Software Engineer vs Software Developer

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Software Engineer vs Software Developer

Simran Kaur Arora
Last updated on July 20, 2024

    Software engineer vs. software developer - is one of the most common debate topics in the IT industry. Because both these titles are used interchangeably, many believe they are the same. Nonetheless, they are exciting and rewarding careers.

    Though software engineers and developers share a few of the same skills and duties, they are different roles. Software engineers work on a large scale in an organization to design, develop, test, and deploy software products, i.e., they are involved in software development . Conversely, software developers are not responsible for performing engineering tasks.

    In a nutshell, we can say that software development is a subset of software engineering.

    As engineers and developers are not the same things, it is essential to understand what sets them apart. In this article, we shall discuss the key differences between a software engineer and a software developer to help you identify distinctions.

    So, let us get started with our discussion!

    Who is a Software Engineer?

    An IT expert or specialist known as a software engineer applies software engineering concepts to creating, constructing, testing, deploying, and maintaining software applications. They create high-quality, affordable, and even on-time software solutions to real-world problems using their proficiency with various programming languages.

    Their involvement is seen throughout the software development life cycle (SDLC). This means they are essential in delivering high-quality and high-performing software products to end users. They have the responsibility of overseeing the entire development process.

    Moreover, they are in charge of developing common solutions for many people rather than specialized solutions for a particular customer. Their responsibilities entail all that of developers, testers, and support engineers. Therefore, we can refer to a software engineer as a generic term. To become one, you must have a sound understanding of mathematics and scientific knowledge. You will be tasked with developing applications for commercial, societal, and technical issues.

    If you aspire to become one but don't have an idea where to kick-stack, you can check out: How to Become a Software Engineer?

    Role of a Software Engineer

    • Implementing software engineering principles in designing, developing, testing, and maintaining software applications.
    • Understanding the client’s or end user’s requirements and outlining a well-thought-out plan for developing software products.
    • Focusing on the structural design of applications.
    • Determining, prioritizing, and executing tasks in SDLC.
    • Reviewing and debugging software code.

    Skills of Software Engineers

    • Thorough knowledge of computer science fundamentals, programming languages , and building scalable domain-specific pipelines.
    • Experience developing and maintaining IT architectures and databases.
    • Expertise in debugging systems and automation testing.
    • Sound knowledge of multi-core processors.
    • Resource management.
    • Directing programmers, developers, and other co-workers.
    • Problem-solving, logical thinking, and analytical skills.

    Best Practices for Software Engineers

    • Perform activities in such a way that they should benefit both the clients and the organization.
    • Verify that the software products and modifications to them comply with the organizational and professional standards and customers’ requirements.
    • Maintain independence and authenticity in their professional endeavors.
    • Encourage the use of ethical software development and maintenance strategies.
    • Cooperative with co-workers.

    Challenges of Software Engineers

    • Software failure is one of the biggest challenges. This is because, in the case of areas where safety matters the most, such as nuclear plants, the cost of failure can be risky and highly expensive.
    • Increased market demands or clients' requirements.
    • Dealing with complex applications that have changing requirements.

    Who is a Software Developer?

    A software developer is an IT professional in charge of developing all sorts of computer programs that run on various platforms. They bring ideas to life in the form of software products. With their ideas, knowledge, and expertise, they concentrate on the implementation or coding phase of SDLC. They are in charge of writing code from scratch for any software solution.

    If we consider a software engineer an architect, we can consider a software developer a carpenter.

    To complete the project, software developers must collaborate with many other professionals, such as graphic designers, engineers, product managers, senior managers, customer representatives, and other team members.

    Once they gain enough experience working in the industry, they advance their careers and the scope of their responsibilities by becoming software engineers.

    So, we can state that every software engineer is a software developer, but vice versa is not possible.

    Check out: How to Become a Software Developer?

    Role of a Software Developer

    • Writing clean and efficient code for developing software applications on various platforms.
    • Develop code from the group for various types of applications, including desktop, web, and mobile applications.
    • Determine the areas of a software application that needs improvement and make the modifications accordingly.
    • Collaborate with other team members, graphics designers, software engineers, and product managers to develop high-quality end products.

    Skills of Software Developers

    • Sound knowledge of data structures and algorithms.
    • In-depth knowledge of various technology stacks and top programming languages , such as Python, Java, C, C++, etc.
    • Hands-on experience with web development technologies, such as JavaScript and jQuery, and frameworks, such as Angular and React.
    • Creating responsive web designs, websites, and web applications.
    • The ability to write clean and maintainable code.
    • Excellent communication and teamwork skills.
    • A good grasp of agile methodology and test-driven development.

    Best Practices for Software Developers

    • Determine how your code impacts your organization's success.
    • When creating software applications, leverage the best coding practices .
    • Make a plan for your daily coding activities.
    • Outline a strategy to quickly and efficiently accomplish your current project task.
    • Start with the project's most challenging component.

