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The key difference between a Developer and a Programmer

Published on 09 April 15
The key difference between a Developer and a Programmer - Image 1
We all have used these terms interchangeably, after all, at back of the mind we think they all have a degree in computer science.

The terminology has also been used by organizations to their convenience, like a Senior Software Developer at Google may be called Programmer Analyst at IBM

So below are my findings and descriptions for few other roles as well
Developer: Expected to be an expert level at one programming language (Java, PHP, etc.)

Programmer: Expect to be an expert at several different languages.

Programmer Analyst: Expected to be able to program applications that integrate between different systems.

Systems Analyst: Expected to Design Information Architecture to improve business information systems

Software Engineer: Expected to design core components that Developers & Programmers can use. As per US law, you need to have a professional engineering degree/license to add the title engineer.

Computer Scientist: They write code, but they do it prove something. They are not bothered about design or good practices.

These are just my thoughts based on some research. I may be right but, you can always post your views below.

You can also read through some of the job descriptions for these roles to map the job expectations with the above mentioned descriptions. (Click the links below to see the Job descriptions)

This blog is listed under Development & Implementations Community

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  1. 11 April 15

    Nice article, I am actually happy that people are interested in I.T and software fields. There is a lot of ambiguity about who we really are and what we do. There are somethings i will like to clarify. The First thing i would like to say is, not all the all computer related disciplines require a computer science degree. In fact, I.T professionals are sometimes referred to as pirates because they don't always need a degree to achieve what they want. e.g Steve jobs and Bill gates didn't have any degree when they built the empires known as Apple and Microsoft, the same think applies to Mack Zuckerberg and Facebook. There are a lot of good programmers out there that only finished their high school education and have explored and excelled in fields such as graphic designing, hacking and programming. Professions such as like System Analysis require degrees like Information Technology and computer systems management and not computer science. The second thin is that the difference between a software developer and programmers is not that a programmer knows more programming languages than the software developer, infact from my adventures, i know a lot of software developers that know more programming languages than programmers. In developing a software, the software development process consists of requirement, design, implementation, testing ,deployment and maintenance stages. A Software developer is usually involved in all these stages of development while a programmer is only involved in the implementation stage which is popularly know as coding or programming stage. A software developer must master multiple skills and programming languages to be involved in all the stages while a programmer is more specialized in developing the codes for the software in the implementation stage. The third thing i would like to say is that, although the rules vary from country to country but it isn't enough for a person to have a software engineering degree to be a software engineer. In most cases, they must have a license after undertaking a profession exam to be recognize by a professional body. For example, IEEE offers courses for certifying software engineers at different levels. The problems is a lot of I.T professionals have a "free" spirit and do not bother about getting these licenses. So the whole license and certification issue is mostly applied to other fields such as civil and mechanical engineering because many institutions & organisations are still debating on what the meaning of software engineering is. For example your description of a software engineer is actually a that of a software architect, many people believe the name software engineer is a fancy way of calling software developers. Another fact is that almost anyone that has the required skill and knowledge level can write the professional exams and be known as a software engineer without having a software engineering degree. Having said all that, i am excited that more and more people are getting involved in the software development field and i hope you continue with these articles. For more information you can check these links:

  2. 10 April 15

    Thank You for sharing your thoughts and providing some clarity on the roles. It is indeed helpful.

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