If you want your skills as a software engineer or developer to stand out, it's best not to use both terms in your curriculum vitae (CV). There's an easy way to differentiate yourself from other candidates without needing to make any major changes to your career path—just change where you studied!
The definitions for these two roles vary slightly across industries, but there are some commonalities that can help you decide which one suits you better. Let's take a look at what makes a good software engineer compared to a good developer.
A software engineer’s primary role is designing and developing enterprise-level systems. Software engineers typically have higher education levels than developers. They also tend to be more experienced with complex projects due to their longer tenure within organizations.
Software engineers often deal directly with clients while working on different stages of product development. This means they need strong communication skills and problem solving abilities, along with excellent organizational skills.
One area where many people struggle when switching careers into coding is finding new opportunities. Software Engineers are usually skilled enough to land jobs quickly since most companies prefer hiring those who already have experience. That said, this does come with risks like having to relocate to find a suitable position.
Another crucial aspect of being a software engineer is the ability to manage multiple tasks simultaneously, such as writing code, testing, reviewing documentation, collaborating with others, etc., all under tight deadlines. Many successful software engineers stay up until 3 AM every night completing small tasks, ensuring nothing gets left undone before the next day.
This level of dedication and passion towards productivity might seem exhausting to someone just starting off learning how to develop apps. However, it comes with long-term benefits. The high number of hours spent on your computer each week translates into real-life knowledge about various programming languages.
There are five general categories of software engineering. Some of them may overlap depending on industry requirements.
1) Systems Engineering
Systems engineering focuses on building large-scale IT infrastructure. Examples include databases, networks, servers, cloud computing platforms, mobile app frameworks, web services, etc.
2) Design Engineering
Design engineering takes care of creating user interfaces, wireframes, visual designs, database schemas, system architecture, etc.
3) Implementation Engineering
Implementation engineering refers to planning, organizing, executing, monitoring, supporting, and maintaining the implementation of products. You will mostly interact with customers during implementation phases.
4) Testing & QA Engineering
Testing & quality assurance engineers test newly developed programs for possible errors and glitches. Their goal is to ensure the highest customer satisfaction throughout the project lifecycle by providing bug fixes—along with improving overall performance.
5) Project Management
Project management engineers coordinate teams and organize schedules, budgets, resources, timelines, milestones, deliverables, issues, etc.
They plan events and meet goals through effective leadership, delegation, time tracking, reporting, metrics, accountability, etc.
As mentioned earlier, software engineers generally possess advanced degrees. But even though they're well educated, they don't always understand everything right away. Therefore, they must rely heavily on colleagues' expertise.
Most software engineers specialize in particular areas, so they only focus on specific aspects of a given program. For example, data scientists combine statistics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence to solve problems related to analytics, predictions, modeling, optimization, etc.
An entry-level software engineer could easily get lost among other highly specialized professionals. To avoid getting overlooked, experts recommend focusing on broad topics rather than specializing too early.
In addition, the scope of responsibilities varies significantly across firms. While one company has a dedicated HR department responsible for recruiting employees, another might handle that task internally. In either case, it is essential to keep track of changing priorities and updates to reflect current practices.
It isn't necessary to become an expert in all fields to succeed as a software engineer. As long as your portfolio demonstrates competency in several key areas, employers won't hesitate to hire you.
However, becoming a software engineer requires mastering certain core principles behind modern programming languages. A lot goes beyond knowing syntaxes and algorithms. Here are few things you should consider doing once you start studying:
Learn how to create efficient codes: Coding involves logic and reasoning. Beginners should first master logical thinking and debugging techniques. Then move onto understanding algorithm efficiency. Afterward, they'll tackle complexity analysis, memory allocation, and compiler optimizations. Finally, practice reading and modifying source files.
Knowledge sharing: Successful software engineers share their ideas openly. They encourage collaboration and motivate peers to contribute to group efforts. Plus, they actively participate in discussions whenever appropriate.
