Software Engineering Vs Programming, Is there a Difference?

One Eternal question from the fresher or junior resources who are joining the parade of IT industry Jobs is that “Is there a real difference, if at all; being a Software Engineer or a Programmer”… well most of them don’t wish to know it or to be precise they don’t want to have it. Software Engineering Vs Programming;  the truth is bit different. Am not going to complain about their stand, its because of organizations too. While on defining the designations, the variations are not properly covered in the job description.  Let me talk about how these things are different from my point of view.

Software Engineering and Programming, although they appear to be similar, there are differences in them. Programming is more about writing code, whereas Engineering is about the building complete system. Confusing…??, Yes I accept that part, but read more below….

Programming is considered to be a small part of Software Engineering, which includes but not limited to the following (technical & soft skills):

  • Understanding the Requirements
  • Solutioning the Product
  • Designing the Software
  • Planning the Road map
  • Organizing the Code
  • Knowledge about Infrastructure
  • Testing software
  • Collaborating with other Software Engineers

Difference between Software Engineering and Programming:


  • The programmer writes complete program or develop code
  • Programming is the primarily a personal activity (many ways of doing one item, differs person to person)
  • Programming is just an aspect of software development (need more spice to make the recipe complete)

Software Engineering:

  • The Software Engineer architects the software components, which will be combined with components written by other Software Engineers to build a system (small piece of BIG picture)
  • Crafting the Product with Quality Cautious attitude
  • Software engineering is the team activity
  • Large software systems need to be developed similar to other Engineering practices (Relay on some of the old Engineering practices blended with modern Techniques)
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The role of Software Engineer and Computer Programmer are not interchangeable. Although many argue that both has the similar job of coding, decoding and designing, their job descriptions are different from each other and this difference will make a huge impact in their day to day jobs which turns to their roles & responsibilities in organizations.

Difference between Software Engineer and Programmer:

Software Engineer Vs Programmer:

The Software Engineer and Programmer both help in creating a new software. Their responsibilities are integral to develop a new piece of Software which may be a new video games, computer programs or phone apps etc. However, the Software Engineer may sometimes program the code. But the programmer only writes code, which will allow the program to function in a proper way.

Software Engineers:

They are also called as Software Developers. They are involved in creative design work too, which is essential to develop new systems or any apps. They decide upon what a business or client need is and will design/craft the software according to their expectations. The software engineer will further decide about what the software application should they develop and how should they look too.

Some software engineers are also called as Systems Software Engineers, who will design operating systems to control the functions of computer, video game consoles, smartphones and other devices too.

Computer Programmers:

Computer programmers will develop the basic design of Software and will turn them into reality by writing codes. This coding will make the applications or operating system or any piece of work to function as desired. The programmer will know different web development languages, like Rails, PHP, Go, C++, Java, Python, Lua and more. The programmer will basically specialize in one type of programming till recent past. But a new term of “Full-Stack Developer” makes the industry expectation be bit different, so any Programmer will know a minimum of 5 programming skills to work on any of the code development.

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Now the very interesting comparison; While talking about their salary, although both the programmer and software engineers get good salary but the software engineers are paid higher. According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2012 (I know its old, still valid), the computer programmer makes an average of $78,260 a year, whereas the software engineers make an average of $93,280.

Besides knowing the major differences between Software Engineering and Computer Programming, both the job-role serve to be a better choice for the personnel who are striving to become professionals with huge career opportunity. However, if your desire is to get highly paid, then no doubt, Software Engineering can be your perfect choice, perhaps the difference in salary vary and depends on the location you are in. To add to your information, the job growth rate of programmers is about 15%, whereas it is estimated to be 30% for software engineers.

Software Engineering Vs Programming … Happy Reading…

Please leave your comments, so we can understand your views too. Thanks….