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Coding and Programming Differences: Definitions, Career Paths, and Salaries

Paul Larkin - October 06, 2022


If you’ve spent time in the tech world, you’ve likely heard the terms coding and programming used interchangeably. This is because they mean the same thing: the process of writing a language that computers can understand. However, many new coders want to learn about coding vs programming and the difference between coding and programming.

Our guide will help you understand the coding and programming difference and how each term is used in the tech world. You’ll learn about coding languages, programming skills, and the analysis tools you need to get started. Read below to learn more about coding vs programming and different careers in the field.

What Is Programming?

There is no difference between coding and programming, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have questions.

Programming is the process of writing computer programs. A programmer is someone who uses coding languages to provide a set of instructions for a computer to perform. In the field of software development, coding and programming are used interchangeably, so there is no difference between coding and programming.

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The term “programming” is more commonly used in job titles and formal text than “coding” is, though they mean the same thing. For example, you will find job listings for computer programmers much more often than for computer coders. However, an experienced programmer can do all of the same things that an experienced coder can.

What Is Coding?

A programmer sitting at a desk by a window with multiple computer monitors, all showing lines of code.
Once you learn what coding is, you will understand that there’s no difference between coding and programming.

Coding is the act of translating from a human language to a machine-based one. When you work with code, you make sure that the computer receives the instructions and information you provide. If you hear the word “coding,” it will almost always refer to programming as well. Both terms refer to the process of writing instructions for computers.

Sometimes coding is referred to as a subset of programming, but this isn’t true. Coding and programming are, at their cores, the same thing. Both programmers and coders use software tools like coding languages, frameworks, and development environments. If you’re interested in starting a coding career, you’ll encounter coding and programming throughout the journey.

Coding vs Programming Careers: A Comprehensive Guide

A man coding on his laptop computer.
Before entering the tech field, it is important to understand the difference between coding and programming.

If you want to learn to code, chances are that you’re interested in a coding or programming career. Coding vs programming careers are largely the same, although some companies and institutions use these terms separately. The difference between coding and programming might come up during your job search process, so make sure you understand that they describe the same thing.

The sections below will detail everything you need to know about coding and programming careers, including skills, languages, tools, jobs, and salaries. Once you have basic knowledge of coding, you can use your analytical skills to enter the software development industry. Explore your opportunities, and how to get them, below.

Coding Skills vs Programming Skills

Coding skills and programming skills are the same. They include languages, frameworks, and tools, which will be explored below. However, soft skills are also an important part of coding and programming. A programmer should learn communication skills, problem-solving skills, and logic skills.

The programming process is often collaborative, which means you’ll be working with other members of the software development team. You should be familiar not only with complex programming but with the environment of your workplace. Communication between humans is just as important as communication with computers.

Coding Languages vs Programming Languages

The terms “coding language” and “programming language” are used to refer to the same thing, which is a language that a human can write to interact with a computer. When you consider coding languages vs programming languages, they can’t be compared, because they are almost always used in the same way.

Popular coding languages include JavaScript, HTML, CSS, and Python. According to Stack Overflow’s 2021 Developer survey, the most popular programming language is JavaScript . Different programming languages are used for different things, so do your research before you start learning a language.

Coding Tools vs Programming Tools

Once you have knowledge of programming languages, there are lots of coding and programming tools to explore, all of which will help you create an executable program. These include integrated development environments (IDEs), text editors, and collaboration tools.

When you start coding, you’ll need a simple text editor, like Sublime Text or Visual Studio Code. Advanced code editors are also helpful, but you’ll use them later in your career when you’re more familiar with the process of programming. Collaboration tools, like GitHub, are also important for coding and programming because they can help you troubleshoot your code.

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Coding Approach vs Programming Approach

Coding and programming have the same approach because they are the same thing. However, when discussing the approach to writing code, programming is more widely used. Programming approaches are most commonly known as programming paradigms, of which there are two main types: imperative programming and declarative programming.

