Difference Between a Software Developer and Software Engineer: Skills, roles, challenges, salaries

Difference Between a Software Developer and Software Engineer: Skills, roles, challenges, salaries

The professions of software developers and software engineers are often misunderstood. Most people tend to believe that these are identical jobs. However, it isn’t completely true.

Software Developer vs Software Engineer

We shall cover the responsibilities of both and how their jobs differ.

What is a Software Engineer?

A software engineer is a specialist that is capable of applying the principles of software engineering for literally everything throughout the development process: design, testing, maintenance, etc.

In most cases, these experts work with more challenging tasks like creating enterprise-oriented business solutions. This allows them to take on greater responsibilities, become team leads and senior developers, and get other high-ranked positions in the industry.

What is a Software Developer?

A software developer is a specialist who builds or creates software that runs on various types of devices. Such people write codes for applications from scratch. You are using a browser to read this article – that’s the work of a developer too.


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The major difference from engineers is that developers follow strict instructions and work on projects where they actually build the software. Of course, they get some freedom when it comes to the selection of methods and approaches, but developers are still somewhat limited.

What challenges do both face?

To clarify everything a bit further, we have prepared a list of several challenges that software developers and engineers face during their daily routine.


  • Working with end-user requirements;
  • Trying to change the requirements for better results;
  • Using models that do not suit each other;
  • Improving software that is hard to maintain or enhance;
  • Find bugs, errors, and flaws during the late development stages.


  • Working over safety-critical projects, which carries a great responsibility because the smallest error might put someone’s life at risk (nuclear plants, space industry, etc);
  • Higher market demand;
  • Working on new applications that are in demand due to software complexity;
  • Making different software systems work together.

Required skills

Each profession requires a fixed set of skills. Acquiring these may take years, but it is necessary that every specialist knows their job.

However, when it comes to software developers and engineers, the required skills are very similar. Here is a list of some of them:

  • Analytical skills;
  • Knowledge of how to create and maintain an IT database;
  • At least some experience with cloud infrastructures;
  • Knowledge of various creation methods like Agile, Rapid, etc.

Although this is just the tip of the iceberg, it already shows how much work should software developers and engineers do.

How much are software developers and software engineers paid?

According to Glassdoor, the average base pay for a software developer is $76,526 per year. While there are companies that pay over $160,000 per year, only the best specialists work there.

Speaking of software engineers, their average base pay per year is $92,046 per year. There are companies that pay almost $200,000 per year, but it is pretty hard to find a free spot among those.

Software Developer vs Software Engineer

Companies such as Google, Microsoft, Fujitsu, Facebook, and Cisco Systems provide the highest salaries in this industry. You might consider trying to use that as motivation if you’re into software creation.

Where to find a software developer and engineer?

If you want to hire any of these two specialists, there are several options where to hire them.

  1. Freelance platforms

There are many places like Upwork, Fiverr, and others where freelance specialists search for one-time or long-term projects. While their pricing may be quite low when compared to the industry average, they still provide quality work. Just make sure you choose the proper specialist.

  1. Staffing agencies

It is possible to find both outsource and outstaff specialists. In this case, the prices are usually higher, but you get a team member who is more engaged in your business processes.

  1. The GlobalCloudTeam

The best choice in terms of price and quality is contacting the GlobalCloudTeam. With over 450+ industry professionals, the company will form a team of experts in no time.

The bottom line

Now, you know the difference between a software developer and a software engineer.

Of course, both professions have many similar requirements, roles, skills, etc., but when you look a little closer, you see that they have totally different responsibilities. Keep that in mind when you decide who you want to be in the future or who you need to hire.

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