Iris Classon
Iris Classon - In Love with Code

Ask Iris: Software engineer, software developer or programmer? (Stupid Q 217)

Traveling around the US and UK I’ve been asked plenty of times what I do, and to be frank I was unsure what the correct title would be. I’m happy to call myself a programmer as few knows what a ‘developer’ is, but I noticed that in the US that would mean I’m just a mere code monkey. Software developer is a developer that is more involved in the whole process around the application (which I am as a consultant), and ‘engineer’ indicates that you have formal education.

Funny enough engineer is not a protected title in Sweden and is being used to fancy up job titles to make people want to go for degrees that are otherwise not so popular, so while I do use software engineer in US, I use developer in Sweden.

At conferences I just say I’m a dev :)

I always also explain what I actually do, just a brief walk through to kick of the conversation, most people have no idea what to say once you drop a mysterious title like that :D

What do you call yourself, and does it differ from country to country? Or situation?


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ben rice
7/6/2013 11:10:38 AM
Depends on the situation. My formal title is software engineer, but we do Scrum so generally discourage titles. I am the Scrum master though, so that's what I refer to myself as to people who know Scrum. 
Iris Classon
7/6/2013 11:15:31 AM
Reply to: ben rice
"but we do Scrum so generally discourage titles"- I assume at work? That makes sense, I'm just a dev at work. But when I meet people and they ask me what I do I use titles so they can get an idea of what I do. We love to label things and categorize them, and although I'm not a big fan of that it is human nature and sometimes helps :) Scrum master is cool, anything with master in the name is :D 
Mike Brown
7/6/2013 11:45:55 AM
Hi Iris,
Love your blog! As an independent consultant, I call myself a Technology Consultant. I'd prefer to help a customer choose an of the shelf solution over building the equivalent from the ground up. From there any custom development would be able to leverage a foundation that gives the project a jumpstart over starting from scratch. Calling myself a software engineer, developer, or programmer would place an artificial limit on what my clients might expect me to provide. 
James Curran
7/8/2013 9:40:44 AM
I'd been calling myself a "Computer Programmer" for the last 30 years, but lately I've realized that I'm the last person in the US using that term, and recently switch to "Software Developer".   Here in the US (and perhaps elsewhere also) we use a host of titles, usually involving some assortment of buzzword ("architect", "enterprise" etc) largely to convey the idea "I design; they type" (I've worked at over a dozen different companies, and have never seen a designer/coder breakdown in jobs.  It's always been project manager/developer with every developer having significant design responsibilities).

In less formal settings, I've called myself an "itinerant programmer" (when consulting), a "simple country programmer", and at one trendy dotcom boom company which let employees pick their own title, "Programmer Laureate" 
7/9/2013 3:54:59 AM
Until recently I've called myself a computer programmer, but have switched to "software developer" (like everyone else seems to have done!). However when I speak to muggles they don't seem to understand "software developer" so much. My current role is officially "senior software engineer", although I'm doing C#/WPF. This title seems to be popular in the US, but here in the UK many still relate that title to hardware/embedded programming.

By the way Iris, would you be offended if I said you were absolutely stunning, and an inspiration to others?! Intelligent, *and* the added bonus of gorgeous funky hair! 
7/11/2013 3:39:58 AM
It depends on the point of view that you choose:
- From my employer: Application Developer level 3.
- From my department: Software Architect.
- From the Spanish Employment Office Service: may be Senior Programmer ??
- From my education: Biologist.
- From my salary: no comment... 
Rama Kathare
11/21/2014 2:38:39 AM
Hi Iris,

Accidentally, I came across your profile in stackoverflow and there by visited your blog. Your writings, your personality everything is so interesting. 

Ok. Coming to the context, my designation were Software Engineer, Sr. Software Engineer and now Technical Lead. I hold a masters degree in Computer Application, I do not hold any Engineering degree. But here in India we all are called Software Developers/Engineers. I am in Malaysia now on an onsite assignment. Here my designation is System Analyst. I don't know why it is so, here. 

My current designation Technical Lead. But I would like to be become 'Technical Architect' at the earliest. I love that designation. 

Last modified on 2013-07-06