/what-does-a-computer-programmer-do-525996)
These, more or less, sound pretty similar. They “design/developer/create” some code for “software applications”. So, here are a few key distinctions:
According to Built In NYC, engineers usually have formal education; in fact, “In some countries, it’s legally required to have a degree in engineering in order to have the title.” This is not necessarily the case with programmers.
Where an engineer needs to lay the foundations of the program, and is “responsible for…maintaining the system”, a programmer is more focused on the code — literally. Programmers are more what one thinks of from the movies and shows: they’re writing dozens of lines of code, and it’s their responsibility “for identifying and fixing bugs in the system”. (Built In)
The developer’s responsibilities are also broad: Rasmussen explains that this role “spends more time on big-picture thinking” .
All software engineers are programmers, but not all programmers are software engineers. What makes the fields of software development and engineering challenging is not writing code itself. After all, there are entire degrees, education companies, YouTube channels, Slack channels, Meetups, and other online communities dedicated to helping people learn to code. It’s what comes along with it: a mind for design and scaling up, for example, or the ability to explain why one technology is better suited to address this situation than the other, or the key ability to explain what your code and program is doing. Oftentimes, these qualities are held in less regard compared to “hard skills”, when both are equally important for a team.
In addition, software developers and engineers are similar, but not the same. There is a lot of overlap, but DevMountain’s blog sheds light on a key difference: that “developers work directly with the client to figure out what they want”. It’s all in the name: a software developer develops an app and the structure. The engineer must consider and implement innovative solutions. Both are important to providing new features to the end user or client.
With this in mind, thank you for reading! Please be sure to check out the resources below if you’d like to do more reading.
Software Engineer Careers | ComputerScience.org
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