Difference: Software engineer and software coder

So what’s the difference between a software engineer and a software developer, between a coder and a computer programmer? This article is all about determining the differences between these terms, we’ve got a software engineer, we’ve got a software programmer, we’ve got a computer programmer, we’ve got a coder. So what are the differences between these? Are these different jobs?

Or if they all sort of end up being the same? Well firstly keep in mind that there’s really no one standard way of dealing with these terms. In other words, when you get into the industry you’ll find that you might find a programming job that has different titles, but is essentially the same position. But in general, what we’ll do is start off by talking about what we believe the fundamental differences are between them.


Starting it off with a coder. Now generally a coder would be somebody who is starting out in the industry and is perhaps new to programming, and this would be someone who’s got the absolute basics of programming, and perhaps have done a course, done some training, and it’s their first programming job. So it could be like a coder, would be a common name for that position, of a junior programmer. So they’re not really involved in any design, they’re usually given their work, and they’ve got a specific part of an application, or a specific sort of scope of responsibilities, which relate to programming something.

Programmer (coder) and Software developer

Now as you progress up, you become a computer programmer or software developer, those terms generally, it’s still talking about programming, but we would say that they would be more advanced programmers. So someone with more experience, someone who knows a bit more, has been working in the field for a few more years.

Very common to see a job with either of these terms, computer programmer, software developer. Now getting back to, or getting to software engineer, or software engineering in general, this can be classified more as the design side of things.

In other words, you’re not just programming, you haven’t got design coming to you with a design, and saying program this, you’re more of an architect, so you’re designing, you’re putting some work into designing the application as well. So software engineers can be involved in that process or architecting, designing the program, and figuring out what functionalities are going to be in there, perhaps really coming up with the blueprint. And the analogy there would be a software engineer could be, something like an architect.

So an architect builds a plan for a house, so that would be the software engineer, and the architect then gives the designs, the blueprints if you will, for a house to a builder, the builder would be the computer programmer or software developer.


So in general that’s what those terms and the difference are, but in practice, you find there’s a lot of overlap. For example, a software engineer will often be a coder as well, they’ll often be a software developer. So not only do they design applications, but they’ll actually be building the applications, writing the code themselves. Also, you’ll find that, there’s actually a role also for a software architect. So a software architect is someone who specializes in architecting applications. So the point of all this is there’s a lot of overlap between these terms, not everyone out there agrees, there’s no really one way of categorizing, what the various roles are. In general, you’ll find that there’s a lot of blurring of the lines between these positions, but if you keep in mind what we’ve talked about, the principal changes or differences we should say, between these roles, that’ll give you a good general idea of what the industry looks at in terms of these roles, and what each role ultimately does.

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