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10 Important Differences Between Software Engineering And Data Science

If you have made up your mind to enter the tech field what so ever, then learning the difference between software engineering and data science is incumbent. Both the fields, if looked generally, look more or less the same. But the reality is far from it. The methodologies, approaches and tools used in each one of them are quite different from the other. And its important to realize them before you make your decision to pick any one.

Before we dig deep, let’s understand the major key differences between the two. If you are a programming nut, then both these fields use this skill. But for different end purposes. A software engineer is to engineer applications and make it functional and beneficial for the end user. On the other hand, a data scientist is to gather and analyze the data on the whole for its analytical study to help businesses benefit from it. The names also signify the same but that’s not it. Let’s now dive deep into it.

Understand with a simple example

Now it’s time to deeply understand the differences between the two. But if you are still unclear about the two, let me just help you clear the concept with a simple example. You are currently viewing this site in a browser. Right? It’s safe to say that this browser was developed by a team of software engineers who made this search engine. Have you wondered, how you got to this article you are just reading? You might have searched for it and the search results showed up this article. Right? From a huge data, the search engine was able to find the article you were looking for. This was possible through the data science. Which searched among all the available data to find your exact query. This simple example would have surely helped you to understand the difference between software engineering and data science. I hope it will be clear now. Now let’s look at what we promised before.

Job outlook difference between software engineering and data science

Data science is an emerging field and is still growing. Thus, is hard to define yet. But we know what data scientists actually do. Their main aim is to analyze and evaluate the structured or unstructured data to get the deep understanding of it. They are to help businesses especially in making their crucial decisions by seeing the market trends in the most accurate way. Their findings can directly impact the success of a business. So, if you can become an expert in this very field, you are surely allowed to expect some great opportunities and a high salary.

Software engineering is a comparatively developed field. But we can still expect advancement in it. The reason being that new businesses are opening every day and new problems arise, the solution to which a specific software can provide. As a software engineer, you are to solve a problem with a specialized software. You create new programs and applications. And keep trying to remove the bugs (not to mention but as you know no software can ever be bug free). So, as an expert in this very field, you need to have some high programming skills because you are supposed to develop something (software).

Methodology Difference

Both these fields use different methodology to get their work done. First, we’ll discuss about how data science works. A data engineer or whom we sometimes call a data architect, is to gather the data from various different sources. After collecting a whopping great data, he cleans it, and processes it. Finally, to store it in a database. The whole process is called, Extract, Transform, Load (ETL) process. Next another person with the designation of data analyst, build models, and analyze the data to get useful information out of it. On the contrary, software engineering works on a different methodology. We call it Software Development Life Cycle. It includes planning the development, implementing the design, testing it to resolve any bugs, and finally deploying the solution. And obviously the maintenance goes on to check that it keeps working.   

Tools and languages

Not to forget, both the experts of respective fields use specialized tools for achieving their purposes. A data scientist may use Amazon Redshift, Big Query, Tableau, MongoDB, Apache Spark, Snowflake, Stitch, or Presto. All these tools are used either to store the data or process it. If we talk about the programming language mostly data scientists rely on Python, R, or Java. A software engineer on the other hand utilizes tools like Atom, IntelliJ IDEA, ESLint, Terminator, JetBrains IDEs, CMake, or Visual Code Studio. All these are either used for software design, development, or testing. Languages which a software engineer take help of are Python, Java, JavaScript, HTML/CSS, C++, SQL, Ruby, or PHP.

Career options difference between software engineering and data science

Suppose you are looking for the job opportunities in the data science field. Here is a list of positions you can be hired for. Maybe you choose to be a data analyst. As a data analyst you are to collect the data, find patterns in it, and put up your insights. If you choose to be a machine learning engineer instead, your role will be to create AI systems and predictive models from the given data sets. Or you can opt to be a database architect. A database architect is responsible to make sure that the company’s data is stored safely and protected from unauthorized access. After gaining much experience in this field you can be a business IT analyst. A business IT after analyzing huge data, decides the strategies which can make the business a success.

If you have just completed your software engineering degree and looking for job now. Here is the list of positions you can apply for. You can be a computer programmer who is responsible to use his coding skills to test the software and check if it fits the guidelines. If you like, you can choose to be a web developer who is required for the frontend and the backend development of the functional web applications. They are the ones who maintain these web applications too. Provided you go for the position of a software developer you will be expected to design, develop, and test all kinds of software, that will meet the company’s needs. After years of experience, you can be an IT manager who is responsible to fulfilling all the technological needs of the company. They look for the gaps in the working and try to fill them with an appropriate system.

Salary Difference

You must be curious about the pay for the experts of both these fields. That’s no surprise. As a matter of fact, both the persons have the technical knowledge and are paid well. But the question still remains there. To be exact, a data scientist gets paid more as compared to a software engineer. There is a considerable difference of around $20000. And that’s probably because the data science experts are less in number and any person with a good knowledge of it can charge higher.

Approach difference between software engineering and data science

Data scientists and software engineers have different approaches to handle the projects. Software engineers follow a strict process and go with the flow of the existing frameworks. They use the already developed schemes which may include the Waterfall Model, Agile Model, the V-shaped Model, or the Spiral Model. On the other hand, the data scientists process and analyze the data sets in the best way which they feel as best. Actually, they implement the models which can solve the problem fast.  

Use of databases

A software engineer may use databases but not at the level of a data engineer. Obviously, a data engineer is the expert of it and specifically deals with it. A software engineer knows the basics of databases and while creating a computer software, utilizes this to store the data and retrieve it when needed. But a data scientist, is the master of databases, who knows how to manipulate the data in them and get the required results.

End beneficiary

A data scientist aims to solve the problems of the businesses. The entity who is benefitting from the services of a data scientist is a business. But on the other end, the computer software developed by a software engineer is used by the individual who was seeking a solution to any of his problem. So, in short data scientist helps businesses and software engineer helps individuals for the solution of their problems.

Scope difference between software engineering and data science

Data science is a more specific field which deals only with the data and the ways to exploit it to get benefits. But software engineering is a more diverse field focusing on the software as a whole which aims to solve any particular problem using the input data from the user. This can be a general difference between software engineering and data science.

Skills Difference

Statistics and analytical thinking are the specific skills required for a data scientist. While, for a software engineer, he is expected to be an expert in the coding languages. You must be a programming expert to ace this field. Both these fields require a different skill set to perform better in the respective field.

Key takeaways

We have discussed in much detail on both the fields. We have tried to cover all the aspects. You now must be crystal clear in your mind to choose between the two. Difference between software engineering and data science was critical to help you decide. Depending on your present skillset and your aptitude, you can choose your favorite field.

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