What Are the Different Types of Software Engineers?


Software engineering is one of the fastest growing fields in the world. Rightfully so, as code powers our favorite digital products and services, across all industries from consumer retail and healthcare to B2B tech and government. 

But did you know there are many different types of software engineers? As demand for the discipline grows, companies require even more nuanced skill sets to bring their digital visions to fruition. The good news? General Assembly’s bootcamps will provide a solid foundation for any software engineering career option. The choice is yours, depending on your interests. 

So let’s explore 5 types of software engineers that are hot on the coding job boards right now.

1. Front-End Engineer 

If you’ve got empathy and live to create, then a front-end engineer may be an ideal fit.

What is a front-end engineer?

A front-end engineer, also known as a front-end developer, is responsible for creating visually engaging, consumer-facing experiences across web and mobile browsers. You’ll need to develop skills in CSS, HTML, and JavaScript. Fortunately, these languages are relatively easy to pick up and offer lots of creative flexibility in the workplace. 

What does a front-end engineer do?

Front-end developers typically work on an IT, product, or software development team in collaboration with back-end developers, UI designers, and UX designers, reporting to senior front-end developers or web development managers. In a front-end engineer job, you might structure a webpage with HTML, style its elements using CSS, and make the website interactive with JavaScript. Other projects may include building and adding features to apps, content management systems, clone websites, QR code readers, calculators, or online quizzes. 

Where does a front-end engineer work?

Any company that has a website or an app will need one or more front-end developers on staff. You could find yourself working for the government—architecting organizational intelligence programs—or you might work for a marketing agency, developing client websites. You might develop software for a medical lab or optimize an e-commerce site for fashionable eyeglasses. 

2. Back-End Developer

Consider the back-end developer bootcamp if you love systems, structures, and blueprints.

What is a back-end engineer?

A back-end engineer, or back-end developer, creates the technical, behind-the-scenes underpinnings of websites and applications. You’ll learn languages like .Net, Java, PHP, Python, and Ruby, in addition to the frameworks they run on, which will simplify your web development process.  

What does a back-end engineer do?

Back-end developers work with front-end developers, product managers, principal architects, and website testers to build the structure of a website or application. Through code, they help browsers communicate with databases to store, delete, and interpret data. With quick, flawless, and responsive architecture as their primary goal, back-end development projects may include building APIs, landing pages, user authentication systems, search engines, e-commerce apps, or proxy servers. 

Where does a back-end developer work?

Worldwide, tech recruiters ranked back-end developers as the most in-demand role to fill in 2022, so consider which industry you’d like to be a part of and make your move. Back-end developer jobs might take you to an electronic vehicle software company, a corporate investment banking firm, a life science company, or an augmented reality mobile app developer. 

3. Full Stack Developer 

Keen on problem-solving and curious for new experiences? Learn about full stack developers.

What is a full stack developer?

As the name implies, a full stack developer works on the entire web application—both user-facing code and back-end databases. These engineers design ideal user experiences, fix glitches, and manipulate data, among a variety of other tasks. The current most popular languages for full stack developers include ASP.NET, C#, JavaScript, PHP, and Python—but AngularJS, CSS, HTML, and Node may be the most common languages in the future.  

What does a full stack developer do?

As we’ve said, full stack developers work with both the back-end server side and the front-end client side of an application. They often work alone, but can also collaborate with other developers, designers, and project managers. A full stack developer job description may ask you to design a food delivery mobile app, troubleshoot an e-commerce website, or integrate new features into a video conferencing web app. 

Where does a full stack developer work?

Across industries, full stack developer jobs invite you to play a part in creating the digital tools people need to live empowered, meaningful, and productive lives. You might help a talent recruitment agency scale their data analysis capabilities, create a client-facing site to book charter bus transportation, or customize the content management system of a national newspaper. 

4. DevOps Engineer

Find rewarding work through collaboration and product development as a DevOps engineer.

What is a DevOps Engineer?

