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Project Manager vs. Software Engineer: What Are the Differences?

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

Project managers and software engineers are both important roles in the tech industry. They share some similarities, but there are also several key differences between the two. In this article, we discuss the similarities and differences between project managers and software engineers, and we provide additional information about each profession.

What is a Project Manager?

A Project Manager is responsible for planning, executing and monitoring a project from start to finish. They work with a team of developers, designers and testers to ensure that the project is completed on time and within budget. Project Managers also create project timelines, track progress and report milestones to upper management. They may also be responsible for training and mentoring new team members. In some cases, Project Managers may also be responsible for marketing or sales initiatives.

What is a Software Engineer?

Software Engineers are responsible for developing and maintaining software applications. They work with Programmers and other IT professionals to create systems that meet the needs of their users. They design, test and implement software programs, as well as troubleshoot and debug any issues that may arise. Software Engineers also create and maintain detailed documentation of their work. They typically work in office environments, but may also work remotely.

Project Manager vs. Software Engineer

Here are the main differences between a project manager and a software engineer.

Job Duties

Although the job duties of both project managers and software engineers may overlap, they each have their own specific responsibilities. A project manager’s primary duty is to ensure that a project is successful by keeping it on schedule, within budget and meeting customer requirements. They do this by coordinating communication between team members, clients or customers and other stakeholders and making sure everyone stays focused on their goals.

In contrast, software engineers are responsible for designing, developing and testing software products. They often work directly with computer code to create and implement solutions that meet the product specifications established by the project manager and other stakeholders.

Job Requirements

Project managers typically need at least a bachelor’s degree in business administration or a related field, though some employers prefer candidates with a master’s degree. They also must have experience leading and managing projects, which they can gain through internships or previous work experience. Some project managers pursue certification through the Project Management Institute (PMI) to show potential employers that they are qualified for the job.

Software engineers usually need a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field. They might also need experience working with specific programming languages or software development tools. Some software engineers pursue a master’s degree in computer science as well to stay up-to-date on the latest industry trends. Additionally, many software engineers become certified through the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Computer Society (IEEE-CS).

Work Environment

Project managers and software engineers typically work in different environments. Software engineers often work in an office or cubicle environment, but they may also travel to clients’ locations to install new systems. They may spend most of their time working on computers, but they may also need to test the products they create with users.

Project managers usually work in offices, but they may also visit construction sites or other locations where projects are taking place. They may also meet with clients in person or over the phone. Project managers may have more interaction with people than software engineers do because they’re responsible for communicating project goals and requirements to teams.


Both project managers and software engineers need to have excellent problem-solving skills. This is because a big part of their job is being able to identify issues that need to be addressed and then finding the best way to solve those problems.

Both project managers and software engineers also need to have strong communication skills. This is because they often need to interact with other people, whether it is explaining their ideas to colleagues or presenting information to clients. They also both need to be able to write clearly so that they can document their work properly.

Project managers typically need to have organizational skills so that they can keep track of all the different elements of a project and ensure that everything is on track. They also need to be able to manage people, which requires leadership skills and the ability to motivate others. Software engineers need to have analytical skills so that they can understand complex systems and figure out how to improve them. They also need to be able to code, which requires attention to detail and the ability to think logically.


The average salary for a project manager is $87,628 per year, while the average salary for a software engineer is $106,619 per year. Both of these salaries can vary depending on the size of the company, the location of the job and the level of experience the employee has.


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