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Reasons Why Software Engineering is Harder than Programming

Last updated on: 
September 6, 2023
Vartika Rai
The fast well prepared banner
About The Author!
Vartika Rai
Vartika Rai
Product Manager at Interview Kickstart. With exceptional experience with tech giants like Microsoft, she is a curious lady for the vast scope of NLP, Big data analytics, ML and data science.

Do you ever wonder why programming is simple, but software engineering is difficult? Then this article is for you! We live in an era when even high school students are learning to code, and there is a high demand for software engineers. However, the competition for high-paying software engineering jobs is fierce. This article will explore this question and provide resources to assist you in better preparing for your ideal software engineering position.

If you are preparing for a tech interview, check out our technical interview checklist, interview questions page, and salary negotiation e-book to get interview-ready! Also, read Amazon Coding Interview Questions, Facebook Coding Interview Questions to Nail Your Next Interview, and Google Coding Interview Questions for specific insights and guidance on Coding interview preparation.

Having trained over 9,000 software engineers, we know what it takes to crack the most challenging tech interviews. Since 2014, Interview Kickstart alums have landed lucrative offers from FAANG and Tier-1 tech companies, with an average salary hike of 49%. The highest ever offer received by an IK alum is a whopping $933,000!

At IK, you get the unique opportunity to learn from expert instructors who are hiring managers and tech leads at Google, Facebook, Apple, and other top Silicon Valley tech companies.

Want to nail your next tech interview? Sign up for our FREE Webinar.

This article will cover: 

What is Programming?

Programming in Computer Science refers to the skill that allows you to design and write an executable computer program that computes something or executes some task as you desire. A programming language is a formal language you use to write code and give instructions to the computer. Like any language, you can learn the basics and accomplish a lot with just that. But if you genuinely want to be proficient in it, you need to understand the intricacies of the language and use them well.

With so many free and paid online resources available, programming isn’t too challenging to learn for anyone who decides to. It’s just a matter of choosing the right resources, commitment, and time.

What Do Programmers Do?

  • Write programs based on the designs created by software developers and test them to ensure they run smoothly. 
  • Write resource-efficient code, both in terms of time and space requirements.
  • Ensure the code follows the performance, security, and reliability best practices per the standards set. 

What is Competitive Coding?

Competitive coding is the art of coming up with and implementing the most optimal solution in the least possible time. Competitive programming is a mind sport and an excellent way to refine your coding skills and become a more seasoned programmer. Your ability to optimize time and space complexity will increase manifold as you get into competitive coding. Besides math, data structures and algorithms, and coding, typing speed also becomes an essential skill in competitive programming. 

What is Software Engineering?

Software engineering is:

  • A branch of engineering that involves the systematic application of well-defined techniques, scientific principles, procedures, and other engineering approaches to developing software.
  • Concerned with the evolution, design, development, and maintenance of software products.
  • Important education to ensure the quality of software created while also ensuring creation within the desired time, space, budget, or other resource constraints.

What Do Software Engineers Do?

All software engineers are involved in several if not all of the following:

  • Design new software
  • Analyze user requirements and research software
  • Develop software: write, re-write, and refine code
  • Maintain existing software
  • Test software
  • Evaluate computer software
  • Communicate and coordinate with fellow programmers

SOLID Principles of Object-Oriented Design

SOLID principles help software engineers create readable, maintainable, and scalable code. Programmers don’t have to worry about SOLID principles necessarily, but software engineers need to use them every day, making their job more complex. SOLID stands for:

  • Single Responsibility Principle: A class should only have a single reason to change. In other words, a class should have just one job.
  • Open Closed Principle: Entities should ideally be open for extension but closed for modification.
  • Liskov Substitution Principle: Objects of a superclass should be replaceable with objects of its subclasses while not breaking the application in any way.
  • Interface Segregation Principle: No code should depend on the methods it does not use. Clients should not need to know any interface they do not use.
  • Dependency Inversion Principle: High-level modules should depend on abstractions, not low-level modules. Both high and low-level modules should depend on abstractions. In other words, abstractions shouldn’t rely on contractions. Contractions should depend on abstractions.

