Software Engineer vs Software Developer

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Software Engineer vs Software Developer

Simran Kaur Arora
Last updated on October 14, 2022

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

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

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

    As software engineers and software 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 is in charge of applying software engineering concepts to the creation, construction, testing, deployment, and maintenance of software applications. They create high-quality, affordable, and even on-time software solutions to any real-world problem using software engineering concepts and their proficiency with various programming languages.

    The entire software development life cycle (SDLC) includes the involvement of software engineers. This means that they are essential in ensuring the delivery of high-quality and high-performing software products to end users by applying software engineering concepts in all the phases of SDLC. They have the responsibility of overseeing the entire software development process.

    As a software engineer, you must have a sound knowledge of mathematics and well as scientific knowledge. You will be tasked with developing software applications for commercial, societal, and technical issues.

    Moreover, software engineers are in charge of developing common solutions for a large number of people rather than specialized solutions for a particular customer. The responsibilities of software engineers entail all that of developers, testers, and support engineers. Therefore, we can refer to a software engineer as a generic term.

    If you aspire to become a software engineer 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

    Here are some essential roles of a software engineer in every organization:

    • 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 software applications.
    • Determining, prioritizing, and executing tasks in SDLC.
    • Reviewing and debugging software code.

    Skills of Software Engineers

    Here are some essential expertise that every software engineer should possess:

    • 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 software 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

    Some of the best practices for software engineers are as follows:

    • 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

    The following are the challenges that software engineers primarily face:

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

    Who is a Software Developer?

    A software developer is an IT professional who is 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. For any software solution, they are in charge of writing code from scratch.

    If we consider a software engineer an architect, we can consider a software developer a carpenter. To complete the project, a software developer must collaborate with many other professionals, such as graphic designers, software engineers, product managers, senior managers, customer representatives, and other team members.

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

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

    Are you wondering how to get started as a software developer? Check out: How to Become a Software Developer?

    Role of a Software Developer

    Some of the major duties of a software developer in every software development organization is as follows:

    • Writing clean and efficient code for developing software applications that run on various platforms.
    • Develop code from the group up 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

    The following are a few of the must-required skills that every software developer should hold:

    • 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 software development methodology and test-driven development.

    Best Practices for Software Developers

    The following are some of the best practices that software developers should follow:

    • Determine how your organization's success is impacted by your code.
    • 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

    Here are some common challenges that every software developer encounters:

    • 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

    Before discussing the differences, let us first understand the difference between a software engineer and a software developer through a real-life example below:

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

    From the above example, we can conclude that software engineers work on a large scale, while software engineers 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


    A software engineer has the responsibility of supervising the entire software development process.

    A software developer is in charge of managing the development task and not the entire development process.

    Process of Work

    Software engineers monitor the entire development of an application and integrate various features together so that the application runs smoothly.

    Software developers write the code for an application from scratch and make it work.

    Working Approach

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

    The work of a software developer is more individualized.

    Type of Activity

    Software engineers carry out the team activity.

    Software developers perform the solitary activity.

    Working Style

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

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


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

    Software developers leverage 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



    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



    United States


    The United Kingdom










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

    Both the job roles, a software engineer and a software developer, 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, software engineers work on a wide scale, whereas software 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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