What is the Difference Between a Software Engineer and a Computer Programmer?

The terms software engineer or computer programmer may be confusing to the average computer user. Most of us associate computer programs with the generic term ‘Software’. To us it may seem that the terms are interchangeable. That is not so. The role played by a software engineer is significantly different from that of a computer programmer. Before learning what the difference between a software engineer and a computer programmer is, let us see what is meant by the term software engineering and how it relates to computer programming.

Software engineering is a rigorous approach to development, maintenance and testing of software. These are engineers who must be knowledgeable about software requirements, design, development, maintenance and testing. They must be well versed with the tools and methods used for the development process as a whole. It is thus a convergence of the fields of computer science and systems engineering with a great deal of project management added for good measure. They are expected to have technical skills in addition to managerial skills.

A computer programmer on the other hand, is required to develop, test and maintain code that is to be run on the computer. He is responsible for converting the specifications provided in the software requirements definition phase into working code for the computer. Computer programmers are involved with design and maintenance of websites too. They should be proficient in analysis of programs. They are required to collaborate with manufacturers in developing new methodologies for software with evolution of hardware. Training, documentation and generation of reports are also tasks that should be handled by a computer programmer.

We can observe that the skill set required by a computer programmer is a subset of the skills expected from a software engineer. The computer programmer is a specialist in some areas covered by software engineering. A software engineer is in charge of the overall software development process and is expected to improve the reliability and maintainability of this complex process. A software engineer may have a team of computer programmers working under his supervision. 

The Nature and Scope of Software Engineering

Software engineering looks into designing and implementing software applications and also modifying them so that they are better suited to client requirements. It is one of the most important aspects of software development and is a must to be implemented in any organization that has undertaken software development activities. Though a basic engineering degree in computer science is enough to work as a software engineer, a better advantage would be to have a license. In the U.K, it is the British Software Society that licenses software engineers. In Canada, they have the Professional Engineer (P.Eng) designation, though as per the law, there is no necessity to have such qualifications.

There are several sub-disciplines into which can be divided. These are software requirements, software design, software development, software testing, and software maintenance and software configuration management. The need for software engineering came about because of computing history. Problems such as the ‘software crisis’, ‘complexity barrier’ hindered progress which were in course of time resolved through various techniques that came to encompass as a whole.

While a software engineer also takes on the role of a programmer, a programmer will not take on the role of an engineer, which basically involves dealing with theoretical constructs of software and hardware development. There are many job domains and these include programmers, hardware administrators, network specialists and system testers. The overall purpose of this is to develop and maintain systems that work reliably and which can meet up to the expectations of customers and which process information in an efficient manner. A point to be noted about this field is that though it incorporates programming, it also looks into factors such as understanding client requirements, designing principle and testing to ensure that the application conforms to standards that have been set.

Who Pays the Best Software Engineer Salary

If you’re seeking greener pastures, a career in software engineering is definitely worth exploring. According to trusted sources, a software engineer salary is an upwards of 100% compared to other careers and is the fastest growing as well. The exact engineer salary will vary of course depending on the location and company, but the average numbers across the globe rings in at $90,000.

Software engineering is a field of computer science that deals with the creation of software for computers and other electronic devices. A software engineer is not to be confused with a computer programmer as the two disciplines are considerably different. Basically, a software engineer designs the programs, while a computer programmer created the codes to make them work.

Locating great engineering talent is not easy in itself so tech companies are happy to pay top $$$ for those who excel at what they do and also to keep them happy. So if you’re curious to know which tech heavyweights pay their engineers the most, the salaries of these global organizations will definitely raise eyebrows.

1. Juniper Networks – engineers at Juniper Networks not Facebook or Google are the highest paid on this list. With a base salary of $160,000, Juniper is a network component maker and a close rival of Cisco Systems. The engineer salary offered by Juniper is significantly higher than the global world average for this discipline.

2. Google – a company that doesn’t allow its employees to go more than 150 feet for food and backed by a vibrant history, Google is the second highest payer on this list, and pays its engineers a base salary of $124,520. Not only are software engineers handsomely paid, they and other employees enjoy a plethora of perks including 3 gourmet meals a day, allowed to bring their trained canines to work, and spend 20% of their time on developing ideas of their own among others.

3. Twitter – Coming in at #3, Twitter – a social media heavyweight pays its software engineers a base salary $120,000 and a bucket load of perks. Twitter has garnered a reputation of being one of the top places to work with rooftop team meetings and free food.

4. Facebook – Another social media bigwig, a base engineer salary at Facebook is no less $119,000 plus some of the most fantastic perks in Silicon Valley. The biggest and unique benefit of working at Facebook is the ability to set your own hours without compromising on a hefty paycheck.

5. Apple – with an engineer salary ringing in at $118,000, working at the Apple headquarters in Cupertino CA is truly an experience of a lifetime. Although a hard company to work for, all employees at Apple are well compensated for their time including phenomenal benefits.