If you are an IT talent or aspire to work in the tech field, then at some point, you may have been deciding between a career as a data engineer vs. software engineer. Each career path offers sizable salaries and comes with its own required skills and unique challenges. 

But, it is easy to intermix the two. So to help clear up the confusion, we share the differences and help you decide whether a data engineer vs software engineer is best suited for you. 

Data Engineer

There are a lot of high paying IT jobs available online. Some of the well-regarded careers out there are the main topic of this article. Each has a background in programming. However, they have different roles and responsibilities.  That is why choosing between data engineer vs software engineer can be a challenge for those who are still undecided.

So, let us discuss everything you need to know about a data engineer. 

What is a Data Engineer?

A data engineer is an IT professional who designs, builds, and maintains the infrastructure and systems. They are essential for acquiring, storing, processing, and managing large volumes of structured and unstructured data.

In addition, they play a critical role in managing and processing vast amounts of data. To properly execute their role, data engineers use various tools and technologies. 

  • Databases
  • Data Pipelines
  • ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) Processes
  • Cloud Computing Platforms

Now, in the age of big data, when basically everything is data-driven, effectively collecting and organising data and collating it into helpful insights is important. Ultimately, they support business operations by providing crucial information for data-driven decision-making. 

Responsibilities of a Data Engineer

There is a lot that goes into managing large volumes of structured and unstructured data in a tall order. Here is a list of responsibilities that comes with the role of a data engineer. 

  1. Designing and developing data pipelines
  2. Creating and maintaining databases
  3. Ensuring data quality and accuracy
  4. Collaborating with data scientists and analysts
  5. Implementing security and privacy measures
  6. Monitoring and troubleshooting

Data Engineer Skills

For data engineers to be effective in their role, they need a strong foundation in computer science, software engineering, and data management concepts. It is also important to have practical experience working with big data technologies and tools.

Moreover, here is a list of skills most employers are looking for in a data engineer today. 

  • Python Programming
  • Data Warehousing
  • Data Engineering
  • Data Modelling
  • Amazon Web Services (AWS)
  • Pipelines
  • Scala Programming
  • Microsoft Power Business Intelligence
  • Java Programming
  • Microsoft SQL Server Integration Services

Software Engineer

Now that you have a better idea of a data engineer’s role and responsibilities, and the necessary skills to become one, let us discuss software engineers.

What is a Software Engineer?

A software engineer is an IT professional who designs, develops, and maintains software systems and applications. 

The work of a software engineer has a lot of stages. These include gathering requirements, designing software, coding, testing, and maintaining software products. Furthermore, they also work on a variety of software systems, including web applications, mobile applications, desktop software, and even enterprise-level software solutions.

They are the people behind everything that powers our modern world. Not only do they bring innovations into reality, but they are also responsible for maintaining these technological marvels to ensure every end user is properly served. 

Responsibilities of a Software Engineer

Software engineers play a critical role in building software systems that enable businesses to operate efficiently, provide consistent service to customers, and innovate industries. As such, they have a list of responsibilities to achieve: 

  1. Developing scalable and reliable software systems
  2. Developing software applications
  3. Testing and debugging software
  4. Maintaining software applications
  5. Collaborating with cross-functional teams
  6. Keeping up-to-date with new technologies and trends

Software Engineer Skills

A software engineer needs a strong foundation consisting of a combination of technical skills, problem-solving abilities, attention to detail, and power or soft skills. Furthermore, with innovations continuously changing, they need to be lifelong learners who stay up-to-date with the latest technology and industry trends. 

In addition, they also need these set of skills under their belt to appeal to employers today:

  • Java Programming
  • JavaScript Programming
  • AWS
  • C++ Programming
  • C# Programming
  • Python Programming
  • Node.JS
  • Typescript Programming
  • Computer Science
  • Microservices

What is the difference between Data Engineer vs Software Engineer?

So what really sets these two apart? Well, the main difference between data engineers vs software engineers is their focus, the types of systems they work on, and the goals of their roles. 

Data Engineer vs Software Engineer


As mentioned a while ago, the core objective of a data engineer is to support organisations in making data-driven decisions to achieve their short-term and long-term goals. They play a critical role in providing timely, accurate information to help companies make the necessary business moves.

On the other hand, the core objective of a software engineer is to create software solutions that provide value to their clients or end-users. That is why they are essential for business because they enable companies to improve their productivity, efficiency, and competitiveness.


The approach and the nature of job roles between a data engineer and a software engineer are also vastly different. 

Data engineers cater to the internal aspects of a business. They focus on building and maintaining the infrastructure and systems necessary to manage and process large volumes of data efficiently and effectively.

On the other hand, software engineers develop software solutions for business-to-business or business-to-customer brands. They focus on designing, developing, and maintaining software applications and systems that meet the needs of their clients or users.

It is important to note that there is some overlap between these two roles. However, data engineers are focused more on the backend infrastructure and systems necessary to manage and process data. While software engineers tend to focus more on the frontend user interface and application logic. 

Data Engineer vs Software Engineer Salary 

Another thing most people consider when choosing which career path to go with is the difference between a data engineer vs software engineer salary. We added below ballpark figures to give you a better idea of the difference between the two jobs. 

Software engineer salary in Australia: 

  • Annual salary ranges from $110,000 to $130,000.
  • Hourly rate ranges from $90 to $110.

Data engineer salary in Australia: 

  • Annual salary ranges from  $120,000 to $140,000.
  • Hourly rate ranges from $110 to $130.

Data Engineer vs Software Engineer: Which is a better choice for you?

Either one is a good career choice. However, on a personal level, the thing that people should consider is what they want to focus on and specialise in. 

Moreover, there are remote job postings for data engineers and software engineers. So they are essentially equal in opportunities and perks. 

These two job careers require almost the same skill sets. This is a good opportunity for novice IT talents and even IT experts looking to shift careers because they have the same foundation. 

Already decided which career path you want to take? Start your engineering career with Remote Developer! Send us your resume today to get started!