Do Software Engineers Have To Code?

When it comes to software engineers, there are quite a few misconceptions from many aspiring students. One of those misconceptions has to do with the responsibilities of a software engineer. So, in this article, we will examine whether or not software engineers have to write code. Let’s take a look.

For most projects, a software engineer will either work with the programming team and write the most complicated pieces of code. While the software engineer is troubleshooting and testing the software, situations might arise where the engineer has to fix lousy code and replace it with their own.

If you are about to apply for a job as a software engineer or a student who is thinking about becoming one, this article is for you. Choosing an education path or choosing your next job is a big decision. So, we want to take an in-depth dive into whether or not software engineers have to write code, so for everything you need to know, keep reading.

What Do Software Engineers Do?

The main question of this article is a lot more complex than it may seem. That is why before we get into anything else, we need to discuss precisely what a software engineer does. If you already know, then feel free to skip this section, but we must highlight what an engineer does so that the rest of the article is easier to understand.

A software engineer will be responsible for almost every aspect of a piece of software. From design, development, troubleshooting, and testing, a software engineer will be responsible for all of this. This does not mean that the software engineer does all the work himself. Instead, all team members will consult with him and vice versa.

Sometimes a software engineer can act as a consultant for the rest of the team or team manager. Additionally, the software engineer will understand who the software is being developed for, and they will then make sure that the software is developed according to the client’s needs. 

Finally and importantly, the person who fills the role of a software engineer will often have a degree in computer science with at least a few years of working in IT. This is very important to remember throughout the rest of this article.

Video: Life as a Software Engineer

Do Software Engineers Know How To Write Code?

Yes, a software engineer should know how to write code. You would be hard-pressed to find a software engineer that doesn’t know how to write code and if you do, that means they might not be as good of an asset to a company as someone who can write code.

A good software engineer usually has a deep understanding of whatever code is used in the project they are in charge of. So, while a programmer might know what commands to use to get a program to do a specific task, a software engineer will know why that command performs a specific task.

Because of this deeper understanding, a good software engineer might know a few tricks that a low-level programmer might not know. So when it comes time to troubleshoot or test the software, a software engineer will be able to spot things that might be out of place. Additionally, when it comes to testing, the software engineer would spot things such as redundancy.

Do Software Engineers Ever Write Code?

Now, this is where the article starts to get a little bit complex. We have established that a software engineer oversees the entire development of software. This fact might lead to a few misconceptions where people start to think of a software engineer in the same way they think of a civil engineer. See, a civil engineer also oversees the entire project, but they don’t usually lay bricks or dig holes for foundations.

Unlike a civil engineer, a software engineer will get his hands dirty, and they will often write code. A good software engineer will often write the more complicated pieces of code that act as the backbone of the software while he is colleagues write everything else.

Also, the software engineer could be part of the team. However, because they often have a lot more on their plate, they might not write as much code as the programmers, but generally, a good software engineer likes to get his hands dirty.

Some employers who hire a software engineer will require coding as part of their duties. They will be required to be part of the programming team. So, writing code could be part of their job description.

Finally, when it comes time to troubleshoot and test the software, a software engineer will have to write code in most cases. They might need to write code to fix bugs, or they might have to edit and rewrite pieces of code that might seem redundant, clunky, or even unnecessary.

What Programming Languages Do Software Engineers Need To Know?

There are languages that almost every single programmer should know. These languages include Java, Python, and JavaScript. When doing a computer science degree, many students will learn these programming languages simply by completing their degree. Here is a list of the most popular programming languages:

  • Java
  • Python
  • Javascript
  • C# (C Sharp)
  • C++

Anyone who is interested in being a programmer or software developer should familiarize themselves with these programming languages.

Once a person completes their degree, they will decide which programming languages they should study. Most people will look at which programming language has the most jobs available. 

So, a software engineer will have at least a basic understanding of Java and Python. They will then select which languages they want to study, and after all of that, he/she will apply for jobs that are suited to them depending on what languages they have studied.

Just a quick note, most programming languages apply the same concept. They just have different types of syntax. So, picking up a new programming language is often not that difficult for an experienced software engineer.

Is Being a Software Engineer the Same as Being A Programmer?

Most software engineers start as programmers. It is extremely rare for someone to graduate with a computer science degree and immediately find a job as a software engineer. This is another reason why software engineers know how to write code.

Most software engineers graduate with a degree and start at the bottom as junior developers. They then get a few years of experience, maybe study project management as a useful tool and then start applying for jobs as software engineers after working for at least a year as a senior developer.

Some software engineers might get employed as full-stack developers instead of software engineers. See, a full stack developer is someone who develops the back end and the front end of software or web applications. When you consider that, a software engineer is almost always the best person for that kind of job.

Is it Better to Be a Software Engineer or Programmer?

The answer to this question depends on what type of person you are. Do you prioritize more money or more free time? Remember, a software engineer is responsible for almost every aspect of the software they are working on, whereas a programmer just generally focuses on writing code.

The average salary for a software engineer is $79,165 per annum as of writing this article. The average salary for a software developer is $72,283 per annum as of writing this article.

Please note that those are just averages, and your salary can fluctuate significantly depending on many factors. So, please don’t take the numbers that we stated at face value and base your decision entirely on those numbers.


That brings us to the end of the article. One thing that I did not mention is that a lot of software engineers enjoy writing code. So, even on the rare occasion where they don’t have to write code, you might find that they do so just because they enjoy it. Hopefully, this article has answered all of your questions, and feel free to take a look at some of the other programming articles.