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der Softwareentwickler / der Software-Entwickler – the software developer
Another term is der Programmierer – the programmer
I miss the days when people would ask me if I’m a student, and I could say, “Ja, ich bin Studentin. Ich studiere Computerwissenschaft.” When you have to introduce yourself, it is much easier to just state what you study.
Now, it’s more complicated.
I think what a person does (in terms of the scope of work) as a Softwareentwickler really depends on the organisation that he works for. Yes, coding is most definitely part of the job description, but whether he has other responsibilities or is variable.
My official job title is “Software Engineer”. The literal translation for that would be Softwareingenieur.
Well, Softwareingenieurin in my case. (The whole genders thing also makes it hard when I have translate my job into another language, because a job like “engineer” is considered traditionally male, and the term for a woman with that profession can be the same. It’s at least an extra step to find out.)
According to the German Wikipedia article, the Berufsbezeichnung (job title) of Softwareentwickler is not protected in Germany and Austria. On the other hand, to be a Softwareingenieur requires that someone undergoes a technical course first.
Earlier, I mentioned that Programmierer is another term for Softwareentwickler (according to Wiktionary, that claims Wikipedia as its source – take that as you will).
Back in university, I took a class on software engineering. In one lesson, the professor made a distinction between the code monkeys – the programmer – and the software engineer. While he didn’t say that being a programmer was a worse job than an engineer (he said there was nothing wrong with either job), I got the idea that a mere “programmer” is somehow not as… good. In the sense of how, if you know software engineering, you can write better, less smelly code. Code that is easy to maintain, and makes others happy to read.
In my mind, “software developer” has been the synonym “software engineer”, while “programmer” is something different.
But considering how the terms are in German has made me think. Considering what I do, and what others in my field do, I am now inclined to agree with the online encyclopaedia: “Die Unterscheidung von Programmierer zum Softwareentwickler ist fließend, teilweise werden die Begriffe auch synonym verwendet.” (The distinction between programmer and software developer is fluid, and the terms are sometimes also used as synonyms.)