The Many Different Types of Developers Explained

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Rafael Timbó
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Rafael Timbó
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Chief Technology Officer
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Before hiring a software developer, it’s important to have a strong understanding of their skills and role within a development team. Learn more about different types of developers.
Published on
May 6, 2022
Updated on
May 8, 2024

As technology continues to evolve and advance, the term "software developer" has become too general to comprehensively describe the specific and technical skill sets that individuals need to succeed in a role. Due, in part, to open-source framework and ongoing language development, new ways of building and maintaining software consistently emerge.

Instead of memorizing the differences between Python, Java, or C++ developers, it may be more practical to categorize these roles by their development function. For example, front-end development may include several sub-types of developers who are fluent in CSS, HTML 5, or JavaScript. Due to the volume of existing and new developer sub-types, it’s likely more practical to have a functional understanding of a candidate’s role in the team.

When deciding who to hire, it’s critical to maintain alignment between key technical leaders, recruiters, and HR to identify the right candidates early in the process. Further, candidates who are properly vetted for the right set of technical skills will likely contribute to a stronger engineering team culture and more positive hiring metrics. Having a foundational understanding of a developer's role and identifying some of the core tools they use is the first step in mitigating tech hiring issues. 

Here are 15 different types of developers you may want to consider for your next hire.

1. Front-end Developers

Front-end developers, also known as client-side developers, primarily program user interfaces (UI). They design and create the layout of websites, and their code runs through a browser and opens on the user's computer. Any website a user interacts with results from a front-end developer’s work.

Front-end and UI developers must not only know how to write code but also understand how people interact with machines. This understanding allows them to create intuitive interfaces accessible to all users regardless of skill level or ability. Additionally, front-end developers often collaborate with back-end developers, who handle the server-side operations. Together, they integrate front-end interfaces with back-end logic, ensuring a cohesive and functional web application.

Frameworks

  • React
  • Vue.js
  • Angular
  • Svelte
  • Ember.js

Programming languages

  • ‍JavaScript
  • TypeScript
  • HTML/CSS
  • Python
  • Ruby

2. Back-end Developers

Back-end developers, also known as server-side developers, work with the parts of websites that users don’t see. They design and implement software that executes functions when users click on anything on a web page. Unlike front-end developers, who create the interface through which users interact with an application, back-end developers work on the infrastructure that supports these interactions. 

Back-end developers are responsible for creating and managing the very complex systems and software that make websites function. Their expertise is also crucial in implementing algorithms, security measures, and data processing techniques that are foundational to the reliability of web services and applications.

Frameworks

  • Express
  • Django
  • Ruby on Rails
  • Laravel
  • Spring 

Programming languages

  • JavaScript (Node.js)
  • Python
  • Java
  • PHP
  • Ruby

3. Full Stack Developers

Full-stack developers can perform the duties of both front- and back-end developers. They must have a strong understanding of UX and UI and be able to design and implement more complex back-end systems.

Full-stack developers should possess all the basic skills of both front- and back-end developers. Their broad skill set enables them to work on a project's front-end appearance and interactions, as well as the back-end infrastructure and database operations. By understanding the full spectrum of web development, they can make data-driven decisions that affect both the user interface and the server-side functionalities, ensuring a cohesive and seamless experience for users. 

Full-stack developers are particularly valuable in startups and smaller teams where the flexibility to work across different layers of a project accelerates development and troubleshooting. Often, their expertise helps address skill gaps in development teams. Their role demands a continuous learning mindset to keep up with the changing web technologies and best practices in both front-end and back-end development. 

Frameworks

  • MEAN (MongoDB, Express.js, Angular, Node.js)
  • MERN (MongoDB, Express.js, React, Node.js)
  • MEVN (MongoDB, Express.js, Vue.js, Node.js)
  • Django
  • Ruby on Rails

Programming languages

  • ‍JavaScript
  • TypeScript
  • Python
  • PHP
  • Java

4. Embedded Systems Developers

Embedded systems developers, also known as software integration developers, write code that runs on the hardware of systems that are not recognized as computers or mobile devices. They are responsible for designing and implementing software that works within refrigerators, washers and dryers, home alarm systems, and any other piece of equipment or appliance that comes with a “smart” label. 

