DevOps Vs Software Engineer: Differences And Similarities

Updated 5 June 2023

DevOps and software engineers are information technology (IT) specialists who work with the software development department to create software that meets clients' requirements. While these roles are similar to some extent, important differences distinguish them from each other. If you want to build a career in software development, knowing what each role entails can help you decide which career path to take. In this article, we define each position and discover the differences and similarities between DevOps vs software engineers by exploring their duties, responsibilities, focus areas and skills.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are associated with Indeed.

Comparing DevOps Vs Software Engineers

Understanding the difference between DevOps vs software engineers can help you decide which career to pursue. Here is a comparison of what these two engineers do:

What is a DevOps engineer?

A DevOps engineer collaborates with system operators and software developers to facilitate communication between the developmental and operational sides of software development. They create tools and software to support and automate various stages of the software lifecycle, from coding and testing to deployment and maintenance. When they work with developers, they deploy and manage code changes. When they work with operation staff, they ensure systems are up and running.

DevOps engineers make it easy for the developmental and operational sides to share feedback to make processes more streamlined, decreasing the timeline for software development. Interestingly, DevOps engineers write and test software codes and provide operational support. They even check that the new software works across existing operating systems and platforms. This ensures that the product meets user requirements and reaches them more quickly.

Related: How To Become A DevOps Engineer (With Salary Info And FAQs)

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What is a software engineer?

A software engineer is an IT specialist who applies their knowledge of engineering principles, mathematics and computer science to plan, design, create, implement and test software applications and systems. Software engineers follow the software development lifecycle (SDLC) during the development, testing and maintenance processes. Part of their job involves analysing and understanding the client's requirements and creating software applications to meet expectations. They even address low-quality software products and applications by ensuring consistent and within-budget software development.

Software engineers design and build business applications, operating systems, computer games and network control systems. Using their knowledge of different programming languages, they create efficient, reliable, secure and easy-to-use software for end users.

Related: What Are Software Engineer Qualifications? (With Skills)

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Differences Between DevOps And Software Engineers

While both DevOps engineers and software engineers are integral to the software development team, they differ in many ways. Some differences include:


Here are some responsibilities of a DevOps engineer:

  • Overseeing all the processes of the SDLC

  • Understanding the goals and responsibilities of both the development and operational teams

  • Helping plan and develop new coding to implement new systems

  • Testing the software for errors to ensure the program's efficiency and reliability

  • Setting up tools and required infrastructure

  • Managing and implementing various development, automation tools, testing and IT infrastructure

  • Encouraging and building automated processes

  • Defining and setting developments, releases, updates and support processes for DevOps operation

  • Collecting and reviewing client feedback to enhance user experience

  • Securing software systems to prevent security breaches and other system vulnerabilities

  • Organising continuous testing during the development process to identify potential defects

  • Educating and implementing DevOps culture, and practices in the workplace

  • Monitoring and managing the security of new software to assess potential problems that lead to security threats

  • Performing root cause analysis to understand the potential error

  • Managing software automation processes and tools

Here are some responsibilities of a software engineer:

  • Working with software developers and programmers to create new software

  • Documenting every technical procedure, making it easier for other IT specialists to perform maintenance work

  • Applying improvements and fixes

  • Designing how users interact with software codes to carry out functions

  • Testing the software or feature to ensure the functionality

  • Working closely with cross-functional departments and communicating project statuses

  • Developing and executing project plans

  • Documenting the system or applications to help those responsible for future maintenance

  • Recommending upgrades for existing applications and software systems

  • Creating and enforcing IT standards within an infrastructure

  • Recommending application and software upgrades for existing programs

  • Presenting new software features to internal customers and stakeholders

  • Ensuring products meet user requirements and reach them efficiently

  • Training junior software engineers and new hires

Related: What Does A DevOps Engineer Do And How To Become One

Focus areas

While both work in the software development process, the focus area of DevOps engineers and software engineers may differ. DevOps engineers are familiar with the business aspect of software deployment and design. They focus on ensuring a positive user experience and user interface needs. In short, they work on the entire SDLC process. DevOps engineers meet user demands for software deployment while maintaining a baseline performance for the software or application. They primarily focus on the application and its features, and aim to develop software that attracts the end-user.

Software engineers focus on technical aspects of design, writing original code and product conceptualisation. They create a functioning software application and system by working on different aspects of the code.


The duties of a DevOps engineer differ from a software engineer. While software engineers focus only on the development side, DevOps engineers focus on the developmental and operational sides. Software engineers design and build software by writing code based on the client's requirements. Conversely, a DevOps engineer monitors every step of the SDLC and even performs various operations duties. Part of their responsibility involves overseeing and monitoring the software after deployment, and finding solutions to problems a user encounters.

Technical skills

While both engineers require software development skills, employers prefer DevOps engineers with the following technical skill set:

  • DevOps tools: DevOps engineers require a strong understanding of necessary tools, such as Docker, Kubernetes and more. Proficiency in these tools helps with software planning, development, implementation and testing.

  • System administration: DevOps engineers are proficient in system patching, database deployment, security and network management. They use their knowledge of system administration to maintain computer systems and ensure they deliver the best performance.

  • Configuration management tools: DevOps engineers require excellent knowledge of configuration management tools, such as Ansible Works and Jenkins. These tools automate documenting, identifying, tracking software, hardware and IT environment changes.

Here are some technical skills required to become a software engineer:

  • Programming languages: Software engineers require knowledge of programming languages, such as Java, C++, Ruby and Python. They use their proficiency in multiple languages to solve coding issues.

  • Testing and troubleshooting: Apart from participating in developing and implementing software applications, software engineers test functionality and identify the cause of problems. They even create coding solutions to ensure applications and programs work as expected.

Related: Understanding The Difference Between C And C++

Similarities Between DevOps And Software Engineers

Here are the similarities between DevOps and software engineers:

Educational requirements

Employers often prefer hiring a DevOps or software engineer with a Bachelor of Engineering (BE) or Bachelor of Technology (BTech) in Computer Science, Information Technology, Software Engineering or related areas. Many candidates even pursue a Bachelor of Computer Application (BCA) or Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Computer Science to excel in their careers. Aspiring DevOps engineers can diversify their technical skills and knowledge while studying for their bachelor's. They can even take courses in data science and similar fields to improve their chances of landing a job.

Some DevOps and software engineers may pursue a post-graduate degree in computer science, information technology and related areas. A post-graduate degree helps them qualify for new positions amplifying their earning potential.

Related: Top Engineering Degree Options To Consider After 12th

Work environments

DevOps and software engineers find employment in various industries, such as education, medicine, government, automotive, non-profit organisations and software development. Both engineers work in a collaborative environment with developers, programmers and other IT specialists. They work approximately 40 hours a week, from Monday to Friday. Depending on the project, software engineers may work late or sometimes on weekends.

When working in an office setting, they spend most of their time in front of the system helping in the coding and development process. During their workday, they host development team meetings to understand clients' requirements and implement new design features.

Soft skills

DevOps and software engineers require the same soft skills to excel, including:

  • Teamwork: Both engineers collaborate with other IT staff members to execute projects successfully. Teamwork skills ensure engineers can cooperate with teammates to succeed as a unit and deliver projects and software on time.

  • Analytical ability: Analytical abilities help engineers understand complex client requirements, identify problems and develop effective solutions. This skill set helps them troubleshoot any issue during software development.

  • Communication: The ability to communicate verbally and through text helps these engineers convey their thought processes to others. They require strong communication skills to exchange information between different departments.

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