Comparing Programming vs. Coding (With Salaries and Duties)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 10 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 use the terms coding and programming interchangeably, but these terms signify different roles for IT professionals. While both these processes help create digital systems and applications, they're distinct parts of the development process. If you're considering a career in IT, knowing about the differences between coding and programming can be beneficial. In this article, we explain the differences between programming vs. coding, define these processes, discuss the responsibilities of a coder and a programmer and compare their average base salary.

Programming vs. coding

Here are some distinctions between programming vs. coding that can help you understand how these two processes differ:

Scope

The scope and area of work differ significantly between coders and programmers. Typically, coders write the code script for specific functions without visualising the end product or output. Programmers develop software systems and programs by understanding how different components work together, testing them rigorously and working towards the end goal of creating the final product. So, while coders produce scripts that enable the execution of desired functions or output, programmers solve real-world problems by developing systems for them.

Approach

Coders and programmers usually adopt different techniques while working. A coder typically interprets data and writes the code for it. They also test it via trial and error or other methods to verify it works. Since programmers deal with significantly more complex developmental processes, they take a systematic approach to testing and improvement to detect errors and fix them.

Tools

Coding can involve just a few essential tools, such as a word processing application and a computer. The computer may not even require a lot of processing power or complex hardware to write code. At most, some software systems may be necessary to execute the code and test its functionality. In contrast, programmers use a variety of different tools. They may use automated testing tools, code analysis processes, debugging tools and other complex testing frameworks. Developers usually require powerful computer systems with high processing power and storage to run these tests.

Deliverables

Codes are usually responsible for translating and producing code scripts for a component of a big project. Many coders may work together to create different elements of a programme or software in the same team. In most projects, the programmers give direction and guidance to coders about how to develop specific elements and functions in a system. Alternatively, programmers typically deliver the fully-functional software or application to the client. Their final deliverables include development, testing, quality assurance and other crucial steps in the software development cycle.

Skills

Having knowledge about hardware requirements, design compilers and language libraries can help coders write and execute code. For programming, it's essential to know coding and writing scripts, alongside designing interfaces, finding solutions, developing systems, testing and performing quality assurance. Coding knowledge is vital to becoming a programmer, and expertise in different programming languages can be beneficial. Alternatively, coders can develop expertise in select coding languages and tools.

Related: 79 Programmer Interview Questions (With Sample Answers)

Challenges

Professionals working as programmers and coders may experience different levels of difficulty, depending on the scope of the project and the language they're using. Since coders require language-specific skills and knowledge, they may face technical or system-related obstacles while writing or testing code. For programmers, alongside the technical problems, the nature of challenges includes management, optimisation, collaboration, communication and timeliness of the project.

Experience in coding and managing teams can be necessary to work as a programmer, alongside a bachelor's degree in relevant specialisations. Coders can usually start working if they have adequate experience and skills in a particular language, even if they don't have a formal computer science degree. This is particularly true if they're working as freelancers.

What is coding?

The process of writing a computer programming language that enables humans and computers to interact is coding. It helps convert computer instructions from human language to machine-readable language. This code provides instructions to computer systems on how to operate and what actions to take in certain situations. Coding enables the writing, evaluation and integration of different components of a larger system that contribute to its error-free operation. Since coding is the first stage in constructing any software, it's usually easier to evaluate and comprehend than programming.

Computer systems are electrical devices that communicate and perform pre-determined functions using binary coded signals. Binary coded signals come in the form of 0s and 1s. Switches, processors and transistors in electrical devices generate these language commands. The process of coding helps convert high-level and assembly-level languages into binary codes. This allows the computer hardware and software to communicate with each other.

What are the responsibilities of a coder?

Here are some typical responsibilities of a coder:

  • S**cripting code**: Coders create scripts for computer code. Coders take instructions from programmers and other developers on what type of code to write, and then they build those scripts.

  • Deciding language: Coders use their understanding of programming languages to determine how to use them most effectively. They usually consult the programmer or project head while making these decisions.

  • Identifying errors and bugs: Coders usually run basic tests to detect functionality errors and bugs. It's vital for them to test their code before presenting it to their team for review and approval.

  • Authoring websites: They usually write website code to create web pages and applications. A coder may assist in the development of front-end code for websites using a coding language, such as HTML.

Related: How to Become a Web Developer: Career Steps and FAQs

What is programming?

Programming is an integral part of the software development process. Programming helps create a functional software application and includes different steps, including research, design, testing, implementation and management. The phrase "programming" refers to the entire process of creating a software system. Unlike coding, programming uses different tools, approaches and methods to develop, test and verify the quality of the product.

Programmers usually work with coders, designers, developers and testers to develop software. They help design the software, create a delivery schedule, allocate responsibilities, supervise progress and troubleshoot development-related challenges. Programmers usually interact with clients and ensure that the end product addresses client requirements. They're also typically responsible for providing maintenance, integrating and migrating systems, assuring quality and offering system updates that enhance functionality and simplify the user experience.

Related: A Guide to Becoming a Computer Programmer

What are the responsibilities of a programmer?

Here are some common duties of a programmer:

  • Creating the development process**:** A programmer specialises in developing apps or customised software, depending on their area of expertise. They design the entire development process for making computer programs and software.

  • Programming operating systems**:** Operating systems are the comprehensive platforms on which other programs and applications run. Programmers that specialise in system development rather than application development attempt to increase the performance of existing operating systems.

  • Solving program errors: A programmer may use tools to test, detect and correct problems in the software their team develops. This includes integration problems in the code that prohibit different components from working together and errors in the code itself.

  • Preparing updates**:** It's essential for computer software and applications to communicate with other components, such as other hardware and operating systems. Programmers create updates to ensure that applications and software continue to operate seamlessly with new systems updates by enhancing their functionality, fixing bugs and adding new features.

Related: What Does a Computer Programmer Do? (And How to Become One)

What is the average salary of a programmer?

The average base salary of a programmer is $21,256 per month. To earn a higher salary, programmers can gain expertise in different programming languages, get a certification or gain leadership experience.

Programmers are integral to developing software systems and applications. Since their role is crucial to creating software and digital systems and they possess considerable expertise and experience, organisations typically pay them on a higher scale than other IT professionals. The earning potential of a programmer can depend on their skills, location, organisation and industry.

What is the average salary of a coder?

The average base salary of a coding specialist is $284,820 per year. Their salary typically depends on factors such as experience, expertise in different languages and ability to solve problems.

Many coders start their careers by working as freelancers. Self-learning is a vital part of the process to become a coder. To increase their salary, it's essential for coders to update their skills, learn new programming languages and demonstrate the ability to creatively troubleshoot technical challenges in the development process.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries and the quoted websites at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

Explore more articles