A Detailed Comparison between Software Engineer and Software Developer

Ever thought Software Engineer and Software Developer are the same? If your answer is YES, then you might be WRONG, theoretically. The truth is, engineers and developers are so clearly distinct in term of their job requirements and experiences. So what is the difference between software engineer and software developer? You’re in the right place and reading the right guide!

What you can learn from this article?

  • What is Software Engineer and Software Developer? How is the market demand for these professions?
  • Explain the similarities and differences between the two terms.
  • How to choose which job suits you?

Now, before moving on to the next part, we should define them accurately.

1. Definition of Software Engineer and Software Development

Although Software Engineer and Software Developer are sometimes used interchangeably, they are actually quite distinct.

1.1. What is a Software Engineer?

What is a Software Engineer? | Savvycom

“Software engineering is a field of engineering, for designing and writing programs for computers or other electronic devices. A software engineer, or programmer, writes software (or changes existing software) and compiles software using methods that improve it. Better quality software is easier to use. Better documentation helps other people understand and maintain it and add new features. Becoming a software engineer requires experience and practice writing code. Software engineering may be very difficult work. It may be repeated during the software release life cycle.” Wikipedia

Without a doubt, a software engineer’s job is not limited to solely coding, but he is also the one who knows about engineering, why and how it is related to software creation, and then applies engineering principles to software design.

1.2. What is a Software Developer?

What is a Software Developer? | Savvycom
“A software developer is a company or person that creates software – either completely, or with other companies or people. The phrase ‘software development’ often means more than just designing or writing the software, it usually means someone who manages the project, or does only the main things. Most software developers are still led by a lead programmer (a software engineer that guides the project).”Wikipedia

Software developers write codes most of the time as coders or programmers do. They also are generalists who can work on a variety of other tasks in the software development process. With a variety of systems and coding languages, they can put all those things together to fulfil all the requirements.

1.3. Prospective demand for Software Developers and Software Engineers

Demand for both software developers and software engineers is on the rise. A survey conducted by leading job portal Hired revealed the nine most sought-after engineering jobs in the US, with the year-over-year increase in demand ranging from 4 per-cent to a mind-blowing 517 per-cent.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of software developers is predicted to grow 24 per cent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. Although the BLS does not make any distinction between software developers and software engineers, it does draw a line between software developers and computer programmers, projecting that the demand for the latter will decline 7 per cent over the same period of 2016-2026.

Software professionals with specialised, comprehensive knowledge are expected to relish brighter job prospects than those whose expertise is limited to programming.

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2. Comparison between Engineers vs Developers

Difference Between Software Engineer And Software Developer | Savvycom -2
Still, have problems telling software engineer and software developer apart? Don’t worry, ‘cause we’re here to clear up any confusion you may have about these two.
In this part, Savvycom will provide answers to these following questions:

  • What are the similarities between Software Engineer and Software Developer?
  • What are the differences?
  • BONUS: Frequently Asked Question

2.1. The similarities

There is no clear textbook differentiation between the two concepts. However, despite not being the same, software developer and software engineer are very much interrelated and in fact, share some similarities. Software engineers and software developers both refer to those who write software for a living.
They all need knowledge and skills in IT and algorithms and then mix all those together to create efficient, smooth-running software. They also should be, more or less, able to work as part of a team, as IT systems are usually something too sophisticated for just a single person to deal with.

READ MORE: App Pricing: How Much Does An App Cost?

2.2. The differences

Let’s now take a look at the subtle yet significant differences between these positions based on some major criteria:

a/ Job function

difference between software engineer and software developer

The difference between software engineers and developers when you look right into the basic descriptions and job functions of their jobs | Source: Cambrian Training.

Software Engineers:

  • They apply engineering principles to develop software. They work towards viable technology solutions to their clients’ problems. As they design their solution, any plans that they devise must be backed up with empirical evidence to prove that those are applicable to the real world.
  • Engineers participate in the entire life cycle of software development, overseeing processes from analysing, designing to developing programs. They take the lead on software development projects, give consultancy to clients and manage development tasks, making sure that the whole process is well-coordinated.