Teamwork: Collaboration plays a vital role in delivering outstanding results efficiently. Thus, they strive to improve existing processes to achieve maximum output. Also, they put emphasis on adhering to standards and guidelines.
Good communication: Communication is instrumental for success. Therefore, they aim to communicate clearly via email, meetings, phone calls, video conferences, etc. Additionally, they listen attentively and ask questions regularly to clarify points made.
Become familiar with relevant libraries: Being proficient in Java allows programmers to integrate third-party APIs seamlessly. Similarly, familiarity with AngularJS helps coders create dynamic websites. Learning MongoDB improves your proficiency with NoSQL databases. These features allow you to choose the technology stack that works best for your organization.
Build reusable modules: Reusability saves time and effort. Hence, coders try to extract patterns and methods instead reinventing wheels over and over again. Furthermore, they utilize open-source libraries to reduce overhead costs.
Create modular applications: Modularization increases accessibility and reduces maintenance cost. So, coders use components to separate functionality into smaller chunks. Once created, components follow strict rules regarding naming conventions, version control, unit tests, integration, security, etc. Such reusability promotes faster deployment cycles.
Make your own decisions: As a programmer, you should feel confident making independent decisions based on practicality and intuition. On the contrary, you shouldn't blindly trust managers and superiors. Instead, you should question authority whenever you think something needs tweaking.
Be adaptable: Programmers should be able to rapidly adjust to market demands. Adaptive behavior gives them the edge against competitors. By constantly staying updated, they remain competitive in today's world of continuous innovation.
Take part in professional societies: Professional associations offer numerous networking opportunities. Moreover, attending conferences and workshops enables you to expand your network and gain additional insight into latest trends.
Being a software engineer doesn't require you to invest significant amounts of money or time. All you need is motivation, persistence, and creativity. With proper guidance, you can break free from "code prison" and pursue an exciting new career trajectory.
To recap, we discussed some differences between software engineer and software developer on a resume. Now let us explore why you'd want to study both?
You may wonder whether you should go after a career in software devlopment or software engiineering. Both roles involve dealing with computers and software. However, the former deals primarily with frontend while the latter focuses on backend technologies.
For beginners, it can be hard to decide which direction to head in. One option would be to join a bootcamp that trains students to acquire foundational knowledge in both camps. Another approach would be to enroll in a university degree program to receive training in both sides. Either choice could lead to lucrative employment prospects down the road.
If you are looking for information about how to write your resume, then this article will help you understand what exactly it means to be a "software engineer" or a "software developer."
It all comes down to which industry you want to work in. If you're going into an IT-related field like web development, mobile app development, etc., being called either of these titles can mean different things depending on where you're applying.
So let's break down both terms so that you have a better idea of their differences.
This question has been asked before with regard to whether someone could just go out and learn programming skills themselves without any formal training. The answer is no---not unless they were already very experienced programmers prior to learning those new skills.
The problem is that many people who try to make career transitions from other fields (e.g., graphic design) often don't realize that there are certain key competencies needed to excel as a professional programmer. These include critical thinking, communication, analysis, troubleshooting, teamwork, time management, leadership ability, prioritization, and more. Even when some people do come across such traits naturally, they may not recognize them immediately because they've never thought of them before.
In short, becoming a good programmer requires much more than simply picking up a few coding languages and throwing yourself at a computer screen every day. You need to be able to think critically, communicate effectively, analyze problems logically, solve complex issues, plan ahead, prioritize tasks efficiently, manage multiple projects simultaneously, and collaborate well within teams. And even though we mentioned several attributes above, there are certainly others!
Being proficient in one area doesn't necessarily translate over to another. For instance, while most developers would consider themselves to be competent communicators, only a small percentage of engineers actually act as effective project managers. In addition, although experts agree that strong analytical abilities should be present in all professionals, many engineers fail miserably when it comes to making decisions.
That said, the title of "Software Developer," rather than "Engineer," implies that you possess enough knowledge and expertise to develop solutions using specific toolsets within a given context. So yes, technically speaking, anyone can theoretically put together code that runs on a machine but they won't truly be considered a software developer until they also demonstrate competence in additional areas.
