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

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

A software developer and a computer programmer are both responsible for developing software applications. However, these roles differ in terms of the duties they perform and the skills they require. In this article, we compare and contrast these two positions, and we provide information on the education and training needed to pursue a career in software development or computer programming.

What is a Software Developer?

Software Developers are responsible for the design, development, testing, deployment and maintenance of software applications. They work with a variety of programming languages and software platforms to create custom applications that solve specific problems for businesses or individuals. In some cases, Software Developers may work with a team of other developers to create larger applications or systems. They often collaborate with business analysts, project managers and quality assurance specialists to ensure that the final product meets all requirements. Software Developers typically have a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field.

What is a Computer Programmer?

Computer programmers write code or software programs that tell computers what to do. They convert project requirements into code that can be read and executed by computers. They also test new programs to ensure they work as intended and fix any errors that are found. Computer programmers typically work in offices and use computers for most of their work. They may work alone or in teams with other programmers and developers.

Software Developer vs. Computer Programmer

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

Job Duties

Computer programmers and software developers may share some of their job duties, but they also have unique responsibilities. Software developers create algorithms that allow them to write code that can be used in a variety of situations. They consider the user experience when creating new programs and think about how people will interact with the software. Software developers also test their creations extensively before releasing them for public use.

Computer programmers typically focus more on coding than software development. They use their extensive knowledge of programming languages to create specific solutions for particular problems. For example, if an organization needed a program that could analyze data from medical tests, a computer programmer could design a solution that would meet those needs.

Job Requirements

To become a software developer or computer programmer, you need at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field. However, many employers prefer candidates with a master’s degree or higher. In addition to your education, you will also need to have strong programming skills and be familiar with multiple programming languages. Many software developers and computer programmers also pursue certifications to show their proficiency in specific programming languages or platforms.

Work Environment

Computer programmers and software developers typically work in similar environments. Both professionals may spend time working at a desk or on the computer, but they also travel to meet with clients and collaborate with other employees. Software developers often have more freedom than programmers because of their role in creating new programs for companies. They may attend meetings with executives and communicate with customers about product features.

Computer programmers usually work in an office setting, but some may work remotely from home. They may also travel to client sites to install and test software. Programmers may occasionally work overtime to complete projects on schedule.


Both software developers and computer programmers use technical skills to perform their jobs, such as the ability to write code and understand complex systems. However, they often have different roles within a company. A software developer is typically responsible for developing new applications or features, while a computer programmer is responsible for maintaining existing codebases and ensuring that programs run smoothly.

Both software developers and computer programmers need to be able to think logically to solve problems that arise during the development or programming process. They also both need to have strong attention to detail to avoid making mistakes in their code that could result in errors. However, computer programmers may need to have stronger analytical skills to debug code and identify issues, while software developers may need to be more creative to come up with new ideas for applications or features.


Software developers earn an average salary of $89,499 per year, while computer programmers earn an average salary of $76,301 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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