The Workplace Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for members of the workforce navigating the professional setting. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I am a software company owner for 8 years now. After years of operation I figured out that all the while what I was doing was a software engineer's job, so would like to proclaim that I've been a Software Engineer during this time.

But I'm not really sure if I can just claim a job title like that.

I'm not really a seasoned programmer, and most of what I've done was make diagrams, functional specs, and other related documents. I also noticed that there are no SE standards or board exams to pass and its really a dynamic and situational job.

So basically I can just proclaim myself as a software engineer based on my past experience and product, even though that wasn't my official job title?

share|improve this question
You can give yourself the job title of Emperor of the World and the Universe if you want. From the FAQ you should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face. What is the actual problem you are facing here? There does not appear to be one as written. – Chad Nov 6 '12 at 15:25
This is probably going to be closed as it's not really a constructive question nor do you have a question (see the FAQ). Two thoughts though, first, I don't want people writing diagrams or specs who don't have a good understanding of how coding works. This is a disaster waiting and likely currently happening. Second, this seems applicable - – enderland Nov 6 '12 at 15:26
It should be made clear that there are some places where you cannot claim to be an engineer without the relevant qualifications. For example in Ontario you must be a member of the Professional Engineers of Ontario. – DJClayworth Nov 6 '12 at 17:23
Related to the original version of your question: What are the key differences between software engineers and programmers?. Also the answers to this question may apply to you, although I don't think the question itself is a duplicate: Should I describe myself by my current position or my desired position? – Rachel Nov 6 '12 at 17:31
I do think the core of this question is a duplicate of Should I describe myself by my current position or my desired position? and the accepted answer there certainly applies and seems to completely answer the question to boot – Rarity Nov 7 '12 at 14:40

As a software engineer, do you really need to be a seasoned programmer?

The title Software Engineer is used in many places to mean "programmer." There's more to software engineering than just programming: software engineering is about the process of creating software, and that includes programming but isn't limited to just programming. Software engineering considers the processes you create to develop requirements, detect and eliminate defects, produce updates, etc.

Is it true that software engineers don't code but just make diagrams, functional specs. and othe related documents?

No. At least, I've never met a software engineer who didn't write code. What you're describing sounds more like the role of a business analyst, whose job it is to look at a problem from a business perspective and figure out how to build a system that (both hardware and software) that addresses the businesses needs.

I also noticed that there are no SE standards or board exams to pass and its really a dynamic and situational job.

That's true, but it may be changing. See: NCEES introduces PE exam for software engineering. Whether you can call your self a "software engineer" without certification will depend on what state you're in, but if states start to adopt such a requirement a lot of companies will have to change the job titles they use. (Or a lot of people will have to start getting certified.)

So basically I can just proclaim myself as a software engineer based on experience and product?

Yes, but you can also proclaim yourself King of the World if you want. At some point, you have to back it up or people will eventually get the idea that you don't know what you're talking about.

share|improve this answer

Under Texas law you should not hold yourself out to the public as a 'Software Engineer' unless you hold a Professional Engineer certificate as such.

In reality, lots of software developers are called 'software engineers' both by their job title and themselves. It's a highly overloaded term in daily use.

As someone who reviews resumes I understand that job titles vary greatly from company to company, but I am interested in what your current and past employers called you.

If you told me that you are a software engineer, but that your current job consists mostly of "diagrams, functional specs, and other related documents" I would say, oh, you were really a project manager of some sort.

A 'software engineer' is always someone who works closely and directly with, you know, software.

He or she may be spending most of their time mentoring and managing the actual process of developing software. For example, our software engineer may spend a lot of time developing and maintaining toolsets, QA procedures, and architecture design as opposed to writing the actual application.

But he or she is also often heads down writing code.

A real software engineer is always intimately involved code, one way or the other.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.