Take the 2-minute tour ×
Programmers Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professional programmers interested in conceptual questions about software development. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I see mostly everyone distinguishes between being a Software Engineer and being in IT on the jobs sections of their site. What is the distinction?

share|improve this question

migrated from stackoverflow.com Dec 26 '10 at 20:55

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

4 Answers 4

up vote 15 down vote accepted

IT (Information Technology) is a catch-all for the industry at present, any job that is primarily to do with the operation of computers or developing for them is within the "IT industry/sector".

However, within the UK at least, job descriptions and adverts tend to reserve "IT" within a job title, as administration, procurement and technical support for company computing resources. Everything from sysadmin work, to frontline technical support, or hardware repair and procurement/policy for internal IT.

Software Engineering specifically means developing software, analysis, design, programming - creating new software, or maintaining/altering existing software. This is very different to a technical role. The skill set is quite different, technical support guys are not necessarily programmers and (contrary to a lot of non-IT peoples' belief structures) software engineers are not necessarily any good at technical support. Though Software Engineers are within the "IT sector", which confuses the matter slightly in the job market.

share|improve this answer

IT is a department within a company like Human Resources or Marketing. This covers the backbone in a sense of some companies as what a company uses is maintained by IT. This includes a bunch of analysts, developers and administrators that create and manage systems.

Software Engineering in contrast has the narrower focus of how to create the abstract set of instructions used in building various systems. Note that the software can have various purposes as it could be a game, operating system, or part of something used to run a business.


As an example, where I work there are at least a couple of different sets of software engineers: Product Development and Information Systems. The latter is what most would call IT while the former is the group that helps design and build the software the company sells to customers. My work in IS tends focus on systems that others within the company will use rather than products or services the company sells to the public. Hopefully that provides a bit more clarity.

share|improve this answer
1  
To add: A company that produces software as part of its offering (whether they directly sell it, or it's embedded in a physical product they sell) will tend to have a separate Product Development department (that does software engineering). Any company may also have software developers within their Internal IT department, who are building systems for internal use (whether by the IT group for operational support, or internal financial systems, etc). A company that only has developers in IT is obviously more likely to just call it all "IT". –  gregmac Feb 5 at 20:20

In Morocco, to be an IT, it's required to study programming in general for 2 years.. but to be an engineer , you must study at least for 5 years , technically... the software engineer is somemone who not only writes programs, but he takes security, flexibility and reusibility in mind. An IT can only be specialized in either security,flexibility or reusability.

share|improve this answer
1  
It is not meaningful answer and actually false. Schooling does not imply anything you wrote. Besides when one is writing software he always should consider all listed things, no matter education. Wishful thinking and putting people inside boxes. –  Mateusz Feb 3 at 9:31
    
It's been 3 years since I posted this answer, anyway... what I wanted to say is that "In Morocco" because I'm Moroccan, to be an IT one must study for 2 years in one area, but to be an engineer, he has to study for 5/6 years . Generally speaking, An Engineer is more professionally advanced than an IT. My answer was posted in 2010. –  SmootQ Feb 5 at 11:23
    
@Mateusz , I know... I'm speaking in terms of formal education (5 years to have the title of an Engineer, and 2 years to be an IT), in many countries (france, morocco, etc..) an Engineer is called "Ingenieur d'etat" , an IT is a "Technician Specialisé" –  SmootQ Feb 5 at 11:27
    
@Mateusz, If I studied programming for 2 years at school, I'm formally an IT, people will call me an "IT", even if I take engineering lessons at home, even if I know what engineers don't actually know. I'm still an IT, and my salary will be less than that of an engineer. The solution??, get back to high school, and study for other 3 years, to be an engineer, and increase your salary. Yes, what you know is important, but your graduation is not less important for your reputation in your professional life. –  SmootQ Feb 5 at 11:35
1  
@SmootQ You have a point there. It is the same as in Poland. I've seen guys with technical education loosing jobs to people with higher education. But that is the reality of job market not something specific to IT industry. –  Mateusz Feb 5 at 13:01

In addition to the already given answers:

I once applied for a SW development position at a big car manufacturer. Surprisingly all the SW development jobs (coding, engineering, architecture, etc.) for vehicle software were categorized under "IT", in the "Engineering" category were only jobs related to engine, chassis etc.

share|improve this answer
    
how does this answer the question asked? –  gnat Feb 3 at 10:19
1  
(Anecdotal) evidence that there might be no clear distinction between software engineering and IT in some fields or industries. As mentioned in the first line my answer is an addition to already given answers. –  Simon Feb 3 at 10:36

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.