What’s the difference between an engineer and a programmer?

Even people who are interested in the IT industry often confuse “engineer” and “programmer”. However, there are various types of occupations in the IT industry depending on roles and specialties. In this article, we will explain the differences between engineers and programmers from a multifaceted perspective for those who are thinking about or interested in finding a job in the IT industry.

Table of contents

  1. What is the difference between an engineer and a programmer?
  2. engineer and programmer
  3. summary

What is the difference between an engineer and a programmer?

What is the difference between an engineer and a programmer? Each of these will be explained below.

What is an engineer

Engineers should be regarded as a general term for engineers related to so-called information technology (IT), such as information processing and information communication. In other words, it is a more comprehensive image than the programmer. Many modern products and services utilize IT technology in some form, and it can be said that they are human resources who possess total specialized skills from requirements definition, design, and development to operation and maintenance.

What is a programmer?

On the other hand, programmers refer to experts who have knowledge and skills related to programming languages ​​among IT technical skills. More specifically, I am in charge of actually building the program based on the completed design document. They write source code, so they are sometimes called “coders”.

engineer and programmer

I will explain the differences and relationships between engineers and programmers in more detail and from multiple perspectives.

definition of words

Again, the definitions of engineers and programmers are:

  • Engineer: General term for engineers involved in software development in general
  • Programmer: A person in charge of building a system using a programming language

Engineers play an active role in defining requirements and creating design documents with customers, especially in the upstream part of system development, while programmers play an active role in the phase of actually building the system. Let’s take a closer look at the relationship between the two.

The relationship between engineers and programmers

As defined above, engineers and programmers have different roles. Engineers listen to customer requests and create design documents, and programmers build systems based on those design documents. In system development, both engineers and programmers are indispensable.

Required skills and qualifications

There is no doubt that both engineers and programmers are highly specialized occupations in IT, but both of them don’t need to have some kind of qualification. However, if you want to build a career as an engineer, it is a good idea to pass the “Basic Information Engineer Examination” to objectively prove your skills.

For programmers, it’s not just about being fluent in a programming language. To proceed with work, it is also required to promote smooth communication with people in different roles such as engineers and project managers. There are many cases where multiple programmers proceed with development, and communication between programmers is necessary. Logical thinking is also important in learning programming, so it’s a good idea to keep this in mind as well.

aptitude difference

Different roles require different aptitudes.

Engineers need to have a bird’s-eye view of the entire project and proceed smoothly, rather than mastering the programming technology itself. Since we are often responsible for the upstream part of development projects, we are required to have a more total optimization perspective. In that sense, one of the aptitudes required for engineers is “management ability.” It is a skill for negotiating and communicating with customers, cooperating with stakeholders such as programmers in the company, and managing projects well.

Of course, if you don’t have a certain level of understanding of programming technology, communication with people inside and outside the company will be inconsistent, so even if you can’t implement it yourself, you still need to understand it.

As a programmer’s aptitude, the first thing is to be “brimming with curiosity.” The evolution of IT technology is very fast, and programming languages ​​are no exception. New technologies such as various new languages ​​and convenient frameworks are born and used in a short cycle. It would be suitable for people who have the spirit to catch up not only with the development project in front of them but also with an eye for technological trends. In addition, “concentration” is also an important factor. There are many cases where multiple people work on the implementation of programming itself, but compared to engineers, they spend more time silently working on things such as writing code. In that sense, we are looking for someone who can steadily advance development with a high degree of concentration.

each career path

Finally, I will explain the career paths of engineers and programmers.

As for the tendency of engineers, there are many cases where they advance their careers to project leaders and project managers. Management skills and communication skills are important for engineers, but this is a case where you can use those skills to advance your career. Alternatively, there are cases where the IT expertise acquired as an engineer is used to transform into an “IT consultant” or “IT architect”.

On the other hand, as a career advancement from a programmer, it is common to become a system engineer. Among engineering, they have specialized skills and knowledge in programming, and one of the options to make use of them is to become a system engineer. Therefore, there is also a career path for a project manager beyond that. As for other career paths, there are also cases where you can further develop your programming skills and become a so-called “expert programmer”. In recent years, systems have become more diverse and complex, and one career strategy is to further refine your knowledge and skills as a programmer and raise the rarity value.


There are many processes in building an IT system, and it is efficient to divide the work according to aptitude. As a result, there are many different types of jobs in the IT industry. Engineers and programmers, who are often confused, have different roles, capabilities, and skills. This is an industry where demand is expected to continue in the future, so please find a job that suits your aptitude.

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