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Programmer Analyst vs. Software Developer: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

A programmer analyst and software developer are both computer science professionals who develop and maintain software applications. While their job duties may overlap, there are important distinctions between these two positions. In this article, we compare and contrast the duties, skills, and education requirements of programmer analysts and software developers. We also discuss the job outlook for each profession and provide tips for those interested in pursuing a career in computer science.

What is a Programmer Analyst?

Programmer Analysts are computer professionals who work with businesses and organizations to identify and solve complex technical problems. They analyze an organization’s current systems and recommend improvements or modifications to increase efficiency and productivity. Programmer Analysts also design and develop new computer systems to meet the specific needs of their clients. They may also train staff on how to use new systems and provide technical support when needed. In order to be successful in this role, Programmer Analysts must have strong analytical and problem-solving skills, as well as experience in programming languages and software development.

What is a Software Developer?

Software Developers design, test and oversee the creation of computer programs. They work in a variety of industries, including computer systems design, information technology, software engineering and applications development. In larger organizations, Software Developers often specialize in a specific type of software, such as applications, systems, security or network. They use their technical expertise to develop software that meets the specific needs of their company or client. Software Developers typically have a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field. They must be able to effectively communicate with non-technical staff and customers to understand their needs and develop software that meets their expectations.

Programmer Analyst vs. Software Developer

Here are the main differences between a programmer analyst and a software developer.

Job Duties

Both programmer analysts and software developers have similar job duties, like researching user needs, designing software programs and coding software. However, the duties of a programmer analyst are more focused on analyzing data. For example, they might study how users interact with an existing software program and determine what improvements need to be made. Software developers, however, focus more on developing new software programs that meet user needs. For example, a software developer might design a new e-commerce website or app that allows users to purchase products online easily.

Job Requirements

Programmer analysts and software developers typically need a bachelor’s degree in computer science or another related field. They might also pursue a master’s degree to gain more advanced skills and knowledge. Many professionals in these fields start their careers as entry-level programmers or software engineers before moving into more senior positions. Some employers also prefer candidates who have experience with specific programming languages or development tools.

Work Environment

Software developers and programmers work in different environments. Programmers typically work in an office or a lab, where they can collaborate with other programmers to solve coding problems. They may also work remotely from home offices.

Software developers often work in teams that include designers, project managers and software engineers. Developers usually work in an office environment, but some may travel to client sites to ensure the product meets their needs.


Both programmer analysts and software developers use computer programming skills to write code that will solve a problem or address a need. They also both use analytical skills to understand the requirements of the system they are creating and design a solution that meets those needs.

Programmer analysts tend to have more business skills than software developers because their job often involves working with clients to understand their business needs and then translate those needs into technical specifications. They may also be responsible for maintaining and troubleshooting existing systems, so they need to have customer service skills.

Software developers typically focus on the development of new applications or features. They need to have strong problem-solving skills to identify errors in code and debug programs. As they work with other members of a development team, they also need to have good communication skills.


Programmer analysts earn an average salary of $84,869 per year, while software developers earn an average salary of $89,499 per year. Both of these salaries can vary depending on the type of company you work for, your level of experience and your location.


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