Data Engineer vs. Software Engineer: Which Is For You?

If you don’t work in IT, you may make mistakes between a data and software engineer for both these programming-related jobs.

Each career will require skills focusing on solving a specific problem. If you don’t know the above differences, this article is for you!

Let’s find out the difference between a data engineer and software engineer!

What Is A Data Engineer?

Database engineering

Data engineers are experts in the field of building storage systems. They will also assist a software engineer by handling independent tasks such as database retrieval for systems and applications.

The source that this industry needs to deal with can come from stable APIs or historical retrieval data from another party.

After completing the construction, processing, and retrieval tasks, they make the database available to data scientists, analysts, and executives. These end-users will use the database to make different decisions.

What Is A Software Engineer?

Software Engineering

Software engineers will work with programmers and application developers.

The main task of these people is to develop operating systems, warehouses, and mobile applications.

To complete the above task, software engineers must apply Spark and AWS technologies and use database modeling.

This job description is relatively much more complex. It requires learners to add new knowledge to meet contemporary development trends continuously.

The salary for an experienced engineer is usually better than in the database field because their time to study and their effort are entirely commensurate.

Key Differences

These two exciting careers require in-depth computer science knowledge and programming languages. Yet, these two professions are not interchangeable because there are quite a few differences:

Data EngineerSoftware Engineer
Job opportunitiesJob demand increases by 10% in the period of 2022 – 2032Job demand increased by 22% in the period of 2022 – 2032
SkillProgramming language
Query information from the database
Big data
Legal issues
Build system
Write code
Teamwork cooperation skills
TasksBuild, maintain and develop database infrastructureBuild, maintain, add, and fix bugs in applications and software.

1. Skills

Data engineers must be proficient with Python, SQL, and other popular programming languages. This task also requires engineers to understand databases, tools, and methods to query information from the database.

Big Data and privacy-related issues have received particular attention in recent years. To become a leader in the field, database engineers also need to understand big databases, legal, and information security rights.

Software engineers need to have skills in building systems and writing code. They also often collaborate with programmers, project managers, developers, and even customers. Therefore, in addition to cultivating techniques, people who do this job need good communication and teamwork skills.

2. Salary

A data engineer will have a slightly higher salary than a software engineer.

According to our reports, the average annual income of a database engineer is $120,813. Meanwhile, a software engineer’s salary is $133,722.

3. Job opportunities

Both professions have quite attractive job opportunities.

Data engineers can work for companies that specialize in providing IT solutions.

In addition, many businesses and organizations today need to collect data but do not have the necessary infrastructure. That is also the reason why companies and organizations need engineers to build and operate infrastructure.

A software engineer will work for application development companies. They can also collaborate with corporate programmers who work in areas outside of computer science.

From finance and healthcare to education to e-commerce, companies need warehouse and web development engineers. Not only the difference in job opportunities, but the recruitment needs of the two occupations are different.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, from 2019 to 2029, the demand for software engineers will increase by about 22%. Meanwhile, the need for engineer jobs has only increased by about 10% within ten years.

4. Tasks

Data engineers focus on building, developing, and maintaining infrastructure. In some cases, they also have to check and adjust the infrastructure as project managers and developers require.

In addition, people in this field also need to use programming languages ​​and tools to build the set process.

These people will approach and solve the problem through the client brief. They will collect a database related to a business problem, sending the results to analysts and experts to solve the client’s situation.

Software engineers will work with applications and warehouses. Their main task is creating a new one, modifying, and maintaining existing software.

They will also contribute to monitoring and debugging to ensure quality. People who do this job will work with briefs on warehouses and applications.

They will work with programmers and stakeholders to build and maintain the required versions. In some projects, many engineers and related employees may even work together to solve the problem presented by the brief.

Which Is For You?

Each profession focuses on working with a different subject.

Data engineers work with data; their work results will help the analysis process.

Software engineers are people who work with the design and development of applications.

Most data engineers have worked as software engineers. This job gives them a good foundation in programming languages.

If you are working as a software engineer and are interested in big sets, you can advance your career as a data engineer.

Although working with databases, software engineers will focus more on the technical side. If you are interested in designing and developing operating systems and applications, this profession is for you.


These two computer science-related careers have a lot in common. For example, both require knowledge of programming languages ​​and related issues.

However, the main task and the skills are different and are not interchangeable.

Hopefully, with this article, you have distinguished data engineer vs software engineer as well as found the career that suits your ability.

Thank you for reading!