Software Developer vs Software Engineer | Who Is Best For You? (2024)

Software Developer Vs Software Engineer

Have you ever questioned whether software engineering and development are the same thing? These two jobs have different responsibilities, according to the computer science degree hub. So how do you decide whether you need a software developer vs software engineer? 

In this blog, we will clearly explain the difference between software engineers vs developers.

Software developer vs software engineer

Specific computer systems and application software are designed by software developers. Software engineers design, develop, and test entire computer systems and application software for a company or organization on a larger scale—software development is a specific part of the full software engineering lifecycle.

While software engineers apply engineering principles to the database structure and development process, software developers write programs that perform specific functions or sets of functions on a smaller scale.

What does a Software Developer Do?

A software developer is an expert in technology who creates desktop, mobile, web and other types of applications. They are the primary creative force behind program design, execution and actual coding.

Because of the explosion in user, business, and process automation needs, the popularity (and demand) has increased drastically in the last few years. Software developers are typically in charge of the whole development process.

Software engineers modify, create, and debug software for client applications using a variety of source debuggers and visual development environments.

They must write code to create applications that either stand alone or improve access to servers and services, as well as document and test client software.

Top Skills For a Software Developer

Software Developer Top Skills1. Data Structure and Algorithms

One of the most crucial abilities for contemporary software developers is knowledge of data structures and algorithms. The majority of hiring managers are seeking professionals with knowledge of fundamental data structures like an array, linked list, map, and set.

These are the fundamentals that guide application development.

2. GitHub and Git

This hard skill is crucial for software developers because Git and GitHub source code management are used by more than half of all organizations.

3. Using the cloud

Since most businesses choose the cloud to reduce costs and increase scalability, all software developers should be highly skilled in cloud computing. There will be an everincreasing demand for tech professionals with expertise in services like Google Cloud Platform, Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure and similar services.

4. IDEs (like Visual Studio Code)

Software developers should be familiar with source-code editors like Visual Studio Code in addition to programming languages and databases so they can debug, perform code refactoring, and highlight syntax.

5. Learning capacity

Being a software developer requires constant learning and development over the course of a lifetime. It's beneficial to be familiar with several programming languages, but advancement is not always guaranteed, and skills that are useful today may quickly become obsolete. Developers must invest time in improving their skill set every day, critically examine their code, and constantly look for new opportunities if they want to remain in demand. The position, level of experience, and familiarity with particular programming languages and databases will be used to assess the average software developer.

This list is not all-inclusive; to be valued as an expert on the job market, a developer must also have a variety of soft skills and competencies.

How to Test a Software Developer’s Skills?

How to Test a Software Developer’s Skills

Although a software developer's CV can give you a basic understanding of their skills, there are other ways to evaluate and test them.

1. View their portfolio

The first tool that recruiters use to gauge a developer's skill level is a portfolio. Before inviting a candidate to an interview, it is helpful to review their portfolio to learn more about their experience and view their source code.

2. Refer to their GitHub profile

Software developers can brag about their ability to write readable code on GitHub. You should consider details like a developer's number of followers, the date that the developer joined GitHub, and the number of repositories that the developer follows.

3. In life coding or tests

While a candidate is coding, potential employers can observe how they reason and interact, which provides a useful understanding of how a developer applies logic and even performs under time constraints.

software engineer

What does a software engineer do?

A software engineer applies engineering principles to database structure and the development process, or the product life-cycle. An engineer makes sure that a program interacts with the hardware in question in the proper manner. In order to design and create computer software, software engineers use mathematical analysis and the concepts of computer science.

Separation of concerns, modularity, abstraction, readiness for change, generality, incremental development, and consistency are all aspects of engineering principles.

When developing new tools for software, software engineers work on a larger scale than software developers; in contrast, software developers write code using the tools that already exist.

Top Qualifications for Software Engineers

Many software engineers have extensive experience with at least one or two programming languages, but in today's market, they must also be proficient in the majority of current languages in order to remain in high demand.

