Any recruiter or a business owner or an entrepreneur worth their salt should be able to tell the difference between a developer, a programmer, and an engineer.

So coming to the important question, does it matter which nomenclature you use in your job descriptions? Or do these 3 job roles have different types of work? Or do you need to genetrate job descriptions for them. Let us dive into it.

Why do I need to know the difference between an engineer, a developer, and a programmer?

  1. These positions have different scopes and responsibilities.
  2. It helps to effectively understand a candidate’s CV/resume.
  3. They have different salary expectations in different countries.
  4. They have a different set of skills.
  5. They have a different approach to the completion of technical tasks.

🤷 Same Same but Different 🤷

Adaface programmer gif

The different role names were not born because of the kind of work they do, but rather of how the industry grew. The tech world has a lot of blurred lines when it comes to the kind of work programmers, developers, and engineers perform - and in many scenarios, the above said titles are used interchangeably. However, you can find very subtle differences in their approaches to solving technical tasks.

The Programmer


The traditional definition of a programmer, which is widely used is, someone who writes, tests, debugs and maintains the source code for applications without much involvement in the user experience and design. I believe this is not quite accurate and any computer professional who can code should be called a programmer. Programmers can translate ideas into clean and efficient error-free code.

Programmers usually possess knowledge of multiple programming languages, data structures, and algorithms. If you see someone who has had a programming role in their resume, they are mainly concerned with turning specifications into code.

Programmer Salary 2020 | Adaface

The Software Developer


Software developers are in charge of the entire development process. Their work often includes how the end-user will engage with their applications, as well as its functionality and security needs. A Bachelor's degree is highly recommended for software developers as employers expect to see a degree in Computer Science.

Based on their level of experience, developer roles can be assigned as Junior, Senior and Lead. A Junior developer works mostly with writing code. As the level of experience increases, so does the range of abilities and responsibilities. At the topmost level, the Lead developer primarily deals with project management and manages his team to build a piece of software from the ground up and see it through to completion.

If you see someone that has had a developer role in their resume, they should have good project management and soft skills in addition to well-developed coding skills. When recruiting for a developer, you want to see a greater emphasis on their resumes on creatively solving problems.

Software Developer Salary 2020 | Adaface

The Software Engineer


Adaface coding engineer

According to the general definition

A software engineer is a person who applies the principles of software engineering to the design, development, maintenance, testing, and evaluation of the software that makes computers or other devices containing software work.

In short, a software engineer has a solid educational background and applies engineering concepts to create software solutions. Software Engineers tend to have a much wider experience in multiple domains. Similar to what you would see with a full-stack or a MERN stack developer, you might see a back-end engineer, a systems engineer or a network engineer. There is less room for creative solutions and instead, they need to be more systematic.

Below listed is the scope of knowledge and skills a software engineer must have:

  1. Computer science
  2. Mathematics
  3. Software engineering concepts

A Software Engineer should be able to apply all of their technical knowledge to aid the business side of an application.

Software Engineer salary 2020 | Adaface

How can I test for the skills of a Software Programmer Vs Software Engineer vs Software Developer?

It is very easy to test for the skills of a programmer or an engineer or a developer. You can provide them with the same set of tasks, but what you actually want to see is how they approach the problem and the steps they take to reach the solution.

Using a platform such as Adaface, you can easily create real-world assessments to test your candidates as well as evaluate their coding skills with pair programming interviews.

Understanding these job terms will help you to understand what skills you should look for while hiring the right people.

🌟 Extra Resources 🌟

💡 Pro-Tip: Use our Job Description Generator to create world class developer job descriptions for hiring.

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