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Software Developer Vs. Software Engineer: Core Differences in Career and Job Roles

Software has a huge role to play in our daily lives. From Microsoft Excel on our computers to the YouTube application on our devices, these are all different kinds of software. Software meant for a certain Operating System (OS) or a platform is generally not hardware dependent, thus available for everyone to use.


For example, if your phone is running on Android, it will be able to run almost every application that other Android phones can, unless the application is too hardware-intensive such as games with heavy programming. Most software that runs on an OS such as macOS will run on all computer models with macOS.


This incredible level of standardization allows us to experience software in the best way possible. With the internet always at our disposal, we now have access to more software than ever. We can probably find a software program or an application for any task that can be digitized.


According to the International Data Corporation, the software market in India was estimated to cross $8.2 billion before 2022 began. In the first half of 2021, the software market had reached $4.0 billion, growing by 15.9% from the first half of 2020.


Now, when it comes to software exports, India’s software services exports grew by 4% in 2021 compared to 2020. In just the first quarter of 2022, the total valuation of software exports from India is already Rs. 1.20 lakh crore or $16.29 billion. At the rate at which we are going, it will not be a surprise if we double our exports within a few years.


The roles of a software developer and a software engineer are both very lucrative in terms of pay and growth. Companies also find both kinds of personnel equally valuable to their projects or processes. Now, let us learn the difference between the job roles of software engineer and software developer.


What is Software Development?

Software development is generally involved with designing and developing software products and applications from scratch. Software developers write code and program features for developing the final product. Developing frameworks and libraries can also be classified as software development.


Software development deals with specific instances and requests of clients rather than a continuous process of development. Software developers are focused on developing the entire software product unless they are specifically working in a team.

What is Software Engineering?

Software engineering is involved with building systems, platforms, and software through engineering principles that can be based on existing technologies or completely new concepts. However, software engineers focus on problems in a more generalized manner compared to the personalized approach of software developers.


A core part of software engineering is working with a team of engineers who work together to obtain a certain technological objective.


Job descriptions of the two roles

Software Developer:

Software developers document and test software products and fix any existing glitches or bugs. A software development process begins with the conceptualization of the software and ends with the deployment of the final product.


Software research, prototyping, modification, and maintenance are also a part of software development. Software developers, additionally, build web-based applications and databases.


Software Engineer:

Software engineers do not simply work on specific instances but work towards keeping on improving the program or software with time. Software engineering also deals with more hardware-extensive software and tools that use additional hardware resources such as input or output devices.

Software engineers also build firmware, Operating Systems, and systems tools. They work on components of software and try extending and upgrading its features. They also build software or tools (building tools and libraries) for improvising software.


Career Trajectory and Path for Software Developers and Engineers

Career Path for Software Developers:

If you join the software development industry, you will initially start as a Junior Developer, following which you will be promoted to a Senior Software Developer (or just software developer) within a few years.


After some time, you will get the opportunity to be the Technical Architect or Lead Developer for a project or client. With a few more years of experience, you will move on to the position of Development Team Lead or Software Development Manager.


The sky’s the limit after that, and you can go on to become a director or vice president of a department or even the CTO (Chief Technology Officer) of a company.


Career Path for Software Engineers:

In this domain, you will initially join as a junior software engineer and then progress into the role of a senior software engineer after a few years. After that, you can become the tech lead of your team or project and then a team manager within a short period of time.


After more years in the industry, you can move on to becoming a Technical Architect through this route as well. Finally, with enough industry experience, you can become the CTO of a company.


Similarities and Differences Between the Two


There are many similarities between software development and software engineering. Here are some important ones:


  • Programming languages such as C++, Java, and Python
  • Salaries and compensation
  • Career trajectories and growth prospects
  • Processes involve working on existing software or creating new software
  • Development, maintenance, testing, optimization, and many other common activities
  • The importance of data structures and algorithms
  • Foundational computing skills are required with a basic understanding of memory management and hardware resources


When looking into software engineer vs. software developer roles, we can identify some important differences. However,  some  can only be noticed upon closer inspection or by actually joining the job role. Here are some key differences:


  • Software developers only develop software and frameworks, while software engineers system software and system tools.
  • Software developers generally work alone on the whole software while software engineers are mostly seen working in teams.
  • Software developers build software with only pre-existing tools while software engineers sometimes build their own tools. Fundamentally, software engineers can develop software that can further help to develop other software.
  • Software engineers work on large-scale projects while software developers cater to a smaller range of objectives.
  • Software developers are able to shift into full-stack web development as there are many common technologies that are used, while software engineers generally use languages such as C++ that are quite different from languages such as JavaScript.