Now that you have a clearer understanding of what separates a typical "engineer" from a "developer," let's move onto the next topic...
As discussed earlier, the term "software engineer" generally refers to individuals who specialize in writing source codes and creating applications/tools used by end users. That said, software engineering encompasses far more than just coding & building apps—it includes everything related to developing quality products and services. This involves researching market trends, planning product roadmaps, managing budgets, executing marketing strategies, setting performance metrics, dealing with legal concerns, conducting user testing, and more.
When you see the word "engineering" on a job description, it typically indicates that a company expects candidates to focus primarily on coding, analyzing data, designing systems, and similar activities. However, companies seeking employees who can perform various nontechnical roles require workers capable of performing high levels of complexity, creativity, accountability, and flexibility. Such professionals tend to be referred to as "soft skill engineers".
For employers looking to fill positions requiring specialized technical capabilities, however, having a candidate possessing a background in engineering makes sense since they'll likely have a deeper understanding of existing technology and processes. But otherwise, anybody can play a role in working towards solving business challenges.
With that in mind, here are two examples of software engineers:
1. A software engineer employed at Google might oversee hardware components, test designs, train specialists, coordinate schedules, and lead research efforts. Their primary responsibility would be to ensure that production goes smoothly through proper setup, maintenance, and upgrades. They'd also help resolve any unexpected errors or malfunctions via proactive steps.
2. An electrical engineer specializing in power distribution works under the supervision of electric utility providers, helping them maintain public safety networks and infrastructure. He or she monitors system status, tracks usage patterns, identifies potential threats, and develops contingency plans. Once again, he or she takes action quickly to keep everyone safe.
While the first scenario highlights an engineer whose duties revolve around coding, the second describes a person whose responsibilities span numerous disciplines. What matters is that whoever ends up fulfilling the position needs to be versatile and knowledgeable enough to handle whatever task comes along.
Let's say a client asks you to create a website. Your initial reaction may be to start brainstorming ideas right away, find pictures online, get inspiration from Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, etc., and incorporate elements of those images. Afterward, you may spend days tweaking colors, fonts, layouts, navigation menus, text formatting, etc. Maybe after weeks of hard labor, you finally finish your masterpiece and upload it live.
However, once your site is running, you still won't feel fully satisfied with its appearance. Now you must monitor traffic, update content, optimize SEO, add social media buttons, monitor analytics reports, send emails to subscribers, and more. On top of that, if you decide to expand beyond basic hosting, you'll need to purchase dedicated servers, install security patches, upgrade operating systems, set up backups, check firewall logs, and more. All of this sounds overwhelming, isn't it?
Of course, none of us enjoy doing mundane tasks, especially ones that involve constant repetition. Nonetheless, if you weren't aware of the technological changes happening around you each day, you wouldn't know which updates to implement and which to ignore. As such, it becomes difficult to stay competitive if you aren't keeping pace with current demands. Plus, it's impossible to predict future shifts in demand.
Another benefit of gaining extensive foundational knowledge is that it allows you to pick up new skills faster and easier. For example, if you wanted to use MySQL instead of PostgreSQL, you could easily switch by following instructions provided by official documentation. Likewise, if you suddenly came across a new type of language, framework, library, or platform, you could instantly grasp the concepts behind it. Also, thanks to open-source communities, access to free resources increases exponentially.
Perhaps the biggest perk of acquiring a degree in software engineering is that graduates receive hands-on practice implementing real-world scenarios. At the same time, due to the nature of software development, jobs usually change frequently. Therefore, students gain valuable insights about diverse industries, which can aid them throughout their careers.
Finally, remember that the best way to determine whether you fit the bill for a particular role is to speak directly with recruiters and hiring managers. Ask questions regarding their expectations, requirements, and priorities. Don't hesitate to reach out to career advisors if necessary.
To give you a concrete example, imagine that you graduated from university last year and decided to pursue further education. One month later, you received notification that you passed your final exam with a score of 100%. Upon hearing this news, you felt proud of yourself and excitedly began considering courses that would improve upon your weak points.