Due to their specialized skill set, embedded systems devs aren’t typically found on traditional development teams, though they are still in high demand in certain industries. Their role encompasses a range of tasks, from developing real-time operating systems (RTOS), drivers, and firmware to implementing communication protocols and handling device security. The work requires a solid understanding of computer architecture, electronics, and system programming concepts. They also create software used for real-time data processing, electronic interfaces, and hardware drivers.

Frameworks

  • FreeRTOS
  • Zephyr
  • Mbed OS
  • RT-Thread
  • Embedded Linux

Programming languages

  • C
  • C++
  • Assembly
  • Rust
  • Ada

5. Data Scientists

Data scientists are mathematicians or statisticians who also write code. They are responsible for designing and implementing software programs that compile, sort, and analyze data sets. They are frequently involved with AI-based statistical analysis of big data. They work with machine learning, predictive modeling, and data visualization.

The role of a data scientist is not just technical—it also requires the ability to communicate complex findings clearly and effectively to stakeholders who may not have a technical background. This involves visualizing data and presenting it in a way that highlights valuable insights and supports decision-making processes. In most development team structures, data scientists are highly sought after to translate complex data for non-technical stakeholders.

Frameworks

  • TensorFlow
  • PyTorch
  • Scikit-learn
  • Pandas
  • Keras

Programming languages

  • Python
  • R
  • SQL
  • Java
  • Julia

6. Development and Operations Systems Developers

Development and operations systems developers, also called DevOps developers or system administrators, design and implement the software that operates and regulates the computer network infrastructure and maintains the servers. They are responsible for creating the systems and project tracking strategies that streamline product development and production. They develop and implement improvements to the product or its manufacture when necessary.

They are also responsible for designing, implementing, and maintaining systems that enhance communications between team members, the company, and its customers. This requires the ability to work with cloud computing technology, UI, and UX.

Basic skills required include navigating cloud storage applications such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), OneDrive, and GitHub. Additionally, developers should be familiar with the methods and techniques back-end developers use to build and integrate software across multiple technologies.

Tools

  • Jenkins
  • Docker
  • Kubernetes
  • Ansible
  • Terraform

Programming languages

  • Python
  • Ruby
  • Go
  • JavaScript
  • Bash

7. Desktop Developers

Desktop developers are another one of the older developer specialties and are not as commonly found in modern software engineer career paths as some emerging specialties. However, if a project dictates strong desktop functionality over mobile accessibility, these developers have the expertise to achieve that. They are tasked with designing, creating, and implementing the software used on desktop computers. This includes software applications like Windows, Linux, and MAC OS.

Desktop developers have a deep understanding of the operating system's APIs and services, enabling them to take full advantage of desktop hardware and software capabilities.

They must also consider security features and data protection measures to safeguard user data. Desktop developers often collaborate with UX/UI designers, database administrators, and other software development professionals to create cohesive applications that meet user needs and expectations. Essential skills required include expertise in coding and familiarity with graphical user interface (GUI) toolkits like XAML, Gtk, WinForms, and Cocoa.

Tools

  • Electron
  • .NET (WPF, WinForms)
  • Qt
  • GTK
  • JavaFX

Programming languages

  • C#
  • C++
  • JavaScript (with Electron)
  • Java
  • Python

8. Mobile Application Developers

Mobile application developers are consistently in demand because most organizations need to offer functional and accessible mobile apps. These developers are responsible for designing, creating, and implementing applications used on smartphones and tablets. They are not only tasked with keeping their company's apps fully functional and updated but also with being continuously innovative to keep their company relevant in the incredibly competitive and lucrative mobile apps market.

Mobile app developers also work with various APIs to integrate functions such as GPS for location tracking, cameras for photos, or sensors for gesture control. They must ensure data security and privacy compliance, especially when handling personal information or payment details. Given the frequent updates in mobile operating systems, they need to keep their skills updated regarding mobile application best practices and ensure app compatibility with new OS versions. It’s critical that mobile app developers have experience in mobile operating systems like iOS and Android.

