How to Differentiate Software Developers from Software Engineers Like a Pro

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What is the difference between software developers and software engineers? This is a very popular and sometimes confusing question nowadays. Some companies use the roles of software developer and software engineer synonymously.

However, there is still a difference between these two roles in software development teams, and although it is not very big, it is worth knowing about.

At CodeRiders, we often clarify the delicacies and differences between software developers and software engineers for our clients. So, we decided to speak about these two publicly as well.

The Role Of A Software Developer: Who Is A Software Developer?

A software developer is responsible for developing software that runs across various devices and operates on several platforms. Software developers design app components and write code from scratch. They should oversee the whole picture of the software development project.

A good software developer must have a solid knowledge of specific technical languages (depending on their preferred tech stack). They design components and build code for websites like, desktop applications such as Slack, mobile apps like communication platforms, photo/video editors, or website applications like Facebook, Dropbox, etc.

If you like designing various computer systems and application software, you will enjoy working as a software developer. Software developer jobs also require the willingness and enthusiasm to be a team player and to constantly search for and offer creative software solutions.

Software developers should also carry out development plans and program software, lead and manage the whole software development lifecycle, and simultaneously operate several activities in various phases of the SDLC.

An experienced software developer successfully collaborates with other team members such as graphic designers, UI/UX designers, project managers, and the QA or testing team upon request to deliver a clear end product. One of the main responsibilities of a software developer is to identify a specific area of an application that needs improvement and then make these improvements.

The Main Essential Qualities of a Software Developer

  • Practical knowledge of software development or programming languages and their frameworks
  • Currently, the most popular programming languages in the world are JavaScript, PHP, HTML, CSS, SQL, TypeScript, Python, etc.
  • Currently, the most popular software development frameworks are Node.js, React.js, Vue.js, jQuery, Angular, Laravel, etc.
  • Expertise in creating responsive web designs (familiarity with UI/UX design)
  • Experience in developing front-end applications with various tools and workflows
  • Experienced in writing clear code that is easy to maintain
  • Familiarity with cross-browser compatibility
  • Skills in Agile Manifesto software development and test-driven software development
  • Solid knowledge of data structures and algorithms
  • Willingness and motivation to always remain updated with the latest developments in the international software development industry

How to Spot a High-Quality Software Developer?

Besides the above-enumerated qualities of a software developer, one should also have some soft skills and characteristics that would describe him/her as a high-quality software developer. You can ensure you have found the perfect software developer if they:

  • Have excellent analytical and problem-solving skills as software developers continuously compare customers’ needs with software capabilities.
  • Have hands-down skills in using open-source tools such as GitHub.
  • Are strongly attentive to details and spot even the most minor issues. Although attention to detail is a must-have skill for all of us, it is particularly highlighted in the case of software developers.
  • Understand the logic of code even if they are not familiar with the language the code is written in.

The Role of a Software Engineer: Who is a Software Engineer?

A software engineer is a professional responsible for designing, developing, and implementing software solutions to fulfill a client’s technical requirements. Most software engineers operate in specific areas, starting from creating web applications and customer support (CRM) systems, to working with databases, operating systems, and maintaining already-existing software solutions.

Software engineers operate during the whole software development lifecycle (SDLC). Software engineers are also included in the management and development process of hardware, as well as delivering software and systems integration services.

It is safe to say that a software developer is a subtype of a software engineer.

There are 2 types of software engineers: application software developers and system software developers.

Application Software Developers

Application software developers are client-focused tech professionals who work both on the back-end and front-end software development processes. Application software developers constantly cooperate with graphic designers, UI/UX designers, software development project managers, and customer support specialists. Some of the main functions of application software developers include:

  • Design software for the end users,
  • Develop and implement applications for various operating systems such as iOS, Android, Linux, Windows, etc.,
  • Conduct technical requirements analysis (if necessary),
  • Constantly maintain and support the software and release updates.

System Software Developers

Unlike application software developers, who deal with the full-stack development of various software applications, system software developers work on the back-end development most of the time. This type of software engineer is responsible for both the hardware and software development processes.

System software developers closely operate with data scientists, system architects, and software development and management team leaders. The core responsibilities of a system software developer include:

  • Building operating systems and networks for user-facing applications,
  • Integrating various systems into one platform by working with disparate systems and computer data processing systems,
  • Operating as general IT managers and system architects,
  • Working with technical documentation and keeping up to date with new technologies.

The Main Essential Qualities of a Software Engineer

  • Broad knowledge of various programming languages
  • Practical experience with knowledge in software development and computer operating systems
  • Ability to debug software and systems
  • Ability to build scalable and specific pipelines and languages
  • Technical project management skills and a clear understanding of the SDLC
  • Ability to create necessary tools to build and implement software
  • Although being a team player is important for software developers, understanding teamwork and its principles is critical for software engineers as well

How to Spot a High-Quality Software Engineer?

Here are the top qualities you should look for in experienced and successful software engineers.

  • Software engineers know exactly how to balance the work to bring value to both the business and the client.
  • Software engineers deliver software products and make changes or modifications according to professional standards.
  • They perform effectively and productively on their own and within remote software development teams.
  • They coordinate system software for deployment and installation.

Salaries for Software Developers and Software Engineers

According to Indeed, the average base salary of a software engineer in the USA is $123,921 per year with a $5.000 cash bonus.

According to Glassdoor, the average base salary of a software developer is $95,673 per year with additional bonuses.

In most of the famous tech hubs or popular software outsourcing destinations, these prices significantly change without hurting the quality of the work. For example, in Armenia, you can hire a qualified and skilled software developer or engineer for approximately $35-50 per hour. That is why companies worldwide, especially those from such countries as the USA, where the software developers and software engineers are significantly higher, prefer to outsource their software development needs.

Summing up! The Key Differences between Software Developers and Software Engineers

  • Software engineers apply the principles of software engineering to designing, developing, implementing, supporting, and testing custom software, while software developers build software that runs on various types of computers.
  • The most qualified software developers should have leadership and team-playing skills to fulfill the role of a tech lead in software development projects. The role of a software developer is mostly a solitary activity, while software engineering is a team activity.
  • Software engineers work on various components of the hardware system, while software developers write the complete program or system.
  • Software engineers create the necessary tools to develop software, while software developers use ready-made tools to build applications, programs, or platforms.
  • Software engineers solve larger-scale problems, while software developers perform all of the functions of software engineers but on a limited level. For example, some responsibilities of software engineers include working with hardware, while software developers work solely with code.

Final Words: Software Developer vs. Software Engineer

To sum up, the roles of software developer and software engineer are very similar, thus it is common to confuse these 2 professions. However, some personality traits are preferable in these 2 professions, and these slight differences can make a huge change in your career path.

If the professional is more curious, enjoys dwelling on various technical processes, and is finally more flexible, the path of a software developer is much more desirable.

At our software development company, CodeRiders, most of our technical professionals can work both as software developers and as software engineers. Our team is skilled in the most cutting-edge software development tech stack and flexible enough to manage data systems, maintain and support existing systems, and work on complex web, mobile, and system applications. Our professionals can write code from scratch, create various tools and workflows, and operate both within a team and independently.

If you want to learn more about our software developers and engineers, send us a message, and we will get back to you within one working day.