Home Insights Global team Software developer vs software engineer: Which best suits your business needs?
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Software developer vs software engineer: Which best suits your business needs?

The terms software developer and software engineer are often used interchangeably, leading to confusion about their roles and responsibilities. However, understanding the distinctions between these two titles is crucial for those looking to hire the right talent. 

In this article, we will explore the difference between a software developer and a software engineer, shedding light on their unique skill sets, areas of focus, and the various roles they play in the product development lifecycle. By gaining clarity on these distinctions, you will be better equipped to make informed decisions about your recruitment strategy in the ever-evolving field of software development.

Who is a software developer?

A software developer is a tech expert who develops, designs and builds desktop solutions, mobile applications, and web pages. They are the driving force of the program implementation as they are responsible for the entire development process. Software developers also often act as a project’s creative power since their work requires extensive collaboration with the client to create a theoretical design.

The popularity of this job has recently gone up due to the ever-increasing user and business needs and accelerated process automation. Software developers leverage various source debuggers and visual development environments to modify, write, and debug clients’ software. Their responsibilities include documenting and testing client applications to create stand-alone solutions, improve the performance of the existing platforms or boost access to servers and services.

Top skills for a software developer

As technology continues to reshape the world around us, IT professionals play a vital role in creating innovative solutions to complex problems. To thrive in this dynamic digital landscape and meet the demands of the industry, software developers should have robust technical expertise, impeccable problem-solving abilities, and effective communication skills. 

Let’s explore some of the top software developer qualifications tech specialists have to possess to build feasible and scalable software solutions and excel in the ever-evolving field of computer programming.

Top Software Developer Skills

Data structure and algorithms

Data structure and algorithms are one of the most important skills for modern software developers. The majority of employers are looking for experts who are familiar with basic data structures, like an array, linked list, map, and set. These are the fundamentals that help developers build robust applications.

Git and GitHub

Git and GitHub are indispensable tools that have revolutionized the way software developers create, manage, and version control their code. Git, a distributed version control system, enables developers to track changes, merge code, and collaborate efficiently across different branches and repositories. GitHub, on the other hand, is a web-based platform built on top of Git, providing a centralized hub for hosting and sharing code repositories.

Cloud computing

Since a lot of companies are opting for cloud migration to save money and improve their scalability, cloud computing has become an essential skill for software developers. It enables tech specialists to focus on coding and innovation rather than managing infrastructure, allowing for faster development cycles and accelerated time-to-market. Thus, software developers proficient in services like AWSMicrosoft Azure, or Google Cloud Platform (GCP) are in high demand in today’s digital landscape. 

Integrated development environment

Apart from knowing programming languages and databases, software developers should be well-versed in integrated development environments (IDEs). Mastering source-code editors like Visual Studio Code enables tech professionals to write clean and organized code. It also helps to debug and refactor it more efficiently, ultimately leading to the development of robust and high-performing software solutions.

Learning agility

Being a software developer is a lifelong process of continuous learning and improvement. Knowing several programming languages is a good start, but to remain a sought-after professional, developers should embrace a growth mindset, improve their technical skills, analyse their code, track industry trends, gain advanced certifications, and seek new learning opportunities. On top of that, a developer also has to possess a number of soft skills and competencies to be considered a valuable expert on the job market.

Who is a software engineer?

A software engineer is a person who applies mathematical analysis and computer science principles to design and build software products. They utilize their expertise in programming languages, algorithms, and data structures to create innovative solutions that cater to various user needs. 

Software engineers work closely with stakeholders, e.g. clients and project managers, to understand requirements and translate them into functional software applications. They are applying engineering principles, such as separation of concerns, modularity, abstraction, anticipation of change, generality, and incremental development, to ensure consistency and efficiency of development processes throughout the product life-cycle. 

Software engineers operate on a much bigger scale than software developers. While the first ones create new tools for software development, the latter use the already existing tools in their work. 

Top skills for a software engineer

Many software engineers are highly experienced in at least one or two programming languages. And while proficiency in specific languages remains valuable, the expectations and demands placed on tech specialists have expanded significantly. To attract employers and thrive in the industry, software engineers must cultivate a diverse skill set that encompasses a wide range of qualifications from software development methodologies and problem-solving techniques to interpersonal skills and the ability to work in teams.

Top Software Engineer Skills

Computer programming

Computer programming is the cornerstone skill for any software engineer. It encompasses the ability to write, debug, and maintain code using various programming languages and frameworks. Proficiency in programming enables software engineers to transform concepts and algorithms into functional software applications that address real-world problems.

Object-oriented design

Object-oriented design is a fundamental approach to software development that focuses on organizing code into reusable objects, each with its own set of properties and behaviors. It allows for modular, maintainable, and scalable code structures, making it easier to manage complex software systems.

Problem solving

Problem-solving is an indispensable skill for software engineers, as it lies at the heart of their work. Software engineers are responsible for identifying, analyzing, and finding solutions to issues that arise during the development process. 

Software engineers with strong problem-solving skills can approach problems systematically, breaking them down into smaller, manageable components. These elements are then analyzed individually to develop effective solutions. Furthermore, software engineers must also consider factors such as user requirements, scalability, and maintainability to make informed decisions and consider the long-term implications of their choices.

Interpersonal skills

Strong interpersonal skills play a pivotal role in effective collaboration, communication, and teamwork. Since software developers work closely with various people, they need to be able to convey complex tech concepts to both technical and non-technical stakeholders. This clear and effective communication reduces misunderstandings and promotes alignment, ultimately leading to successful project outcomes.


Software development is rarely a solo endeavor, and software engineers need to work effectively with other team members to achieve shared goals. Teamwork allows tech specialists to collaborate effectively, solve problems, share knowledge, and leverage each other’s expertise. This not only enhances the quality of the software being developed but also creates a supportive and motivating work environment.

Difference between software engineer and software developer

Although these job titles are sometimes used interchangeably, few people know how they differ in terms of their scope, skills and responsibilities. 

The main distinction between them is that software developers deal with design and program implementation, while software engineers use the principles of engineering to build computer programs and applications. In general, software engineers deal with a bigger variety of tasks.

Differences Between a Software Developer’s and a Software Engineer’s Functions

FAQs: Software engineer vs developer

  • Can a software developer become a software engineer?

Yes. Since their roles often overlap, software developers can progress in their careers by gaining experience, acquiring new skills, and taking on more complex and challenging projects, ultimately transitioning into a software engineer position.

  • Who earns more: software developer vs engineer?

According to GlassDoor, an average software developer in the US makes \$105,793/year, while a software engineer earns \$139,660/year.

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  • Which is the best: software developer or software engineer?

All software engineers are, to some degree, developers, and vice versa. However, software engineers often take on more complex and architectural responsibilities while software developers focus more on coding and implementation.

Find the best software development experts with Grid Dynamics

Grid Dynamics is a technology services provider focused on accelerating digital transformation for Fortune 1000 enterprises. We have over 15 years of experience driving software innovation and creating competitive advantage and revenue growth for our clients.

Our global talent model offers clients flexibility to build dedicated, distributed teams tailored to their needs. Options include team extension, dedicated teams, agile pods, and offshore development centers. With offices across the Americas, Europe, and India, we provide access to qualified software engineers from multiple regions and time zones.

Additionally, we directly recruit, hire, and retain top software engineering talent to remain at the forefront of digital innovation. This allows us to stay ahead of market trends and quickly build teams with niche capabilities around the latest technologies like AI/ML, data analytics, IoT and more.

If you are interested in hiring experienced software developers or engineers, fill out the form below and we will reach out to you!

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