Software Developer vs Software Engineer – What is the difference?

There’s been a long debate about the distinction or lack thereof between ‘Software Developer vs Software Engineer’. The trend we are noticing is organisations tend to utilise their own awareness of current employees’ job scope and experience to define job descriptions. These would often be tweaked to suit their needs and fill the gaps in their tech teams. Furthermore, there are often regional variations with a distinct difference in education requirements.

But ultimately, a software developer vs software engineer can each have their unique career path that is different from the other.


Definition of job role between Software Developer vs Software Engineer

Software Developer is a professional who builds software which runs across various types of computers.

Software Engineer is a professional who applies the principles of software engineering for designing, development, maintenance, testing, and evaluation of computer software.


Key responsibilities between Software Developer vs Software Engineer

Software developers use their professional knowledge and skills to modify, write, and debug software for end-customer use. These professionals document software and test applications for clients. Most software developers rely on their knowledge of, Java, C#, and Python to do their jobs. A software developer's position requires a more holistic view of software than a coder or programmer would hold. Software developers are involved in the full cycle of product research, development, testing, and launch. Despite the breadth of their responsibilities, some software developers focus on a single niche, such as mobile application development or Internet of Things development.

On the other hand, software engineers often apply engineering principles to the creation of computer programmes and data management. The job requirements extend beyond technical know-hows since software engineers communicate with a variety of stakeholders, from coders to users. To this end, software engineers need to possess a solid knowledge of algorithms, languages, data structures, scalability, and best practices in systems engineering and web development. Generally, software engineers work with the same technology that software developers use (including Java and C#), but they also incorporate analytics, testing, scaling, and communication into their work.


Education and background between Software Developer vs Software Engineer

The education and background of software developers and software engineers encompasses various similarities. Most software developers and software engineers hold degrees in computer science or software engineering.

Students can then tailor coursework or specialise in software development or software engineering within the offered university programmes. In addition, online and independent study options can make learning about web development easy and accessible. However,  open course learning may not be a suitable substitute for formal college education in many career choices.

Unlike the software development, software engineering students absorb significant risk with the lack of actual hands-on projects and experience when trying to substitute coursework with virtual lessons and this might be a damaging factor when clinching a role in the workforce.


Work style between Software Developer vs Software Engineer

Software engineers tend to solve issues on a much larger scale. This leaves little room for creative solutions, and instead, a more systematic thinking.

Although software developers tend to do everything that engineers do, it is on a limited scale. This allows them to be more creative than a software engineer who focuses on coming up with solutions.

Software engineers also tend to work in silos while software developers can come together as a team to generate ideas, strategise and work on solutions together.


Career progression between Software Developer vs Software Engineer

Below is a breakdown of roles and jobs in Singapore between a software developer vs software engineer if you’re thinking about how your career path could look:


Software Engineer jobs in Singapore:

  • Senior Software Engineer
  • Tech Lead
  • Team Manager or Principal Software Engineer
  • Lead Software Development Engineer
  • Director, Vice President, Chief Technology Officer


Software Developer jobs in Singapore:

  • Senior Software Developer
  • Lead Developer
  • Technical Architect / Software Architect
  • Development Team Lead or Software Development Manager
  • Director, Vice President, Chief Technology Officer


Software Developer vs Software Engineer salary Singapore

Even though the salary of a software engineer varies significantly based on the region, technical expertise, and technology, software engineers generally have a higher salary than software developers.

To be more precise, Glassdoor offers insights concerning the global average incomes for software engineers. For instance, the average base salary for a local software engineer in Singapore is S$58,000 per year while software developers typically earn an average of S$50,000 per year. Nonetheless, this does not mean that you are on the losing end if you were to pursue a software developer role. The average additional cash compensation for a software developer in Singapore is approximately S$12,080, with a range from S$3,000 to S$21,470 per month.

Additionally, this is also dependent on years of experience. Entry-level positions for software engineers can start at S$51,000 per year, while those who have worked their way up the career ladder can make up to S$95,000 per year.


Want to pursue a more senior role in software engineering and software development?

If you want to progress quickly in the field of software engineering or software development, try these few best practices we’ve collated below:

  • Be proactive and lend a helping hand to your colleagues, even outside of your immediate responsibilities
  • Pitch in to help others on the software development or software engineering team
  • Collaborate closely with other departments, like marketing, UX design, and data teams, to better understand their needs
  • Be inquisitive and ask questions so you fully understand the broader goals of your business or clients
  • Ask for feedback on how to improve your code and programming
  • Get involved in software engineering or software development communities outside of work to further improve your skills, knowledge and network
  • Share industry developments and articles with your team to establish yourself as a thought leader who's invested in the field


We specialise in software development and software engineering jobs in Singapore

If you wish to find out more about talent trends and other key tips within software development or software engineering, or if you are in either profession who wish to find out more about different career options, career progression or may be looking for a job in Singapore, please reach out to us via the form below and a dedicated specialist consultant will be in touch with you.


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