The Many Different Types of Developers Explained

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Rafael Timbó
Rafael Timbó
Chief Technology Officer
The Many Different Types of Developers Explained

Table of Contents

How many types of developers are there and where can I find them? Read on to find out.
Published on
May 6, 2022
Updated on
November 6, 2023

There was a time, not so long ago that placing a job posting for a "software engineer" was sufficient to get you a list of qualified candidates that were able to handle your software development needs. Times have changed, and as technology continues to evolve and advance, the term, "software engineer" has become far too general. Now, there are many types of developers, each with specific skill sets that may or may not meet your needs.

These days, there are many types of web and software development specialties. If you are in the market for a software engineer, it will be helpful for you to be familiar with the different types of developer jobs. This would help you match their skills sets to your company’s needs.  

Read on to learn about the most common software development categories and their specific skill sets.

How Many Types of Developers Are There?

It is hard to come up with an exact number to answer the question, "How many types of developers are there?" Many of the job descriptions and responsibilities overlap, and as technology becomes ever more specialized, more categories are frequently being added.

The following is a list of the most common types of web and software developers.

19 Types of Developers

1. Web Developers

Web developers are the most common type of developers, and their work has created the structure from which most other types have evolved. These developers specialize in creating websites. If you have ever used Google, Amazon, Facebook, or any of the millions of other websites available, then you have benefitted from the work of a web developer.

The position of a web developer became very popular in the 1990s, and at that point, a person could succeed as a web developer with little more than a basic knowledge of HTML and CSS. These days, the job has become more complex and has been broken down into three subcategories: front-end, back-end, and full stack developers.

2. Front End Developers

Front-end developers, also known as client-side developers, program the user interfaces. They design and create the layout of websites. Their code runs on through a browser and opens on the user's computer. Any website you interact with in any way is the result of the work of a front-end developer.

Front-end and user interface (UI) developers must not only know how to write code, but they must also understand how people interact with machines. This understanding allows them to create intuitive interfaces that are easy for even novice computer users to navigate.

Basic skills required include:

  • A complete understanding of user experience (UX)  
  • The ability to design user interfaces (UI) based on UX
  • Fluency in CSS, JavaScript, and HTML

Related: Front End Developer vs Front End Engineer: Which Do You Need?

3. Back End Developers

Back-end developers, also known as server-side developers, work with the parts of websites you cannot see. They design and implement software that makes things happen when users click on anything on a website.

The back-end developers are responsible for creating and managing the very complex systems and software that make websites function. For instance, when you do a Google search, you only have to type in a word or two and hit search. That one click creates a massive flurry of activity behind the scenes while web crawlers search for, find, and prioritize the results. All of that activity is the result of the back-end developers.

Basic skills required include:

  • Fluency in many coding languages such as Go, Java, C, C++, Scala, Python, Perl, and Ruby
  • Strong understanding of the functions and creation of databases, email systems, etc.
  • Ability to design and create log-in, caching and storage systems, etc.

4. Full Stack Developers

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

The Many Different Types of Developers Explained

Full Stack developers need to possess all the basic skills of both front- and back-end developers.

5. 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 the design and implementation of 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. They also create software used for real-time data processing, electronic interfaces, and hardware drivers.

Basic skills required include:

  • Fluency in many coding languages, particularly C, C++, Java, and Assembly
  • Familiarity with the necessary proprietary technologies, tool kits, and architecture

6. 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.

Basic skills required include:

  • A strong background in mathematics, statistics, or statistical analysis
  • Fluency in coding languages such as Python, SQL, and R

7. Development and Operations Systems Developers

Development and operations systems developers, also referred to as dev ops 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 processes that streamline product development and production. When necessary, they create and implement improvements to the product or its manufacture.

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

Basic skills required include:

  • Strong experience with technologies such as Kubernetes, Apache Mesos, Jenkins, Docker, the HashiCorp stack (Nomad, Terraform, Vagrant, Consul, Packer, and Vault)
  • Ability to negotiate cloud storage applications like Amazon Web Services, OneDrive, and GitHub.
  • Familiarity with the methods and techniques used by back-end developers to build and integrate software across multiple technologies

8. Desktop Developers

Desktop developers are another one of the older developer specialties. They are tasked with designing, creating, and implementing the software that is used on desktop computers. This includes software applications like Windows, Linux, and MAC OS.