    Challenges of Software Developers

    • Unclear or ambiguous user requirements.
    • Software applications that are challenging to maintain and extend.
    • Changing user requirements.
    • Identification of flaws in a project at later stages of the development process.
    • Working on models that don't go well together.

    Software Engineer vs Software Developer - What Sets them Apart?

    Real-Life Example to Explain the Difference between Software Engineer vs Software Developer

    Let us take an example of a restaurant and a chef. A chef cooks delicious food by understanding the customer’s taste. He or she will leverage a creative approach to cooking delicious food that should meet the customer’s taste. Similarly, a developer follows the same creative approach and leverages skills and tools to develop software products that meet quality standards and customers’ expectations.

    Now let us say 4 restaurants are running under a single kitchen. The head chef of the kitchen is in charge of delivering the same quality of food to customers in all 4 restaurants. He or she is responsible for managing the customers of all 4 restaurants.

    Similarly, engineers in organizations are in charge of managing developers and pushing them toward accomplishing their tasks.

    From the above example, we can conclude that engineers work on a large scale, while developers are specific.

    Head-to-Head Comparison Between Software Engineer vs Software Developer

    Key Differences

    • A software engineer is a professional who employs software engineering principles throughout the phases of SDLC, whereas a software developer is a specialist who develops software applications that run across different platforms.
    • Software engineers involve themselves in all the SDLC phases, while software developers are limited to the development work, which is part of SDLC.
    • While software engineers build various development tools, software developers leverage those tools for the development work.
    • Software engineers perform a team activity, and software developers execute the solitary activity.

    The following table highlights all the key differences between a software engineer and a software developer:


    Software Engineer

    Software Developer


    Has the responsibility of supervising the entire software development process.

    Manages the development task and not the entire development process.

    Process of Work

    Monitors the entire development of an application and integrates various features so that the application runs smoothly.

    Writes the code for an application from scratch and makes it work.

    Working Approach

    Various software engineers can collaborate to develop a fully-fledged system.

    The work of a software developer is more individualized.

    Type of Activity

    Carries out the team activity.

    Performs solitary activity.

    Working Style

    Solves issues on a large scale, i.e., they provide solutions to the common problem of a large number of people.

    Solves issues associated with the implementation (development) phase of SDLC only.


    Performs all tasks of developers, testers, and support engineers. Therefore, they use various types of tools, including testing, debugging, development, etc.

    Leverages tools that are specific to the development purpose.

    Career Path

    • Software engineer
    • Principal software engineer
    • Lead software development engineer
    • Software architect
    • Developer

    Software Engineer vs Software Developer - Average Salaries in Different Countries

    Let us now shed light on the average salaries of software engineers and software developers in different countries.

    Software Engineer Salary

    The following table shows the average annual salary of software engineers in different countries:


    Salary Per Annum


    INR 6.8L

    United States


    The United Kingdom










    Software Developer Salary

    Here is an insight into the average annual salary of software developers in different countries :


    Salary Per Annum


    INR 5.4L

    United States


    The United Kingdom










    Software Engineer vs Software Developer - Which is the Right Track?

    Both the job roles, software engineers and developers, are among the highest-paying IT jobs in the world. They have a few traits in common, including the ability to solve problems, curiosity, creativity, logical thinking, and a desire to learn new things. However, engineers work on a wide scale, whereas developers have jobs that are only related to development.

    Although software engineers are involved in the development work, software developers are not tasked with performing engineering activities. As a result, software development is the subset of software engineering.

    You can kick-start your career as a software developer, gain a few years of experience developing software products, develop new expertise, and then move on to becoming a software engineer.


    Here we have approached the end of our discussion on the difference between a software engineer and a software developer. Despite the fact that each of these job titles shares some responsibilities and requires some similar skills, they are distinct from one another. While software developers’ job is specific to the development work, software engineers play a crucial role in all the phases of the software development process.

    Hopefully, you might have gained enough clarity on how a software engineer and a software developer differ from each other.

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    Although the phrases software engineers and software developers are often used interchangeably, they differ in some ways. Software developers are solely active in the development work, one of the phases of the SDLC, but software engineers play a crucial part in all of the SDLC phases.

    Software engineers are assigned some tasks that testers, support engineers, and developers are responsible for because their position is engaged throughout the development process. Therefore, Software engineers make higher money than software developers.

    You can opt for a software developer role if you are more focused on the development and coding stuff. If you like to get exposure to the complete software development life cycle, software engineering would be a good choice for you.

    Some of the few most required qualities to become a software engineer are the ability and eagerness to learn and adapt to new things, in-depth knowledge of full-stack, time management, business acumen, and interpersonal skills.

    The essential qualities you require to become a software developer are knowledge of the state-of-art tech stacks, problem-solving skills, desire to learn new technologies, teamwork, and interpersonal skills.

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