The list may include, but is not limited to:

  • Computer programming, coding;
  • Software engineering;
  • Object-Oriented Design;
  • Strong interpersonal and communication skills;
  • Problem-solving skills;
  • The ability to work in teams.

How do you test a Software Engineer’s Skills?

There are many tools available to help employers assess a candidate's understanding of the fundamental ideas and concepts of software engineering, including linear data structures, algorithm analysis, and computer science fundamentals.

Since both jobs necessitate a thorough understanding of code, testing a software engineer's abilities is similar to testing a software developer's.

The most well-known ones are Vidcruiter, Codility, CodeSignal, TestGorilla, Coderbyte for Employers, and HackerEarth.

How Do a Software Engineer and a Software Developer Differ Most Significantly?

Although these job titles are occasionally used synonymously, few people are aware of the differences between them in terms of their scope, abilities, and duties.

The primary distinction between the two positions is that software engineers use engineering principles to create computer programs and applications, whereas software developers are the creative force involved in the design and program implementation.

A software engineer in the US makes around $93,000 per year in 2024, while an average software developer makes $77,700 per year [1]. If you want to find more details about software developer vs software engineer salaries check out our article here.

Software engineers typically handle a wider range of tasks. Although most software developers can be considered software engineers, all software engineers are developers to some extent.

Job prospects of each respective field

When assessing the job outlook for each field, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics lumps software designers and software engineers together.

From 2022 to 2032, employment of software developers and software engineers is expected to grow by 25%. On average, 153,900 new job openings for software developers, software engineers, and related positions are expected each year over the next decade [2].

The future looks bright for these career paths, as demand for software developers' and engineers' skills and knowledge grows. As technology advances and the demand for innovative software grows, so does the demand for people who can design, create, build, and implement computer systems and software applications.

Looking to Hire a Software Developer or Engineer?

Do you want to hire a software developer or engineer to work as an in-house member of the team, remote member or even freelance for a temporary project. We suggest Toptal for hiring the Top Talent in software developers and engineers. TopTal is a company that pre vets candidates such that you can be sure that the people who get to work on your project are the best at what they do and can deliver great results, quickly.

Find the top software candidates on Toptal

Software Developer vs Software Engineer FAQs

Who makes more money, software engineers or developers?

A software engineer in the US makes approximately $100,000 per year ($48/hour), while an average software developer makes $85,000 per year ($42/hour). These are average figures but specialised engineers and developers can make more while generalists are likely to make less.

Are developers and software engineers the same thing?

The primary distinction between the two positions is that software engineers use engineering principles to create computer programs and applications, whereas software developers are the creative force involved in design and software program implementation.

Can we call a software developer a software engineer?

While software developers write software using pre-existing tools, software engineers work on a larger scale and develop new tools for software development and its deployment. Although most software developers could be considered software engineers, all software engineers are developers to some extent.

Do software developers write code?

Yes, software developers will typically be involved in writing of code. However, coding is not the only skill required by a software developer. Other soft and hard skills must be balanced well in software developers. In addition to planning, writing, and designing a program's code and design, software developers are also typically responsible for a lot of stakeholder collaboration and ensuring that the software developed is reaching business goals.

Is it better to be a software engineer or a software developer?

This depends on your personal preference. If you enjoy collaborating with others and coming up with novel solutions, you might want to consider a career as a software developer. Software engineering, on the other hand, might be a better fit if you feel more at ease using a variety of engineering principles.

Article Sources:

[1] Payscale - "Software Developer Salary" - as at December 12, 2023

[2] US Bureau of Labor Statistics - Occupational Outlook Handbook : Software Developers as at December 12, 2023

About the Author
Jamie Kavanagh
Jamie, an engineer by education is our primary technical writer and researcher. Jamie also runs Coastal Content, a content marketing, copywriting and web design company based out of Cornwall in the United Kingdom.

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