Programmer Analyst or Software Developer: Which Is Better?

When it comes to the implementation of software and computer programs, both a programmer analyst and a software developer have distinct roles to perform, although each position overlaps with the other. You wouldn’t have successful programs or applications without the work of developers, yet those very programs would be lacking without the analytical oversight of a programmer analyst. Both positions are important, but which is better?


A software developer is a better position in terms of properly utilizing software architecture to match the creative vision of the developer. However, a programmer analyst is better in terms of aligning a program with crucial coding and business practices for a range of clients.  


Throughout this article, you will learn what the specific job duties are for a programmer analyst and a software developer as well as a range of pros and cons to each position. Read on to discover what these two positions entail and which one is better in terms of job satisfaction and salary benefits. 

Pros and Cons of Programmer Analyst

The best way to think of a programmer analyst (or a systems analyst) is to envision a novel in its complete and unpolished form: all of the main components are in place to tell a riveting story, but the fine-tuning of the book is missing to give it the appeal it needs to reach a wide range of readers with different tastes and needs. 


A programmer analyst is tasked with analyzing and suggesting design solutions to better meet the needs of an organization or company. These needs can correspond to suggestions for meeting new recommendations in applications to drive business needs or even designing new proposals to better match the needs not being met. 


There are many avenues that a programmer analyst can travel down, as well as some drawbacks to the position that frequently arise. Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of the position of programmer analyst: 

Programmer Analyst Pros

  • A Programmer analyst has the ability to oversee how well a software system is functioning. This may sound unexciting, but a programmer analyst has a great degree of autonomy and authority when it comes to deciding what aspects of a program or system are functioning to better meet the needs of an organization. A programmer analyst can scrap an existing application and design a better-suited system at their discretion. 
  • Programmer analysts are also software designers. Analyzing the functionality of programs and software is not the only responsibility of a programmer analyst: analysts can also make their suggested designs to then hand off to computer programmers. You do not have to delegate the design suggestions to others.
  • Programmer analysts also test and monitor applications. In addition to company or organization feedback and insight, an analyst is also tasked with debugging applications before implementation and frequently during system running. A programmer analyst is typically the first person to test and troubleshoot a system or application. 
  • According to Indeed, a programmer analyst is also expected to write code. Although a programmer analyst will not be solely responsible for writing the code of their new recommendations, many analysts find this to be a great way to ensure their vision is being met.   

Programmer Analyst Cons

  • A programmer analyst has to keep up with constant changes in technology. This is not a con if you make it a point to read tech news every day, but the sheer amount of work a programmer analyst has to contend with on a daily basis can sometimes find the analyst behind on important new integrations and changing trends in systems maintenance. 
  • Being a programmer analyst comes with a requirement to expect system malfunctions. In addition to having a large number of functions to oversee and modify, an analyst must be able to quickly resolve issues with a new coding or modification that doesn’t sync with the program or application. Being able to work quickly and efficiently is a must. 

Pros and Cons of Software Developer

If a programmer analyst is an editor for a novel, the software developer is the author. Both positions are creative and crucial for smooth-running programs and applications, but the software developer is not the engine that powers the service, they are the creator of the engine. 


A software developer can be broken down into two categories: application software developer and systems software developer. An application developer targets popular apps for smartphones, streaming, and PC extensions, and a systems developer targets operating systems for many different business sectors.


To gain a better understanding of the types of software developer, take a look at this detailed video:



Both types correspond to a similar set of job descriptions and principles, so let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of being a software developer: 

Software Developer Pros

  • Endless amounts of creativity. Although you will need to keep some industry-specifics in mind based on what your app or system will target, software developers are free to use their technological imagination when implementing their designs. 
  • Software developers map out how their software can be used. In addition to writing the code of what your application or program provides a user, software developers are also tasked with designing diagrams and models to instruct programmers how the user interface will function. 

Software Developer Cons

  • Software developers face fierce competition. According to the U.S. News and World Report, software development was the most sought after career in 2018. You will have to master your craft and truly stand-out to gain a position.
  • Software development requires a constantly evolving need to learn new languages and algorithms. Because development is in a constant state of evolution, developers find that new patterns of design and code must be learned beyond what a formal education taught.  


Both positions offer positive and negative attributes; the deciding factor on which job is better is not only based on which type of description best suits your skills but also how salary and job growth fit into the benefits of choosing either position. 

Which One Is Better in Terms of Salary?

Although both positions are different in terms of the job description, the salary incentives are lucrative and roughly equal. Here are the annual salary statistics for both positions according to Glassdoor:



You will certainly earn a bit more for being a software developer due to the creativity needed to envision and create applications and systems, but the statistical pay is nearly just as lucrative for the role of programmer analyst. Both positions require creativity and the need for patience and continued learning, yet choosing to become a software developer offers a bit more compensation for your efforts. 


There is no question that both positions are popular and in-demand; the bottom line comes down to if you perform better at creating or analytical insight. 

Final Thoughts

Software development allows an engineer to flex their imaginative design parameters with the scale and scope of writing code and mapping design patterns to implement that vision. A programmer analyst allows a systems expert to combine the best business and technical troubleshooting skills with an analytical eye towards optimal performance expectations. If you prefer to freelance, you can find clients for both positions to provide your services to. 


Each position has some negative attributes that may cause concerns you weren’t aware of. You will need patience and resilience to succeed in either position.


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