Software Engineer VS Programmer VS IT Person

Software engineers, programmers, and IT persons work together under the canopy of information technology, although their roles and responsibilities are quite distinct. These three professions are quite essential in the development of software applications, so it is really not possible to put one over the rest of them. It is however necessary for us to see what makes them different from one another.

The inter-relationship between a software engineer, programmer, and IT person as well as their interchangeable titles makes the understanding of their job functions difficult. And this is also creating misunderstanding for students when choosing career paths.

In a bid to clarify the differences among these three professions, we have come up with an article that will shed more light into what each of these people do in their day to day activities.

Let’s look at each of these professions so that the differences between them can be properly understood.

Software Engineer

Who is a software engineer?

A software engineer is someone who has studied the principles and techniques of the science of computer, mathematical analysis that comes with it, and the engineering of all of these. In engineering, before any other concept, the first and the most critical is “design”.

So, a software engineer is someone who has learnt and understood the principles of software engineering and is able to apply the knowledge to the design and development of computer software.

The structure of a software engineer’s job comes in three fundamental areas: Design, test, and development. Maintenance and evaluation of the software are other areas that are also quite vital for a software engineer.

A software engineer is concerned at every stage of the development process of an application. They collect and analyze the requirements of a client, design the concept, test the concept, and come up with the development process of the software. These are the basic aspects of a software engineer’s job including creating diagrams and different flowcharts, building algorithms, and also recognizing limitations in the process.


After the requirements given by the client is analyzed and understood, different flowcharts and diagrams are developed for the software development process; it is the job function of a programmer to convert those instructions that have been analyzed into computer language through the knowledge of coding or computer programming.

A computer programmer takes instructions from a superior based on the software to develop and writes codes for the software. A programmer writes codes for various kinds of software. However, the job function of a programmer doesn’t end there. It revolves around three things, which are: write codes, test codes, and debug codes. This is what programmers spend most of their time doing.

Furthermore, computer programmers also conceive an idea, design the idea and develop a logical structure, which helps them solve their problems in actualizing the software applications they intend to build. And they do all this by creating computer programs which computers must obey and follow before coming up with the desired product.

To be a programmer requires perhaps a bachelor’s degree in computer science or mathematics, and any other related disciplines.  However, because the job function of a computer programmer deals more with technical skills than engineering principles, anyone from any discipline can work as a programmer as long as you’ve got the knowledge and technical skills required for the job.

IT Specialist

Information Technology is a broad field and the job descriptions of the information technology specialists are also broad, depending on the area of expertise and qualification of the IT persons. The area of expertise within the IT department includes desk and support management, software development, hardware installation, network analysis and network administration, telecommunication, software testing, database analysis, and database development, data security analysis, and technical writing. In fact, there are still many subsets of all these areas.

However, the area of job roles under IT can be grouped into two. These are Network system administration and Information technology support, and Programming and software development.

Network system administration and information technology support arm consists of networkers. Their job responsibilities include maintenance of network, user support, troubleshooting of software, designing, installing and upgrading of operating systems and network devices. So, it is the specialists in this second arm of Information Technology that are referred to as IT persons.

Take Away

If you want to be a person who designs and creates Software, then begin by learning how to program, then transition to a software engineer and then to a Software Architect. If, however, you are most interested in setting up computer networks and configuring how different types of devices communicate with each other over the network, go the IT route person.

Go ahead and a have a fulfilling career!