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Key differences between Software vs DevOps engineers

June 15, 2022

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The ongoing technological advancements have increased computer capabilities, contributing to a shift in development and technology, resulting in the spread of computer science

These changes prompted businesses to keep up with the new digital challenges in their operations and procedures and create software that relies entirely on computer science professionals. For instance, new roles emerged, such as DevOps Engineer, alongside Software Engineers who evolved prominently over the decade and started experimenting with virtual environments and deployment.

Get to know the key similarities and differences between Software and DevOps engineers in the sections below gathered to help you find the one you need for your business. 

Who is a software engineer?

Software engineers are the IT professionals responsible for designing, developing, evaluating, testing, and maintaining software and applications per the software development lifecycle. They usually have knowledge of multiple programming languages, coding standards, and engineering skills which they apply in building applications and troubleshooting issues and bugs in the software code. 

There are numerous types of software engineers, each with a different focus or area of expertise, and DevOps are just one type of software engineer. Some might work on gaming apps or user interfaces, while others on the server end and middleware applications. Like an architect who is responsible for designing and shaping beautiful and functional buildings, a software engineer is responsible for developing engaging and working software desired by its client. 

Software engineers are classified into two main categories: 

  • Application engineers: analyze the client's needs and enable them to program development.
  • System engineers: create, maintain, and ensure the growth of computer systems and take care of IT services in an organization.

Roles and responsibilities of a talented software engineer:

  • Gathers user requirements for an application or feature
  • Writes code for the software or feature 
  • Works on improving existing codebases 
  • Tests the software or feature for bugs and functionality
  • Designs the support components for the application
  • Documents the development and performance of the programs for future references 

Who is a DevOps engineer?

A DevOps is a software engineer who integrates the roles of development and operations in the building and launching of software. 

Simply put, DevOps engineers play a dual role in software development. They not only write code and test the software but also enable operational support, deploying the code based on schedules and fixing errors that arise as a result of a new code. This integration helps to ensure the new software works properly and smoothly across operating systems and platforms, meets user requirements, and reaches them more quickly. 

A DevOps engineer works alongside the organizational and managerial team with an aim to design, develop, test, maintain, and evaluate computer science. They need to have strong communication skills and be collaborative in addition to expert coding skills for proper integration and functionality of the program. Apart from that, they should also have expertise in deploying applications on Amazon AWS, Google Cloud, or Microsoft Azure, hands-on experience with automation testing tools like Selenium, and knowledge of integration tools like Jenkins and automated delivery tools like Puppet, Chef, and Ansible

Roles and responsibilities of a DevOps engineer:

  • Leads the team of software engineers
  • Stays abreast of new technologies and tools, ensuring the best practices
  • Maintains security controls and compliance authentication
  • Improves operations to provide a better performance
  • Manages cloud data and examines the effectiveness of automated tools

Software & DevOps engineers similarities

All DevOps engineers are software engineers. Whether you wish to hire a software or a DevOps engineer you are likely to require a minimum bachelor’s degree in computer science, programming, development, software design, information technology, or STEM education.

There are cases when no post-secondary qualification is required, as software or DevOps engineering role candidates may have embraced the fields through self-teaching courses, boot camps, related experience, or a combination of the three. 

There are also similarities regarding the core responsibilities. Both software and DevOps professionals take part in the software development lifecycle (SDLC), so activities like coding and testing are familiar to both. 

For this reason, DevOps engineers usually begin their career as software engineers and eventually switch between the roles throughout their careers.

DevOps vs Software engineers: key differences

By partnering with these two prominent professionals, companies can take software and technological progress to the next level. Here are the key differences between DevOps and Software engineers in detail.

Core responsibilities

Software engineers create new software applications from scratch, design and analyze software systems, create documentation and flowcharts to explain how the software works and perform on the modifications of existing software. They usually team up with designers, developers, and programmers to build software features. 

DevOps engineers automate the development process using CI/CD pipelines, maintain security and compliance controls, and ensure the systems are secure from cyber-attacks. They usually guide and lead a team of developers.

Focus 

In carrying out their day-to-day tasks, software and DevOps engineers use different methods to reach their goals. Software engineers function only on the development side. Based on gathered requirements, they design and build the software, write code and algorithms, and then test it before deployment.

DevOps have a different and larger focus and approach. They are more business-minded and UX-oriented. They aim to meet the needs of users for software deployments while maintaining a baseline performance to ensure the product runs smoothly. They oversee every step of SDLC maximizing efficiency and speed while minimizing the effect on the existing infrastructure. They not only carry out the same activities as software engineers but also perform operations duties.

Speed

Software engineers usually follow a traditional yet strict SDLC process, which separates each stage of the development. This model enables late feedback in the development process, which means that upgrades and fixes will also arrive later. 