A couple months went by, and now you found a great part-time gig waiting for you at a local startup. When you showed up for work, you realized that you didn't really belong there. Why was that? Well, unlike traditional businesses, startups rarely provide comprehensive onboarding materials explaining what types of tasks exist, what equipment is required, how long a process usually lasts, what kind of support staff is available, how compensation works, and more. Instead, you're expected to figure out everything on your own, which is pretty challenging.
After struggling to complete simple assignments, you eventually gave up on the job altogether. Fortunately, you had saved money during college that allowed you to continue pursuing tech-based alternatives. Eventually, you landed a full-time offer elsewhere, but you soon learned that you lacked essential skills that would have helped you progress forward. Despite spending hundreds of hours studying every night and putting in extra effort, you couldn't seem to pass all mandatory exams.
The title of this article, "what is the difference between software engineer and software developer on a cv?" may sound like an easy question to answer but when it comes down to building your career in tech, there can be many questions that pop up. One such question is what's the difference between a Software Engineer and Developer? What skills should I have for each job role? Are they interchangeable or different fields altogether?
It's not as simple as just looking at a resume and taking some cues from it. The two roles mentioned above (Software Engineer vs. Software Developer) are quite distinct in nature and often come with their own set of requirements depending upon who needs them most. Let us first understand how these roles differ before we get into more details about becoming one yourself!
A software engineer works directly with code to write programs which help computers perform tasks efficiently. They tend to work closely with developers to ensure smooth integration with applications and systems. A software engineer will usually create new algorithms and solve problems related to coding. You'll also develop various tools to make development processes faster and less error-prone. Your responsibilities would include developing frameworks, designing APIs, creating libraries, etc.
On the other hand, being a software developer means working with the source codes themselves to create apps using open-source technologies. This type of work requires extensive experience with object oriented design principles, data structures, database queries, networking protocols, operating system internals, etc. As far as education goes, any formal degree program in computer science, engineering, mathematics, or statistics qualifies you well enough to apply for either position. However, industry specific certifications like Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator (MCSA), Cisco Network Associate Certificate, CompTIA Security+ Certification, Oracle Database 12c Foundation certification, Linux Professional Institute certificate, etc., might give you an edge over others during interviews.
So, now that you've understood the differences between both positions let's look at what qualifications you'd need for each job role.
You’ll need to demonstrate your expertise in core areas of Computer Science, Engineering, Mathematics, Statistics, Programming Languages, Data Structures & Algorithms, Operating System Internals, Networks, Databases, Big Data, Web Application Development, Mobile App Technology, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing, Cybersecurity, etc. If you're unsure whether or not you meet certain criteria then check out our guide on how to prepare for your next interview.
In addition to academic excellence, you must show proficiency in at least one programming language. Popular ones include C#, Java, C/C++, Scala, Swift, Matlab, R, Python, Ruby, Haskell, Prolog, Lisp, Erlang, FPL, COBOL, etc. To stand out, try to learn multiple programming languages. Having said all this, don't forget to add relevant projects under your GitHub profile too.
Some key traits required for a successful candidate are:
Strong written and verbal communications skills
Good understanding of high-level concepts
Ability to communicate effectively across teams
Understanding of project scope and timeline constraints
Expert level troubleshooting skills
Proactive approach towards resolving issues
Flexibility to adapt to changing priorities
Excellent organizational skills
Problem solving ability
Self starter attitude
Great attention to detail
Being a software developer requires deep familiarity with frontend web application development stacks. For example, AngularJS, ReactJS, NodeJS, ExpressJS, Bootstrap, jQuery, Grunt, Gulp, SASS, SassCSS, Less, CoffeeScript, Stylus, Handlebars, Backbone, Knockout, Ember, Meteor, TypeScript, Visual Studio Code, Git, PostgreSQL, MySQL, Redis, Elasticsearch, Cassandra, DynamoDB, Couchbase, Neo4J, Kafka, RabbitMQ, ZeroMQ, Spark Streaming, Storm, Flume, Kinesis, Amazon Lambda, Apache Beam, Google PubSub, Azure Service Fabric, Docker, Kubernetes, Heroku, OpenWhisk, AWS Step Functions, Azure Logic Apps, Serverless Framework, WordPress, Magento eCommerce platform, Drupal CMS, PhoneGap, Adobe Flash Builder, Jenkins, Puppet, Chef, Ansible, Buildbot, etc., play crucial roles in making your product better than others.
