August 15, 2017

Software Engineers Versus Coders: What You Should Know

Software engineers versus coders: what’s the difference?

While you might think that anyone who calls themselves a coder or software engineer should be able to get the job done, there are some very clear differences between these two individuals.  In fact, many people think that these job titles are simply interchangeable.

The truth is that there are not interchangeable and you’ll soon find out why once your project is underway. Many people don’t understand the differences between coders and software engineers because they have been used interchangeably by laypersons for so long.

Understanding what coders and software engineers actually do goes far beyond job titles. In fact, the difference is so vast that most tech executives agree that there is a shortage of talented software engineers.

Startups and project managers need to pay closer attention to who they are hiring when searching for a team to build a web or mobile app. While costs are an important factor, so is quality.

In order to achieve your project goals, you need to know how to hire the right people to build your app. Here is our take on the differences between software engineers and coders and what you should know about them before you start your next project.

What Is a Coder?

A coder is a person who is capable of writing any basic code using the fundamental concepts of coding. While the job will get done, coders don’t do defensive coding, such as error catching and validations. An object-oriented coding approach is also not guaranteed as well. While your application might run as expected, it might be very difficult to scale an application built by a coder. That is because coders generally take shortcuts when it comes to the use of technology or tools to get the job done.

It’s also important to understand that these general definitions of a coder versus a software engineer have very little to do with the years of experience or level of education that a coder or software engineer has. In fact, it often tends to have more to do with the individual’s commitment to delivering a quality product. That is why knowing code does not automatically make someone a good engineer.

What Is a Software Engineer?

Drexel University defines a software engineer as someone who applies “the principles and techniques of computer science, engineering, and mathematical analysis to the design, development, testing, and evaluation of the software and the systems that enable computers to perform their many applications. Software engineers must possess strong programming skills, but are often more concerned with developing algorithms and analyzing and solving programming problems than with actually writing code. ”

Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, everybody who doesn’t work in sales, marketing or design suddenly decided that they were engineers. In fact, human resources departments have even helped to perpetuate the problem by writing “software engineer” as the job title in job descriptions where they actually might have only meant to hire JavaScript coders.

The main reason for this is that the job title engineer is somewhat of an aspirational title in the tech world. That is because to the general public, the title of “engineer” it comes with a certain level of prestige given that engineers in other fields are subject to regulation, undergo certification, and are required to keep up with their fields with continuing education.

On the other hand, degrees and certifications are not an indicator of a coder or software engineer’s ability to do their job. A study that looked at the patterns between 10,000 resumes and job performance over a span of 14 years found that there is no correlation between having a computer science degree and being a good coder or software engineer.

When Should You Hire a Software Engineer?

If you want a simple piece of software and you aren’t really concerned about the long-term viability of your application, a coder may suffice. However, if you’re building a mobile or web app that you plan to take to market, you absolutely need to hire a software engineer.

Software engineers are able to:

  • Design, implement, test and maintain software
  • Learn new technologies in order to make use of them in furthering the company’s strategic goals
  • Keep ahead of the technology curve with continuing education
  • Communicate effectively with other team members in order to keep the project on track

The main difference is that software engineers have a lot of skills that they employ in their daily work beyond just web or app programming. Software engineers are responsible for helping their teams to come up with a plan, deadlines, and the scope of deliverables throughout the duration of the project.

In addition, software engineers aren’t hired specifically for their knowledge of a particular programming language. They are expected to instead familiarize themselves with a language  and learn to use it within the environment that the project demands. As a result, companies that hire software engineers are able to lend the best and the brightest talent to their projects thanks to the software engineer’s ability to adapt.

In fact, hiring software engineers is why companies like WhatsApp were able to achieve their growth goals with so few employees. After being acquired by Facebook, the company manages to use just 50 engineers to run its app for its 900 million users.

Stop Recruiting and Hire Achievion

At Achievion, our job is to deliver a skilled team of experts that can adapt themselves to the needs of your project and that is why we only hire engineers not coders. In our experience, only software engineers can meet the challenges that a mobile or web app project demands.

Take 30 minutes to chat with us about your next project to find out more about how our team can help you achieve your strategic goals for your business.


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