Software Developer vs Software Engineer: What's the Difference

Software Developer vs Software Engineer: What's the Difference

Modis Posted 18 August 2022

With demand for Software Developers and Software Engineers growing, this career path is one that can provide long-term growth and success for top IT professionals, while allowing organizations to tap into their expertise to innovate and evolve their businesses. In a study conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2023 jobs in the Software Development space will grow by 22 percent. This is much faster than the average for all other occupations. The BLS says many of the openings, about 189,200 projected each year on average, result from the need to replace workers who are expected to exit the labor force due to things like retirement. With that in mind, now is a great time to start looking for your next top software position, or, bring on a new software professional to your team.

But, with so many different skill sets, job functions and levels of tech expertise, how do you know which route to take or who exactly to hire? Software developer or a software engineer? We get the question all the time. Even a rudimentary search on Google shows it’s sometimes confusing to differentiate between the two. But, not to fear! Our goal at Akkodis is to help you navigate the complex world of work and make the best decisions for your career or organization. So, we’re diving into the technical skills and job duties that each position holds to give you a better understanding of what sets a software engineer and a software developer apart. 

Employees working on computer


According to this year’s Stack Overflow Developer Survey, 80% of professional developers have completed some form of higher education. We often see a degree in computer science or software engineering. Coursework can be tailored to specific areas or students can choose to specialize in software development within these programs. Some universities in the U.S. offer a bachelor's in software development. Some organizations prefer to hire software developers who have a masters degree, and fortunately, there are quite a few masters programs available.

Software Engineers often earn bachelors or masters computer science degrees and some universities actually offer these degrees entirely online. There are programs out there at non-traditional education providers, but sometimes these don’t adequately carry over into the world of work.  

Job Descriptions

Software developers modify, write, and debug software for end-customer use. These professionals also document software and test applications for clients. Software developers work within the full development life cycle including product research, development, testing, and launch. Some software developers focus on a single niche, like mobile application development or Internet of Things development for example.

Software engineers create, design and develop computer programs and data management. Because software engineers communicate and work closely with a variety of stakeholders, from coders to users, their job requirements often extend far beyond just technical know-how. Software engineering professionals also need to possess a solid knowledge of algorithms, languages, data structures, scalability, and best practices in systems engineering and web development. 

Technical Expertise

Software developers can typically rely on their knowledge of computer programming languages such as, Java, C#, and Python to do their jobs. The top three technical expertise areas for software developers are:

  • Coding languages
  • Database/Data knowledge (structure and algorithms)
  • Source control management 

Generally, software engineers and developers use many of the same technology (including Java and C#), but engineers also incorporate analytics, testing, scaling, and communication into their work. The top three technical expertise areas for software engineers are:

  • Computer system design, programming and coding
  • Object-Oriented Design (OOD)
  • Software testing and debugging

Soft Skills

Aside from a focus on each technical skill a developer has, it is also important that they approach problems creatively, have strong time management abilities, be empathetic and have high EI, and be able to collaborate well with other team members.

Engineers also have a heavy focus on the technical side of their jobs. However, because they work with so many stakeholders, they also need to possess: 

  • A strong attention to detail
  • Problem solving skills
  • High-level written and verbal communication
  • A team player attitude


The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2020 data shows a median salary for professionals in this field as ~$110,000 per year. Of course, this depends on years of experience, technical expertise and the local market. Looking for salary data that’s a little more concrete? Well, once you decide between hiring a Software Developer or Engineer, or which role you’d like to focus on in your career journey, our 2022 Salary Guide can do the rest. We’ve gathered the best comprehensive salary ranges in the market for entry level software positions to executive level jobs and everything in between. 

Salary Breakdown

For a software engineer the range is: $71,000-$187,000

For a software developer the range is: $76,00-$185,00

But, if you want a more specific number, just grab our Salary Guide, and to help you read the salaries for engineer and developer, here’s how we breakdown the info:

Base salary: 

  • 10TH PERCENTILE - Only 10% of the national workforce — across all industries and company sizes — is paid below this figure.
  • MEDIAN - Only 50% of the national workforce — across all industries and company sizes — is paid below or above this figure.
  • 90TH PERCENTILE - Only 10% of the national workforce — across all industries and company sizes — is paid above this figure.

Median base salary by experience level:

  • LOW EXPERIENCE - The median base salary for the national workforce with 0-1 years of experience.
  • AVERAGE EXPERIENCE - The median base salary for the national workforce with 2-10 years of experience.
  • HIGH EXPERIENCE - The median base salary for the national workforce with more than 10 years of experience.

Aside from all the job titles and corresponding  salary ranges for software developers and engineers, plus hundreds of other IT positions, our Salary Guide also highlights some important industry insights you need to know that will help you make the best decision for your career or organization.

Career or Team Advancement

Finding a new job and hiring new talent can be stressful and demanding. For job seekers, even in the current job market that seems to be rich with opportunities, the process requires you to stand out in the crowd. For hiring managers, not only do you have to stand out, but you have to make the right offer quickly. The software engineering and development job search and hiring ecosystems have never been more complex, but working with a staffing partner can help you navigate the job search or hiring process, while giving you the advantage you need over the competition. 

Whether you’re looking to advance your software engineer career, land your dream job as a software developer or hoping to connect with the best tech talent out there, Akkodis is here to support you.

We’ve got local experts, who know the market and the industry, standing by to ensure you find exceptional professionals or job opportunities. There is so much to love about working with us – from our passion for technology and our focus on the culture of innovation, to our enhanced career and development opportunities. If you want to be part of shaping the future, let Akkodis join you in your career or business journey.

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