Data Science vs. Software Development Career: What to Choose?


The majority of the leading companies in this decade sell their products and services digitally to millions of customers from all over the world. Now, the two essential pillars of these companies are data and software. As a result, there has been an increased demand for both software developers and data scientists. 

These businesses need functional, bug-free, and intuitive software to sell their products and services. Moreover, the data that lets business owners know about the experience of these products and services requires proper storage, analysis, and interpretation. In 2021, both data scientists and software developers will play an essential role in building the world. 

However, which is the best career path to follow—data science of software development? First, it’s important to note that both data science and software development are amazing careers, both paying lucrative salaries. Besides, both careers don’t require a bachelor’s or master’s degree, and this makes them excellent options. 

In this post, we shall analyze both careers, to help you determine the option among the two. 

What does a software developer do?

Software developers are the amazing people behind the software programs that we use every day. They have both the creative and technical skills to design and develop these programs, or to supervise their development by another team. 

There are two types of software developers, and these are:

  • System software developer – the role of a system software developer is to create software programs that allow computers to function properly. Mostly, this includes creating commercial operating systems for PCs that we use or designing customized systems for specific organizations. A system software developer can multi-task from developing a system’s interface to creating operating systems that control most of the electronics that we use today, including smart TVs, phones, and cars. 

  • Application software developers – the role of application software developers is to design software programs like games, databases, word processors, and spreadsheets. These programs are developed and marketed for organizations and businesses, depending on their specifications and needs. Besides, application software developers can create custom software programs depending on the specific requirements from the customers, commercial software programs for public use, or complex databases for companies. Moreover, application software developers can create certain programs for internet users in an organization’s intranet. 

Essential skills

  • Programming (both languages and framework)

  • Problem-solving 

  • Teamwork

  • Strategic and analytical skills

  • Creativity 

Duties and responsibilities of a software developer

  • Research, design, implementation, and management of software programs

  • Testing and evaluation of new software programs

  • Writing and executing code

  • Defining operational practicality

  • Deploying software processes, tools, and metrics

  • Finding areas for modification in existing software, and creating the modifications

  • Training users

  • Developing quality assurance models

  • Working hand in hand with software engineers, user experience designers, as well as systems and business analysts


The national average salary of software developers in the U.S. is $107,510 a year, with the best-paid 25% software developers making over $136,320 annually, while the lowest-paid 25% making $82,430. 

What does a data scientist do?

Data scientists work hand in hand with businesses and other organizations to identify their goals and then determine how data can help them to achieve these goals. Besides, data scientists design data modeling methods, create predictive models and algorithms to extract the data required by businesses and help in analyzing the data and sharing the findings with the concerned parties. 

By analyzing and sharing the insights, data scientists can help businesses to solve difficult problems. Besides, data scientists combine computer science, statistics, modeling, math, and analytics skills to find out major questions that assist businesses to make sound and objective decisions.

Essential skills of a data scientist

Mostly, data scientists use these key skills in their line of work:

  • Statistical analysis 

  • Machine learning

  • Computer science

  • Programming

  • Data storytelling

Duties and responsibilities of a data scientist

  • Undertake data collection, processing, and analysis

  • Using their strong business expertise and ability to mine large quantities of data for valuable insights and to communicate findings

  • Using the insights to impact how organizations approach business challenges

  • Extracting data from different sources

  • Communicating important insights and information to IT and business managers

  • Making recommendations to adopt different business strategies

How much does a data scientist earn?

According to the 2022 salary guide by Robert Half Technology, data scientists make an average salary of $105,750 - $180,250 per year. However, this varies depending on their experience and location. 

So, which career is better?

According to Entrance, Houston software development experts both careers are here to stay for a long. As data continues to grow and increase, so will be the need for data scientists. On the other hand, the demand for software developers to create software programs for data processing and handling is also set to increase. 

Now, when comparing these two careers, you shouldn’t only consider the skills needed, but where you see yourself in the future, as well as the kind of teams you’d like to work with. If developing products and working with other technical-oriented people is what you love, then software development is your thing. On the other hand, if you have an interest in getting insights into intricate data sets and conveying their insights to other people, consider choosing data science. 

However, it’s important to note that data science is a better paying career than software engineering. The main reason behind this is because the software development market is more saturated and competitive. However, data science is not everyone’s career. Although it might look promising in blogs and articles, you should choose your career depending on your capability and interests.

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