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The Difference Between Software Developers and Software Engineers

Some say that there is a slight difference between software developers and software engineers, both are involved in the designing and the making of a programme. It can be difficult for some employers to see the difference between the roles, a software engineer will focus on the design of the programme and will constantly change it to fit the client’s needs. Whereas a software developer focuses solely on what software to implement along with creating the correct coding to meet the client’s needs.

Software Developer

Software developers are required to follow a software development methodology and should have expertise in debugging and modifying software programmes to meet their client’s needs. Responsible for writing codes, a software developer should be creative and be able to carry out innovative ideas using their technical skills. They must also have excellent analytical skills as they are required to constantly compare the needs with software capabilities. Being detail orientated is essential for software developers, as a minor error or miscommunication could result in a major financial and operational problem. They must also use their eye for detail to fix and revise programs that are designed to increase efficiency.


Software developers are likely to hold a bachelor’s degree in a field that is data or systems centric. Sometimes software developers’ degrees are seen as a specialisation for information technology or computing programming degrees. In the degrees, you may find the following courses:

  • Information systems analysis and design
  • C+ Programming
  • Usability in software design
  • Project management
  • Applied software practice


Software developers are expected to carry out daily tasks such as:

  • Talking through requirements with clients
  • Testing software and fixing problems
  • Maintaining systems once they’re up and running
  • Being a part of technical designing
  • Integrate software components
  • Producing efficient codes
  • Writing program codes for reference and reporting

Software Engineer

Software engineers are involved throughout the whole project lifecycle. Firstly, they join with developers and business analysts to discuss the requirements for the software solution proposed. Secondly, they scope the project to identify what needs to be developed, how and when. They will also choose the most appropriate programming language and development framework for the job and think about how the solution can be used across different platforms. A software engineer uses technical and scientific knowledge to implicate software and to foresee probable problems. They should also be proficient with pattern design and automated systems. The software engineer should have all the capabilities to ensure that each program goes to plan.


Software engineering degrees are more dominant than software development degrees. They are usually highly technical and have a large emphasis on design and engineering. Within the degree you may find courses such as:

  • Computer systems fundamentals
  • Design and analysis of data structures and algorithms
  • Operating systems
  • Software architecture
  • Object orientated software design


Software engineers are expected to carry out daily tasks such as:

  • Modifying existing software to correct errors which allows it to adapt to new hardware.
  • Analyse user needs and software requirements to determine the design within time and cost constraints.
  • Interacting with the customers about system design and maintenance.
  • Supervising the work of programmers and technologists
  • Create and maintain IT architecture, large scale data and cloud-based systems.
  • Work efficiently by themselves and within small teams.
  • Conducts systems analysis to improve operations


There is a difference between software developers and software engineers, but It is easy to use software developer and software engineer interchangeably as they do share some similarities. Both roles refer to writing software for clients or organisations. They both have the same knowledge and skills in IT and algorithms and have to work both alone and participate in a team. Working towards the same goal of meeting client needs and working in the same development lifecycle, would explain why employers consider them the same role.

However, a software engineer designs, creates, tests and is constantly trying to improve the programme instead of looking at it as one job. Their job is to connect the client’s needs with the applicable technology as part of the development lifecycle. They use engineering concepts to develop software. Whereas, software developers focus on what software implementation to use rather than the design. Along with developing and maintaining software, they write codes most of the time along with a variety of coding languages to put together to fulfil requirements. They are responsible for the entire development process and work closely with computer programmers to test and fix problems.

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