DevOps streamlines the feedback process facilitating a never-ending communication cycle between the development and evaluation. As a result, DevOps engineers can solve issues more quickly and deploy right away. 

Experience

Though it’s possible to land a role in either software engineering or DevOps engineering without a college degree or professional experience, there are small chances that those freshers will thrive at work. 

Software engineers have a narrower job focus, which allows them to go straight from college or boot camp and start learning for the job. In addition to this, they are more likely to get hired than DevOps engineers, as there are more job opportunities on the market that require lower qualifications. 

In contrast, job listings for DevOps engineers tend to set down a larger number of requirements. DevOps positions are less likely to accept candidates without a college degree, and may also ask applicants to have at least 3-4 years of experience as a software engineer, due to the larger set of responsibilities and competencies needed for the role. 

Skills & Knowledge 

Though coding is common with both software and DevOps engineering roles, the expanded role of a Software Engineer requires a larger variety of skills including knowledge of databases, data structure, and algorithms, hands-on experience in debugging codebases, and troubleshooting software issues, and exposure to multiple programming languages and databases. There’s also a need for strong analytical and reasoning skills. 

DevOps engineers should incorporate those software engineering skills into a skill set that includes communication and collaboration, configuration and managing SQL and NoSQL databases, the ability to automate development processes, awareness of cloud services, Agile principles, and DevOps tools like Docker, Ansible, Buddy, and knowledge of infrastructure platforms. There’s also a need for managerial and organizational skills. 

Read more: How to Become a Senior Software Engineer

Salary

The average salary which a Software Engineer earns in the US is $88,659. For senior roles with 10+ years of experience and knowledge of multiple technologies and frameworks, they can earn a lot more. The average software developer salary by country in Europe is $68,462 for the UK, $60,162 per year for Germany, while in the Netherlands the salary falls to $54,025per year. The average salary in Sweden, Finland, and France ranges from $46K to $54K per year.

According to Salary Expert, in LATAM a software engineer would earn, on average, $1,166 per month in Guatemala, $2,613 per month in Costa Rica and $3,440 per month in Panama. Annually, even a senior level software engineer is only earning about $68,000 a year.

Diagram with lines, showing numbers on salary
Software engineering salaries in Europe vs the United States 2021. Source: Glassdoor (2021)

The increased responsibilities of DevOps engineers allow them to earn a higher salary than software engineers. The average salary for a DevOps Engineer in the US is $126,302, and it’s usually 30% higher than for a software engineer, depending on the experience, seniority level, job location, and organization. The average pay for a DevOps engineer in Europe ranges between 54,737 and €97,002. For example in Germany a DevOps engineer usually earns €78,092 a year and €38 an hour.

In contrast, the average DevOps engineer's gross salary in LATAM is considerably lower. Devops engineers in Brazil usually earn $31,244 or an equivalent hourly rate of $15. An entry level DevOps engineer (1-3 years of experience) earns an average salary of $22,071. On the other end, a senior level devops engineer (8+ years of experience) earns an average salary of $39,107. 

Software engineer’s career options

  • Cyber security analyst. In a nutshell, cyber security analysts protect the IT infrastructure from cyber-attacks. 
  • App developer. App developers use coding to develop programs that can be used on mobile devices. 
  • IT consultant. IT consultants make clients aware of the basic procedures and rules that must be followed while using technology and help them understand how it works. 
  • Web developer. Using the latest technologies, web developers create websites that are essential for communicating with the audiences clients are targeting. 

DevOps engineer’s career options

  • Security engineer. Security engineers are responsible for keeping a company’s security systems up and running, involving implementing new security features, planning computer and network upgrades, and troubleshooting. 
  • DevOps architect. DevOps architects handle infrastructure, development, and deployment of the product. 
  • Software tester. Software testers are involved in the QA stage of software development and deployment, by conducting automated and manual tests. 

Conclusion

The key difference between both IT fields is that software engineers focus on developing software programs as per the client's requirements and mainly rely on designing, developing, and testing software products. In contrast, DevOps engineers work in development and operation, with a focus on deployed and code releases, leading the software engineering team and examining their functions. 

As a result, DevOps engineering is way harder, more challenging, and requires a wider variety of soft skills as well as technical expertise than a typical front or backend software engineering role. In today’s increasingly challenging hiring environment, many businesses are constantly limited by time to fill vacant Software and DevOps engineering roles. Helping them efficiently find full-time remote senior Software and DevOps talents to match their time zones, work culture and financial requirements are where Index comes in. 

Partner with us for your software engineering needs and be in the company of hundreds of best-in-class enterprises from a diverse set of industries.