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Application Developer Vs. Software Engineer - The Difference Between The Two

Application Developer Vs. Software Engineer

When it comes to development, there are multiple paths a person can take. From a QA Engineer to a full-stack developer, the opportunities are endless. But in the pursuit of greater things, people often forget to take a look at the basics. This blog aims to shine a light on that. So, what is the difference between an application developer and a software engineer? The answer is a bit long to fit into a few lines. So, without any further ado, let’s get into it.

An Overview

A glance at these two does suggest that they are the same thing, albeit with a different name. And that is indeed true, but to some extent. An application developer and software engineer have vastly different roles. Let’s take an individual look at these two:

Application Developer

One common misconception is that application development is limited to mobile apps only. But that is certainly not the case. An application developer makes sure that an application’s functionality is

The thing about being an app developer is that their knowledge level is limited to the platform they are working on, whether it be Android, iOS, or Desktop.

Software Engineer

In layman terms, the work of a software engineer has a much broader scope as compared to an application developer. Their work overlaps that of an application developer but also goes much further. They might work on the backend, frontend, deployment, and even everything all at once.

A software engineer must be proficient in multiple programming languages, to ensure software is being developed correctly. Speaking of, another misconception in the development world is the difference between software engineers and software developers. We will be exploring that too, as we move further with this blog.

App Developer Vs. Software Engineer: The Language Difference

It has already been established that there is a difference between both roles. But where do they exactly diverge? The answer is languages. Let’s take a look!

Application Developer

The language an application developer must fully grasp depends on their platform of choice.

  • For Android, the choice is Java & Kotlin.
  • When it comes to iOS, the options are Swift and Objective-C.
  • Finally, for desktop applications, there are various options. The most popular are Python, Java, and C++.

Software Engineer

As one might expect, the languages a software engineer should be familiar with are:

  • Python
  • Java
  • C++
  • JavaScript
  • SQL

Complete mastery of these languages allows an engineer to work at the front end and even the back end of an ongoing project.

Software Engineer Vs. Application Developer: Salary Difference

Due to the roles having different levels of requirements, this does translate to different salaries. This is something to keep in mind, especially when choosing between the two. According to Indeed, the average annual salary for an application developer is roughly $88000, while the number is $119000 for a software engineer.

The difference between the two is pretty clear. Although one requires checking more boxes, it does ultimately pay off in the long term. This does not mean that an application development is completely obsolete. But it does show that firms prefer software engineers more than application developers, due to them covering all of the bases of the latter.

App Developer Vs. Software Developer: 

These two roles are much more similar than the difference between software engineer and developer or the difference between software developer and web developer. Software developers usually focus on one aspect of software while working under the direction of a software engineer. They focus more on the practical aspects, such as coding, integration testing, and debugging. Their work might also include creating and maintaining applications.


The main reason for writing this blog was to enlighten future developers. Even googling this topic leads to mixed answers, resulting in more confusion. This blog sheds a bit more light on this topic, and we hope it will be a part of your decision-making process!

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