What's the difference between a software developer and software engineer?

asofteng on May 16, 2018

As a grade 10 high-school dropout with no formal eduction, who decided to skip school and jump into a career in development, I find my last two c... [Read Full]
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"A software engineer is a person who think, gather requirements, develop, test, debug and deploy." "While a developer is a person who works in a pre built and developed environment by software engineers for result oriented objectives"


I think that trying to differentiate between software developer and software engineer is merely playing with semantics. Sure, outside the software industry, there is a clear definition of what an engineer is. However, if you look at the software industry, people with both job titles do essentially the same job.

I have yet to hear of a company that employs software developers and software engineers, has different role descriptions for them, and they are actually assigned tasks different enough in nature to justify having two titles.


I understand the terms to be more-or-less interchangeable, but I prefer the developer because engineer has specific connotations outside our industry that could cause confusion.


Engineering, in any applied science, is (in my opinion), a profressional who places a high importance on:

  • Efficiency: Maximizing value, Minimizing Cost
  • Reliability: Does it break? How often? How hard is it to fix when it does?
  • Re-usability: This goes back to minimizing cost, by minimizing human capital. Don't reinvent the wheel.

I know some developers who would probably not want to be known as software engineers under these terms. I'm okay with that. These are what I value in software development, and why I refer to myself as an engineer.

I know plenty of people who mix solvents but aren't chemical engineers, plenty of people who use AutoCAD that aren't mechanical engineers, etc.

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