Software Developer vs. Web Developer (Plus IT Skills)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published July 14, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

The information and technology (IT) industry is a rapidly growing sector with applications in various industries. As an IT professional, you can build a successful career as a computer engineer, programmer, web designer, software developer, or web developer. Understanding the differences between a software developer and a web developer can help you decide which is a viable career path for you. In this article, we explain the differences between a software developer vs. web developer, review the job outlook for both professions, and highlight some essential skills to help you succeed in the IT industry.

Software developer vs. web developer

When researching software developer vs. web developer, you may learn that both disciplines use their computer programming and coding skills to perform their responsibilities. Despite the similarities, there are core differences between both professionals, including:

Definition

A software developer is a professional who uses computer languages to create complex databases and computer software that doesn't require the internet to function properly. It's important for software developers to be adaptable to learning new programming languages as computer software typically comprises interlacing computer programs. In addition, these professionals combine programming languages and techniques to develop the most concise code for each program.

In contrast, a web developer is a professional who uses computer programming and coding skills to create websites. These professionals create the code for a website's user interface, including its functions. Web developers also use various coding languages to create the framework and digital designs for individual pages' navigation and design. These professionals also design how multiple pages connect to create a website.

Related:

  • Top 15 Careers in Programming (With Salaries and Job Duties)

  • Web Designer vs. Web Developer: Definitions and Differences

Duties

Software developers are responsible for conducting investigative research on similar designs and programs to learn how data flows through the computer program's processes. They also test completed software by running programs and inspecting the code to find and remove bugs. In addition, these professionals may work on programming, application, embedded, and computer system software. They also create programs that make it easy for customers without advanced technical knowledge to access computing technology. Software engineers are software developers who apply engineering theory and principles to create solutions for coding problems.

Web developers typically work with web designers, specializing in user experience and graphic design. They may also work with the marketing team to identify what the company's website requires to ensure they provide the best experience for visitors and customers. In addition, web developers use programming languages specific to web creation, such as HTML, CSS, or JavaScript, to create frameworks for apps and websites and their functions. Web developers may work in various roles, including:

  • Full-stack developers: They work in front-end and back-end development as service employees or in a leadership position in a company.

  • Front-end developers: These professionals work on the client's side of the app or website development and write the code for designing the user experience.

  • Back-end developers: They work on the server-side of the app or website and write the code to ensure features like internal databases and security connect and function with other web programs.

Related: What Does a Front-End Developer Do? (With Average Salary)

Education

Building a career in software development typically requires more education than web development. Many software developers have a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field, which provides them with a foundation in computer programming, software architecture, computer hardware, and building data structures. The undergraduate education also helps them learn the expertise and skills to develop new programs.

In contrast, web developers don't require much education or a background in computer science, as they use the same program structures to make various websites. As a result, most web developers are self-taught professionals who learn their skills independently, although some may have bachelor's degrees in related fields.

Related: Differences between Software Engineer vs. Software Developer

Job flexibility

The market demand for software developers and web developers influences the flexibility of both careers. Web developers can work with various clients in multiple industries and customize their websites to meet their needs. As the market for web developers is relatively large, many web developers work as independent contractors with flexible schedules. In addition, the option to choose between working as an employee in a web development firm or as an independent contractor provides professionals in this field with a lot of flexibility.

In contrast, software developers typically work for large companies specializing in software development or security for government institutions. They also work in a large team with other computer programmers. Although software developers don't enjoy as much flexibility as web developers, the existing structures in their workplaces offer them a clearer path for their professional advancement.

