Coding vs. Programming: Which Suits You Best?

hands gesturing in a meeting

With more and more companies, be they brick and mortar mom and pop shops or software development industries, reaping the benefits from the necessities of coding and programming, it’s no surprise that computer programming and writing code are more lucrative than ever right now. Why is that exactly?

Coding and programming are what make our digital world tick. This web page, your favorite mobile apps, and nearly every other facet of the Internet has been directly touched by coding and programming. 

What Are the Main Differences?


man holding a paper written with "Code"

You may have heard people throwing around the terms ‘coding’ and ‘programming’ almost interchangeably. As easy as this would be for everyone involved, it merely isn’t the case. We can’t just rely on our brains easily pigeonhole the acts of complex programming and writing lines of code into one broad category this time. Let’s check out some essential differences between the two.

First, Coding; Then Programming


While programming isn’t utterly foreign to coding (in fact, it needs it actually to work), the act of writing code is more or less building the skeletal framework for programmers to act and build upon.  

With coding, the one constructing these fundamental building blocks uses languages that you’ve probably heard of: Java, Python, C++, and SQL.

Coders basically follow a set of instructions and give commands that a computer can understand by implementing any of these languages. Luckily for coders, the tools of the trade are simply a text program and the know-how of a programming language.

Programmers use what coders have built, going the extra mile to create a robust and working final product. They use analytic tools and a slew of other impressive programs to translate the code into a working product. 

Experimentation vs. Methodical Detail


Learning how to code gives the coder the ability for trial and error. Experimentation is a coder’s bread a butter, and great things can happen if you feel free to experiment around. Coders don’t have to see the final product through to completion. Instead, they can spend time fixing and tooling around until they find what works.

On the other hand, programming is more attuned to those who approach things methodically and in a more detailed, careful eye. Programmers need to find what works and stick with it more strictly. The time for bold experimentation is over, it’s crunch time now, and a deadline for the release or rollout of a software product or UI design is on the horizon. 

What Does This Mean for You in the Long Run?


Okay, now that we’ve shed some light on key differences between coding and programming, what does it all mean to you personally? Do you see yourself as an amateur code monkey, starting with coding to find your career path by familiarizing yourself with things like HTML CSS and Java? Or are you already a decent programmer who feels they’ve seen in all, and are looking to break into an ever-growing industry? 

There are a ton of jobs in both coding and programming, and they’re all viable, longterm, upwardly mobile career paths. Coders and programmers are usually in a great spot when it comes to job hunts and impressing hiring managers with their skills.

Not only that, but there are fantastic resources for those who are hesitant or unsure about applying to a university for this when you’d much instead explore your options. Completing bootcamps can be a valuable and eye-opening experience that can teach you useful skills or build upon intimate knowledge that you already possessed. Don’t worry: it won’t take monotonous years of experience to get out of it.

Let’s look at some solid career choices that you can make once you have some online courses or college credits under your belt.

  • Web Development
    • These are the unsung heroes who create the processes, and the look and feel of your favorite websites. 
    • Geared towards programming
    • You often only need an associates degree in a computer-related field of study
    • The salary for web developers is almost always a high selling point: depending on the state you find yourself in, you could be making a nice chunk of change. 
    • Excellent job security: A nearly 30% job growth potential over the next ten years
  • Software Engineer
    • Software engineers are responsible for building and implementing multiple features that make up tons of what we see online daily. They take all of the previous information and develop a software product out of it. 
    • This falls in line with programming
    • The salary for a software engineer is impressive; it can reach well over $100,000 if you work your way up
    • Fantastic job security: projected 21% growth over the next decade
  • Database Administrators
    • Coders can find a career in troubleshooting and making sure everything is running smoothly for small and large companies. Being a database administrator combines both coding and programming’s unique approaches to computing. 
    • Median salaries are around $87,000
    • Excellent job growth: 11% over the next decade

Final Thoughts on Coding vs. Programming

Although it would be easy to lump these two career paths into one, and despite their similar natures, coding and programming are mostly different. One thing they share in common is the end goal of seeing and completing the bigger picture. 

For the best results in your career, stick to one or two programming languages, study, practice, and search for relevant jobs and projects you can engage with. If you simply harness the resources available to you, you can finally ditch that monotonous nine to five job or that major you feel unsure about and find yourself looking at the bigger picture; namely a secure and gainful future for yourself.

What interests you more? Coding or programming? Let us know why in the comments!

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