Difference between a software engineer, a programmer and a developer

Difference between a software engineer, a programmer and a developer

Software engineer, developer, and programmer, these words are not unknown for many people whether they attached with tech field or not. But most of the non-technical person define these words as the same, They don't find any differences between Software Engineer and Programmer. So, the question is, are these professional fields same or do we find the differences between them as a technical person?

Let’s find out the answer to the above question, clear the concept of a software engineer, a developer, and a programmer.

Software engineers, programmers, and developers have almost similar training, earn comparable salaries and work in similar environments. Software engineers and software developers are computer programming experts who help make software for people to use. Software engineers and software programmers may both be involved with writing code so that a software will function properly. They either work on the software programs that make applications run properly, or they work on the code for different types of operating systems, such as Windows. Software engineers and developers design new applications, and programmers write the code that allows the programs to function properly.

So, to whom we call Software Engineer?

A software engineer is supposed to be a person who develops software according to a formalized and structured process, spending more time on planning, analysis, design, documentation, and maintenance than actual coding. In reality, most companies call their programmers “software engineers” because management does not know any better.

Who is Software Developer?

Software developers are responsible for ensuring that computers have functional operating systems that allow people to use programs on their computers. Some may also oversee programmers writing the code that determines how applications, such as web browsers, will function. To prepare for this career it's necessary to earn a bachelor's degree, and aspiring software developers most commonly study computer science or computer programming.

Whom called Computer Programmer?

"Programmer" is an old term and typically refers to somebody who's simply told what to do and programs it, means somebody who not very experienced. Programmers tend not to have extensive degrees and credentials. They trained in programming at college will have much more hands-on, applied experience and will understand different programming languages and how to use them. Computer Programmer will be better suited for a job where they are writing code to perform a task. Computer programmers write code to create software programs. They turn the program designs created by software developers and engineers into instructions that a computer can follow.

Within the IT world, there are major dissimilarities between Software Engineering, Programming and Software Development. Let’s look at them -

  • The difference between software engineering and software development begins with job function. A software engineer may be involved with software development, but few software developers are engineers.

  • Computer programmers take the basic designs of software engineers and turn them into reality by writing computer code that makes applications and operating systems function.

  • Software engineers design plans for programs that don't exist or modify existing software to improve how it functions. And the other side, software developers may specialize in developing software for applications or developing computer operating systems. Programmers often specialize in one type of computer programming.

  • Software engineers focus on developing programs that people use on computers. In contrast, software developers are typically classified as applications software developers or systems software developers.

  • Software engineering means using engineering concepts to develop software. And software developers are the driving creative force behind programs. Programmers work with a variety of computer languages, such as Java, C++, Lua, and Python.

  • Software engineers participate in the software development lifecycle through connecting the client’s needs with applicable technology solutions. Software developers are the ones who collaborate with the client to create a theoretical design.

  • Software engineers systematically develop processes to provide specific functions. Software developers are responsible for the entire development process.

  • Computer programmers create the code needed to run the software properly. Computer programmers will test and fix problems together with software developers.

  • Software engineers are expected to have technical expertise, demonstrable personal accomplishments, and experience with using open source tools and projects. And software developers must have excellent analytical skills because they will be required to continually compare needs with software capabilities. They must be familiar with computer languages in order to effectively work with computer programs.

  • Software engineers should be proficient with pattern design, automated testing, and fault-tolerant systems. They should know how to create and maintain IT architecture, large-scale data stores, and cloud-based systems. And the other hand, Software developers must continually monitor project updates and reported defects in order to manage necessary modifications. They must constantly shift gears between assigned projects, deadlines, and schedules. Programmers can update or expand existing code and debug programs to find and fix errors. They also use existing code and computer-assisted software engineering to make their jobs easier.

  • Software engineers should also be familiar with how to build scalable data pipelines and scalable domain-specific languages. They must be able to work effectively by themselves and with remote teams. In contrast, software developers must conduct experimental software runs to ensure quality and consistency. They must have an eye for perfection in order to properly direct repairs and revisions of programs designed to increase operating efficiency. Tools programmers write algorithms that make the work of other programs much easier.

  • Programming and development is primarily a personal activity, but Software engineering is essentially a team activity.

  • The job growth rate of programmers is about 15%, for developers 20%, whereas it is estimated to be 30% for software engineers.

  • In 2017, software engineers earned a mean $53.74 per hour or $111,780 per year, developers earned $49.30 an hour and $102,550 a year, and computer programmers earned a mean $42.08 per hour or $87,530 per year.


Since there are a lot of similarities between what software developers and software engineers do, so those who are interested in either profession may also want to explore what computer programmers or video game programmers do. Hardware design engineers build the physical components which used in computers. Software developers and engineers create and design, computer programmers use the designs and write code so that the programs will work.

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