Software Developer vs. Software Tester: Salary and Skills

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 18 January 2023

Published 2 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Many people who enjoy technology pursue careers in the software industry. There are many jobs in this field, including software developer and software tester job positions. Learning more about the differences between the two types of jobs and the salaries may help you choose the job that's right for you. In this article, we explain what a software developer is, what a software tester is and what's the salary of a software developer vs. a software tester.

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Software developer vs. software tester salary

If you're considering becoming either a software developer or a software tester, the comparison in terms of software developer vs. software tester salary may be a relevant one. As a general guide, the average base salary of a software developer or engineer is $5,316 per month. This is in contrast to the average base salary of a software test engineer, which is $5,246 per month. The salaries of both positions may vary depending on the number of years of experience you have or your seniority in the workplace.

The amount you earn in each job position may also differ depending on the complexity of the project you handle or the professional qualifications you have. To increase your earning potential, invest time and effort to upgrade your software-related skills to increase your employability. You may also consider a wider job scope, such as mentoring junior software developers or software testers, to justify a raise in salary.

Related: 13 High-Paying Software Jobs (Job Duties and Skills Needed)

What is a software developer?

Apart from understanding the salary a software developer may earn, learning about who a software developer is may help you in your career choices. Simply put, a software developer is a professional who plans the design of a computer program. They may then build the computer program together with other software developers and engineers. Software may undergo several rounds of refinement and redesign before the final product is complete.

A software developer may also improve existing software systems. They may supervise other programming teams in their improvement or development of software systems to ensure that the project continues smoothly. For senior software developers, mentoring or guiding younger and newer software developers could be a direction they consider when expanding their resume accolades. Teaching others how to be a good software developer can improve team morale and competency and reflect well on you as a software developer.

Related: What Is Software Development? Definition, Process and Types

What is a software tester?

To help in the comparison between the job positions of a software developer and a software engineer, it may be useful to understand who a software tester is. A software tester is also a professional who works with software programs. One of their primary tasks is to test the software for errors, bugs or other problems with the software. If they find certain issues or defects in the software, they may give feedback to the relevant people, such as the software developer. From there, the software developer may make the adjustments before having the software tester conduct tests.

Software developers and software testers often work together on the same projects to deliver the final product. If you're a software developer, you may find yourself involved in the project from the initial stages. Instead, if you're a software tester, it could be more likely that you're involved at the later stages of the project.

Related: How to Become a Software Tester: Overview, Duties and Salary

Skills for a software developer

To succeed as a software developer, you might acquire skills that prove valuable to your professional career. For example, having technical knowledge regarding software development and different coding languages may be beneficial for your professional development. Here are some skills which a software developer may find useful:

Technical skills

One of the most important skills for a software developer is technical skills. This includes having the technical know-how about how to develop a program. For example, you may be familiar with common programming languages such as JavaScript. Python and C++ are also other commonly used programming languages. To gain such technical knowledge, pursue a relevant undergraduate degree in computer science, information systems or information technology.

It may also be possible to learn these technical skills through professional courses in your free time, outside of your studies or full-time job. You could find it helpful to gain knowledge about data and how to use algorithms and online tools to your advantage. These tools may improve your work productivity and efficiency and enhance work output.

Related: What Does a Software Developer Do? (With Skills and Salary)

Teamwork skills

Having good teamwork skills may also help you succeed as a software developer. Software developers may collaborate with many stakeholders while designing and developing a computer program. For instance, they may liaise with fellow software developers to conceptualise the program. This could involve multiple discussions and meetings or brainstorming sessions. There may be presentations to senior management to approve the idea.

Such discussions could then lead to collaboration between software developers and software engineers to build the program. The user interface or user experience team may also give their input on how to make the program appeal to the company's customer base. Therefore, it's ideal for a software developer to have good teamwork skills and cope with the various working styles of the stakeholders in the company. Reducing friction between teams may help the project progress smoothly and you display competency in your job.

Related: What Is Teamwork? (Plus Skills and Examples of Teamwork)

Patience

A software developer may succeed in their professional career if they're patient. During their work, a software developer may come across obstacles or other issues which hinder the progress of the computer program. For example, they may face issues with coding certain functions of the program. There could also be a labour force shortage, which may cause unexpected delays to the delivery schedule. In such a situation, maintaining calm and continuing to be patient with all stakeholders to find a workaround solution may benefit the software developer.

Further, being patient can help diffuse any tension within the team. There may be discussions that overrun their allocated time or certain members of your team may turn up for meetings without reading the agenda beforehand. These could cause some discontent within the team. In these situations, being patient helps you navigate and handle relationships between colleagues in an amicable way and avoids friction at the workplace.

Skills for a software tester

While a software tester may also have basic knowledge about software development due to interest in the subject, it may not always be the case. A software tester may have a different set of skills than a software developer, as these are two different job positions. Here are some skills which you may have as a software tester:

Communication skills

A software tester may benefit from having good communication skills. If you're a software tester, you may discover certain defects or bugs with the program and report these problems to your manager or project manager. To avoid misunderstandings and to convey your findings clearly, it's important to communicate in an articulate and concise manner. You may write notes explaining the issues.

Communication skills can also benefit a software tester in the future, as soft skills are highly transferrable. This means that the software tester may find it easier to transition to another job position that requires good communication skills, regardless of whether the job links closely to software testing. A software tester may also ask for a higher salary in another software testing job position by citing their excellent communication skills.

Related: How to Improve Communication Skills (With Definition and Examples)

Analytical skills

Software testers also need analytical skills. If you can analyse problems and provide insights for various problems, you may use this skill to propose recommendations for the computer program. This can enhance the program and increase its marketability and appeal to the consumers. As a value-adding staff member, you may gain the trust and respect of superiors and colleagues.

Apart from problem-solving, being analytical may help you anticipate issues before they arise. Pre-empting these issues could save time in the future as you don't need to revisit the issues. Projects may be more efficient in this way.

Problem-solving skills

Even though software testers are primarily in charge of identifying bugs, defects or other problems with the computer program, they may also suggest remedies. This includes providing a solution to any issue which they identify or offering to discuss a viable solution with the software developer. If you proactively help to problem-solve, you may set yourself apart from other peers to build a reputation of being competent at your job.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed. Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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