Desktop developers gained popularity in the 1980s as PC and home computing had just begun to emerge. Many of those early developers were self-taught and made use of development environments that allowed them to explore and create without much cost. These included Delphi, Turbo C, Turbo Pascal, Visual Studio, Visual Basic, and Quick C.

These days, many desktop developers still need to hone their craft on their own. There are courses and degrees that can teach them to code, but being a proficient desktop programmer also requires soft skills like inherent curiosity, problem-solving, and a desire to untangle even the most convoluted of puzzles.

Basic skills required include:

  • Expertise in coding
  • Patience and determination
  • Familiarity with graphical user interface (GUI) toolkits like XAML, Gtk, WinForms, and Cocoa

9. Mobile Applications Developers

Mobile applications developers are relatively new, but they're in huge demand. This type of software developers was very rare until the early 2000s and was, at first, considered a subcategory of embedded developers. Then Smartphones entered the market and took it by storm. The need for mobile application developers grew along with the popularity of Smartphones.

It is estimated that 20% of the software engineers are currently working in mobile applications development. That's because of the ever-growing demand for new and updated applications for Smartphones.

Mobile applications developers are responsible for the design, creation, and implementation of applications that are 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 in order to keep their company relevant in the incredibly competitive and lucrative mobile apps market.

Basic skills required include:

  • Experience in and being up-to-date about the many intricate, ever-evolving details involved in mobile operating systems like iOS and Android
  • Familiarity with the frameworks and environments used to write softwares on mobile operating systems including Java, Objective-C, and Swift

10. Software Development Engineer in Test (SDET)

Also known as quality assurance developers, SDET developers are tasked with testing software to ensure that it is fully functional and usable before it reaches the end-user. Their responsibilities include creating and implementing automated testing tools and systems that will effectively seek out any issues within the software.

Basic skills required include:

  • A clear understanding of the processes and goals of the software to be tested
  • Familiarity with technologies like Selenium and WebDriver
  • Fluency with coding languages such as Ruby and Python

11. Game Developers

Game developers cover a wide spectrum of engineering specialties, and often, their skills match those of other software developer categories. In addition to these more general developing skills, game developers must have a deep understanding of how video games work and what do the players find engaging and entertaining.

Game developers are responsible for designing and creating the games that people play on their smartphones, computers, and consoles. They must be able to create an interesting and useable storyline along with the characters that live in it. Then, they must write code to bring the environment and the characters to life.

Different Types of Developers

Writing the amount of code necessary to bring the world of the game to life in visually appealing ways while maintaining the core gameplay and strategy pieces takes great attention to detail and patience. Every item that the players see, use, or interact with in any way must be coded into existence.

Basic skills required include:

  • Deep understanding of how games function
  • An understanding of what engages and maintains interest of players
  • Creativity
  • Ablity to use the frameworks games are built on such as WebGL, OpenGL, DirectX, and Unity 3D
  • Fluency in coding languages used for game development, usually Java, C, and C++
  • Familiarity with gaming platforms like Adobe Flash (this is being phased out, but it still may be needed in some circumstances), HTML5, and JavaScript
  • If mobile games are being developed for Android and iOS, knowledge of Java and Swift will be necessary

12. Security Developers

Security developers are tasked with testing the security of a software. They are responsible for creating and implementing the techniques, systems, and processes that are used to find security vulnerabilities in a software. They are then responsible for creating and implementing solutions to those problems.

Frequently, the work of a security developer requires so-called "white hat" or ethical hacking. To do this, the developer uses methods and techniques used by criminal hackers to access software to see if the software can withstand such an attack. If it cannot, the security developer creates fixes for these issues before the software is released to the end-user.  

Basic skills required include:

  • Ability to create tools in scripting languages like Ruby and Python
  • Deep understanding of the techniques used by hackers to gain access to software and computer systems
  • Ability to understand source code for operating systems, most often coded in C and C++
  • Ability to reverse engineer commercial software systems and data libraries to find and use the weaknesses they find there

13. Customer Relationship Management Systems Developer

Customer relationship management (CRM) systems developer is another type of software engineers with rapidly increasing demand. This demand is being driven not only by the increase in online shopping but also by the trend toward electronic health records and the use of 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 that will sort the data based on preset parameters and data points.

CRM developers are tasked with improving customer and patient satisfaction by streamlining data collection processes used by customer support, account representatives, salespeople, and healthcare providers. The more concise and accurate the data these people have access to the more completely and quickly they can help the customers or patients.