DevOps is a portmanteau of “development” and “operations,” so a DevOps engineer essentially unites people, processes, and technology to optimize an organization’s software and servers. Many DevOps employees begin as front-end software developers before expanding their responsibility—a broadened scope of duty is a key difference between a DevOps engineer vs. software engineer. DevOps engineers use a wide range of programming languages, such as: Go, Java, JavaScript, Perl, PHP, Python, and Ruby. They also use specialized tools like Jenkins, Docker, Kubernetes, and others. 

What does a DevOps Engineer do?

DevOps engineer jobs require team players who facilitate collaboration between operations and development teams. This role is great if you appreciate efficiency, as you’ll introduce processes and tools that improve product development, create workplace automations, and enhance productivity. In DevOps, you could find yourself monitoring software post-deployment and fixing UX issues. But, beyond working on the software code itself, you’ll likely also dabble in systems and processes with an eye for business improvements.

Other DevOps projects might include: building a continuous software delivery pipeline, automating tasks in the software lifecycle, simplifying code management, creating customer support chatbots, incorporating security and monitoring features into an app, migrating an app to the cloud, or launching a continuous testing strategy. 

Where does a DevOps engineer work?

In addition to big names like Amazon, Netflix, Target, Nordstrom, and Facebook, there are plenty of places to find an open DevOps engineer position. From banks and insurance companies to healthcare and hospitality, DevOps is speeding up digital product development, breaking down organizational silos, and changing how we do business. 

5. Quality Assurance Engineer

A quality assurance engineer contributes organization, attention to detail, and sound judgment. 

What is a Quality Assurance Engineer?

A quality assurance engineer—or QA engineer for short—tests the functionality of software, applications, and tech tools to make sure they’re performing optimally. As such, QA engineers must be familiar with everyday programming languages like C, C#, Java, JavaScript, PHP, Python, Ruby, and Unix scripting.

What does a Quality Assurance Engineer do?

Quality assurance engineers maintain high standards across a software’s lifecycle, working with software developers, product managers, scrum teams, and project managers alike. You are the “gate” before software goes to a customer, ensuring that every piece of code serves the end user. You make sure a solid QA process is in place and evolves with changes in team size, shifting objectives, project scope, and new technologies. While most of your work will involve running front-end and back-end tests, your projects may also include addressing product design deficiencies, automating scripts, analyzing metrics, documenting bugs, and developing continuous improvement strategies.  

Where does a quality assurance engineer work?

Every industry is a tech industry these days—and QA engineers are employed in everything from big tech and manufacturing, to e-commerce and pharmaceuticals. QA engineer jobs in particular are quite varied. You may find yourself working at an MRI software company, photography company, employment agency, or audio tech laboratory. Or you may work for a mobile app developer, insurance company, nationwide food distributor, or media conglomerate. With an open mind, you might be surprised where your skills could take you. 

How To Become a Software Engineer

Software engineering is a popular option for career changers, as these jobs typically provide high pay, remote flexibility, job security, and the opportunity to engage in meaningful work. 

The first step in getting a job as a software engineer is figuring out what type of software engineer you want to be. Then you can choose coding bootcamp courses to pick up the hard skills. But hey, don’t be fooled by the name—they’re not all that hard: if busy celebrities like Serena Williams and Jimmy Fallon can learn to code, why not you?

The best online coding programs not only give you a strong technical foundation, but also help you build soft skills in communication, project management, patience, critical thinking, and adaptability that you’ll need to be successful in your day-to-day work. 

And, chances are, you’ve acquired many of these transferable skills already and just need to see how they fit into the software engineering field. Through our coding program’s portfolio-building and industry networking events, you’ll overcome common career changer myths, while increasing your confidence and the likelihood of getting hired.

Thinking About Breaking Into a Career in Coding?

You can prepare for a software engineer career path in as little as 12 weeks. Here at General Assembly, we take a consultative approach, so the first steps will involve an admissions process that explores your background, interests, personality, goals, and definition of success.

Ultimately, we want to give you all the knowledge, skills, and resources to land a career you love. Wondering which type of software engineer suits your personality? Take our quiz.