Frameworks

  • React Native
  • Flutter
  • Xamarin
  • Swift UI
  • Kotlin Multiplatform Mobile (KMM)

Programming languages

  • Swift (iOS)
  • Kotlin (Android)
  • Dart (Flutter)
  • JavaScript (React Native)
  • C# (Xamarin)

9. Software Development Engineer in Test (SDET)

Also known as quality assurance developers, SDET developers test software to ensure it is fully functional and usable before reaching the end-user. Their role also involves a strong understanding of software design and development practices, enabling them to address potential issues using QA testing tools early in the development process. 

They collaborate closely with developers to create and maintain a continuous integration (CI) pipeline, which automates the process of testing and building the software with each change made to the codebase. This continuous testing approach helps identify defects early, improve the quality of the final product, and speed up the release process. These developers need a clear understanding of the software's processes and goals.

Tools

  • Selenium
  • Appium
  • JUnit
  • TestNG
  • Cypress

Programming languages

  • Java
  • Python
  • C#
  • JavaScript
  • Ruby

10. Game Developers

Game developers cover a broad spectrum of engineering specialties, and often, their skills match those of other software developer categories. In addition to these more general development skills, game developers must have a deep understanding of how video games are built on a granular level and what the players find engaging and entertaining.

Game developers are responsible for designing and creating the games people play on their smartphones, computers, and consoles. As a more creative subfield of development, they must be able to create an interesting and usable storyline and the characters that live in it. Creating a game involves a deep understanding of game mechanics, player psychology, interactive storytelling, and technical programming and software development skills. 

They must be adept at problem-solving and creative thinking to overcome the technical challenges of game development and deliver compelling, fun, and innovative gaming experiences. Due to the need for soft skills and creative aptitude, it’s critical to perform appropriate software developer skill assessments when hiring game devs. The field is dynamic and fast-paced, with developers constantly learning new tools and technologies to keep up with the evolving landscape of gaming trends and platforms.

Engines and Frameworks

  • Unity
  • Unreal Engine
  • Godot
  • GameMaker Studio 2
  • Phaser (for web games)

Programming languages

  • C#
  • C++
  • Python
  • JavaScript
  • Lua

11. Cybersecurity Developers

Cybersecurity developers are tasked with testing software's security. They are responsible for creating and implementing the techniques, systems, and processes used to find software security vulnerabilities. They are then responsible for creating and implementing solutions to those problems. Due to their importance, cybersecurity developers are typically hired early in the process when building and scaling engineering teams.

Frequently, a security developer's work requires so-called "white hat" or ethical hacking. To do this, the developer uses methods and techniques criminal hackers use to access software to see if it can withstand such an attack. If it cannot, the security developer creates fixes for these issues before releasing the software to the end-user. They also develop and integrate cybersecurity tools and software, such as firewalls, intrusion detection systems (IDS), and vulnerability scanners, to monitor and mitigate potential threats.

Basic skills required include creating tools in scripting languages like Ruby and Python and the ability to reverse engineer commercial software systems and data libraries.

Engines and Frameworks

  • Unity
  • Unreal Engine
  • Godot
  • GameMaker Studio 2
  • Phaser (for web games)

Programming languages

  • C#
  • C++
  • Python
  • JavaScript
  • Lua

12. Customer Relationship Management Systems Developer

Customer relationship management (CRM) systems developer is another type of software engineer with rapidly increasing demand. This demand is driven not only by the increase in online shopping but also by the trend toward electronic health records and patient portals in the healthcare industry. 

CRM developers are responsible for creating and implementing software systems that collect and sort user, consumer, and patient data. They create user-specific software to sort the data based on preset parameters and data points. While their key performance indicators (KPIs) may not resemble other developer KPIs, their work is critical in establishing a strong customer experience.

CRM developers improve customer and patient satisfaction by streamlining data collection processes used by customer support, account representatives, salespeople, and healthcare providers. They work closely with stakeholders to identify requirements and translate business needs into technical solutions. Their role is critical in ensuring that the CRM system provides maximum value, helping organizations better understand their customers, personalize customer interactions, and effectively manage customer information.