Software Developers:

  • On the other hand, work to turn solutions into reality and focus primarily on the development project as a part of the whole software development life cycle. While they also partake in software creation, they have more freedom when it comes to developing their software product; that is, they are not required to prove the feasibility of their solution with empirical evidence.
  • Comparatively speaking, software engineers are the ones who see the bigger picture, being responsible for the entire development life cycle, whereas software developers focus their talents on the implementation details of development without the need to tie themselves to engineering principles and manage the big picture.

b/ Job description

Job description | Software Developers | Savvycom

As the two terms are oftentimes used interchangeably, confusion easily arises as to how each role differs and which tasks are involved. When in doubt, it’s best to take a closer look at the job description of each position.

Software Engineer Job Duties:

  • Identify issues and common patterns to enhance system quality, and develop standard operating procedures
  • Improve existing applications by looking for enhancement opportunities and making further recommendations
  • Provide ongoing maintenance and support for codebases and peer review code changes
  • Work alongside colleagues to implement technical designs
  • Investigate and employ new technologies where relevant
  • Provide written knowledge transfer material
READ MORE: Top 10 Software Development Companies In Vietnam

Software Developer Job Duties:

  • Research, design, implement and manage software programs
  • Test and evaluate new programs
  • Identify areas for modification in existing programs and subsequently develop these modifications
  • Determine operational feasibility
  • Develop and conduct quality assurance procedures
  • Maintain and upgrade existing systems
  • Training users and collaborate with other developers, UX designers, business and systems analysts

Generally speaking, software engineering refers to applying engineering principles to give clients technology solutions and to create software to fulfil their requirements. Meanwhile, the job of software developers offers plenty of scope for creativity when developers take responsibility for the entire software development process. They create a theoretical design, write codes then test and fix bugs to ensure the software runs smoothly.

c/ Qualifications and skills required

Qualifications and skills required | Software Developers | Savvycom
Software Engineers:

Qualifications are more challenging for software engineers, as they need to have at least a bachelor or a master degree in Software Engineering, Computer Science, Mathematics or related fields. A degree in Engineering is highly essential for those who wish to enter this field. Other qualities and skills include:

  • A passion for solving problems and providing workable solutions
  • Knowledge of algorithms and data structures
  • Strong analytical and reasoning skills with an ability to visualise processes and outcomes
  • Proficiency in troubleshooting software issues and debugging a large codebase
  • Outstanding all-round communication skills and ability to work collaboratively
  • Experience creating and maintaining IT architectures and databases
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Pattern design and experience with cloud-based infrastructure
  • Embedded development/debugging experience
  • Experience on multi-core CPU or SMP
  • Knowledge of multiple programming languages including C/C++

Software Developers:

If you want to become a software developer, you will have a number of degree options to choose from. The most highlighted degrees are in such subjects as Software Programming Development, Computer Science, Software Engineering, Mathematics, Electronics or Physics. A development degree course can either be at the associate’s or the bachelor’s level. Other qualities and skills include:

  • Knowledge and interest in computer systems and the latest technologies
  • Commercial and business awareness
  • Good communication skills – both written and verbal
  • Attention to detail and desire to probe further into data
  • Able to write clean, maintainable code
  • Expertise in Javascript, ReactJS, AngularJS, jQuery
  • Experience building the front end of applications with ES2015+, NodeJS, jQuery, HTML5, and CSS3
  • Experience in front-end tooling and workflows with Git, Grunt/Gulp
  • Experience in responsive web design
  • Understanding of cross-browser compatibility
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d/ Salary

Salary | Savvycom | Software Developers

If job requirements and responsibilities still have yet to clearly distinguish a software engineer from a software developer, then their salary should be a relevant differentiator. According to Payscale research, as of June 2019, the average salary of a software engineer in the US is $83,681, whilst a software developer makes an average of $70,388 per year.

