Software Engineer vs Software Developer: What’s The Difference?

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  • 24 March 2023
software engineer vs software developer

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The terms "software engineer" and "software developer" are often used interchangeably, but they do have some nuanced differences.

In general terms, a software engineer is a professional who applies engineering principles to the design, development, testing, and maintenance of software. 

On the other hand, a software developer is typically someone who is primarily focused on writing and testing code to create software applications or systems. 

Ultimately, both software engineers and developers play crucial roles in building and maintaining the software that powers our modern world. Both of these professions require one to do a B.Tech or a BCA Degree in Computer Science. 

In this article, you will learn the key difference between the roles and responsibilities of software engineers and software developers, as well as learn how to become a software engineer

What is Software Engineering?

Software Engineering is a discipline that involves the design, development, testing, and maintenance of software systems. It is concerned with applying engineering principles and methodologies to the development of software in order to ensure that it is reliable, efficient, and maintainable.

The software engineering process involves several stages, including requirements gathering, design, implementation, testing, and maintenance. These stages are often iterative and require collaboration between developers, stakeholders, and end-users to ensure that the software meets the needs of all parties involved.

Software engineering is essential in today's world as software is a critical component of many modern systems, including businesses, healthcare, transportation, and communication. It is important that software engineers follow best practices and standards to ensure the quality, safety, and security of the software they develop.

What is Software Development? 

Software development is the process of designing, building, testing, and deploying software applications. It involves a series of activities that are designed to create high-quality software products that meet the needs of end-users.

Throughout the software development process, developers must pay careful attention to software quality, security, and maintainability. This requires a combination of technical skills, such as programming and software engineering, as well as soft skills, such as communication and collaboration, in order to produce software products that meet the needs of end-users.

Basic Skill Set Required in Both Fields 

Becoming a software engineer as well as a developer requires a strong foundation in computer science, programming, and software development. Here are some of the essential skills required- 

  • Programming Languages: Proficiency in at least one programming language is essential for a software engineer. Popular languages include Java, Python, C++, and JavaScript.
  • Data Structures and Algorithms: Understanding data structures and algorithms is crucial for writing efficient and optimised code.
  • Object-Oriented Programming (OOP): OOP concepts such as encapsulation, inheritance, and polymorphism are important for creating modular and reusable code.
  • Database Management: Understanding database management systems (DBMS) and SQL is necessary for working with data.
  • Web Development: Knowledge of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript is important for web development. Familiarity with web frameworks like React, Angular, and Vue is also useful.
  • Operating Systems: Understanding operating systems (OS) and how they interact with hardware is important for writing efficient and optimised code.
  • Version Control: Familiarity with version control systems like Git is important for collaboration with other developers.
  • Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC): Understanding the software development lifecycle, including planning, design, implementation, testing, and maintenance, is crucial for software engineering.
  • Debugging and Testing: The ability to debug and test software is important for finding and fixing bugs and ensuring quality.
  • Problem-Solving: Good problem-solving skills are essential for software engineers to identify and solve complex problems.

In addition to technical skills, software engineers and developers should also possess strong communication and collaboration skills to work effectively in a team environment. Continuous learning and staying updated with the latest technologies and trends in software engineering are also important.

Key Difference Between Software Engineer and Software Developer

Here are some of the key differences between a software engineer and a software developer.

Software Engineer 

Software Developer 


Software engineers design, create and test software applications for the improvement of the system. 

Software developers are concerned with the development, testing, maintenance, and implementation of software and computer applications. 


They go through the whole process of the development cycle to fulfil the needs of the clients and their company. 

They are only responsible for the development of software. They collaborate with programmers to fix bugs and test software.  

Degree Programs 

The engineering degree programs are focused on design and engineering fundamentals. 

Software development degrees are more focused on system development, like web and mobile applications. 

Tasks Performed 

A software engineer works to improve the system with different kinds of suggestions, either from the end users or any other corner. 

Software developer keeps an eye on functional specification and delivers the codes required in given circumstances. 

Type of Activity 

Works in Teams 

More of a Solitary Activity

Career Path 

  • Junior Software Engineer
  • Software Engineer
  • Senior Software Engineer
  • Full-stack Engineer
  • DevOps Engineer
  • Software Architect
  • Technical Lead
  • Project Manager
  • Quality Assurance Engineer
  • Junior Software Developer 
  • Software Engineer
  • Front-end Developer
  • Back-end Developer
  • Full-stack Developer
  • Software Architect
  • Technical Lead
  • Project Manager
  • Quality Assurance Engineer

Tools Used 

  • Integrated Development Environments (IDEs) like Eclipse, IntelliJ IDEA, and Visual Studio.
  • Version Control Systems (VCS) like Git and Subversion. 
  • Text Editors like Sublime Text, Atom, and Notepad++.
  • Build tools like  Maven, Gradle, and Ant
  • Debuggers like  GDB and Visual Studio Debugger.
  • Virtual Machines (VMs) like VirtualBox and VMware.