Related: Adaptability and Flexibility: Definition, Tips, and Types

Job outlook for software developers

The Government of Canada Job Bank states that software developers have different prospects depending on where they work in the country. Here's the job prospect for software developers in various provinces and territories:

  • Alberta - Fair

  • British Columbia - Good

  • Manitoba - Fair

  • New Brunswick - Good

  • Newfoundland and Labrador - Good

  • Northwest Territories - Undetermined

  • Nova Scotia - Good

  • Nunavut - Undetermined

  • Ontario - Good

  • Prince Edward Island - Good

  • Quebec - Good

  • Saskatchewan - Fair

  • Yukon Territory - Undetermined

Job outlook for web developers

According to the Government of Canada Job Bank, the job prospects for web developers in various provinces and territories are:

  • Alberta - Fair

  • British Columbia - Good

  • Manitoba - Good

  • New Brunswick - Good

  • Newfoundland and Labrador - Undetermined

  • Northwest Territories - Undetermined

  • Nova Scotia - Good

  • Nunavut - Undetermined

  • Ontario - Fair

  • Prince Edward Island - Good

  • Quebec - Good

  • Saskatchewan - Fair

  • Yukon Territory - Undetermined

Essential skills for IT professionals

Here are some essential skills to help you succeed as an IT professional:

Communication skills

IT professionals maintain regular contact with each other and other stakeholders through e-mails, verbal communication, documentation, and presentations. Due to these responsibilities, it's essential for them to have excellent communication skills. With this, they can communicate technical information in an easy-to-understand manner to those who don't understand the technical language. Examples of communication skills for IT professionals include active listening, presentation skills, non-verbal communication, clarity, questioning, open-mindedness, patience, and conflict management.

Related: 7 Ways to Communicate Effectively (Plus Benefits and Tips)

Teamwork

Many IT professionals work as a part of a team or department. It's necessary for them to know how to work well with other professionals. They often work with others and collaborate to achieve a common goal. Teamwork skills necessary for IT professionals include coordination, reliability, team management, emotional intelligence, conflict resolution, critical thinking, flexibility, problem-solving skills, reliability, decision-making, mediation, and collaboration.

Leadership skills

Some IT professionals may function in a leadership position in the company or supervise a project and some of the team's activities. These situations require good leadership skills to ensure they know how to motivate the team, delegate tasks, and ensure the team functions efficiently. Some essential skills for IT professionals include decisiveness, responsibility, commitment, trustworthiness, dependability, and relationship-building skills.

Related: Web Developer Skills: Definitions and Examples

Organization

It's essential for IT professionals to have strong organizational skills to help them monitor important information and discoveries. It's also useful for them to know how to organize this information in a form that's easy to access in the future. Essential organizational skills for IT professionals include project management, task analysis, attention to detail, strategic planning, workflow management, task resolution, resourcefulness, and delegation.

Coding

Coding is a basic hard skill necessary for professionals in the IT industry, particularly professionals who work in web development and software development. Some employers may require employees to be proficient in multiple programming languages depending on the position they want to occupy and the systems the company uses. Some coding skills and programming languages necessary for IT professionals include HTML, JavaScript, Java, C++, C Language, PHP, Python, UX Design, and application development.

Related: HTML vs. CSS (With Essential Web Developer Skills)

Data analytics

It's essential for IT professionals to manage and store various data relevant to their tasks and projects and use the information when necessary to make informed decisions and solve problems. Essential data analytics skills for IT professionals include data visualization, spreadsheets, machine learning, data warehousing, and SQL. In addition, it's helpful for these professionals to have at least a basic foundation in statistics.

Computer networks

Another essential hard skill for IT professionals is the knowledge of computer networks. This is applicable in many IT disciplines and helps professionals operate computer networks effectively. Common network skills necessary in the IT industry include IP setup, cybersecurity, cloud systems administration, cloud services, information management, and wireless routers and modems knowledge.

Cloud computing

Many organizations adopt cloud technologies, such as artificial intelligence, which increases the demand for cloud computing skills. The major types of cloud computing services include software, platforms, and infrastructure. Relevant cloud computing skills for IT professionals include cost and workload estimation, distributed systems design, key task automation, data migration, and platform skills.

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

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