In terms of pay by experience, an early career Software Engineer with 1-4 years of experience earns an average total compensation of $80,381, compared with $67,214 of a software developer. For 5 to 9 years of experience, it’s $91,019 versus $80,178.

It appears that at any point of experience, the salary of a software engineer is around $11,000-$12,000 higher than that of a software developer.

3. FAQs: Software Engineer and Software Developer

3.1. Software Engineer vs Software Developer: Which is better?

The answer to this question is highly arbitrary, considering the important differences between these two. Neither of the positions is inherently better than the other. But one can have a preference as to which role to take, based on their own description of themselves.

If one describes himself as a creative individual who is able to logically solve problems, then he is more likely to fall into the “developer” category. If he, on the other hand, has engineering fundamentals which he uses to address large-scale problems, he probably would want to call himself an engineer.

READ MORE: The Essential Guide To Software Development Services

3.2. Can a software developer become a software engineer?

A software engineer’s job involves software development, but not all software developers can be software engineers. Software developers, however, CAN become software engineers.

As they gain more and more experience, software developers may start to take on such responsibilities of an engineer as managing system-scale analysis, design and development and creating parts of the IT architecture, and subsequently advancing to the next level.

3.3. Is it difficult to be a software developer?

But that won’t be enough, as you can’t completely rely on what you learn in college to become a developer. You will have to expand your knowledge and skills and gain experience mostly on your own. College can also be extremely expensive, so let’s move on to the cheaper options: joining Coding Bootcamps or teaching yourself.

The former still requires you to fulfil lots of background knowledge yourself, the latter might cause you to struggle with all the planning and keeping track with your own plan, and both require a tremendous amount of self-motivation and dedication.

  • Whichever way you choose, it seems that becoming a developer is no easy task. Even when you’ve become a developer, chances are that you will still have to face some hard truths.
  • Apart from the technical skills, you need to be good at communicating and teamworking. There will be times when you have to present your ideas to your co-workers and decision-makers, telling them how brilliant your solutions are.
  • You also need to work in teams, and conflicts might arise, in which case requires you to be a good team player. These sound like bad news to introverts. In addition, being a developer is intellectually challenging and mentally taxing, but there can also be boring tasks from time to time, especially when you’re not yet a senior or a mature developer.

Now we’ll leave it up to you to decide. At the end of the day, it all comes down to your approach to the problem. Make sure to never stop learning new things and look for opportunities to challenge yourself.

4. Conclusion

As the world is more in demand for computer software than ever, software engineer and software developer will continue to be among the most sought-after professions. Differences between Software Engineer and Software Developer: 4 Top Takeaways

  • Developers mainly focus on development and implementation details, software engineers have a fundamental grounding in engineering principles, and they deal with the big picture of the whole software development life cycle.
  • It appears that at any point of experience, the salary of a software engineer is higher than that of a software developer.
  • Not all software developers have the knowledge and skills to manage an entire system as do software engineers.
  • Software developers can become software engineers by gaining experience and expanding their scope of responsibilities.

difference between software engineer and software developer

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People are the most important and valuable asset at Savvycom. Since establishment, we have already foreseen this trend and hence work intensively on recruitment and training in order to build up a dream team of software engineers. Under directions and ideas from clients, we propose technical solutions, maximize user experience, optimize user’s functional flow in order to achieve the finest results.

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Differences between QA and QC in Software Testing

In software testing, perhaps two of the most seemingly similar terms that confuse us are quality assurance (QA) and quality control (QC).

Understand the differences between QA and QC in software testing

Yes, the two terms share many similarities and not just the word “quality” (sometimes they are even used interchangeably). But the differences between them are not too difficult to notice.