Salary Range for Software Development and Engineering


Salary Range for Software Developers:

Entry-level software developers with less than a year of experience earn an average salary of ₹3,81,038 per annum. Meanwhile, software developers with 1 to 4 years of experience earn ₹4,96,170 annually on average.


The salary keeps getting better with time and on average, software developers with 5 to 9 years of experience earn ₹8,52,070 per annum. Finally, the average annual package senior software developers with 10 to 19 years of experience get offered is ₹13,01,220.


Salary Range for Software Engineers:

Entry-level software engineers with less than a year of experience earn an average salary of ₹4,46,772 per annum. Meanwhile, software engineers with 1 to 4 years of experience earn ₹5,43,504 annually on average.


Like in software development, the salary keeps going higher after this in software engineering as well. On average, software engineers with 5 to 9 years of experience earn ₹9,49,481 per annum, and senior software engineers with 10 to 19 years of experience get offered ₹15,66,175 per annum.


Skills Required for Both

Here are the skills you will need as a software developer or a software engineer:


  • Analytical Skills
  • A strong hold over Data Structures
  • Understanding of algorithms, functions, and mathematical theories
  • Foundational knowledge of databases, platforms, Operating Systems, and IT architectures
  • Memory management skills
  • Project management and interpersonal skills
  • Ability to follow Scrum or Agile methodologies

What is Full-stack Development, and How Does it Fit in This?

Full-stack development is a holistic software or web application development process that involves working on the frontend, backend, and databases at once. A comprehensive course on full stack development can help you learn all the skills required to handle all these aspects of development.


For example, a software engineer might know backend languages and technologies very well but might not be aware of frontend languages. However, a full-stack web developer will be able to build the backend of a web application and as well as design its frontend.


The most common full-stack developer skills required are JavaScript, HTML, CSS, ReactJS, NodeJS, MongoDB, SQL, Python, Web Security, and Cloud Deployments.


Best Practices for Software Development and Engineering

Here are some of the best practices for software development and software engineering:


  • Ensuring software products and deployments maintain quality standards
  • Professional approach towards collaboration and project management
  • Acting towards the best interest of your employer as well as your client
  • Maintaining integrity and ethics such as not sabotaging the work of others or not copying the work of others
  • Enabling accessibility and governance
  • Being supportive of other developers and engineers
  • Making sure your product is secure and safeguarded
  • Planning and then using a strategic approach towards objectives
  • Understanding how you can help the company with your code
  • Maintaining given pipelines

Challenges that Software Developers and Engineers Face

Challenges that software developers face:


  • End-user-focused projects
  • Less freedom of thought and less control over workflows with pre-existing tools
  • A lot of emphasis is on the design, which becomes an additional responsibility
  • Misinterpreted client requirements
  • Software that is harder to extend and modify
  • Bugs and glitches are discovered much later

Challenges that software engineers face:

  • The complexity of projects
  • Requires powerful IT infrastructure or computing resources
  • Diverse types of applications thus ensuring that no amount of knowledge is ever truly enough
  • New platforms and tools for building applications are required and must be custom-built

Software can be defined as a set of instructions or embedded programs that allow computers to be used for carrying out various tasks. There are various types of software available such as system software, programming software, application software, and embedded software.


To develop these kinds of software, coders or programmers are essential. However, the type of programmer required is heavily dependent on the type of software or the specific component of the software that needs to be worked upon. These roles may get overlapped and be mistaken for each other, but for most communities, these job roles will always have many key differences.


A full-stack development certification program such as Hero Vired’s Certificate Program in Full Stack Development with Cloud for Web and Mobile can definitely help you learn all the necessary skills to become one of the two software professionals. The program covers HTML, CSS, SQL, Python, Web Security, Cloud Deployments, and the MERN (MongoDB, Express JS, ReactJS, NodeJS) technology stack. Check the program now for a head start.

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