Coding and Programming: Isn’t it the Same Thing?

Terminology is constantly changing regardless of what industry you work in. When we discuss software development, though, terminology means a lot, and when you look at coding and programming, not many people know that they are two different things. However, they are, and that is what we are going to discuss in this article.

Most companies are starting only to hire full-stack developers, which means they can work on the front-end, back-end, and server-side of software. However, some companies use entry-level software developers to write code as their primary responsibility and leave the programming to the more senior members as it is more technical than coding.

This article is going to be a lengthy one. There is a lot to discuss when talking about the differences between a programmer and a coder. Look, our goal with this article is to sharpen your understanding. But, if we can help you in your career choices, then we consider our job done, so for everything you need to know, keep reading.

The Difference between Coding and Programming

You will battle to find a coder who is not a programmer because it is the same job theoretically. But, when you look at large organizations, you can find a company that will hire a coder and a programmer because there is a difference between writing code and building a program. That is what we will discuss in this section. 

A programmer will start a project before the code gets written. The program needs to be thought out from scratch, and a programmer will put together the most logical path to deliver the results that a client wants. They will then provide all that information to a coder if they work separately.

The coder will then write the code that makes the program function as the programmer intends for it to function. If the programmer and the coder are two separate individuals, they will still be part of a team and constantly communicate with each other.

There is another side to all of this. Even though you can have one individual do the programming and the coding, the user interface is done by a UI developer. This person will use front-end technology to develop the graphical user interface. It is not often that a programmer or coder will create the UI.

Video: Coding vs. Programming

What does a Programmer Do?

You can say that a programmer does a lot of different things, and here is just a short list of responsibilities that a programmer will undertake on any new project or existing one:

  • Assess the situation and define the problem that needs solving.
  • Start planning how you intend to solve the problem or create the program. They will use a flow chart for this.
  • The coder writes code
  • The programmer will test the software and communicate with the coder if anything needs to be changed.
  • The final step is to document the program.

I want to use an example. If a client wants a point of sale system for their restaurant, the programmer will design the software according to the average specifications of the restaurant’s hardware. They will then create a flow chart that consists of all the steps that need to be taken.

In these steps, the programmer, who should understand code, will specify what type of code needs to be written at specific points. So, they will determine that they need XX number of objects made. Those objects must be placed into classes. Depending on the input from the user, a specific function must be performed. That is where variables are used

Once the structure is designed, they wait for the code to be written. They will then place the code in a way that the program functions as intended. Most point-of-sale systems use a database to manage their inventory and make it easy for the staff to select the items according to the order.

A database programmer then creates tables and links the tables together in a logical pattern. The programmer will ensure that when an item is selected, the system will go to the next window that the staff needs to choose another option or expand on their desired choice.

What Does a Coder Do?

Before we even start, let me say that the coder will often be the programmer. However, if they are two separate individuals, the coder will wait for the developer to show them the system. The programmer will instruct the coder as per what he needs to do, or the coder will see what needs to be done by looking at the program.

Remember, when you are working with a Development Team, communication is constant, and it is of the most critical soft skills to have. So, the coder will get instructed on what he needs to do, and he will write the code. We call this the guts of the program

You can think of the coder as a writer in this sense. If the two jobs are separate and a coder only writes code, that, in my opinion, is highly specialized writing.

The Difference Between a Coder and Web Developer

For me, this is a fascinating one because there are three sides to a web developer’s responsibilities. They could be responsible for all three (Full-stack developers), or they could be responsible for one or two. In web development, the three sides are:

  • Server-side 
  • Back-end 
  • Front-end

All three sides need some coding from the programmer responsible. So, on the server-side, a developer will often use Python, C#, PHP, or a different language to write the code to ensure that the application’s server is working as intended.

On the back-end of the software, this is where you have the main coder. They write all the code that makes the web app or website function properly. The coder here would also be the programmer. 

The front-end developer will design the layout and user interface of the website or web app. They will use HTML5, CSS, Javascript and/or jQuery.

Why is Computer Programming Called Coding?

