Is it fair to throw around the title "Software Engineer" like we do?

someguydev profile image Guy ・1 min read

I see many people referring to themselves as Software Engineers after completing a 3 month Bootcamp or other similar fast track courses. Heck, I even saw a guy who did a few Udemy courses and got an internship doing mainly HTML call himself a Software Engineer. To be fair, his job title according to the company was "Software Engineer Intern". I wonder why we throw around that title in this industry like it's nothing?

If we think about the aerospace industry, you have the proper certified Engineers designing aircrafts, doing stress test calculations and what not, and then you have those airport people who repair the aircraft/refill fuel. Those guys don't claim they are engineers! Would you fly on some aircraft a dude who did a 3 month course on aircraft design made? I know I would stay as far as I can from that!

In the steel industry you have the engineers who design and program the machines, and then you have the workers that use these machines to fabricate materials. These operators are NOT engineers, and don't call themselves Engineers.

So the question is: Why is it any different in this software industry? Is it because things are still very new? There is clearly a difference between the engineer and the person who has simply learned how to use the tools, like the machine operator in the factory.


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alohci profile image
Nicholas Stimpson

Well, do you think that software can be engineered at all? And if so, is someone who does it automatically an engineer? Or should there be other hurdles to clear, like specific qualifications? And would it actually matter if you had two people producing software to the same standard, but only one of them could call themselves an Engineer because only they had cleared some other hurdle? What should the measure of an Engineer be in the software domain?

someguydev profile image
Guy Author

Firstly, I highly doubt that someone who has watched a few Udemy courses will produce the same output as someone who has a Computer Science degree. Second, It's not about qualifications, it's about understanding of underlying software principles. Somebody who learns React at a Bootcamp doesn't have these principles. People forget that code is just ONE TOOL that we use to build software. Engineers learn much more than just "code" whereas someone who has done a few Udemy courses just knows how to use that particular language in a very specific context.

I want to stress the fact that using a popular framework like React to make a few components for a web app is NOT comparable to programming robots/AI/aircraft systems/sending shuttles to space. Those guys are the real heroes. How can we put someone who send people to space and someone who knows how to make a few components in React on the same level? It really blows my mind.

ryansmith profile image
Ryan Smith

I think titles in the software industry are all over the place. I think "software engineer" vaguely means that you are solving problems by creating/modifying software, so it is applied in many scenarios.

I would agree that putting together a basic website does not make someone a "software engineer." The website would have to have some more complex features to have a need to be "engineered", in my opinion.