Work in IT – what do the job titles of programmers mean?


Work in IT – what do the job titles of programmers mean?

IT job market grows rapidly and new job titles appears. Programmer, software engineer, front-end developer – read what they mean and how they differ!

Thanks to the rapid development of new technologies, new jobs in the IT area evolve at an incredible pace. Software developers are already affecting virtually every area of life. Companies from other industries are increasingly eager to use IT experience. The increasing job opportunities are illustrated by the appearance of new specializations and hence – job titles. In this article, we want to introduce the terminology of job positions used in the IT industry and explain what developers do in each job.

The specificity of the IT market

Foreign-language job names appeared in Poland together with foreign corporations, which in this way strive to unify their structures. While in international organizations, the use of English seems to be justified, in others, where it may be about image and prestige, not necessarily. However, in the IT industry, the leaders are mainly American companies, such as Apple, Facebook, Google, IBM, Intel, and Microsoft. And they naturally impose language and naming standards.

The names that job seekers have in mind should meet the recruiters' expectations.

In the area of IT companies, English is not only an obligatory language of internal communication but, above all, a programming language. Due to the pace of development of the technology sector, positions are often created before they are professionally named. Therefore, it should not be surprising that many names do not find the Polish equivalent; sometimes also coverage in experience and requirements.

According to the international CompTIA Association, the IT job market is in demand for jobs which titles didn’t ring a bell a few years ago.

Programming positions

Some English job names easily found Polish equivalents, such as programmer, network administrator, or software architect. Others have adapted in the original version. In relation to others, Polish and English names are equally used. However, there are opacities in terms of positions in the Polish IT market. It is valid that the names of job seekers meet the recruiters' expectations.

The following positions are ordered according to the probable estimation of their complexity, from the least to the most complex (the order in terms of competence in Western countries usually translates into remuneration).

1. Programmer

It's a generic name for someone who knows how to code (=coder). He focuses on programming based on existing programming languages. Creates, modifies, and tests code. He is probably rather not responsible for the project as a whole.

This position is still trendy. The development of various technologies creates a great demand for educated programmers. However, modern software design requires more. Applications must be attractive, user-friendly, fast, and above all, competitive.

Currently, mobile application developers and software developers are at the top, guaranteeing not only the excellent operation of the application but also the highest level of cybersecurity.

2. (Software) Developer

It often means the same as a programmer. There is a subtle difference between them: creation can be a significant part of the work, but not the only one. This person also develops and enhances the software. He/she works not only with the code but with people and plans.

Companies in Germany, the UK, or Canada use the term 'developer' more often in job offers, whereas in the USA 'engineer' is preferred. Although there is a difference between them.

3. (Software) Engineer

The key in this position is the ability to design solutions, which differs from the work of an ordinary programmer. He creates concepts, sometimes develops. His task as a software developer can be analyzing the requirements of code changes requested, implementing, and executing as well as creating documentation.

In Germany, the UK, or Canada the term 'developer' is used, while in the USA – 'engineer'

Developer and Engineer are equivalent in many aspects. Both titles indicate that a person knows different technologies, knows how to code in programming languages, and how to recognise them. They define the ability to make decisions when designing and implementing software and participating in its life cycle.

4. Web Developer

It means a programmer who designs, creates, and modifies websites. He specializes in building web applications based on the client-server model. The technologies he uses are primarily HTML, CSS, and JavaScript on the user interface side, PHP, ASP.NET (C #), Python, or Java at the server level and HTTP for communication.

Before implementing a website's content, he analyzes the user's needs and capabilities (performance, availability). Finally, he should ensure its proper functioning from the back-end side.

Creating even an uncomplicated website requires complex skills. In practice, the website design is created in close cooperation with Web Designer (graphic page), copywriter (creates content), and its ongoing maintenance is performed by the system administrator.

5. DevOps Developer

The term was created from the combination of the word's development and operations. So-called DevOps is meant to create synergies between software development departments (Dev) and systems management (Ops).

