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Posted on September 17th, 2020 in Eleven Fifty Academy

When students come to Eleven Fifty Academy, they often have a dream. That dream may be of a brand-new, lucrative career path in a tech industry they know little about; it may also be a dream of being further along in a tech career they started some time ago. But, much like the dreams we have each night while sleeping, it’s not always clear or well-defined. Anyone who’s ever dreamed of flying or living in a giant mansion knows that describing the mental pictures the next day to friends sometimes is a confusing endeavor.

The same experience can happen for our students choosing between web development vs software development. They know their end goal: a great career in technology. But sometimes students don’t understand the basic differences between the two career paths. 

Fear not, the distinction between web developer and software developer is a lot clearer than you might think. Let’s take a look at these two career tracks so that you can make a more informed decision as to whether web or software development is right for you.

What Is Web Development?

As you may have guessed from the name, web developers are tasked with creating, well, websites. But a website is not a website is not a website. They can vary greatly in complexity, and the same can be said for the work done by the developers building them. While one website might serve as a simple brochure for a company—some text and images and not much else—another could be a complex eCommerce machine complete with a bevy of third-party integrations and critical security components. 

That’s not to say those brochure websites are so cut and dry. Plenty of people out there can use “what you see is what you get” website builders, but custom web development requires tons of creative thinking to produce a final product that truly stands out.

Developers use several coding languages in order to make a website functional. These include:

  • HTML/CSS
  • JavaScript
  • Jquery/JavaScript Frameworks

Web development is also very visual. In some cases, a developer may work in tandem with a web designer, who make decisions about text, layout, color, and navigation. In these cases, developers are provided the visual blueprints from web designers. These are also known as “wireframes” and they give directions on how the site should look, feel, and generally operate. However, many web developers are full-service, both designing and developing the entire site. 

So, it doesn’t matter if you’re bringing a creative mind with an eye for design, or if your talents lie more in the left-brained intricacies of writing beautiful code—there’s a role for you in the world of web design.

What Is Software Development?

Software developers create standalone applications that run on computers and mobile devices—the apps and desktop tools we all use every day to work, socialize, play, and do everything else in our digital lives. Where web developers use programming languages to tell a browser what to do, software developers use their own set of languages to tell a computer what to do. These languages include, but are definitely not limited to:

  • Java
  • C#
  • C++
  • Python
  • Ruby

The field of software development has several different potential titles and roles involved. A coder or programmer follows directions from project leads and engineers to create specific functions, such as searching databases, merging databases, or displaying graphics. Software engineers think and act on a higher level, creating software solutions for real-world problems. Software developers are more of a hybrid role between programmers and engineers. While developers may be heavily involved in coding and production, they also help to move projects forward by performing testing and engaging with stakeholders in dev-ops setups to discuss the goals and progress of a project. 

Which Is Better, A Web Developer or Software Developer?

Obviously, the answer to this question is based on an individual’s preferences. Web developers may not spend their entire day coding. Because websites are inherently visual, there may be a lot of meetings and collaboration with design teams. Websites are also often consumer-facing, so a company’s marketing or sales team may have input on how the site functions in order to best serve their client base.

In our own experience, we find that Eleven Fifty Academy students who complete our Web Development bootcamp range from individuals serious about working in code, to others who have aspirations in management or marketing and want to round out their skillsets to make them more effective or better suited to more lucrative positions. This is because web development is just such a broadly applicable field; so much in marketing and operations and work of any kind is done on the web these days that speaking the language of the web has a near endless set of practical applications.

Software development, on the other hand, is much more in the nitty-gritty of programming. Though the end result is a working application, a lot happens behind the scenes of the user interfaces within those applications. Some software projects are for system software, which relate to the core functions of a computer or database, such as disk management, hardware management, file storage, and operating systems. Even in the case of user-facing software, the programming done may need to interact and communicate system software or embedded software (such as smart devices or self-driving cars). In any case, software developers require a deep understanding of both programming languages, as well as the theory that goes into computer programming overall.

Web Developer Salary and Software Developer Salary

Another question we hear often is, “Who earns more, software developers or web developers?” As with all tech jobs, your salary is determined on your level of ability and experience. That said, the average web developer salary is $69,430. The average software developer salary is much higher, at $103,620.  

However, salary alone is not enough to decide on a career path. It may be better to consider how you learn, how you work, and what kind of skills you already possess. It isn’t really a matter of asking, “Is web development easier than software development?”—more a difference in what makes you comfortable in a professional environment. 

For instance, web developers use many more “soft skills” as they are working with designers and clients to create websites that appeal to people. Software developers, on the other hand, are much more deeply involved in technical issues, requiring the ability to speak specifically about those topics to other developers who also speak their technical language.

Let Eleven Fifty Academy Recode Your Future

At Eleven Fifty Academy, we know firsthand the great value of a technology career. Both web development and software development are dynamic fields with opportunities for growth and career advancement. But we also understand that it can be tough to translate your own unique tech career dreams into the education you’ll need to pursue the work you’ll love to do every morning. That’s why our Admissions Advisors work with every student to get a clear sense of their passions and talents to help them match an Eleven Fifty Academy course to their ideal career path.

So, what are you waiting for? The first step towards the career of your dreams is with our quick application. Apply online today and schedule a discovery meeting with an Admissions Adviser to take your first steps towards a new career in coding in just 90 days.

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