5 Differences Between a Software Engineer and a Developer

In the tech industry, companies use titles like “Software Engineer”, “Software Developer”, or simply “Programmer” to describe a person who writes computer programs. Although the roles of each of the aforementioned job titles vary, companies prefer to keep their roles flexible. Nevertheless, there are some key differences between an engineer and a developer.

software developer

Here Are the 5 Differences Between a Software Engineer and a Developer

1) They Both Have a Different Level of Responsibilities

A software engineer is generally required to work on specialized software developed using an enterprise-level language like Java, C++, or .NET. The bandwidth of their responsibilities is narrower. 

For instance, due to their expertise and proficiency in a particular language, their work is limited to a certain module of the project. On the other hand, developers deal with both the frontend and backend of a project. In some cases, also the database.

2) Difference in Pay  

According to PayScale, an experienced web developer earns around $59,297 per year, whereas a software engineer earns $85,120 per year. There is a huge gap in the pay scale which is estimated to widen as the major corporations who hire these engineers are open to adopting new technologies like AI, Machine Learning, IoT, etc continue. Such is not the case with web development.

3) Developers Think Big Picture

Unlike a programmer or a software engineer, a developer’s job also includes understanding the needs and wants of their customer. They are also heavily involved in helping the customer achieve their goals (personal and financial).

For instance, someone wanting to run an eCommerce business would definitely need additional help from the developer as he/she is the one who is aware of the industry trends.

On the other hand, a software engineer is primarily focused on writing quality code, testing and debugging. They are required to sit in front of a computer the entire time without ever having to communicate with the client.

4) Educational Qualifications Differ

Generally speaking, software engineers work for major corporations, whereas a software developer may or may not work for a big company. A tech company like Facebook, Amazon, etc would never hire someone without proper credentials. 

Meaning, they seek candidates with college degrees in computer science or information technology. Such is not the case with software developers. A huge number of developers are either freelancers or work for a startup. Hence, having a college degree is not an absolute requirement.

5) The Use of Tools

Some people may not be aware of the fact that both software engineers and developers use a completely different set of software tools. A software engineer uses basic compilers while developers deal with fancy new software tools like IDE, Simulators, etc. In fact, engineers are the ones who come with ideas to help a developer become more efficient.


Whatever job title your company offers you, it is always beneficial to think of yourself as a generalist, at least in the initial days of your career. Software engineers and developers both write code. It’s just that they work on different platforms, industries, and cater to different sets of clients.