Imperative programming uses commands to tell a computer what to do and how to do it, and languages include C and Java. Declarative programming is a more logical approach that tells the computer what the outcome of a command is instead of how to get there. Both have their pros and cons, and an entry-level programmer should be familiar with both.

Coding Salaries vs Programming Salaries

When researching the coding vs programming salary, you won’t find a lot of information, since the terms are interchangeable. Coding and programming salaries depend on how much experience is required for the job. According to PayScale, the average salary for an entry-level software programmer is $69,503, and the salary for an experienced software programmer is $101,120.

The term “coder” is mostly used in the context of medical coding. PayScale reports that the average salary for medical coders is $45,423. You could say that programmers make more than coders, but the acts of coding and programming are still the same. Ultimately, there is no difference between coding and programming when it comes to salaries.

Coding Jobs vs Programming Jobs

Coding and programming are used interchangeably in job titles. However, the term “programmer” is more common in the professional world than “coder”. People who code for a living are usually referred to as web developers, software developers, software engineers, or programmers. The term “coder” usually corresponds to medical coding.

There are lots of jobs available in the programming world, all of which are great options if you love coding. As long as you understand the process of coding and have good problem-solving skills, you can get a job in this field. Coding or programming jobs usually have high salaries and high job satisfaction.

How Developers Bridge the Differences Between Coding and Programming

Two programming professionals working on a complex coding problem on a computer.
Coding and programming professionals work diligently to develop top-tier software and applications.

When programming and coding are used to describe the same thing, it can get confusing. Every coder and programmer should be familiar with how these terms are used and which one to use in different situations. For example, do you want to list coding or programming on your resume? What keywords should you use during the job search?

First of all, when you write your resume, you want to focus on specific skills, not just coding in general. You should have sections for specific programming skills and coding languages that you know as well as the soft skills you learned in the process, like critical thinking and attention to detail. You should also make your previous experience and job titles clear.

Although coding and programming are the same, the terms “programmer” and “developer” are most commonly used in job titles. Later in your career, you’ll also see open positions for software engineering. When looking for a coding job, you should use as many terms as possible because different companies and organizations will explain coding differently.

Will a Coding Bootcamp Teach Me Coding or Programming?

A coding bootcamp will teach you both coding and programming. If you ask your bootcamp instructor about coding vs programming, they will explain to you that they refer to the same process. A coding bootcamp is a fantastic way to learn to code because it teaches you how to write functional code and start a career in the tech industry.

Coding bootcamps are overall a better choice than a computer science degree because they are more affordable and take less time to complete. As well, bootcamps usually have career services that can help you find a job. If you’re ready to get one of the best tech jobs in the industry, you should start with a coding bootcamp.

Coding vs Programming FAQ

Are programming and coding the same?

Yes, programming and coding are the same things. Coding and programming are the same because they both refer to the same process, which is writing text in a language that a computer can understand and take action from. People who become coders or programmers do similar jobs, though it depends on the title and where they’re working.


What should I learn first coding or programming?

You don’t have to worry about which to learn first, because coding and programming refer to the same process. To learn to code, you can attend a coding bootcamp, get a computer science degree, or teach yourself through online courses. Your knowledge of programming skills will be the same as coding skills.


Why is programming called coding?

Programming is also called coding because it includes the process of writing code. Code is the text that is used to write a computer program. Computer programming is also called coding, so when you research the skills you need to start a career, keep in mind that they are interchangeable.


Is programming harder than coding?

Programming and coding are the same thing, so programming isn’t harder than coding. There is no difference between programming and coding. Learning how to program, in general, can be challenging, especially if you are a beginner. Starting with a free coding course or a few YouTube videos is the best way to start learning.

About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.

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Paul Larkin

About the author: Paul Larkin has years of experience in the tech industry and writes about cybersecurity and future of work.

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