Software Developer vs Software Engineer – Who is the Best Fit for your Business Needs?

Sudeep Srivastava August 24, 2023
Software Developer vs Software Engineer - Who is the Best Fit For Your Business Needs

The software has become an integral part of our daily lives. It touches one or the other aspect of the daily work we do, for example, every family in the world has at least one phone. There are many other ways and reasons that businesses and individuals have been benefiting from the software. It is used in transportation, nuclear plants, electric grids, and other basic functions of life.

The number of smartphone subscriptions worldwide today surpasses six billion and is forecast to grow further by several hundred million in the next few years. All the devices work/function by an operating system that is a part of the software and has a lot of integrated functions.

Software development plays an important role in ensuring that the business remains competitive in the market. Storing huge amounts of data, security of the systems and data, and feature enhancements can be improvised with the help of software development. Along with deriving the trends with extensive data analysis and knowing the lags, companies get to strategize the business proactively while offering an improved customer experience

It has become important for the organization to stay updated with the latest software not just to sustain and stay competitive but also to increase revenue. The purpose of software development is to:

  • Promote business
  • Improve sales and service
  • Create brand awareness
  • Increase customer engagement
  • Offer effective on-the-go marketing

But who creates these platforms? Who are the people that are involved in developing these software? What skills are required to develop such software? The answer to all these questions is: that software engineers and software developers are the minds and ideologies behind these platforms.

My inquisitive side raised immediate questions – Are the software engineers and software developers synonymous? If not, what is the difference? Who fits more into my business? To get the answers to all these questions, let us first understand each role individually and see what is the difference between the two.

Software Engineer vs Software Developer – Differences in Skillsets

Skills of Software EngineerSkills of Software Developer
Expertise in popular programming languages like Python, Java, C++, and ScalaThorough knowledge of a wide range of programming languages
Ability to write and test codeProficient in software development and computer operating systems
CreativityExcellent in advanced mathematics
Knowledge of cross-browser compatibilityAbility to apply engineering principles to software creation
Presentation skillsLeadership skills
Proficient in developing responsive web designsAbility to debug software and systems
Ability to work on front-end application developmentAbility to create scalable domain-specific pipelines and languages
Knowledge of algorithms and data structuresAbility to create the tools needed to develop software
Time management skillsProject management skills

Software Developer

Software developers are the people who write and test the code based on the functional specifications. With specific instructions and guidance on the project, the software developers work closely with engineers, designers, and other developers.

In other words, software developers are responsible for developing, designing, and building desktop, mobile, and web applications. With ever-changing business needs, software developers have been in high demand as organizations are moving toward process automation.  It is assumed that the global developer population will reach 28.7 million by 2024. Software developers document and test the client software along with writing code.

worldwide developer population

Essential Qualities of Software Developer

Essential Qualities of Software Developer

As the developers are responsible for the execution of the plan designed by software engineers, they must have most of the following skills:

  • Adept with necessary frameworks and web development tools such as Python, JavaScript, AngularJS, JQuery, etc. They should also have knowledge of fundamental data structures and algorithms like an array, linked list, map, and set
  • Must have the ability to write clean codes that can be maintained easily
  • Must have the ability to develop responsive web designs
  • Adept with front-end application development with different workflows, programs, and tolls like JQuery, and AngularJS
  • Should be aware of cross-browser compatibility
  • Must have creative thinking, attention to detail, and the ability to communicate and collaborate with different teams
  • Acquaintance with agile development practices and test-driven development
  • Should be highly skilled in cloud computin
  • Should be familiar with source-code editors like Visual Studio Code

While the developers must have the above-mentioned qualities to succeed in their roles, they do face some challenges as well like:

  • Ever-changing requirements
  • Misinterpretation of end-user requirements
  • Working with models that do not complement each other
  • Poor-quality software
  • Delayed detection of project flaws

It is a good practice to test the software developer skills although the CV entails the details. The same can be done by checking the developers’ portfolio, and GitHub accounts, and providing live coding assessments.

