What type of coding is what? What is the difference between a computer programmer and a web developer, and what does it mean for a career choice? Like many IT specialties, there is a great overlap between the skills needed in one role and another, despite different titles, responsibilities, and technologies.
In this post, we investigate just what exactly a computer programmer does and how it is different from a web developer. You just might be surprised at what you find out!
What Does a Computer Programmer Do?
A computer programmer is a catch-all term for anyone that writes code for a living. Typically these days, when we talk about a computer programmer, it’s about someone who develops enterprise systems.
Enterprise systems refer to the data structures and algorithms that underlie enterprise apps, programs, and larger systems. They are the magicians of storage, processing, and input/output to complex systems. Enterprise systems computer programmers are the ones who develop the finance software that Quickbooks uses. They are the people who work on the Linux kernel. They are the teams who write code that builds a new business application. These enterprise programmers might write in C or Python, Java or R.
However, it’s still acceptable to refer to other types of developers as computer programmers. A front-end developer works on an app’s or web app’s GUI. They are the ones who consider button placement and develop the screens involved in various workflows. They are the people who make software that people can use; who are interested in how the application’s inputs and outputs are displayed.
What Does a Web Developer Do?
A web developer is a specific type of computer programmer: it’s not an entirely different field of practice. A web developer may work with static or dynamic web pages or with web apps.
In fact, for those starting out in the field, becoming a “web developer” is the hard route. Rather than focusing on just one or two technologies, a web developer is generally expected to have broader knowledge.
An Example of The Two, Working Together
It can be said that the two specializations bear great similarities to each other. Nevertheless, there are still considerable differences worth highlighting, especially if you happen to be interested in starting a career in one of these fields.
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With that said, however, if the right systems aren’t in place and proper operations implemented, all other efforts are futile. This is precisely why one cannot undervalue the significance of having both computer programming and web development at the forefront of operations.
What’s The Better Career Choice?
Computer programmers are typically better paid than web developers. For enterprise systems development, you can generally expect a six-figure salary after graduating from junior positions. For a web developer, the starting salary is generally lower, however, if you move on to specialize in particular web technologies, or web app development, you can expect that figure to grow.
The complexity involved in any form of programming, along with the size of the business and industry you’re working in, will determine the earning ceiling of your career. In programming and development, it’s important to stay up-to-date with the latest technologies in the industry. If you don’t update your skills regularly you run the risk of becoming obsolete, much like the systems you are used to working on.
Each of these specializations requires a certain degree of background learning to become proficient in the skillset. Whether it’s online courses or university studies, coding requires a different way of thinking – much like mathematics. Make sure to put your studies into practice by building hobby projects or contributing to open source projects online that take your fancy and match your skill level.