Computer programmer working on a laptop with an extra monitor.
Developers, directors, engineers: There are several job titles that float around the IT industry, and while some are similar, most offer a variety of different responsibilities. — Getty Images/SeventyFour

For anyone outside the IT world, the different job titles and roles can be very confusing. What’s the difference between an engineer and a developer? Do you need to hire a chief information officer (CIO) or a chief technology officer (CTO)? What does a programmer do? This guide will break down some of the jargon in the IT world and help you understand what roles you need to advertise for at your small business.

[Read more: Executive Job Titles: What Do They Mean?]

Chief information officer (CIO) and chief technology officer (CTO)

The chief information officer (CIO) is someone who is in charge of the business’s information technology and data security. The chief technology officer (CTO) is the person in charge of research, development and technology at the company.

Typically, a CIO is tasked with using technology to simplify internal business processes. The CIO is primarily concerned with maximizing the efficiency of your company’s internal processes, offering tools and platforms that can improve communication, automate tasks and keep your data secure. A CTO, on the other hand, is more focused on external technology: how solutions can improve the organization’s product/services. The CTO will be in charge of the team that manages your e-commerce site, for instance. This role is more customer-facing.

A large enterprise might have both a CIO and a CTO. A smaller venture may only have one of these senior-level executives or neither; many small businesses outsource this role to an agency or employ someone at the manager level to take on these responsibilities.

Vice president of IT, head of IT or director of IT

Again, a bigger company may have someone in each of these roles. As a small business, you may just decide to have a vice president (VP) or a head of IT, but not both. The VP or director responsibilities require a strong technology background and great management skills. This person will determine how to best spend your budget on tools, platforms and security measures. This person will be in charge of staying updated on industry trends, hiring the right people and implementing the latest tools to keep your business running smoothly.

Cloud computing is a growing field, and more and more businesses are hiring cloud computing engineers or cloud architects.

Software developer vs. software engineer

Software developer and software engineer are two job titles that are often used interchangeably. “Both mean that a person knows the best practices in their field, is comfortable with multiple technologies and has transferable skills that allow them to recognize and write good code in any language,” writes one expert.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics describes a software developer as someone who creates or modifies computer applications and software for a particular user need. The day-to-day activities of a software developer or engineer involve designing, running and testing computer programs and applications. Sometimes developers are also called programmers.

Web developer

Web developers vary slightly from software developers in that they are specialized in building websites. The skills required by web developers include HTML, JavaScript or SQL. Sometimes web developers are known as front-end developers or web administrators.

[Read more: 3 Strategies for Writing a Great Job Description]

Cloud computing engineer

Cloud computing is a growing field, and more and more businesses are hiring cloud computing engineers or cloud architects. Many of the tools your team may use to work remotely are hosted in the cloud; and the cloud is becoming a more integral part of running a business, making it easier to store, share and capture data safely.

“Cloud engineers are the professionals who help move important business applications and processes to private, public and hybrid cloud systems,” explained Indeed. A cloud computing engineer defines, designs, and builds systems that are hosted on cloud providers such as Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure.

Computer support specialist

This job title is a catch-all for helping users with their computer and network needs. Sometimes known as an IT support manager or system administrator, this is more of a general role that supports day-to-day operations: helping to troubleshoot a problem, update software or design a system network for your office.

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Published May 14, 2021