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Data Scientist Vs. Software Engineer

Though they both may use technology to improve a company's sales, workflow, or other issues, data scientists and software engineers build different types of systems. Learn more about the responsibilities of these two careers, along with the expected growth in each field of expertise.

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Comparing Data Scientists to Software Engineers

Using technology is the easiest way to gather and save information or to communicate. Though data scientists and software engineers both put this technology in place, the kinds of software and their uses of it can be very different.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2016)* Job Growth (2016-2026)*
Data Scientists Master's Degree $111,840 (Computer and Information Research Scientists) 19% (Computer and Information Research Scientists)
Software Engineers Bachelor's Degree $102,280 (Software Developers) 24% (Software Developers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Responsibilities of Data Scientists vs. Software Engineers

Data scientists and software engineers often work with companies to make them more efficient and successful. Though they both create code for computer applications, data scientists use algorithms to collect large amounts of information and might use this to help a company reach more customers or to better fit their needs. Software engineers, however, work to build the systems a company needs to function. Both meet with clients and company leaders to make sure what they build meets the fiscal and workflow goals.

Data Scientists

When Netflix and Facebook want to learn about the habits of their users, data scientists step in. By creating complicated algorithms that collect the number of views, clicks, and shares, these professionals can deal with large amounts of data. Meetings with shareholders and company leaders allow data scientists to align the algorithm with the economic goals of the company. After using data mining techniques to collect information, these professionals then look for patterns and share their findings with the company.

Job responsibilities of a data scientist include:

  • Determining the best way to collect large datasets pertaining to areas such as entertainment, medicine and traffic control
  • Creating graphs and charts to clearly model their findings for stakeholders
  • Removing errors and unnecessary information from the datasets
  • Publishing copies of their reports in scientific and technological journals

Software Engineers

Once they know what a company needs, software engineers recommend the latest computer software to suit those requirements, or they might be tasked to create operating systems, such as iOS on iPhones and Windows 10. Suggestions for businesses are based on an understanding of the company and its departments, as areas like billing and payroll may need a special program to maintain efficient functioning. Because they are the ones who create models and diagrams of the computer code, knowledge of Java is necessary for these professionals.

Job responsibilities of a software engineer include:

  • Creating a company's intranet and creating new user profiles
  • Ensuring the system and the information on it is secure
  • Testing new software to make sure it functions correctly
  • Supervising the installation of computer systems

Related Careers

Because you may be curious about a career as a data scientist, you might want to research a job as a data security analyst, as both focus on protecting massive datasets. If a career as a software engineer is of interest, however, a job as a network architect may be for you, since both are responsible for building communication systems.

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