Programmers vs. Developers: Similarities & Differences

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two programmers working across from each other

There are a lot of obscure or specific jobs within the technology industry. This is true to the point where some job titles end up being confused with each other, especially if they’re somewhat similar. 

One example of this is programmers and developers. These jobs are similar to the point where people mix them up. Yet, they are different jobs with entirely different roles and responsibilities. 

This article will clear up this confusion. By reading it, you will understand both the similarities and differences between programmers and developers. You’ll also learn what it takes to get into each career path and if one may be better for you.

Related: Top Full-Stack Developer Interview Questions


Programmers are coding extraordinaires. They are responsible for writing code for software or other computer programs. Typically, they will do this using multiple coding languages rather than just one. 

Programmers are also problem solvers. They will be told they need to find a way for their code to accomplish a specific goal. With this direction in mind, they will work out ways for their code to do this. Because of this, their knowledge needs to extend beyond coding. They need to have problem-solving skills that will help them do this. 

Programmers also test code to ensure that it works properly. If it doesn’t, then they get to flex their problem-solving skills once more. 


Developers are responsible for actually building computer programs and applications. This involves coding, and most developers will be well-versed in a specific coding language. However, it involves a lot of other aspects as well. 

Developers will often play a role in crafting and creating the ideas behind the software. They don’t just need to worry about what will work and what won’t; they need to worry about what their customers will like or what will suit the final product best. Some developers even end up delegating a lot of the actual coding work and focusing more on directing other people’s coding work.

How to Be a Good Programmer

As already mentioned, being a good programmer requires strong coding skills. However, this goes beyond simply being able to write code. A good programmer needs to be able to read code from others and edit it in a constructive fashion. Otherwise, it is far more difficult to make progress. On top of this, debugging skills are another necessity. 

Programmers also need interpersonal skills. In most cases, they will work with others to accomplish their goals. This requires teamwork and communication to share information about what works and what doesn’t. Positive interactions like these can be game changers that positively impact the life of any programmer. 

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How to Be a Successful Developer

First off, good developers need to have strong technical skills. They need to be able to read, write, and critique code. This is true even if they are the type of developer who doesn’t work with code very often, as this knowledge will allow them to direct others properly. Because of this, the life of a developer is a life of constantly honing one’s programming skills, whether through practice or coding bootcamps

Most developers will also need to be versed in other skills. Those working as part of a larger team need to have a wide variety of soft skills. These include leadership, teamwork, organization, and communication. Even those not working in a big group need to at least have the organizational skills to assist them in making their ideas a reality.  

Three men talking in a workplace

Becoming a Programmer or Developer

Both programmers and developers share a few common prerequisites. On an entry-level, both typically require a bachelor’s degree in computer and information technology or a related field, like mathematics. Both also require knowledge of computing languages and will require workers to stay up to date with this information as necessary. 

However, some programmer positions will accept an associate’s degree. Meanwhile, more advanced developer positions may require a master’s degree. 

Both careers have the potential for advancement. A programmer can become an analyst or go on to become a manager, supervisor, or lead programmer. Meanwhile, a developer may gain a greater role and a higher level of control in the development process. 

Related: Software Careers with High Salaries 2023

Which Is Better: Programmer or Developer? 

Many people entering the world of computer science wonder whether they should become programmers or developers. However, there isn’t really a clear-cut answer regarding if one career is necessarily better than the other. Instead, it is a matter of personal choice, preference, and suitability. 

Becoming a programmer relies on a high level of specific skills. To be a good programmer, you need to have mastered several programming languages. The work you do in this regard will be in-depth and require your detailed attention. 

Being a programmer also requires you to think like a programmer. The level of problem-solving necessary for this job is often a stumbling point for many. Some people find this type of thinking too alien to how they normally approach things and find that it is simply not for them. 

Meanwhile, becoming a developer is about having a good grasp of a broad range of skills. You need to know how to handle things at multiple steps as a project moves from beginning to end. 

Being a developer also requires looking at things in a unique way. You need to have the capacity to understand how all of the little things in a project come together to create the project as a whole. Being able to see things this way and then coordinate them as necessary is too difficult for some people to wrap their heads around. 

Simply put, being a programmer is often about looking at the small, specific picture, while being a developer is often about grasping the larger, more broad picture. Whichever of these skills you find easier may be the direction you should head. 

Think becoming a developer fits your career goals? Schedule an interview to join our Software Developer Program and get the training you need.

Programmers vs. Developers

Woman writing code on a computer

Programmers and developers have a lot in common, yet they have key differences that define them. Both jobs require plenty of hard work, knowledge, and training. However, the exact parts that are emphasized and the way they are utilized is different. If you’re wondering which option you should go with, consider which lines up with you as a person and start exploring it further. 

Related: Is Software Programming For Everyone? (2023 update)