The Differences Between a VP of Engineering and a CTO

VP of Engineering

The roles and responsibilities of the CTO and VP of Engineering depend primarily on the organizations. The CTO is responsible for the company’s vision, architecture, and communication, whereas the Vice President (VP) of Engineering is responsible for the team and execution/processes. When these two positions exist in a firm, the CTO usually is at a higher level, yet they could alternatively be peers with the same seniority level. It’s unusual for the CTO to report to the VP of Engineering

VP of Engineering vs. CTO: Distinctive Responsibilities

If you are an experienced software professional who wants to apply for these positions, you must possess the following skills. The VP of Engineering job description includes the following responsibilities:

Responsibilities of VP of engineering

In a company, a VP of engineering oversees the entire planning and deployment of various software engineering projects. They collaborate closely with technical managers to guarantee that the overall quality of the solutions delivered is maintained.

Manage budgets: A software engineering VP may also be responsible for managing the project budget and determining the best procedures for building the ideal product. As a result, it’s no surprise that top software organizations are continuously on the lookout for top software engineering vice presidents.

Development of product strategy: The VP of engineering is a member of the senior management team that develops the company’s overall product strategy. They may collaborate with other VPs and department heads to help write the policy that governs the company’s actions.

Design and execute technological roadmap: A VP of engineering, working alongside the CTO, is in charge of designing and implementing the technical roadmap for the company’s hardware and software assets. A VP of engineering may act as the company’s systems architect or delegate the responsibility to another qualified engineer.

Engineering work and program management: A VP of engineering is in charge of putting a product vision into action through efficient engineering procedures consistent with the company’s overall goals.

Staff management: In smaller companies, the vice president of engineering is in charge of the entire department’s personnel. They may be the last adjudicator for engineering management in larger organizations, with additional engineering directors reporting directly to the office.

Financial planning: A VP of engineering is also in charge of developing and presenting the company’s engineering department’s annual bottom-up budget. This expense can account for the majority of a tech startup’s budget.

Responsibilities of CTO and who reports to CTO

CTO is responsible for almost every technical aspect of the company. CTOs are the company’s technological visionaries. In many cases, they are founding members committed to the product’s vision and how it will satisfy customers’ needs. The CTO’s obligations, however, do not end there. They should have a thorough awareness of the market, competition, and peripheral items in the sector, as well as the most recent technological breakthroughs that can be exploited to create the next big thing.

  • Technical leadership: A CTO is in charge of the company’s technological edge and is usually the center of thought leadership. Technical strategy is charted and guided by the CTO.
  • Implementing infrastructure: A CTO is typically responsible for a team of architects/research engineers, tech leads, and engineering management leads. A CTO is a technical leader who spends most of his time exploring new platforms, architectures and revising existing tech stacks to make them best in class. 
  • Planning and execution: The CTO is in charge of defining the company’s engineering culture and vision. Also, a CTO identifies and plans how the company may increase its bottom line by utilizing newer technologies and innovation. A CTO is more concerned with building things, with a concentration on code/deliverable quality.
  • Collaboration: A CTO is typically the company’s technical face, participating in various customer-facing activities and collaborating with other functional leadership and the board.

Average Salary of VP of Engineering vs. CTO 

The average salaries of VPs of engineering and CTOs vary according to the professional experience they have had as well as depending on the organization. However, according to payscale, the average base salary of a VP of engineering is around $170k per year, whereas the average base salary for a CTO is around $160k per year. 

Required skills for CTO vs. VP of Engineering

CTO vs. VP of Engineering, both are handsomely paid designations if the professional experience matches the company expectations. Let’s see some of the major requirements for both these positions:

VP of Engineering:

  • Bachelor’s/Master’s degree in computer science, engineering, or a related discipline.
  • 10+ years of experience as a software engineer, along with experience in leading and managing teams.
  • They should be driven to work with fast-growing startups.
  • Able to foster a culture of innovation, as well as the ability to choose technology and architecture.
  • A leader that is not afraid to take a hands-on approach to assist the team in difficult situations.
  • Ability to build complicated optimization and simulation models to describe strategic and tactical demands and drive business and technological solutions.
  • Proven track record of recruiting, expanding, and managing an engineering team during periods of rapid growth while preserving velocity and efficiency.
  • Able to recognize business demands to define technical and product-building specifications.


  • Bachelor’s/Master’s degree in computer science, engineering, or a related discipline is required; an MBA or other appropriate graduate degree is preferred.
  • 10+ years of technical development experience, along with experience in leading and managing teams.
  • Previous experience as a CTO, startup founder, or in a similar leadership position is strongly preferred.
  • Keeps pace with the latest technology trends to develop strategies and define the technical roadmap for the organization.
  • Strong knowledge and experience in budgeting and business planning
  • Able to undertake technical research and analysis
  • Outstanding communication abilities
  • Organizational and leadership skills
  • Ability to think strategically and solve problems


On a wider note, CTO and VPE are two of the more often interchanged roles. In both these positions, the primary job is to be a leader and manage the technical teams across the company to meet the overall business goals. A CTO is considered the company’s technical visionary, while the VP of Engineering is more operational and focuses on executing and delivering robust solutions. While applying for such positions, you need to consider your strengths, go through the job descriptions, and decide which is a better fit for you. 

Author Bio:

Vishakha Nathani

She can be found writing, crafting or digging Earth. She likes keeping herself engaged in crafting and redecorating spaces. You may find her posting 3 am poetry on Instagram. Her proclivity for writing is never-ending.

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