As the technology industry evolves and more companies look to automate and digitise their business, the demand for software engineers has never been greater. However, there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all software developer or engineer. Different systems have different requirements thus needing specific skills and fields in software engineering.
Is a software engineer the same as a software developer?
Whilst software developers and software engineers are highly skilled vocations that rely on each other to successfully do their jobs, there are fundamental differences in each job.
Software engineers create tools and software by utilising parts of hardware systems in order to solve issues on a bigger scale with a team of people. They use engineering principles to do so.
In comparison, software developers use finished tools to build apps, write complete programs and build software that can run across various computer operating systems. Developers require many of the same skills that engineers use, but on a much smaller scale. Here are eight different software engineering jobs.
The different types of software engineers
Video game designer
Average salary: £35,000 per annum.
Also known as a game developer, a video game designer can effectively design and implement engaging and interactive gaming systems. Game developers must have creative skills such as world-building and storytelling in order to build gaming environments, characters, props and more in order to craft a great gaming experience for players.
Average salary: £51,000 per annum.
Often referred to as a web developer, a front-end engineer’s specialism is in user interface design for user-facing websites and applications. Creative skills include designing visual elements of a website, understanding page layout and thinking about how users will interact with the app or website they’re building. They are also responsible for ensuring cross-browser and operating system compatibility.
Average salary: £61,000 per annum.
Back-end engineers specialise in designing and building the server-side (also known as back-end) of websites and apps. They integrate caches, data systems, email and more via APIs
(Application Programming Interfaces). They’re responsible for maintaining servers and monitoring performance.
Average salary: £48,000 per annum.
A full-stack engineer or software engineer has both font and back-end skills. Full-stack engineers develop a fully functional web application, from the complicated systems that make the app run, to the front-facing functionality and user experience.
Average salary: £47,000 per annum.
Skills: Automation, CI/CD, Cloud (AWS/Azure/GCP), Infrastructure as Code (Terraform, etc) and more
DevOps engineers bring new tools, methodologies and processes in the software development life cycle. DevOps look over the deployment, coding, maintenance and updates cycles and work on application infrastructure. DevOps engineers will often work in tandem with IT operations teams.
Software Development Engineer in Test (SDET)
Average salary: £44,000
Software Development Engineers in Test are responsible for writing a framework and building tools to test a software product. Those in SDET roles make up a portion of the software development process and have an understanding of software development and testing.
Other Opportunities for Software Engineers
As the IT space continues to evolve and become more interlinked, there are many other career options for Software Engineers such as Cyber Security, Data Engineer, Product Management and even Sales!
Freelance vs full-time employment in software engineering
If you’re thinking about becoming a software engineer or looking to take the next step in your career, you’ve probably considered going freelance or working full-time for a business.
From being able to choose your own projects and clients going freelance, to having more job security in full-time employment, there are many pros (and cons) to both.
IR35 and the impact on contractors and freelancers
In April 2021, HMRC (HM Revenue and Customs) introduced IR35 as a way to assess whether contractors and freelancers providing their services through a limited company are actually genuine freelancers, and not operating as employees of the company. This is so that HMRC can deduct the right level of tax.
If you’re a freelance software engineer but considered to be operating as an employee, you may be subject to higher tax rates. For example:
- If you fall within IR35, the company will deduct PAYE and NIC from your freelancer fees before payment is made.
- If you fall outside of IR35, the company will pay you a gross amount, without deducting PAYE and NIC.
If you fall within IR35 it may be worth seeking employment within a business, as you will be taxed on the same basis as employees on a company’s payroll.
At ECS Resource Group, we have over 30 years of experience in helping a wide variety of specialist IT, telecoms, development and engineering professionals find the right role for them. Upload your CV and one of our experts will be in touch.
*All salary stats are from Glassdoor, correct as of 27/09/2021