Alongside these competencies, you should also master basic functionalities of databases, cloud computing services, storage solutions, security practices, virtualization platforms, DevOps automation tools, network devices, etc. Additionally, having practical real world experience in the field is always beneficial because it helps you translate theoretical ideas into actual products quickly. So, start practicing by learning online courses from Lynda or Udemy.
Having mastered the basics, you'll want to showcase your passion for technology through additional specializations and degrees. Here are some popular options:
Computer Science - Learn everything you need to know about programming, algorithm analysis, artificial intelligence, data modeling, machine learning, distributed systems, cybersecurity, mobile app development, etc.
Engineering - Get familiarized with subjects like networking, embedded hardware, robotics, digital electronics, industrial automation, power generation and distribution, energy conversion, transportation, sensors, controls, mechatronics, electrical wiring, wireless networks, and much more.
Mathematics - Become knowledgeable about probability theory, linear algebra, calculus, trigonometry, complex numbers, geometry, vector algebra, matrices, matrix decomposition, stochastic models, discrete math, combinatorial designs, cryptography, finite element methods, Fourier series, Markov chains, etc.
Statistics - Familiarize yourself with statistical techniques, hypothesis testing, correlation, regression, inference, Bayesian approaches, ANOVA, chi square test, sampling distributions, survival functions, correlations, t tests, permutations, hypergeometric distrubutions, Poisson distributions, normal distributions, exponential distributions, binomial distributions, logistic regressions, Cox proportional hazards model, generalized linear models, multinomials, etc.
Programming - Develop fundamental skills in object oriented design, structured programming, procedural programming, recursion, arrays, loops, pointers, function calls, inheritance, polymorphism, encapsulation, delegation, abstraction, etc.
While pursuing higher studies in college, remember to keep building your professional portfolio by volunteering for side projects and speaking opportunities. In order to gain confidence among peers and future employers alike, attend hackathons and contests organized by major companies regularly so that you can hone your skills further.
Finally, you can opt to pursue specialization training in specialized domains like AI, Blockchain, IoT, DevOps, ML, NLP, Robotics, Deep Learning, Mobile Applications, etc. These advanced degrees require solid foundation in fundamentals and provide hands-on practice for professionals. Apart from earning money, gaining valuable insights into latest developments in the domain can only benefit you later.
There aren't strict timelines associated with obtaining a Software Engineer designation since every company has its unique hiring process. But generally, you can expect to spend around 3 years after graduation to reach this stage. According to Indeed.com, average salary ranges from $75K-$120K per year. And considering cost of living increases annually, salaries vary widely according to location. That said, there are plenty of great ways to earn extra income during those three critical initial years in your career.
Becoming a software engineer doesn't necessarily mean someone has to go back to school immediately. There are several entry points available for people without prior professional experience. While learning, you can choose to complete short term certificates, associate degrees, bachelor's degrees, graduate degrees, etc. Online coursework via MOOCs provides flexibility to study anytime anywhere. Plus, getting certified early gives you ample amount of time to brush up on essential topics.
Aspiring engineers can also volunteer in non-profit organizations, startups, small businesses, research labs, government agencies, universities, hospitals, manufacturing firms, retail stores, insurance companies, financial institutions, consulting firms, etc., where they can pick up the necessary skill sets within a shorter span of time.
If you plan to advance in your chosen profession, there are several types of visas available for foreign students seeking employment in US. On top of that, scholarships and fellowships abound for talented individuals.
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