Software Engineer vs Software Developer: What’s the difference?

November 17,2020 - 8 min read
Software developer vs software engineer: What's the difference?

Software engineer and software developers are probably the most popular profiles in the IT industry. In today’s blog we are going to discuss software engineer vs software developer: what’s the difference? From skills required to daily work, Software engineer vs Software developer are distinct in various aspects. It is important to understand the difference between the two profiles in order to make a career or even comprehend the IT industry better.

Software engineers and software developers are industry profiles and hence there isn't a defined official distinction between the roles because each company has descriptions that suit their needs. However, it is not to say that software engineers and software developers refers to the same profile. This blog is an earnest effort towards distinguishing between software developer and software engineer through a variety of data sources.

It is a common perception that a Developer tends to work individually whereas a software engineer is part of a larger team. This perception is not incorrect, however, it’s not complete. Before beginning, if you are interested in programming and engineering, you may want to look at this blog where we have listed some of the top programming languages that are used in the IT industry. Let’s dig into details now and understand in depth the software engineer vs software developer: what’s the difference?

Software Engineer vs Software Developer

The field of software engineering is all about the engineering principles that are required to create a software. Software engineers basically connect the client’s needs with applicable technology solutions through a defined process. Software engineering basically use engineering concepts, processes and solutions to develop software.

On the other hand, software developers are responsible for the entire development process of a software or an application. Software developers collaborate with the client, understand their need and create a theoretical design. After a design prototype has been made, computer programmers create the code needed to translate the theory into computer language. Computer programmers and software developers work in collaboration to test and fix problems of a software. Software developers are basically project leaders who provide technical guidance at every stage of the software development life cycle.

This was a brief distinction between software Developer and software Engineer which makes it quite clear that these two terms are not interchangeable. It’s time we explore the difference in more detail and understand the roles, skills and work of software engineers and software developers in practise.


According to basic definition, software engineer applies the principles of software engineering to the design, development, maintenance, testing, and evaluation of a software according to client’s need. A Software Engineer not only builds a fully functioning application but also makes it in a way that is easy to refactor, document and as a result it is easier to debug.

A software engineer has a diverse profile as they play an active role as a leader, consultant and individual contributor on various projects assigned to them. The typical work of a software engineer includes giving analytical advice in identifying and implementing new IT uses in order to help clients and hence the company reach strategic objectives. A Software Engineer role will typically involve researching, designing, developing and testing their software. They also modify existing software by resolving defects generally by adopting new hardware or improving existing performance. Other roles include analysing the user needs and assessing software requirement. They also consult with customers regarding specification and design and coordinate the deployment and installation system software.

Skills of a Software Engineer

Here are few skills that Software Engineers are expected to have:

  1. Technical Knowledge

    Fundamental concepts of technology and software development is necessary along with the experience of working on a wide range of projects.

  2. Automation Tools

    Software engineers must be proficient in a number of automation tools to boost productivity in development process. Some of the automation tools for testing are gherkin, Cucumber etc.

  3. Maintenance

    It is important for software engineers to know how to create and maintain IT architecture, large-scale data stores, and cloud-based systems.

  4. Team worker

    Software engineers should be good team workers. However, they shall also be able to work effectively by themselves and also virtually with remote teams.

  5. Complex Working

    Software engineers and especially the ones on a seniority position must oversee complex systems analysis, design and development programs for a smooth functioning.


An ideal software developer is an amalgamation of creative and technical knowledge as he is responsible for developing the code and also for coming up with innovative ideas for improvements in the current system by working closely with analysts, end users, marketers, and designers. Software Developers are also responsible for testing the software before it goes in the hands of the end users. They are required to solve bugs and increase the operating efficiency of the software. Scrum and Kanban are one of the most popular development lifecycle methodologies that software developers use in order to produce a software as the end result. Software developers are expected to continuously monitor the changes they make in the software to ensure high quality and consistency. Software developers do not have one particular work rather they consequently shift between assigned work, manage deadlines, and make schedules to deliver the end product efficiently and timely.

Skills of a Software developers

Here are some of the skills that a software developer must posses in order to make a name for yourself in the IT industry.

  1. Analytical Skills

    Software developers should have excellent analytical skills because they are expected to continuously compare needs with software capabilities.

  2. Technical Knowledge

    Software developers must be proficient with computer languages such as Java, C#, C++, python etc and programming concepts in order to develop software.

  3. Open Source Tools

    It is necessary for software developers to be experienced with using open source tools such as GitHub.

  4. Communication Skills

    Communication is an important skill to have in any profession hence it is important for software engineers to have good communication skills.

  5. Attention to Details

    Software development is a very extensive process and hence it is important to be detail orientated as this will help them manage simultaneous projects at different development stages.

  6. Understanding the Logic

    It is not necessary or even possible to know every computing language however it is important to understand the logic of code of the software even in languages they unfamiliar with.

Software Engineer vs Software Developer: Understanding the Difference.

If the above definitions of software engineer and software developer, here are some real-life examples that are going to make the difference between software developers and software engineers easy to understand.

The first example is straight from the market. Imagine a shopkeeper as a developer who has to sell in-demand as well as qualitative products and items according to the taste and preferences of his customers. The main work of the shopkeeper would be to use an approach that is creative and efficient and helps the shopkeeper to sell as many products possible using resources that suit his customer taste. A software developer does the same thing to deliver high-quality software by understanding the expectation of his customer using available software tools or resources.

In order to understand the role of a software engineer, consider a market where three shops are running parallelly but are dependent on a single shop or a shopkeeper. Imagine the head shopkeeper of that single shop to be a software engineer. This shopkeeper has the responsibility to deliver and sell products of same quality in each shop similar to a shopkeeper running a single shop. So, the head shopkeeper is responsible for managing all the shops without compromising the quality of products in any one of the shops. This is precisely the role of a software engineer to coordinate multiple projects and deliver the same kind of quality.

Software Engineer vs Software Developer: A Summary.

We are sure that by now, you understand the difference between a software engineer and software developer. To summarise, a developer is mainly focused on developing code that is a part of the entire software development cycle that is required to develop a software according to the needs of the client. On the other hand, a software engineer designs and plans by applying the principles of engineering and programming to the entire process of software development. A software engineer can interchange with a software developer’s role, but a software engineer is focused on the architecture. Software Developers and software engineers often switch between the two roles depending on the project requirements and the demands of the client. The main difference between software engineering and software development is that software development oversees the engineering while the former focuses on creating functional programs that are a part of the complete software.

If you know a small amount of programming concept then you have the foundation to become Software Developer because the main responsibility is to write code without any performance and scalability analysis as that is completed by the Software Engineer and hence making that role different from that of a Software Developer.

With this, we come to an of our blog where we discussed Software Engineer vs Software Developer: What’s the difference? The blog has been earnest effort towards making the difference between software engineer and software developer easy to understand. If there is any doubt or some point that you think should be include, please feel free to contact!

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