This question is an excellent question to ask. We are going to answer it by telling you why programmers and coders are called coders. We could say that it’s because they all write in a language that is structured like code, but there is a little bit more to it. Let’s take a look

Computer components all use binary for their input and output, you know, 1s and 0s. So, you can’t just type in English or any other spoken language because the computer won’t understand you, so engineers develop code using binary. When the PC needs to perform a function, the code gets translated back into binary.

Language is structured like code because the amount of binary you would need to translate spoken languages would be immense, making computers inefficient. Code is basically just a shortened way of instructing a computer to do something.

While writing that previous paragraph, I realized that it is harder to explain than I thought, but hopefully, I did it, Justice.

Is Coding harder Than Programming?

If two separate individuals perform the coding and the programming for a specific job, there is often a ranking of who does what. The more senior developer will typically do the programming while an intern or entry-level software developer will do the coding. The programmer will do some coding as they always do.

The primary reason for this is that programming involves more technicalities than just writing code. Remember how we explained that you are basically a specialized writer if your job is only to write code.

We also discussed that a programmer should know code because they will have to know what type of code needs to get written to solve particular problems. So, you could say a programmer’s job is a lot harder than a coder’s because they have to know everything the coder knows while also being able to design, structure, and implement software.

If you are a beginner programmer, you will spend your first few years writing code as your primary responsibility. You will work together with a senior developer and a UI developer in most of your jobs. The silver lining is that as you progress in your career, you will be given more responsibility and, thus, a better salary

So while it is good to have high expectations, don’t become impatient if you feel like all you do is write code while others do the programming. Remember, programming involves a lot more, and you will learn how to be an efficient programmer as you progress.

Which is a Better Career, Coding or Programming?

We understand that a lot of our readers are aspiring software developers. So, it would be silly of us not to include this section. After all, look through our site, and you will notice a lot of career advice. We also understand that one of the biggest frustrations for anyone who starts learning software development is the big question, when can you begin building actual programs?

Well, in your career, you will start by writing code. This is also true for when you start learning to program. However, you do reach a point where you become a programmer. So, comparing the two careers is not something that you should do. Instead, you should aspire to be a programmer as quickly as possible instead of just a coder

Programmers get paid more than someone who only writes code. So, if your goal is only to be a coder throughout your entire career, then that is a poor career choice when you look at it from a financial point of view.

Then it would help if you considered how it would impact your CV. When updating your resume, you want to have as much experience as possible. More companies are hiring full-stack developers as it makes better financial sense.

Do you need to Learn Coding before Programming?

In your journey as a bachelor of computer science student or as a self-taught programmer, the first thing you are going to learn is code. You will discover different data types, variables, classes, and much more. While writing code, you will learn how structure can impact the functionality of what you write.

You have to learn code to be a software developer; whether as a coder, programmer, software engineer, or web developer, coding always comes first, and there is a significant reason for this

No matter how far up the hierarchy you go, you have to know code if you are involved in software development. A programmer is often a person who specifies what type of code they need to be written. The software engineer needs to know how to fix bugs, and a web developer needs to know how to write web development code.

Perhaps once you get to management positions such as the CEOs of companies, coding isn’t that important. But, to get yourself in a place to be considered for a management role, you need to start at the bottom in the industry. So, most high-level management positions are filled by people who can write code.

How Much Do Coders and Programmers Make?

It is not very accurate to try and compare salaries when talking about a coder as opposed to a programmer. Remember, the only time the two are separated is when a large organization hires entry-level or beginner programmers, and their responsibility is to code.

The best way to look at it is to use the amount of experience someone has. So, we can assume that the entry-level software developers and intermediate to senior developers will be programmers. So, this is how much you can expect to earn as a coder or a programmer with that out of the way.

  • Entry-level developers earn approximately $50,000 per year.
  • Intermediate developers will earn approximately $75,000 to $100,000 per year. Their responsibilities will include coding as well as programming depending on the project.
  • A senior developer can earn approximately $120,000 or more per year. The amount can be slightly less. However, the amount could increase by a significant percentage.
  • The average salary for a software developer in the United States of America is $111,000 per year.