Software testing, QA definition, QC definition

Differences between QA and QC in Software Testing

So what are the differences between QA and QC in software testing? Savvycom breaks it down in the categories below:

1. By definition

First it is important to note that both QA and QC are part of quality management. The difference in definition, however, lies in the official description of each term by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO):

  • Quality Assurance (QA): Part of quality management. It focuses on providing confidence that quality requirements will be fulfilled.
  • Quality Control (QC): Part of quality management focused on fulfilling quality requirements.

2. By purpose

While the above definitions may sound confusing at first, we can explain in what QA and QC try to achieve to better understand the differences between QA and QC in software testing:

  • QA deals a lot more with the “process”. It ensures quality and develops defect preventionmeasures during the development phase of software. The act of “providing confidence” – as part of QA – often begins very early into software development phase. QA then fulfill software qualities in the future.
  • On the other hand, QC focuses a lot more on the software itself after producing it. This means that QC heavily leans towards defect identification post-production. QC does not focus on prevention at an earlier stage of development. Therefore, QC requires constant inspection and examination of the software. It aims to identify issues to ensure post-production quality before releasing to customers.

We can also draw from the above understanding: QA is a proactive process, in which it anticipates defects before they occur; QC is a reactive process which respond to defects only after completion of software.

3. By capabilities

Another way to understand the differences between QA and QC in software testing is looking at what they do.

  • QA is pretty much a prevention system that predicts everything that can possibly go wrong with software (bugs, malwares, etc.) before and during development and sets up criteria for the software to determine its status before letting it reach the other stages of the development phase.
  • QC is similar to a policeman; a detection system that searches for software flaws after successful development, primarily by the means of testing it to ensure that it meets the criteria before reaching the hands of customers.

4. By responsibility

The group of people who carry out assurance and control activities are also one of the key differences between QA and QC in software testing. Most of the time, QA and QC have specific people assigned to them as following:

  • QA is normally conducted by project managers, the software development team, customers themselves, and sometimes by third-party examiners. Or simply put, QA involves the efforts of everyone assigned to developing the software.
  • QC is mostly executed by a special team of people whose primary duty is to test the finished software. The QC department holds critical importance in that they test the software to identify and correct defects, in the process helping to polish and perfect it to deliver a satisfying customer experience later on, as it is very important to not let customers suffer from unchecked bugs after launching the software.

Regardless of the above differences between QA and QC in software testing, it is suffice to say that they hold equal importance to quality management of software. A QA/QC program usually serves as a Quality Management System (QMS), which software development companies utilize to save costs, time, and mitigate risks that may occur with their products.

5. Benefits of QA/QC

QA/QC, once performed together in software development, brings out many benefits for the development company, including:

  • Satisfying clients with the final results of software, which increases a company’s reputation on the market. This also means the company will potentially have long-term strategic partners.
  • Removing the excess time and costs for continually checking and fixing the software to deliver solutions. A carefully planned QA/QC strategy means that companies can always be confident of quality, avoiding unnecessary defects that occur when rushing the development to meet deadlines without proper evaluation.
  • Monetary rewards for the company, since QA/QC helps to deliver the best quality of software, it also means customers are more likely to engage in future projects and refer to new potential partners, especially in the IT outsourcing world.
  • The adoption of strict QA/QC strategies and plans when developing software gives a company’s software development team a sense of professionalism, perfectionism and more motivations to work more efficiently.

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Web Designer vs Web Developer: A Straightforward Comparison

Web designer vs web developer and their roles today are sometimes overlapped, but regardless of who is more important, both of them are the lifeblood of the World Wide Web.

Websites are increasingly becoming more interactive and visually mesmerizing, but to say this is because of the efforts of designers or developers will be an overstatement. To better understand the roles of these two groups of people, we compare them in details below.

1. Front-line development and back-line development

First, we need to understand that both web designer vs developer joins hands in the development of a website. A designer is dealing with the “front-end” of a web; a developer, on the other hand, deals with the “back-end”.

The “front-end”, or “designers” as they are known, focus primarily on the visuals and overall look of websites. They are the architects as opposed to the developers being the builders. They are intrigued with graphics, appearance and colours. Generally, they hold the view that making something work and ensuring that it is enjoyable to use is the most important factor to make a successful website.

