Developer Vs. Programmer: Differences And Similarities

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 14 March 2023

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Developers and programmers are essential for application and software development. Although many people might use these two terms interchangeably, there are fundamental differences between the two job titles. If you have an interest in coding, understanding the differences and similarities between these two professionals can help you make an informed career decision. In this article, we discuss what a developer and programmer is, understand the difference between developer vs. programmer, explore their salaries and job responsibilities and learn about some similarities between these two job roles.

Related: Coder vs. Programmer - Fundamental Differences

Developer Vs. Programmer: Definition

Understanding the difference between developer vs. programmer is essential to know which job role is ideal for a fulfilling career. These job roles are different in the following ways:

What is a developer?

A developer is a professional who designs, builds and debugs computer programs. From developing mobile applications to building operating systems, a developer takes part in every aspect of the software development life cycle. These professionals work with project teams, management, users and other stakeholders to understand the software's functionality, scalability and usability. Interestingly, these professionals can work in any field, including health care, technology, information technology (IT) and business development.

Related: What Is A Software Developer? Definition And Skills

What is a programmer?

A programmer is a professional who writes computer codes in different programming languages to create web applications, software programs and functional websites. These professionals test and troubleshoot the coding languages within a software application to ensure they function properly. Often, these professionals design user interfaces for a computer program. Employers expect these professionals to conduct quality assurance testing of codes they write. They ensure the basic functionality of their code and constantly ensure program updates and security fixes to their code.

Related: What Is A Computer Programmer? Definition And Career Advice

Developer Vs. Programmer: Key Differences

Some common differences between a developer and a programmer are:

Scope of work

The major difference between a developer and a programmer lies in the scope of their work. While developers have a greater understanding of the project's full scope, a programmer primarily focuses on a small part of a project, which is coding. Apart from managing and writing codes, a developer might manage different projects. This includes delegating tasks to other coding professionals and giving instructions to the programmers.

Often, these professionals explain the project's scope so that the software meets the client's requirements. They require expert knowledge in different programming languages and the ability to troubleshoot potential problems. In comparison, a programmer takes care of only writing, debugging and evaluating the code.

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Job responsibilities

The job responsibility of a developer and programmer might overlap, but they perform various duties different from each other. Some common job responsibilities of a developer are:

  • Design and improve new and existing software system

  • Assess software to fix problems, identify bugs, upgrade the user interface and improve performance

  • Supervise programming teams during documentation and software development

  • Advise on software installation and upgrade existing software

  • Evaluate user feedback

  • Meet the development manager to discuss the scope of the software project

  • Create technical documents and train entry-level developers

Some common job responsibilities of a programmer are:

  • Develop computer programs and entire software applications

  • Conduct routine maintenance for the application they work on

  • Create and install updates that keep software up-to-date and as error-free as possible

  • Make software safe against cybercriminals

  • Rewrite code to ensure that a software application has the same functionality on different platforms and devices

  • Use code libraries to streamline the coding process

  • Document every step of the programming process and make it accessible to the software development team

Area of specialisation

Both developers and programmers specialise in different fields. Some specialisations for a developer include:

  • Mobile developers: A mobile developer designs software applications for mobile devices like tablets and smartphones. They conceptualise and formulate mobile applications suitable for Android and iOS mobile devices.

  • Web developers: These professionals build and design websites and web applications using languages such as CSS, JavaScript and HTML. They improve the site's speed, identifying web pages issues and rectifying them.

  • UI/UX developers: User interface (UI) or user experience (UX) developers are professionals who focus on how the customer experiences the end product. These professionals alter the software design, make the layout easier for customers and improve the product's design.

  • Backend developers: A backend developer develops an application by implementing the code on a company's server. These professionals create, integrate and manage databases while implementing frameworks on the server-side and assisting with web-server technology.

Related: Backend Developer Job Description: Duties And Requirements

Some specialisations of a programmer include:

  • Application programmers: These programmers work on creating and developing software designed to accomplish specific tasks, such as tracking inventory. For instance, an application programmer might create a program that automates the financial spending of an individual.

  • System programmers: A system programmer is an IT professional who designs, develops, installs and ensures the proper functioning of operating systems and software applications that run on these systems. They plan, modify and upgrade existing software and hardware system and integrate new products.

  • CNC programmers: CNC programmers design and develop machines that cut raw materials like metal, wood, plastic and aluminium. These professionals create and develop 3D models of the tools and machines they develop using computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software.

  • Game programmers: A game programmer creates software for video games. They work with design, art and animation departments to create fully functional and enjoyable video games.

Related: What Does A Web Developer Do? (Responsibilities And Salary)


The national average salary of a developer is ₹53,982 per month, while the national average salary of a programmer is ₹22,576 per month. The difference in the monthly salary is because a developer is an advanced and more technical profession than a programmer. Their salary depends upon their experience, employer, educational qualification and job location.

Some cities pay a higher salary than others. The average salary of a developer in Bengaluru is ₹71,151 per month, while the average salary in Pune is ₹49,586 per month. The average salary of a programmer in Bengaluru is ₹49,773 per month, but the average salary in Pune is ₹21,992 per month.

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Industry knowledge

Usually, developers have more knowledge about an industry than programmers. Their industry knowledge helps these professionals create products based on the customer's requirements. For instance, a developer who designs software for a gaming company requires an in-depth understanding of the gaming industry and how it affects their software requirement. In comparison, programmers follow specific coding instructions and know the industry in which they work. They focus on improving the backend rather than the user experience.

Teamwork skills

While both professionals require excellent teamwork skills, a programmer might work independently for a considerable time. These professionals require a team to discuss coding issues and ideas. After understanding the requirement, these professionals code assignments from their homes. In comparison, developers work as project managers for a team of programmers and entry-level developers. A developer requires excellent teamwork skills to collaborate with other departments, such as sales and marketing.

Similarities Between A Developer And Programmer

Here are some similarities between these two professionals:


Both programmers and developers are skilled-based professions that require formal education. Pursuing a bachelor's degree is the minimum requirement for becoming a programmer and developer. Usually, employers prefer candidates with a Bachelor of Computer Application (BCA), Bachelor of Technology (BTech) and Bachelor of Engineering (BE) in computer science, information technology and other related areas. Often, software developers pursue higher education in their respective fields to fast track their careers and increase their earning potential.

Employers prefer candidates with mastery of popular languages like Java, Python, C++, C#, JavaScript and Visual Basic. Interestingly, computer programmers might qualify for a technical position if they show an exemplary track record working in a professional setting.

Related: 10 Interview Questions for Web Developers (With Answers)

Work environment

The work environment of a programmer and developer is similar. Both these professionals use computers to write codes and create applications and programs. These professionals can work in the office setting or work from home. After receiving coding instructions, a programmer can work from anywhere and they need not visit the office. Also, as developers collaborate with others, they work in an office or work on-site. Employers expect these professionals to work in a nine-to-six job and they might occasionally do overtime to complete their job duties.


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Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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