Software Developer vs Software Engineer: What’s The Difference & Job Function?

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It’s not uncommon for most people to use the terms software engineer and software developer interchangeably. Even job interviewers do this when advertising for positions in this field.

Most people deal with it nonchalantly because both of these professionals are capable of writing code and building software systems so only “real” engineers can tell which is most of the time. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter.

But, if you need to know what’s the difference between a software developer vs software engineer then you’ve come to the right place. In this post, we’re going to break down each of these professions so you understand the similarities and differences between them.

Software Engineer vs Software Developer

When making comparisons between a software developer vs software engineer, it’s important to start with a simple job description. For the most part, most software developers don’t do engineering work, while software engineers can be excellent software developers.

As the name implies, software engineers use engineering principles to make software. They start from the beginning by developing the software along with the customer by providing the client with the relevant tech solutions to their unique needs. This allows them to develop systemic processed aimed at providing very specific functions. As such, it can be said that software engineers develop software using engineering principles.

Software developers, on the other hand, are typically tasked with the responsibility to handle the creative side of the development process. They also work with the client from start to finish and even more closely than the software engineer. The software developer then hands the baton to a computer programmer who will write the code required to ensure smooth running software.

Computer programmers work closely with software developers to test and fix tech issues. Software developers function more as project leaders and offer ongoing tech guidance throughout the software development process.

What Do Software Engineers Do?

A software engineer comes with a special bouquet of technical skills, experience with open-source projects and tools, as well as evidence of personal accomplishments. Or at least, this is usually the minimum requirement for a software engineer.

A software engineer needs to be familiar with things like fault-tolerant systems, automated testing, and pattern design. They should also know how to develop and maintain cloud-based systems, large scale data stores, and IT architecture. This is in addition to building domain-specific languages and data pipelines that are scalable.

A senior software engineer is expected to manage complicated development programs, design and systems analysis. This means they have to wear many hats as an individual contributor, consultant and project leader. They need to offer clients insight into their strategic goals through new IT uses.

It’s also important for a software engineer to be well-versed in development task coordination, resource management, and technical project planning. It also helps them to be people-oriented because they’ll need to collaborate with experts from other departments such as development, operations and IT.

Lastly, what sets a software engineer vs software developer is that the former must constantly be on the ball so they can positively recognize and recommend improvement processes.

What Do Software Developers Do?

When comparing software developer vs software engineer, note that it’s important for a software developer to possess excellent analytical skills. That’s because they’ll need to contrast software capabilities with client needs on a constant basis. They must also be well-versed in computer language and possess strong communication and feedback skills.

When it comes to tech development, the margins for error are very minuscule. So, it’s important for a software developer to be detail-oriented and pay attention to each stage of the process.

A software developer also needs to oversee project updates constantly and manage any modifications that may arise during the development process. This means they need to be flexible enough to move between different schedules, deadlines, and projects with ease.

Software developers that are perfectionists usually succeed in this field because they can identify revisions and repairs when needed to improve operating efficiency. A software developer is also the first person that a client will have contact with.


What is better – software engineer vs software developer?

The answer to this question is not clear-cut or black and white. Each position brings something unique and important to the table. However, the role you ultimately choose will have a lot to do with your personality and temperament.

For instance, creative types with a logical temperament usually classify themselves as developers, whereas engineers usually describe themselves as “big picture” people who like to tackle large-scale problems.

Can software developers do the job of a software engineer?

The main forte of a software developer is to perform software development tasks and they cannot crossover to become software engineers. Software developers, on the other hand, can crossover to become a software developer.

With experience comes the opportunity to take on more engineering tasks such as overseeing system-scale analysis, IT architecture involvement, etc.

How to become a software developer – is it easy?

Now, there are many roads one can take to becoming a software developer. The most traditional route typically starts with a college degree where the individual would choose a Computer Science major or something relevant to the field.

However, it takes more than just a college degree to become a developer. You need real-world experience that’ll help you improve your skills and knowledge so that you have more to bring to the table.

Aside from college, one may also sign up for Coding Bootcamps or become self-taught through online tutorials and the like.

Software engineering requires you to fill in the blanks on your own while software development might be difficult to keep up with on a planning level. Either way, becoming a developer is very challenging and it takes a lot of hard work and dedication.


Software developer vs software engineer – which one should you pick? Well, a developer’s job starts with liaising with the customer, to fully comprehend their needs. This makes it easier to design the application according to their specifications and needs.

A software engineer is not only an expert in his/her field but can perform all the tasks of a developer as well. This is what makes software engineers more experienced than the former and they usually have a heavier workload.

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