What Is the Difference Between a Software Developer and a Software Engineer?

What Is the Difference Between a Software Developer and Software Engineer?

When looking to source the right candidate for a project, it can be overwhelming to understand which expert is required. Ideally, you want a candidate with specific skills, knowledge, and experience to complete certain tasks.

When it comes to hiring candidates for software development projects, there may be confusion between choosing a software engineer and a software developer: Which is the right one? For example, would you require offshore Python developers or remote Python engineers for building a technological framework?

Software engineers and software developers are both skilled professionals with excellent knowledge in building software from scratch. However, there are important differences between the two roles, and they aren’t quite the same thing. When hiring for a project, it’s worth understanding the difference between the two and the skills and experience these two types of candidates hold.

Why Is it Important to Know the Difference Between a Software Developer Vs. Software Engineer?

Development team

Source: Mobilunity

Anyone wanting to hire for a specific project must understand exactly which type of expert is ideal for the job. When there is a lack of knowledge, the wrong candidates can be placed in roles that can lead to poor performance in tasks and, ultimately, a failed project.

It is important for business owners, managers, hiring professionals, and HR teams to understand exactly what the differences are between software engineers and software developers to know which are most suitable for specific positions and projects. These professionals have different skills and experiences that are suited for unique tasks and responsibilities. Not being familiar with these differences can lead to hiring someone with the wrong skills for the job.

Software Engineer Vs. Software Developer: The Different Skills, Roles, and Responsibilities

The main difference between a software developer and a software engineer lies in the skills and job function the two roles are responsible for.

Software engineers will at times delve into the field of development, but developers will rarely get involved in engineering.

Software developers are not just responsible for writing code; they also review current systems, offering solutions for improvements. They work closely with designers, analysts, and end-users.

Software developers also ensure code works by testing it, using real situations before going live. They must have an eye for detail to properly solve issues to enhance operating efficiency.

Developers are creative and have excellent technical expertise to come up with innovative ideas to solve customer problems. They are also experienced enough to see problems before they arise.

Software engineers are capable of managing complex systems. They are able to build fully functioning apps in a way that is simple to refactor, self-document, and easy to debug.

They are often leaders who offer consulting solutions and may contribute to various projects. They provide analytical advice in implementing new IT uses to help clients and businesses reach strategic objectives. Engineers must be able to manage resources and development tasks and supervise project plans. They typically collaborate with operations and development teams throughout the software development lifecycle.

Where developers can help to find solutions to specific problems, engineers are responsible for the functioning of the entire system. Engineers look for solutions that can work across the entire program and not just one area.

It is important to know that software engineers are required to have a higher level of technical skill than developers. Therefore, it’s often easier for engineers to work as developers than the other way around.

The Difference Between Software Engineer Salary and Software Developer Salary

Factors that influence software development cost

Source: Mobilunity

Considering the differences in skills and responsibilities, it is only expected that the salaries of software engineers and software developers will also differ.

The median salary for mid-level software developers is around $100,000 a year. And while the job growth for these experts has stagnated somewhat over the past few years, plenty of demand remains.

Software engineers tend to earn much more, but their education usually takes longer, with many software engineers holding higher-level degrees.

Let’s consider the example of a Python developer. Python developers are proficient in the Python programming language, but they’re also likely to have some familiarity with other languages like Ruby and SQL. Python for developers is a popular programming language, and, as a result, the demand for these developers is high.

Entry-level Python programmers are considered junior developers. A software developer ranks above a remote Python programmer and is considered to be a senior developer. A software engineer has the role of an overseer and is therefore typically seen as a tech lead.

According to Indeed, the average annual salary for a junior Python developer is $75,489. The median Python developer salary for seniors is about $90,000. And the average salary of a tech team lead according to Glassdoor, is around $157,916 per year.

From this, it is evident that a software engineer has the opportunity to earn a bigger salary compared to a software developer. However, it is also essential to understand that the salaries of these can depend on the country where candidates are hired from. For example, offshore Python developers from certain countries such as Ukraine, Poland, and Romania may have much lower rates compared to other destinations.

Python developer net salary chart

Source: Mobilunity

Finding the Right Candidate

The terms software engineer and software developer are not interchangeable. A software engineer follows a methodical process of understanding requirements, working with a variety of stakeholders to develop solutions that fulfill their needs. A developer knows how to code and has the right technical skills needed to build highly effective and innovative products for businesses.

Because there’s overlap between the fields of software development and engineering, it can be tricky to establish which one is right for a specific project. However, when doing research and considering the information in this article, including skills, responsibilities, and salaries, it can be easy to distinguish between the two roles and find the right candidate for a specific project.