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24 October 2022 - 5 minutes

Developer vs Engineer vs Programmer: Decoding Web Dev Job Titles

Confused about all the different web development job titles floating around out there? Get to know your front end from your full stack with this easy guide.

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Picture this: you’ve just started the Ironhack Web Development Bootcamp and you come across a job posting from a tech company that you’d love to work for when you’re done with the program. When you’re looking at the job title, you’re confused…what does “Front End Developer” do? Will I have the skills needed to apply? What does the day-to-day look like? Well, have no fear, Ironhack is here... to break them down for you. In this blog, we’ll go over the various web development positions and the essential skills for each. 

Decoding Web Dev Job Titles

First of all, you’re probably wondering, what does someone working in web development do? Well, the simple answer is that web developers create, modify, and manage functional websites. But, what does that entail? Web developers not only program the site, they also develop the user interface, maintain databases, and perform functionality testing, among other things. For that reason, to become a web developer, you’ll have to have at least a basic knowledge of programming languages, such HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Additionally, you’ll also have to work closely with UX/UI designers, product managers, and other IT professionals to ensure the website or application fits the needs of the consumer. Even though your day-to-day will look different depending on your focus, no matter the web development position you choose, you’ll be able to use your programming expertise and problem-solving skills to develop technical solutions to common website and software issues.  

Since the discipline covers such a wide scope, encompassing information design, aesthetic design, and interface design, web development positions are broken down into several core categories; programmer, developer, and engineer. The term developer can be split up even further based on application type, such as web or software, and architecture specialty, such as front-end or back-end. Knowing this makes it easy to figure out the basic job requirements when you’re looking for a job. Just look at the base title and development focus to sort it out.  

Some popular positions to look out for include: 

  • Computer Programmer 

  • Front-End (Web) Developer 

  • Back-End (Web) Developer 

  • Full Stack (Web) Developer 

  • Mobile (Software) Developer 

  • Software Engineer 

So, what do these different job titles mean? Let’s break down those categories to get to the crux of it... 

Developer vs Engineer vs Programmer 

Let’s start off with the root classification: job function. When looking for a web development role, most positions you’ll find will fall into one of three categories: programmers, developers, or engineers. These titles can tell you a bit about what your day-to-day looks like in terms of job responsibilities and essential duties.

Programmers tend to write basic code for specific phases of the project and then pass it on for someone else to build, test, and deploy. They’re often considered the most entry level position in the web development hierarchy.

Developers are considered a step above programmers, since their job responsibilities encompass a broader scope.They’re usually the person that takes on the next step of the web development process when programmers are finished. Like programmers, developers write code, but they also build, test, and deploy the sites.

Engineers, on the other hand, often perform minimal coding, instead focusing on the design and build of the web application. Since they guide the development of the site as a whole, similar to how a director oversees a play’s creative vision, they are considered the most senior of the three.  

Want to know which other jobs are trending in 2022? Check out the full list of most in-demand tech jobs!

Software Developer vs Web Developer 

Now that you understand the differences between those three labels, let’s break down the category of developer even further, in terms of application type.

There are two main types of developer: web developers and software developers. You can differentiate the two based on the complexity of the interface. Whereas website developers just focus on building web applications and websites that work across a range of browsers, software developers concentrate on creating intricate computer and mobile applications and programs that function on various OS platforms. Website and software development processes contain similar phases, including planning, analysis, designing, implementing, testing, and maintenance, although software development as a whole is often considered much more involved.  

Front-End vs Back-End

We can break down both software and web developers based on application architecture layer, or more specifically front-end vs back-end.

Front-end developers manage the client-side aspect of the application to create the look and feel of the website. They use programming languages, such as Javascript, CSS, HTML, to create visual user interfaces, aesthetics and layouts – the parts that people interact with – to ensure a functional user experience.

Back-end developers, on the other hand, shape the server-side features of the application to streamline the implementation, performance, and functionality of the remote system. They utilize programming languages, such as Javascript, Python, and Java, to control the inner workings of the site by building and maintaining the server, application, and database – the areas that people usually can’t access. If you were to think of front-end developers as stage designers who create and organize the scenery, then back-end developers would be the stage managers who work behind the scenes to make sure the show runs smoothly. 

Enjoying this article? Check out Do I Have What It Takes to Be a Developer?

What Does ‘Full Stack’ Mean?

Okay, but what about “full-stack developer?” Well, {like Star Trek, or even Hannah Montana,} with a full-stack developer, you get the “best of both worlds.”  A full-stack developer excels in both front-end and back-end development, and, consequently, they can create a fully functioning website all by themselves.  

So, how do you learn to become a full-stack developer? Ironhack has your back... Our Web Development Bootcamps, available both online and in-person, teach you both sides of the web development process. Want to become a software engineer? Our course is a great first step. Just interested in front-end or back-end development? Our class works for that, too!  

Whatever path you choose, our web development course will help you develop the technical expertise and people skills needed to succeed in your next position. You’ll learn how to use programming languages, such as HTML, Javascript, and CSS, and how to display your creativity, by building games and sites for your bootcamp projects, so when you come out of it, you’ll be able to develop websites and web applications either on your own or with your team!

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