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Software Engineer vs Software Developer: Key differences

Information Technology

Blog Date
February 22,

The constant evolution of technology has opened up career pathways for students like never before. Innumerable students today opt for very well-rewarding careers in the field of software. Among these, the job roles that bag the highest attention of students are software engineers and software developers. Aspiring IT professionals may sometimes get confused between these two terms, considering that they tend to sound similar in function. However, the two are very distinct, though equally in high demand in the IT market. 

This blog aims at exploring further the key distinctions between a Software Engineer and a Software Developer, to help you make an informed choice while pursuing the course for a promising career path.

Who is a Software Engineer? 

Let us begin by understanding the basic definitions of the two professional roles. A Software Engineer is a professional in the domain of computer science who is involved in the design, maintenance, and testing of software by using programming languages and principles of engineering. They are primarily responsible for developing software solutions for end users.

Who is a Software Developer?  

Software developers are primarily involved in the creation of computer programs or applications that help meet specific user requirements. These technical professionals are responsible for writing code and creating the required software that would run apps on various computer devices, including mobiles and other digital platforms. 

Key differences between Software Engineer & Software Developer

As similar as they may sound, software engineers and software developers have some striking differences that are tabulated below for your understanding:

Parameters Software engineerSoftware developer
Academic & professional skillsDebugging softwareKnow-how of software architectureProgramming languagesSoftware tool creationCollaborative skills Testing of codeProgramming languagesUse of software tools for app development
Scope of workPlanning, designing, and building a computer system or a complete software Responsible for developing only a part of the computer system or a specific software 
Career prospectsJunior EngineerLead Software EngineerSoftware DeveloperTesterQuality AnalystTechnical ArchitectLead Developer
Work environmentMore collaboration; requires coordination with other engineers on the team and external team members in design/product Independent work; seldom requires coordination with other engineers/developers 
Average salary (approx)INR 5 lakh – 15 lakh per annumINR 7 lakh – 18 lakh per annum

What does a Software Engineer do?

A key difference between the two roles lies in the different job responsibilities and tasks of Software Engineers and Developers. Let us understand these in a little more detail. 

Software Engineers are primarily involved in the tasks of designing and developing computer software and are also entrusted with the additional responsibility of its regular maintenance. They use their specialized technical and creative skills for these tasks, putting into use the advanced principles of software engineering that they have learned as part of software engineering courses.

Listed below are a few key responsibilities of a software engineer at work:

  • Software optimization for enhanced speed
  • Development and maintenance of software apps or systems
  • Enforcement of IT standards within an infrastructure
  • Testing and evaluation of new software programs
  • Check for platform compatibility 
  • Code writing and testing 

What does a Software Developer do? 

The key role of a software developer is to build computer programs, create new software, and improve on existing software apps by using programming skills. This is what software developers are involved in:

  • Build in-built operating systems
  • Develop game, database, and web apps
  • Develop new desktop and mobile apps
  • Maintenance and updation of code for existing software programs
  • Code writing from scratch for a new app or program
  • Software bug check
  • Develop computer games

Software Engineer salary in India

The pay scales for professionals in these two roles are determined by the skills and qualifications required for Software Engineer and Developer roles, respectively. The salaries earned by both also differentiate the two professions.

For instance, the average annual salary of a software engineer in India is estimated to be in the approximate range of INR 5 lakh to 15 lakh per annum. This is indicative only and is likely to vary as per the location of the job, the skills of the student, as well as an increase in professional experience. 

Software Developer salary in India 

Software developers are likely to enjoy a slightly higher salary range compared to their software engineer counterparts. As per Glassdoor, the average range of salary earned by a software developer in India is likely to be between INR 7 lakh and 18 lakh per annum. The figures are indicative only and may differ as per change in academic skills and/or work experience of the candidate. 

Software Engineer vs Software Developer: What to choose?

We aimed to explain the differing parameters defining the two job roles that sound rather alike. We discussed the various factors that distinguish software engineers from software developers. Now that we know that they indeed have different roles in an organization, how to choose which one would be the best fit for the job?

The simple answer is to look for the skills of both professionals as well as the work experience they hold in their respective domains. These two components are primarily the deciding factors in choosing between the two professionals. Additionally, be sure of your business requirements and the final objective of your project. With that clarity, you would be able to better decide which of the two options is the right fit for your business needs. 


Software Engineers and Software Developers make an equally significant contribution to the computer industry. This explains the consistent rise in industry demand and trends for Software Engineering and Development professionals. Their skills and expertise are always required to find the most apt technical solutions to user problems and needs. 

Sikkim Manipal University offers online courses in Master of Computer Applications (MCA) on the Online Manipal platform. The course is designed to equip students with the right skills and knowledge, paving the way for promising career paths and growth opportunities for Software Engineers and Developers alike.         


Information related to companies and external organizations is based on secondary research or the opinion of individual authors and must not be interpreted as the official information shared by the concerned organization.

Additionally, information like fee, eligibility, scholarships, finance options etc. on offerings and programs listed on Online Manipal may change as per the discretion of respective universities so please refer to the respective program page for latest information. Any information provided in blogs is not binding and cannot be taken as final.

  • TAGS
  • online degree
  • software developer
  • software engineer

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