Category Archives: Technology

What’s the difference between a coder, programmer, hacker, and a science major?

credit to vanderbilt dot edu.
credit to vanderbilt dot edu.

Technology changes quickly and versions of computer programs and languages are just as quick to be modified and created. Not only has technology changed but the people who are doing it are no longer typical math and science majors.┬áBecause of the web and the endless about of information and sharing, there are more and more self-taught programmers, coders, hackers and developers emerging – so what’s the difference in the names?

The terms that are used loosely in the non-tech world can and are used interchangeably (coder, programmer, hacker – although often thought of negatively – nerd, techie, etc) – these names don’t mean the same thing to some in the tech world. For that reason I did a little research and found a post with┬ádefinitions which I’ll place here as I like the simplicity – thanks to Scott Hanselman’s blog.


These words might all mean the same thing to you. Perhaps you hear geek, nerd, and dweeb, but we all know these have very important differences. Knowing the differences also can give you a sense of how deep you want to go on your coding adventure.

  • Coders – Can pretty much figure out it. It’ll work, but it won’t be pretty.

  • Hackers – usually low level folks, skillful, with detailed understanding of some area deeply, often scarily deeply.

  • Programmer – Write code and understand algorithms. Often work alone and well.

  • Developer – Are the best generalists, can use lots of different systems and languages and get them to talk to each other. Are true and broad professionals, work with people, and communicate well.

  • Computer Scientist – Need to be able to prove how computers work, at a theoretical level. Are usually math people also.

With my social work and communication’s background I may be more of a developer, wanna be hacker/coder, but I have a little bit of programmer, computer scientist in me. That said, I’ll reserve the true definition of where I’m going, when I get there.