Information Technology Jobs: Software Engineering or Software Development?

If you have a passion for all things computer, why not consider finding information technology jobs that suit your skills and expertise? With so many career paths in the IT sector, today we take a closer look at what it takes to dip your toes into software development and engineering.

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Difference between a Software Developer and an Engineer

So first off, we need to establish what the difference between a developer and an engineer in this field is.

A developer is involved in the different aspects of developing software. Very simply put, a developer makes the software that we use.

A software engineer on the other hand applies engineering principles into the maintenance, development and design of the software we use.

While an engineer is involved in the development of software, a developer is not necessarily seen as an engineer. Very simply put, software engineering is a slightly more specialised discipline.

Software Development and Engineering

Development entails the ‘making’ of software by following a specific process. This process starts at identifying what software is needed and analysing the software requirements. Next, a developer will create a detailed specification of the software that is needed and that should be ‘built’.

After the requirements are clearly set out, a developer will start to design the software and write (or programme) the software according to the specifications set out in the earlier phases. Once the programming phase of the process is complete, it will go through a testing phase. Once testing and implementation is complete, the software is also maintained.

Software engineering entails the application of engineering to the development, maintenance and design of software. An engineer in this field (also sometimes called a Software Development Engineer or Computer Software Engineer) will apply his or her engineering knowledge and principles to the processes of software creation.

More specialised in nature, these information technology jobs entail the application of mathematical analysis as well as computer science in order to design and build the needed software. Found in various industries, this type of engineer can find employment in the development of games and network control systems to name but a few examples.

According to PayScale, a Software Developer earns an average yearly salary of R 246 271, while a Software Engineer earns an average salary of R 297 904 per annum.

Education and Qualification

A number of tertiary institutions in South Africa have Computer Science departments that will prepare you for a range of jobs in the information technology industry. Some of the institutions where you can study include:

Tshwane University of Technology (TUT)

Offered within its Information and Communication Technology faculty, you will find a number of departments that will fully equip you for a range of IT jobs. TUT’s Department of Computer Science Software Engineering offers specialised training in the design and implementation of databases, programming and system development.

Majoring in Information Systems and Development Software, you will receive training in various aspects including Programming (in C++), the analyses and design of a system, the design and implementation of databases, and the development, maintenance, installation and upgrades of systems. You will also study project management – a very important aspect of this type of engineering.

Study options within the Department of Computer Systems Engineering include a National Diploma (Engineering: Computer Systems), the Baccalaureus Technologiae: Computer Systems programme and the Magister Technologiae: Computer Systems programme, to name but a few examples.

University of Cape Town (UCT)

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The University of Cape Town offers both Computer Engineering as well as Computer Science within its Science faculty. Note however that Computer Engineering is linked to taking Computer Science as a major.

Computer Science is a three year BSc programme and is suitable for students who wish to pursue different information technology jobs – like programmers and network engineers. Because the programme offered by this university is accredited by the British Computer Society, successfully completing your studies and moving on to complete a BSc Honours in Computer Science, you will receive the designation of Chartered I.T. Professional (UK).

With computer science as a major, you can also choose a field you want to specialise in – these three fields available at UCT include Computer Engineering, Business Computing and Computer Game Development. Choosing Computer Engineering, you will learn all about the integration of the principles of computer science and electrical engineering, with the main aim of developing computer systems.

After successful completion you will be able to pursue a career in a range of different industries including robotics, manufacturing, transport and telecommunications.

Choosing Business Computing as a field of specialisation, you will gain a deep understanding of the processes around the development of software. You will gain the knowledge that will ultimately not only help you to understand the technological needs of a business, but also have the skills to develop these technologies. Upon successful completion you will have skills in software engineering, development and project management, to name but a few examples.

Rhodes University

Rhodes University’s department of Computer Science offers a number of Undergraduate and Postgraduate programmes. Offering three Computer Science programmes (1, 2 and three that build on each other), you can also apply for the BSc (Software Development) degree.

This degree programme is a four year programme designed by the university’s Information Systems and Computer Science departments. During your first three years of the programme you will receive Computer Science and Information Systems training. You will also have supporting subjects that range to include Electronics, Accounting and Statistics.
During your fourth year of studies at Rhodes University you will receive more advanced training in computer security and information system management, to name but a few examples. This programme’s fourth year will also provide you with more specialised training in software engineering.

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Other institutions in South Africa where you can study towards a qualification include the University of Johannesburg (UJ) and Stellenbosch University.

Advantages and disadvantages of working in the IT Sector

Whether you are a specialised engineer or are involved in software development, information technology jobs does offer a range of advantages as well as disadvantages.

Professionals active within the information technology industry have an advantage when it comes to salaries. Generally well paid, IT professionals are also in demand in a wide range of industries – from a software developer for a classifieds site to a developer for a financial institution.

Because of the advancements in technology and the evolution and growth of the industry itself, you can be sure that your job will be interesting. You will have the opportunity to work with the newest technology and learn new skills.

Another great advantage of these career paths is that there is always room to grow and specialise.

The disadvantages associated with careers in IT include long hours – from late nights to working weekends, this career (and its projects) are deadline driven. You have to be prepared to put in the hours to get the project done.

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While the changes in technologies are great in terms of beating out boredom, you have to keep up with these developments. IT jobs are the type of jobs where learning is constant and not keeping up will leave you behind.

Do note that the longer you are active within the industry and the more competent you are with the relevant technologies, the higher your career satisfaction.

Interested in studying towards a qualification or already qualified and looking for information technology jobs? Register your CV on Job Mail now and start applying for a range of vacancies that are suited to your skills – from engineering to software developer jobs, you will find it on www.JobMail.co.za.

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Annabel Schoeman

SEO Engineer
SEO'er, blogger and lover all things weird, wacky and interesting.

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