My technical title is Member of the Technical Staff, and like you most of you, I design/write code for a living. I can never decide what to answer when someone asks what I do for a living?

Software Developer? Software Engineer? [Kernel] Programmer? Computer Scientist?

These all seem to have various bad connotations. I guess I like Software Engineer the best, but unfortunately this term has been coopted by people who don't actually code. I made the mistake of taking a 'Software Engineering' class, and realized that I definitely don't want to be associated with people who major in this.

Probably this is too subjective, so feel free to community wiki it or whatever, but I think it is a valid question and I would like to hear what others have decided on and their reasoning.

+1  A: 

I say "programmer" - my passport does too. My title is "Computer Scientist" and my job is really more about scripting and business problems, but the point should be to cut to the heart of the matter.

+6  A: 

For Programmers... Code Monkey

For Normal People That Understand Computers... Programmer

For People Who Know There Is Some Sort Of Existence Of Computers... Computer Guy

Elijah Glover
I avoid "computer guy" because people want me to fix their computers if say anything like that!
+1  A: 

"Programmer" feels good.

Moayad Mardini
+5  A: 

I asked a guy if he was a programmer and he looked shocked. "I'm a software engineer," he insisted. "Oh," I said, "I'm a programmer."

generally speaking, that probably means he gets more money than you. :)
Or he wishes he was making more money.
+1  A: 

At work, I"m just part of IT (which is very annoying as people think I care about their RSA token not working or that I can actually reset their password, or even tell them what it is.)

Inside the department I"m a programmer.

My job description says Technology Development Manager (so that makes me the technical lead, essentially, with manager duties as well).

Outside of work, it all depends who I'm talking to, but generally I'm a Software engineer, as that is what my degree says.

+1  A: 

Well technically I'm still a student, but outside of that I tend to call myself a programmer. I don't have an engineering degree so I don't get to throw around the "software engineer" title.

David Weitz
My degrees are a Bachelors in Computer Science and Computer Engineer, and Masters in Computer Science (which is from the Engineering School). Strangely, in undergrad a straight Computer Science degree would come from the the college of Letters, Arts and Sciences, and not the Engineering school, which was a great reason to tease those with just CS degrees, since our Engineering school was the one known for being good. Although practically we all took many of the exact same classes.
Where I go I believe the CS department is under the Math department and there is the Engineering and Technology school. I'm a Management Information Systems major and that's in the business school of all places, but I take essentially a CS major's class with a little less math and a bit more management/finance/accounting.
David Weitz

"I work with computers."

Ooh! This will cause you too much trouble!You'll hear "Please fix my computer, dude!" very ofter.
Moayad Mardini
I'm pretty sure most of us here that. I'm the geek in the family. Besides, I'm starting to charge and it's an effective way to get them to write checks at another time instead of just holidays.
David Weitz
+5  A: 

"Software Developer". In Canada, "Engineer" is a troublesome term so I try to avoid calling myself that. I prefer "Developer" to "Programmer" as I do more than simply "program": I gather requirements, design, test, document, etc.

Also, lately I've been billing myself as a "Technology Consultant", as I want to branch out beyond software creation into higher-level work.

Craig Walker
That's OK. The only "real" engineers are on railroads anyway.
According to the link you provided, it is not restricted. Microsoft was fined a measly amount in Quebec but there is no law preventing use of the title "engineer", and in Alberta a case trying to prevent a Systems Engineer from using the title "Engineer" was won by the Systems Engineer, and again on appeal. There's just the Professional Engineer title which is legally only allowed to be used by "Professional Engineers" which is "restricted" in any sense.
Richard Hein
Fair enough; I've changed it to "troublesome" (as I think it still is).
Craig Walker
+10  A: 

Usually 'Software Developer'. It seems a good compromise between programmer and engineer. At work I'm a 'Dev'.

+1 for the "good compromise between programmer and engineer"!
Moayad Mardini
+3  A: 

"Computer stuff" seems to satisfy most people.

James Skidmore
Name ourselves stuff is not very good idea.
Bogdan Gusiev
+3  A: 

"Architect" generally ensures few follow-up questions. Strangely, nobody has ever asked me about buildings. But, I'm ready with "Have you ever been to Santiago, Chile?" if they do.

JP Alioto
+1 for the reference
I Have the Hat
+1  A: 

My official title is crap - Analyst because in our company IT is the main thing and they are lazy to create titles for all levels. So every entry level in our company is a Analyst the next promotion is Senior analyst. But when someone is asking my professional I mostly software developer, because that's what I want to be called :)

OK. Monday morning I'm ordering business cards with the title Crap-Analyst. Love it!
A Crap-Analyst would be someone who did pathology tests on feces!
Loren Pechtel
+1  A: 

Programmer +1

+3  A: 

I always say, "you know the Internet? I do that."


It depends on who is asking. IIRC, Jon Bentley (of "Programming Pearls" fame) writes 'Computer Programmer' on his tax returns; I do to. If someone asks from outside the company, it depends on who, but the answer could be 'Computer Programmer' or 'jumped up computer programmer' - inside the company, my job title is Senior Technical Staff Member; sometimes I end up using 'Architect' (or even, occasionally, 'Security Architect') when I need to convince a customer that it is appropriate to discuss security issues. But 'Computer Programmer' is still my preferred title.

Job title inflation is rampant in the industry. One reason I don't use architect more is because there are so many 'architects' on the team I work in - quite enough to cause Tower of Babel confusion.

Jonathan Leffler

Usually I tell people I program computers or develop software. FWIW, currently I've got the title "Senior Software Engineer". Through the years, I've had various titles in jobs where I've developed software: "Programmer", "Programmer/Analyst", "Engineer (Software)", "Intermediate Software Engineer", "Senior Member of the Technical Staff" (with I, II, or III appended to the end), and finally what I have now. I also wrote one small program when I had a "Computer Operator" job at nights whilst in college.


I think it really depends on who I'm talking to.

To someone with technical background: "I'm a Software Developer"

To average Joe: "I'm a (computer) programmer."

While the official title for many jobs in the field is "Software Engineer," it's really all about context and giving the person you're talking to a good idea of what you do.

Matt Boehm
+1  A: 


Dan Finch
+7  A: 

Typical conversation:

Them: So what do you do for a living?

Me: I'm a PMDRDG, or a pseudomanical megalomaniac with deeply rooted delusions of grandeur.

Them: Come again?

Me: I write code.

Them: Oh, really so what kind of--

Me: And I will slay the lizard king!

Them: [backing away slowly]

Me: God I love Mondays.

The lizard king died July 3, 1971, in case you missed it.
+1 shot milk out my nose. Thanks.
Chris Kaminski
HAHA. +1 from me :)
+2  A: 

I sit at a box all day and hit keys and money appears in the bank.

or, numbers appear in the box(es) at the bank
hasen j
+1  A: 

Code Peon .

+1  A: 

Programmer, Web Programmer, Developer...


Software Simian


I work with machines

...and then see people trying to smell if there is any grease on your body

Gaius Parx
+1  A: 

I tried to quickly dismiss the question at a party once, by wordlessly waggling my fingers in front of me, palm down, in the classic mime of someone typing on a keyboard.

My interlocutor deadpanned "Oh, you massage the heads of midgets, then?"


I work with dinosaurs.

Since, five last year, I program using Cobol with FMS on OpenVMS.

Luc M