Web designer vs web developer: A straightforward comparison

Web designer vs web developer: A straightforward comparison

They are always energetic people who are always on the creative side, always looking for new ideas and features. They are not afraid to experiment or change when it comes to artistic perfection. The importance of visuals has increased drastically with the advent of smartphones and tablets. In addition, when the world moves closer toward portability and convenience, web design trends follow those two principles as well.

On the other hand, the “back-end” development of a website refers to the developers themselves, who most of the time are more concerned with the inner workings of a website. They use more advanced programming skills to create interactions for the site (e.g. E-Commerce shopping carts on online retail stores), write codes that link users with the web’s databases, etc.
Web designer vs web developerThe developers provide the “skeleton” for a website on which designers can later work on to add organs, skins and muscles to make the site visually appealing. They lay down the foundations and create user interface (UI). Then working together with web designers to build on such foundations and achieve a final product.

2. Visual programming and functional programming

To further distinguish between web designer vs web developer, we need to take a look at the tools and methods they use to do their work.

Web designers deal more with customer-facing and “front-end” operations of a website. So, they technically are frequently familiar with HTML, CSS and JavaScript – the three pillar technologies of the World Wide Web to create contents and visuals for a website. Not only that, but they usually are also familiar with Adobe’s visual products such as Photoshop, Lightroom, Illustrator. These technologies enable them to be experts in graphic design, visual programming and colour scheme.

Web designer vs web developer

Web developers, however, since their primary work revolves around the “back-end”, inner workings of a website, they are more familiar with programming languages such as C, Python, .NET, PHP. They utilize these languages to develop UI, shortcuts, site buttons, site options, site functions, applications and more. Instead of programming for visuals, they program for functions and interface most of the time, but they still need to cooperate a lot with designers to make a good website.

3. Left brain and right brain

Another way of comparison is by defining them as left-brained or right-brained. Web designers, being in charge of visuals, artistic visions, looks and feel, are mostly right-brained individuals.

They have a very strong intuition, as their minds are always bursting with ideas. They are leaned towards creativity and imagination. And approach web issues in a non-linear manner and are experts in designing UX. There are no boundaries for their imagination, and they can offer reliable visual solutions quickly.

Web developers, however, are logic, linear and purely technical most of the time. Since their responsible is user interface creator, they can be considered perfectionists when it comes down to technical details and are obviously left-brained. They sometimes consider themselves as lacking artistic talent, but the truth is many people today like to blur the lines and handle both roles in web development.

4. Education and skill requirements of a web designer vs web developer:

For web designers, it is usually their portfolios that speak louder than their educational achievements. Portfolios highlight their past work more than university degrees, and it shows not only a person’s achievements but also their abilities to help employers identify the right candidates for jobs.

Web designer vs web developer

Web designer vs web developer

For web developers, things are quite different. Normally it is crucial for a developer to obtain a Bachelor’s degree or Master’s degree. They must have firsthand coding experience by creating some work of their own and submit to the recruiter later on. Web developers must always collaborate with application requirements from other partners and customers alike and work together with web designers since these two people must co-exist. A website is unusable without any of them.

In conclusion, whether the roles of web designer vs web developer overlap or are different to an extent, we can see that they must co-exist since, without either of them, a website can cease to exist. As mentioned earlier, to emphasize the role of which is better than the other is an overstatement. Therefore, it is important to take into account and recognize the talents of both web designer vs web developer alike and prevent confusion between the two of them.

Here is The Web infographic Story is about Web developers vs web designers:

Web Designer vs Web Developer: A Straightforward Comparison Infographic

Gender Split of developers

The Anatomy of an Effective Web Design

The Anatomy of an Effective Web Design

The Anatomy of Web Designers

The Anatomy of Web Designers


Web Designers vs Developers – Another difference

David Nguyen – Savvycom Blog


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