Software engineers and programmers are in high demand. Across industries, many companies struggle to recruit technical talent, including engineers and programmers, due to the short supply of qualified candidates. If you're currently in the process of trying to fill technical positions at your company, this article is a must-read before you hire.

There is a difference between an engineer and a programmer. Before you can recruit a strong software engineer, you must understand what a software engineer does, their role and responsibilities, and what they can and cannot do in terms of developing software for your company. Likewise, it's critical that you know what programmers do. Engineering and programming are not interchangeable. The distinctions between these two technical positions are clear and unchanging. Software engineers cannot perform the duties of programmers, nor can programmers engineer software. Let's examine the differences to help you gain a foundational understanding of each role so that you hire the right personnel and fill all necessary positions at your company to develop powerful software.

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WHAT ARE ENGINEERS?

Software engineers are responsible for creating the framework of the software and applications. This role designs the foundation and core structure, without which programmers would have nothing to build upon. Engineers are considered architects for this reason. If a company is interested in developing a mobile app, for example, the first position that would have to be filled is the software engineer's.

A key distinction that differentiates engineers from programmers is that software engineers have received formal training and have degrees in computer science among other technical concentrations. In fact, in some countries, achieving an engineering degree is a requirement for anyone who expects to hold the title of "software engineer". This isn't the case for software programmers.

As the primary professional that initiates the development of new software, the engineer uses their advanced degree to implement and execute a company's specific "vision" for the software and app that they'd like developed. Similar to an architect responsible for constructing a structurally sound building, the software engineer generates a "blueprint" that encapsulates the big picture and coordinates the interconnected workings of the technical features, which you can think of as the doors, rooms, and hallways of the interior of a house. The engineer won't furnish and decorate the rooms, paint and wallpaper the walls, or design any of the accents or details that give the house character. Nor will they renovate when the house begins to look shabby. All that is handled by the programmers. They will, however, demolish a section or build an addition if a structural redesign is needed.

Once the architectural "blueprint" has been established, the software engineer hands the project over to the programmers, who implement the actual code required to properly run the software and application. Engineers must also know how to program and write software code, though they won't perform those duties, so that they can work closely with programmers and make sure the programmers are accurately executing machine program instructions that satisfy the development of a clean interface and modularized final product. 

When hiring software engineers for your company, make sure they are well-versed in the following areas:

  • • The software development environment of programming, coding, and building databases
  • • Software design and architecture
  • • Computer science
  • • Algorithms and data structures
  • • Information analysis
  • • Software and application testing
  • • Software and application debugging

    To recap, engineers are the originators of the software and apps to be developed. They take the initial developmental step by designing and devising the structural integrity of the programs, and they develop instructions for the programmers. The end-result of this development, once it's executed, is smooth communication between users and the program itself. Engineers fulfill company vision, keeping the big picture in mind, while satisfying current industry standards and utilizing the latest development technologies.

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WHAT ARE PROGRAMMERS?

Though the previous section likely gave you a taste for what software programmers do, this section will delve deeper and elaborate on their unique responsibilities. Once the software and application design "blueprint" is developed by the engineers, the project is passed along to the software programmers, who then work to convert the engineer's design by writing code, or practical computer instructions, for it. Programmers must know the top programming languages in order to do their jobs. 

The programming languages used to code the software and application include Java, C#, PHP, Oracle, SQL Service, and JavaScript, among many others. While programmers haven't always received the formal training that software engineers have, they bring to the table a wealth of practical experience. Investigating and confirming their prior programming experience should be an aspect of your interviewing and hiring process.

Programming skills and responsibilities might be a tier below those of engineers, however their work is much more involved and their areas of expertise must be vast. Writing and programming software code is only successful if human inputs and machine outputs always remain in sync. This implies that the programmer's job is to ensure user experience is flawless, which can be challenging due to the fact that unexpected "bugs" won't show up until the programmer is in the fine-tuning, end stages of development. In order to program software effectively, programmers develop complex code structures with the goal of securing strong communication between the software user and the machine-level outputs of the software itself. This work can be tedious and include trial-by-error experimentation. When searching for programmers to hire at your company, be sure to carefully review their portfolio of developed software and apps.  

Once you have hired your programmers, bear in mind that their workflow necessitates that they can only build one component at a time. For this reason, they often work independently as they code the software system, piece by piece. Programmers also specialize in different types of computer programming, so be certain that you are hiring the right programmer for the job by identifying whether they are an application programmer, a system programmer, an AI / machine-learning programmer, a game programmer, a mobile app programmer, or some combination of these.

Further skills your programmer should possess include:

  • • Problem solving abilities
  • • Proficiency in core programming languages
  • • Understanding of algorithms
  • • Understanding of data structures
  • • Basic mathematical knowledge
  • • Self-motivated, passionate, and patient
  • • Ability to think abstractly, logically, and scientifically

    In summary, software and application programmers are like the construction workers who do the actual heavy lifting of building a house. Just as the construction contractors use the architect's blueprint to erect the house, programmers use the software engineer's design to write computer code with the end-user's experience in mind. Without programmers, software and applications could never reach the consumer. They build and debug the final product, and they will be the ones who continue to work on the product, developing software updates and other user improvements. 

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WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN HIRING SOFTWARE ENGINEERS & PROGRAMMERS

Technology is always evolving and ever-changing, which means that the skills and experience of the candidates you interview must go beyond practical knowledge and include personality and work ethic characteristics that will make for great engineers and programmers. After all, the engine that will drive your company's success will be smooth-running, well-performing digital interfaces that your customers like, use, and trust.

It's imperative not to overlook integration between preexisting hardware and the software you want developed, either. Both your engineers and programmers should bear these two components in mind when they develop your software and apps. Software and hardware cannot function independently of one another, but rather they must complement each other to effectively provide an excellent user experience. Hiring an analyst may be necessary once your project reaches the final stages. Ideally, your engineer should fulfill this role so throughout the interviewing process be sure to ask specific questions that address this aspect of development.

The following are the top qualities to look for in candidates that are applying for the positions of engineer and programmer at your company:

  • • Understand what your business is trying to accomplish
  • • Fully comprehend your industry
  • • Can balance pragmatism and perfectionism
  • • Won't feel frustrated when debugging and bug-fixing
  • • Understand when not to write code
  • • Can clearly communicate complex ideas
  • • Zero attachment to their work, yet passionate about the project
  • • Can take criticism to improve user experience

    Perhaps the most important quality to look for when interviewing engineers and programmers is a team-oriented, collaborative mindset. Whether you intend your technical talent to work in-house or you're speaking with tech companies to outsource your software and app development, the engineers and programmers should agree that transparency is important. Even though you, yourself may not understand the technical inner workings of designing, developing, and finalizing code, you do have a vision for the end-product that includes clear-cut goals to achieve success. Your engineers, programmers, or the company you hire to handle these responsibilities should share your business vision and keep you regularly informed about their progress.

    If you're in the process of searching for software engineers and programmers to execute your project, or even if you only have an idea for an app that you would like to develop later down the road, the engineers and programmers at FTx Infotech can make your software and application dream a reality. Our services include software development, website & mobile app development, UI / UX design, blockchain development, cloud computing, and digital marketing. At the core of our services is the goal of helping our clients become leading innovation companies that offer the most technologically advanced solutions to their customers. How can we serve your business in the New Year? Contact Us now to find out.