Software Engineer

It is assumed that there are more than 4.4 million software engineers there in the US alone and the numbers are further expected to grow by 21% year-on-year. 

As the designation includes the word “engineer”, software development engineers are the people who apply engineering principles to the complete product life-cycle that includes database structures and software development process. They are required to have the quality to direct other peer engineers, developers, program developers, etc. 

The basic engineering principles include managing a phased product cycle plan, continuous validation, clear accountability, iterative development, anticipating changes, generality, incremental development, and consistency.

Their responsibility is not just managing the product development at every stage while coordinating effectively with the client as well as the team, but to ensure that the program interacts with the hardware and software, as desired and expected.

Essential Qualities of Software Engineer

software engineer

To sum it all up, listed below are the essential qualities of a successful software engineer:

  • Must have a thorough knowledge of a range of programming languages
  • Should be excellent with advanced mathematics
  • Must have experience in building and maintaining IT architectures and databases
  • Should be a good communicator, and problem solver
  • Must have excellent analytical skills
  • Adept in debugging software and systems
  • Must have knowledge of computer science
  • Adept in automation testing
  • Must have excellent project management skills
  • Should be familiar with creating scalable domain-specific pipelines and languages
  • Must have excellent leadership skills
  • Must have the ability to work alone while having excellent resource management skills.

The common challenges that a software engineer might face are:

  • High software cost
  • Communication between software systems
  • Complex software systems
  • Unrealistic employer expectations due to resource constraints.

How can you test the skills of a software engineer? The criteria to test the skills of a software engineer are very similar to that of a developer as both jobs require a thorough knowledge of understanding the code. The employer can test the knowledge of the software engineer like algorithm analysis, linear data structures, and computer science fundamentals on the popular platforms like Codility, Coderbyte, TestGorilla, HackerEarth, and many more.

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Software Engineering vs Software Developer – Difference in the Types of Jobs

Software Developer

As mentioned above, the developer’s primary responsibility is writing and testing the software program. However, there are a plethora of other options open for them as listed below. 

  • Computer Programmer – The primary role of a computer programmer is to write and rewrite the codes ensuring that there are no errors.
  • Program Analyst – Along with designing and creating the code, the responsibility of the analyst also includes overseeing other programmers’ writing code. The primary responsibility is to combine analytics with computer programming.
  • Back-end System Developer – As the name suggests, a back-end system developer writes the codes for the apps and programs at the back-end that is not visible to the users.
  • Full Stack Web Developer – A full stack web developer develops systems from every aspect, including user experience and back-end systems.
  • Database Administrator – A database administrator secures, troubleshoots, and organizes the storage of large quantities of data.
  • Software Developer – Creates and improves the software for computer systems requires knowledge of various programming languages.
  • Software Application Developer – Their role is to create and improve the application for mobiles.
  • Network System Administrator – Administers and maintains network environments by taking back-ups of the data to prevent problems.
  • Sofware Quality Assurance (QA) – Documents and tests the software life cycle.
  • UI/UX Developer – Works for optimizing the user interface and user experience.
  • Web Developer – Creates websites and web-based applications.

Software Engineer

The primary difference between a software developer vs engineer is that the developer has a narrow scope of work, whereas a software engineer has a wider scope that involves everything from conceptualization to functional software. Some of the options that the software has, are listed below. However, some organizations provide the designation as Software Engineer even to the roles that encompass the responsibilities of developers.

  • Back-end Engineer – Focuses on the logic, and performance of the apps and programs at the back-end that is not visible to the users.
  • Front-end Engineer – Involved in developing aesthetically designed user interfaces, and cross-browser compatibility
  • DevOps Engineer – Works collectively with the operations and infrastructure teams to build the system that builds, integrates, deploys, and administers the software at the back-end.
  • Full-stack Engineer – Full includes both backend and frontend work for complete application or website.
  • Security Engineer – Manages the procedures, systems, and methods that test and fix software’s security flaws.
  • Software Quality Assurance Engineer (QA Engineer) – Ensures the quality by checking and fixing bugs for potential problems and functionality while managing software engineers and software developers.