The average salary for a Software Engineer is ₹7,25000 per year in India.

The average salary for a Software Developer is ₹7,00000 per year in India

Certifications Offered in Both Fields 

There are several certifications available in both the software engineering and software development fields. Here are a few examples:

Certified Software Development Professional (CSDP)

  • Offered by the IEEE Computer Society
  • Designed to validate the software development knowledge and skills of professionals.
  • Covers topics such as software design, coding, testing, and maintenance.

Certified Software Development Associate (CSDA)

  • Offered by the IEEE Computer Society, this certification is designed for entry-level software development professionals. It covers topics such as software engineering fundamentals, software design, coding, and testing.

Certified Software Development Professional (CSDP)

  • Offered by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
  • Designed for experienced software engineers
  • Covers topics such as software design, coding, testing, and project management.

Oracle Certified Professional, Java SE 11 Developer

  • Offered by Oracle
  • Designed to validate the knowledge and skills of Java developers.
  • Covers topics such as Java syntax and semantics, object-oriented programming, and application development using Java SE 11.

Certified Software Tester (CSTE)

  • Offered by the Quality Assurance Institute (QAI)
  • Designed to validate the software testing knowledge and skills of professionals
  • Covers topics such as software testing principles, techniques, and tools.

Certified Scrum Developer (CSD)

  • Offered by the Scrum Alliance
  • Designed for software developers
  • Covers topics such as Agile principles, Scrum framework, and software development practices.

Salary Comparison between Software Engineers and Software Developers

Here is a salary comparison chart for software engineers vs software developers. The information is based on online data uploaded by employees of various multinational companies in India. 

Company Name 

Average Base Salary of a

Software Engineer

Average Base salary of a

Software Developer 


₹20,00,000 /yr 

₹12,18,375 /yr


₹6,00,000 /yr

₹6,00,000 /yr


₹5,00,000 /yr

₹5,12,097 /yr

Cognizant Technology Solutions

₹6,00,000 /yr

₹6,00,000 /yr

Tata Consultancy Services

₹4,24,000 /yr

₹4,20,000 /yr

HCL Tech 

₹4,50,000 /yr 

₹5,07,443 /yr 


₹8,00,000 /yr 

₹8,72,282 /yr 


₹18,82, 500 /yr 

₹15,00,000 /yr

Tech Mahindra 

₹4,35,000 /yr 

₹4,73, 735 /yr

Source- Glassdoor 

Career Prospects and Future Scope 

Software engineering and software development are promising career paths with a high demand for professionals in the field. Here are some of the career prospects and future scope of software engineering and software development:

  • High demand: The demand for software engineers and developers is on the rise, and it's projected to grow even more in the future. As technology continues to advance and companies increasingly rely on software to run their businesses, the need for professionals with software development skills is only going to increase.
  • Wide range of job opportunities: Both fields offer a wide range of job opportunities, including roles such as software developer, software engineer, full-stack developer, mobile app developer, software architect, and more.
  • Good salary prospects: Software engineering and software development offer excellent salary prospects, with many job roles in the field offering high salaries and good benefits.
  • Career growth: With the rapid pace of technological innovation, there are many opportunities for career growth in software engineering and software development. You can advance to more senior roles, take on leadership positions, or start your own software development business.
  • Remote work opportunities: Both fields are increasingly offering remote work opportunities, allowing you to work from anywhere in the world and have a better work-life balance.
  • Diverse industries: Both of these work profiles are used in a wide range of industries, from healthcare to finance, entertainment to e-commerce, providing diverse and exciting opportunities for professionals in the field.

How Sunstone Can Help You- 

In conclusion, software engineering and software development are rapidly growing fields with excellent job prospects, high salaries, and opportunities for career growth. If you want to upgrade your skills and get involved in hands-on training, Sunstone is the appropriate place for you. At Sunstone, we provide 70+ sessions by recruiters and industry experts to help you grow.  You can also get the opportunity to participate in various capstone projects every semester and get the required hands-on experience before entering the industry. 

FAQ- Software Engineer Vs Software Developer 

Which is better — software engineer or software developer?

There isn't a clear-cut answer to whether a software engineer or software developer is better. In practice, many companies use the terms "software engineer" and "software developer interchangeably, so the distinction may not be as important as your overall experience and skill set. Ultimately, both roles can be rewarding and offer strong career prospects in the tech industry.

Which pays more — software engineer or developer?

In general, software engineer salary tend to be higher than software developers due to their more advanced responsibilities in designing and managing software systems. However, the specific salaries can vary widely based on factors such as location, industry, company size, and experience level.

Can a software developer be called an engineer?

Yes, a software developer can be called an engineer, as the terms "software engineer" and "software developer" are often used interchangeably in the tech industry. 

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