Programming Vs. Software Engineering 

The main difference between programming and software engineering is that programmers need to write code efficiently, while software engineers need to write maintainable and scalable code that runs efficiently within the time and resource constraints their company proposes. Software engineers are also paid well, and the competition for software engineering interviews is intense. 

Why are Software Engineering Interviews Hard to Crack?

Cracking software engineering interviews requires proficiency in several technical and non-technical skills. If that wasn’t hard enough, you need to demonstrate your competence in these skill sets in a limited time frame while answering questions of the interviewer’s choice. 

To make things even more intense, the demand for competent software engineers and the cutthroat competition in interviews to bag those tier-1 jobs all combined makes software engineering interviews hard.

Software Engineer Interview Prep Guide

Preparing for software engineer interviews is challenging in itself. It requires you to take the following significant factors into account:

  • The time you have for preparation.
  • What is your desired role?
  • What are your target companies? They need to be a good fit for you while you’re also a good fit for them.
  • Are your technical skills on point for the roles/companies you’re targeting?
  • Do you need experience in a specific skill to fit the role better?
  • What do you need to work the most on?
  • What are the strengths you can build on?
  • What are the most efficient and credible resources you can use for your interview prep?
  • How will you approach time splitting between tech concepts, coding practice, non-tech skill sets, and mocks?

To get a more detailed answer to these questions, visit our Companies page and read the posts on interview preparation, which will help you with your interview prep while answering the above questions.

Software Engineer Resume Resources

Trying to write the perfect resume can be a daunting task. Given that an employer looks at a resume for an average of six to seven seconds, standing out in a good way is crucial to have a real shot at any good job. Here are some resources to help you create a resume you’re proud of:

How Much Does a Software Engineer Earn?

A software engineer in the US gets an average annual salary of $116,501. However, the top companies and some startups pay significantly more. There’s also a variation based on skills and education and location.

FAQs on Why is Programming Easy, but Software Engineering is Hard? 

Q1. Why is software engineering so hard?

Hardware tech is getting upgraded often, new/updated versions of programming languages, libraries, frameworks, and software are released frequently, and software engineers need to stay up to date. The code also needs to be readable, maintainable, scalable, and should follow SOLID principles of design and best practices. All these factors together make software engineering roles hard.

Q2. Is it easier to become a software engineer or developer?

While both the titles are sometimes used interchangeably, software engineers usually have to come up with solutions that work across the entire software, not just one specific portion of it. Software engineers are expected to have a higher-tech skill set than software developers. So it’ll be comparatively easier to become a developer than an engineer.

Q3. Can a programmer be a software engineer?

While all software engineers are programmers, some additional skill sets and experiences also need to be acquired for a programmer to be a software engineer. For example, they need coding experience in at least one OOP language, knowledge of Object-Oriented Design and how to apply it, collaboration and communication skills, knowledge of best practices, and how to use them.

Q4. Is learning to code hard?

Learning coding well requires commitment, time, lots of practice, and a willingness to find the best resources for you before you begin learning. If you’re into mathematics, abstractions to solve all sorts of problems, logic, and reasoning, it’ll be easier and more fun for you to learn to code.

Q5. Is software engineering hard or easy?

Whether software engineering will be difficult or easy for you depends on your temperament. Software engineering will be easier to learn for someone who is good at mathematics, logic, and reasoning. On average, it may be challenging for people to think of solutions in terms of abstractions without significant practice.

Ready to Nail Your Next Coding Interview?

Whether you’re a coding engineer gunning for software developer or software engineer roles, a tech lead, or you’re targeting management positions at top companies, IK offers courses specifically designed for your needs to help you with your technical interview preparation!

If you’re looking for guidance and help with getting started, sign up for our FREE webinar. As pioneers in the field of technical interview preparation, we have trained thousands of software engineers to crack the toughest coding interviews and land jobs at their dream companies, such as Google, Facebook, Apple, Netflix, Amazon, and more!

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Posted on 
December 24, 2021

Vartika Rai

Product Manager at Interview Kickstart | Ex-Microsoft | IIIT Hyderabad | ML/Data Science Enthusiast. Working with industry experts to help working professionals successfully prepare and ace interviews at FAANG+ and top tech companies

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