Coding vs programming: what are the main differences?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 13 July 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Technology and data specialists don't use the terms programming and coding interchangeably. Coding refers to the process of converting normal language into computer code, whereas programming refers to the process of creating a complex system. If you're a tech expert or aspire to become one, understanding the distinctions between computer programming and coding is highly beneficial. In this article, we define coding vs programming and clarify the similarities and differences between the two.

The definitions of coding vs programming

Before examining the similarities and differences between coding vs programming, it's important to briefly define what each concept means:

Coding

Coding is a branch of programming in which a programmer converts normal languages into computer language. Python is one such language used for back-end development, such as creating apps and programs. Coders build, convert and produce code for programming projects, although they don't necessarily know the final aim or entire product to do so. Their goal is to streamline data transferral between the user and their computer. Coders essentially lay the foundation for programmers to develop entire apps or software.

Related: 10 of the most in-demand coding languages and their uses

Programming

Programming is the creation of a complicated coding system that accomplishes a specified purpose. Programmers enhance and develop a program from conception to delivery while identifying and correcting faults. They concentrate on the program's core function to guarantee that the software fits the specified requirements. They determine the timeframe, activities, project management and costs for the project. They design the programme by sketching out how each element fits together before running tests to confirm that the various elements work together. They also monitor and enable the distribution of the application or program they're producing during roll-out.

Related: What is a computer program? (5 useful types)

What are the differences between coding and programming?

Many people often use the terms coding and programming interchangeably, but this is incorrect. Primarily, coding involves translating code from one system to another, while programming entails instructing a machine to carry out a set of instructions. Other key differences between coding and programming include:

Scope

One of the most significant distinctions between programmers and coders includes the breadth of their work. Coders provide scripts that don't always require a complete understanding of the end product. For programmers, it's important to understand how each component interacts to test and enhance the program as it develops.

Approaches

Coders and programmers adopt different techniques. After a coder translates information and creates their code, they test it through trial and error before distributing it. Programmers adopt a systematic testing method to keep organised and track faults and improvements as they occur.

Tools

Coding involves only a few basic tools, such as a word processor and a computer. Your computer doesn't require a lot of processing power or sophisticated hardware to produce code. You only require a program to test the code and ensure it works properly. Depending on the scale of the task and the size of their team, programmers use a variety of tools. They require tools for automated testing, debugging and testing frameworks. Programmers require more powerful computers to run these applications, ensuring that their processors handle the enormous demand.

Skills

It's important to know the nuances of various computer languages such as CSS to remain effective at coding. Programmers frequently familiarise themselves with these languages as well, but they also hold additional abilities linked to the creation of function applications. Logical thinking, analytical abilities, organisation, planning and attention to detail make up some of the key skills they use.

Difficulties

Based on the scope of the project and the coding language, coding and programming appear rather complex. Coders simply know how to interpret code, whereas programmers usually require further knowledge. Programmers typically require a bachelor's degree to find employment, though you can freelance as both a programmer and a coder without a formal bachelor's degree.

Level of knowledge

Learning the basics of a programming language and its syntax is a good place to start as a coder, as it's easier to study other languages once you've mastered one. Programmers require a higher level of understanding to do their job since they write algorithms and work with them. As a programmer, it's also useful to know how to design websites, develop and test code, coordinate work and interact with computer languages.

Related: Coding for beginners: a comprehensive guide with salary info

Benefits of learning how to code

Many individuals learn to code for job advancement or simply because it fascinates them, but there are additional advantages. The methodology of coding complements other tasks you may do throughout the day by encouraging logical thinking and creativity. The benefits of learning how to code include the following reasons:

Develops innovative thinking

Coding enables you to construct a programme using logic and algorithms. When confronted with new challenges, take a methodical approach to resolve them. This acts as a logical ability training exercise for the brain. Logical thinking remains important to your professional and personal life alongside handling algorithms.

Related: Python interview questions for developers

Improves problem-solving skills

Coding encourages you to think critically. During the coding stage, you're required to provide solutions to problems that require extensive problem-solving abilities. It teaches your mind to quickly identify problems, break them down into smaller parts and then put them back together with a solution. These troubleshooting abilities help you become a stronger person both personally and professionally by allowing you to see things from a different perspective.

Encourages creativity

Coding can be highly enjoyable and innovative despite being a complex discipline. You rarely face the same difficulties each time, but instead, you face a variety of hurdles that necessitate bespoke solutions. While researching coding projects, you use your imagination to develop a unique solution to problems.

Related: C Sharp Interview Questions (With Answers)

Exposes you to more job opportunities

Because technology is always developing, it creates a lot of job prospects. Programmers, software developers and coders remain in great demand in a variety of fields. With coding as a fundamental talent, you have a wide selection of career options. It also distinguishes your CV from the competition. Many companies outsource their code-related work, so being a coding specialist also means you can pursue freelance opportunities.

Related: 10 common C++ interview questions

Helps you work efficiently

Coding is beneficial in technical occupations and also in non-technical roles. Once you understand the coding process, you can automate operational progress or use its logical thinking style in marketing efforts. Even learning basic code can help you interact successfully with technical-minded colleagues, improving the overall productivity of projects.

It's a universal language

Code, like arithmetic, is a universal language, meaning it's understood everywhere and doesn't require translation. When changing employment or relocating to another place, language limitations may be a hindrance. Coding remains a talent that you can take with you wherever you go. This means that you can expand your job pool beyond countries or companies that primarily speak your own language.

Related: What is Pseudocode? (Definition and Uses)

Benefits of learning how to program

Learning how to program doesn't necessarily require a formal computer science degree. A computer science degree remains advantageous, but people from other professions can learn to program quickly if they study hard. Benefits of programming include:

Stay ahead of the competition

As a programmer, you keep up-to-date with the latest technologies. For instance, if you're a Python developer, you keep up with the newest upgrades because each version of Python quickly becomes outdated. Studying technologies and programming languages in your own time equips you with an ever-expanding range of skills that can prove valuable in a job search.

Explore artificial intelligence

Artificial Intelligence has applications in many industries and can take many forms, from sophisticated chatbots to self-driving vehicles. As a programmer, you can enjoy designing AI apps or incorporating AI into existing systems. The rise in systems that use AI means that becoming an expert in the field can provide lucrative opportunities for career advancement in an expanding field.

Related: How much does a computer programmer make on average?

Develop persistence

When programmers face faults or failures, the operations of a program or business can falter. Therefore, it's important for programmers to be resilient and persistent in the face of obstacles. Overcoming problems like these can lead to high levels of job satisfaction.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

Explore more articles