Both software engineering and development require the individual to know the basic programming languages such as C, C++, C#, Java, JavaScript, Python, SQL, .NET, and PHP.

Another difference between software engineers and developers is the approach they take to problem-solving. The engineer’s thought process follows scientific principles and advanced mathematical processes. They tend to stick to proven methodologies and focus the most on code and technology.

Whereas, the developers have a flexible role in terms of following innovative approaches to reduce work while improving the functionality of the software.

Who is the Best Fit For Your Business Needs?

Software EngineerSoftware Developer
Operates with a wider scope of workOperates with a limited scope of work, usually limited to coding and testing
Mostly works with different teamsWorks either with one team or individually
Works on complete software development life cycle by applying engineering principles and advanced mathematical skillsBuild software and write programs
Create tools for software from scratchWork with tools that already exist for developing applications

Well, the titles may be confusing. However, when choosing a software engineer vs software developer, the organizations must assess all the requirements while keeping their business goals in mind. Another criteria that businesses should assess are the qualifications and the budget. An overview of the difference between software engineer and software developer is explained in the figure above that might help you in deciding the best fitment for your business.

Having said that, every company should have a team with the correct ratio of software engineer vs developers. Based on the product line, it is even advised to outsource the software development project to a reliable custom software development company in New York like Appinventiv.

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How can Appinventiv Fulfil your Business Needs?

Appinventiv is the fastest-growing software development company with a team of expert software engineers and developers. 

Relieving the confusion of hiring developers vs engineers, we can be your software development partner providing you the services that will be par excellence. Our engineers have gained expertise over the years in providing solutions that have exceeded the client’s expectations when it comes to any software development project.

Recently, we developed an ERP solution for IKEA, one of the world’s largest retail companies. The powerful ERP solution helps walk-in customers go through the store’s product catalogs right from the in-store tablet panel.

Our dedicated efforts led to the creation of a solution that is today getting expanded to the 7+ IKEA stores in the UAE. The retail outlet touts the solution as the biggest source of ROI measurement.

For another client JobGet, we created a software solution where job seekers and employers can message each other and schedule meetings in real-time. The software has helped to bring down the job search process from months to days for blue-collar workers. Till date, 150,000 jobseekers have been placed and the client has received $2.1 million funding for their innovative idea.

In case you are also looking for software development services, share your requirements with our expert to get the most innovative solution from the concept stage to final product delivery, on time. With our experience as a leading software and mobile app development company, we have developed many innovative and scalable mobile apps for our clients. Our company is ranked among the best software development companies.

Final Thoughts!

Pandemic has proved to be a blessing in disguise when it comes to software development. A new era of automation and mobile apps has steeply increased our reliance on software.

To sustain in the market, businesses need to up their game for which you need to develop software. But the dilemma is choosing a software engineer vs developer. 

Although the titles are used interchangeably, the primary difference lies in being creative to design, programming, and implementing the software development and using the principles of engineering to build programs, and software.

The detailed description of software engineering profiles will surely help you choose the right fit for your business.


Q. Can a software developer become a software engineer?

A. The answer is a firm YES. Basic programming is required for both profiles. However, the developers who have the desire and aptitude for gathering requirements and analysis, designing, leadership, and management skills, can lead a team of software developers while dealing with end-users. With wider work scope, the developer can become a software engineer.

Q. What are the educational requirements for software engineers vs software developers?

A. The software engineers hold a bachelor’s or higher-level degree in computer information technology. The software development degrees offer specialization in computer programing.

Q. Software engineer vs software developer – Explain the difference in brief.

A. Software development is a subset of software engineering. A developer undergoes specialized training, however, has the freedom to design and develop creative solutions. An engineer acquired formal education that leverages him with a broader scope in the software development lifecycle, however, has to be more systematic with a lesser scope of creativity.

Sudeep Srivastava
Co-Founder and Director
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