Frameworks

  • Salesforce (Apex)
  • Microsoft Dynamics 365 SDK
  • Zoho Creator
  • SugarCRM
  • Oracle Siebel

Programming languages

  • Apex (for Salesforce)
  • C# (for Dynamics 365 customizations)
  • JavaScript (for web-based CRM extensions)
  • PHP (for SugarCRM and other open-source CRMs)
  • Java (for enterprise-level CRM systems integration and customization)

13. Language Developers

Language developers are one of the rarer types of software engineers due to their niche function of creating and optimizing entire programming languages. They work on all aspects of language development, including syntax design, semantic rules, compilers, interpreters, and documentation.

Developing a programming language involves a deep understanding of computer science principles, including algorithms, data structures, and computation theories. Language developers create the specifications for a programming language, which define how the language behaves and how programs written in the language will be executed.

Tools and Technologies

  • LLVM
  • GNU Compiler Collection (GCC)
  • ANTLR (Another Tool for Language Recognition)
  • Flex & Bison (or Lex & Yacc)
  • Roslyn (.NET Compiler Platform)

Programming languages

  • C++
  • C
  • Rust
  • Java
  • Python

14. Graphic Developers

Graphic developers work closely with game developers and video producers. They add dimension, ambiance, and realism to the games and videos they code. They also frequently collaborate with front-end developers to help create visually engaging websites. Their responsibilities include designing, coding, and implementing software to create light and shadow, shading, rendering scenes or web pages, and managing those scenes. Creating 3D graphic images requires a strong background in math and computer science. 

Their role is crucial when visual fidelity and real-time rendering are important, such as in video game development, virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and visual effects (VFX) production. Graphic developers must continuously keep up with advancements in graphics hardware and software technologies and evolving computer graphics techniques to create visually stunning and immersive experiences.

Tools and Libraries

  • OpenGL
  • DirectX
  • Vulkan
  • WebGL
  • Three.js

Programming languages

  • C++
  • C
  • JavaScript (for WebGL and Three.js)
  • Python (for scripting in 3D software)
  • HLSL/GLSL (Shading languages for DirectX and OpenGL)

15. Big Data Systems Developer

Big data developers create systems and software to sort through and compile this huge amount of data into smaller sets that relevant stakeholders can process and understand. Their important role typically means they are hired early when growing an IT team.

Further, they utilize a variety of technologies and frameworks to handle structured, semi-structured, and unstructured data, ensuring high performance, scalability, and reliability. These developers frequently work with data scientists and AI-based systems that sort through data and perform predictive analysis.

Data developers need to be familiar with the functions and uses of data warehouses, extract transform load (ETL) systems, and relational databases for storing and manipulating data sets. Additionally, they need to understand the principles of data partitioning, replication, and concurrency to ensure data integrity and availability.

Frameworks and Tools

  • Hadoop
  • Apache Spark
  • Apache Flink
  • Apache Kafka
  • Apache Storm

Programming languages

  • Java
  • Scala
  • Python
  • SQL
  • R

Hire the Right Devs With Revelo

As capabilities expand and technology improves, more types of developers will emerge. Based on a data-driven needs analysis, it’s likely that one of these popular developer types will fit the role you’re trying to fill. To maximize the chances of a strong hire, alignment between talent acquisition professionals and technical leadership is crucial. However, even with both groups aligned, allocating resources to identify precisely what the role entails and who the best candidate may be is often challenging.

When you partner with Revelo, we’ll help ensure this alignment and provide top-quality candidates specifically chosen for your position. Using our deep talent pool of experienced and capable developers, we select pre-vetted candidates who are time zone-aligned and rigorously tested for technical skills, soft skills, and English proficiency.

After hiring, Revelo augments your HR department through ongoing administrative tasks such as payroll, benefits administration, taxes, and local compliance — allowing you to focus on core business functions.

Contact Revelo today to hire developers with the skills and experience you need.

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