As I mentioned, you cannot look at the difference between a coder and a programmer. You have to judge the experience because a coder is most probably a programmer, and a programmer is most definitely a coder.

What Can you Do With Coding and Programming?

Software development is one of the best career choices that a person can make. We see an influx of people of all ages, from teenagers to adults in their 40s, trying to change careers to software development. What can you do with the skills that you will learn? Well, the opportunities are endless, in my opinion.

As a developer, you can find your first job, or you can change careers. According to the US Bureau of labor statistics, software development is a path that will see a significant increase in the number of available jobs in the near future.

You can also work as a Freelancer and build apps in your spare time. Freelancing is an excellent way for people who don’t want to change careers but still want to be involved in the technology Revolution while earning a little money.

We also need to consider the fact that software development is fun for a lot of people, and even if you do not intend to work in the industry, there is still a lot that you can do with the skills that you would have:

  • Build Mods for your favorite PC games.
  • Develop apps for your daily use.
  • Future-proof yourself in case you lose your job to automation.
  • Help your friends.
  • Build apps independently and sell them.

Those are a few opportunities that I can think of. I am sure there are a lot more.

Do You Need To Be Good at Math for Coding or Programming?

This is a question that can cause massive debate within the software development industry. However, I find that there are two answers to this question. Each answer should accommodate anyone regardless of which camp they are in for this debate.

Some programming systems and languages do require maths at a high standard. This is usually for financial applications and very technical pieces of software. The most common type of maths that you would need to be good at is algebra

Most types of programming don’t necessarily require that you are very good at maths. However, all forms of development, in my experience, require good critical thinking skills along with problem-solving and logical reasoning.

If you can solve problems using logical patterns, then you might have a promising career in software development

Web development is your best option. Suppose you are not good at maths but still want to be a developer. In that case, you can also consider doing front-end development for applications as this usually entails the user interface rather than the technical back-end stuff.

Is Programming Hard?

If you have no experience and you look at what programming is, it can seem challenging, and it is. Trust me; software development is not easy by any stretch of the imagination. However, its difficulty can be measured by how much experience a person has. Let me explain.

If you have been writing code for a few years and working with programmers to develop software, slowly transitioning from being only a coder to being a programmer won’t seem intimidating. Yet, it is still challenging but far less so than it looks from the outside.

The hardest part of programming is creating a flowchart for how your program should work. The flow chart will take a lot of practice. See, you will have a systems analyst assist you a lot of the time in designing your program. You will have a coder help you with what code needs to be written. However, the flow chart is your baby, and it takes some serious thought.

Is Coding Hard?

Again, we can measure the difficulty of coding by the amount of experience a person has. When you open your first programming book or take a first programming lesson and see the code, it can be intimidating. Everything looks highly specialized, right?

However, once you learn the fundamentals of programming, coding becomes a lot easier, and most of your time is spent learning the syntax of a given language. I know I just made coding sound easy, but it is not, and here is why.

Writing code is tedious. It is the most exhausting part of developing software, and it takes the most time. You can only write a certain amount of words per minute, but when those words are highly specialized, like instructions that you are giving to a machine, things can take a lot longer

It would help if you also considered that you need to stay up to date. You might be a Python expert, but maybe while working on Python 2, Python 3 launches. You need to update your skills accordingly, and that can also be another challenging aspect of programming because that, again, is tedious work that you have to do.

The Difference Between a Software Developer and a Software Engineer

As a bonus, we have decided to add a section discussing the difference between a software developer and a software engineer. The reason for this is that we have written an extensive article covering the subject and I highly recommend that you give that article I read through. It could help you in your career.

Final thoughts

The best thing about software development is it’s constantly changing, and there will always be jobs available for people who put in the effort to learn as much as they can. If you want only to be a coder, you might have a more challenging time finding a job. Once you have a few years of experience, you will be considered over-qualified. However, if you want to be a programmer, you have to start by being a coder.