He/she takes care of system administration, its ongoing maintenance, and software version control. Provides seamless communication between all technical teams in the company responsible for product creation and shared delivery of customer value.

6. Front-end Developer

As the name implies, he is responsible for what stands in front of the client. Such a programmer creates the interface and knows how to connect it to the back-end, i.e., integrate with the service. He cares about how the product looks from the user interface side. Codes, creates components/functions and visual elements of the designed software.

He is responsible for the front-end of both operating systems and various types of applications (websites or mobile apps). For some, it means a person who knows HTML and CSS; for others, is someone who has an in-depth knowledge of JavaScript and its most popular frameworks.

In the case of mobile application developers, specific programming languages ​​are rarely specified in job advertisements, but but there are simply mentioned the names of Front-end or Back-end developers.

7. Back-end Developer

One should be familiar with one of the technologies such as JavaScript, .Net, C ++, Ruby, or PHP, etc. Ones duties include coding the website, application, server-side system, creating an API (application programming interface), organization of communication with databases.

It may happen that the competences of the front-end and back-end developers overlap. If someone finds themselves on both sides, they may already be working as Full-Stack.

8. Full Stack Developer

This "full-stack" characterizes programmer who combine server and interface work. He should be able to encode the system/application on the server-side in a given technology and take care of the appropriate visualization of the interface and functionality on the user side.

That means that he can work with databases like PHP, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, etc., as well as convert Photoshop projects to front-end code. Therefore, one combines the functions of front- and back-end developer.

The person has knowledge of technology on one layer (e.g., JavaScript, REST, ASP.NET, and SQL Server), but it's good to know the new generation of solutions as Dart, Falcor, or Couchbase. He is an expert at every level of the stack and keeps up with everything.

9. Software Architect

He ranks the highest on the professional ladder of a programmer. He represents a high level and is the company's best technological resource - the person who has been doing it so much that he can practically see the future. He has a complex and responsible function.

He is supposed to be an expert on software that makes technology choices, dictates technical standards, designing solutions, oversees the quality of the code, and the entire project. He shares knowledge with programmers ( has a team or several development teams) and accepts all key product decisions.

10. System Engineer

His role is to develop IT systems and networks, followed by their implementation and administration, along with installing and modifying databases. He should be prepared for creating technical, tests, and as-built documentation of projects.

Job titles due to specialisation

Relatively new job names are x Developer or x Engineer, where x is a specific language or technology, i.e., the specialization of a given programmer. Of course, you can say "JavaScript programmer", "AngularJS programmer," or ".NET engineer," which would remove ambiguities in what to be a specialist. However, this is a useful title for someone who has/wants to be associated with a given technology or encodes in a specific language.

Similarly, comparable names are to be associated with the Senior Python Developer – and in place of "Python," there may be names suggesting a specific skill, e.g., Android, iOS, PHP, etc. Respectively: instead of Developer – Engineer, and instead of senior – junior. The last ones are supposed to suggest a division due to the internship and experience gained.

Job titles due to work seniority/experience

If you think about it, "junior", "middle", and "senior" are just labels, although they usually translate into pay. In general, you are often a junior and only after a few years a senior programmer. However, it happens that the transition from a junior programmer to a middle programmer and from a middle programmer to a senior programmer has little to do with career length.

  • Intern / Trainee – there is rarely time for apprenticeship; he just needs to know the basic programming tools.
  • Junior – should demonstrate the ability to perform technical tasks independently.
  • Middle / Mid – in addition to technical issues, he must understand business requirements and be able to translate them into technical solutions.
  • Senior – is to make the right technological decisions in the project – those that bring maximum benefits to the company and minimise costs. They are up to date with what the team is developing and know what tasks the finished product should fulfill. Senior knows the bottlenecks of the system and the possibilities of its scaling.


At WEBSENSA, we also sometimes face the problem of job titles meaning. Do you want to know what a given job titles mean to us? See what requirements we have included in our job offers!

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