Basic skills required include:

  • A thorough understanding of the reasons and goals of the company’s data collection
  • An understanding of techniques used for data analysis
  • Familiarity with technologies like SAP, SharePoint, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), and Salesforce

14. Language Developers

Language developers are one of the rarer types of software engineers, with only about 1% of those working in the software development field doing this job. Their responsibilities include creating new coding languages and reworking existing ones.

Basic skills required include:

  • Very deep understanding of the function and use of coding languages
  • Fluency in several coding languages to be used as a base point for new language development

15. Graphic Developers

Graphic developers work closely with game developers and video producers. They are tasked with creating dimension, ambiance, and realism to the games and videos they code for. They also frequently work 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 management of those scenes. Creating 3D graphic images requires the developer to be strong in both math and computer science. The advent of open source and commercial systems and frameworks handling most of the math side of the graphic development has made it a much simpler process.

Basic skills required include:

  • Being skillful at low-level coding or familiarity with frameworks like DirectX, OpenGL, WebGL, and Unity 3D
  • Fluency in coding languages like C, C++, and Assembly (for advanced graphic developers)

16. Big Data Systems Developer

Big data refers to the very large amounts of data collected by various industries. This volume of data is impossible to process by hand, at least not in a reasonable amount of time. Big data developers are tasked with creating systems and software to sort through and compile this huge amount of data into smaller sets that can be processed and understood by people.

Big data developers are responsible for creating and implementing software to collate the data and systems to store and secure it. Frequently, these developers work with AI. AI-based systems not only sort through the data but can also run predictive analysis on it to further increase the efficiency of the collection and processing of further data.

Basic skills required include:

  • Familiarity with the function and uses of data warehouses, extract transform load (ETL) systems, and relational databases
  • Familiarity with the systems most often used to distribute and store large amounts of data including MapReduce, Spark, and Hadoop
  • Fluency in coding languages like R, SQL, Python, and Java

General Developer Descriptions

The following categories are more job descriptions than job titles. Each may encompass several of the above listed types of developers. Still, while creating a job posting, understanding and using these terms may help you to widen your potential candidate pool.

17. Low-Level Developers

Low-level developers are those that work close to the hardware. Their software directly affects the function of the hardware and rarely affects the higher levels of software. They use low-level coding languages like Assembly and C. Embedded developers are an example of low-level developers.

18. Mid-Tier Developers

These are the developers that engineer software at the browser level. Their work is rarely used by either front- or back-end developers, but they need to be able to connect their software to both of them. They are sometimes referred to as the plumbers of the computing system because they keep things running smoothly for both the users and the servers.

The term mid-tier developer is not seen as a career path but rather a description of what people involved in other developer roles may be required to do.

19. High-Level Developers

High-level developers write software that affects functions that are far from the hardware. They use high-level coding languages like Perl, Ruby, PHP, and Python. Front-end developers and CRM systems developers are examples of high-level developers.

Where to Find Skilled Software Developers

Now that you have a better understanding of the different types of software developers, you should be able to narrow down your search to the type whose skills match your needs. Once you know exactly which type of software developer you need, the question becomes, “where do I find a highly-skilled and experienced developer of that type?”

There are several ways to go about your search for IT professionals. You could post a job on one of the many job boards online and hope that you are not inundated with less than qualified candidates. This path often requires a great deal of time and energy and involves sifting through applications and vetting the candidates.

You could try to find the help you need using LinkedIn or similar connections sites. Here, you can substantially narrow your candidate pool by only sending notifications to those who list the experience you need in their profile. Done properly, this can substantially reduce the number of applications you must sort through. You will, however, still have to interview and vet the candidates and go through the hiring process.

Perhaps the best way to find talented and experienced software developers is through Revelo. Revelo is a unique platform. It is a talent marketplace that specializes in matching companies in North America with pre-vetted, experienced, and skilled developers from Latin America.  

Although remote, the candidates they present you with are not freelancers, nor do they find talent for project-based work. They offer you full-time employees that will become a part of your team and share your company’s goals.

To make it even easier on you and your HR team, Revelo handles all of the HR processes for the employees they provide you with. These people will work for you but Revelo will handle their payroll and benefits and ensure that they are compliant with all local tax and employment laws.

It really couldn't be simpler. All you need to do is contact us at Revelo, let us know exactly what type of software developers you are looking for, and within a short time, sometimes less than three days, we will present you with a list of skilled and experienced developers that match your specifications.

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