Web Developer vs. Data Scientist

Web development and data science are two very different professions, but they’re both in high demand. If you’re trying to decide which career path is right for you, here are some of their key differences:

Web developers build websites and apps, designing how they look and how they function using coding. On the other hand, data scientists collect and analyze data to find patterns or trends that can help businesses make better decisions in their respective industries. 

In this article, we’ll dive deeper into what each job actually entails so that when you’re ready to start applying for jobs or internships, you’ll have a better idea of what employers expect from candidates with those titles. 

Web Developer vs. Data Scientist: Differences

What’s the difference between a web developer and a data scientist?

The answer is: A lot.

People who pursue these professions are very different in terms of what they do, what they’re looking for, and how much they can make.

web dev vs. data scientist comparison
There are many differences, but also a few similarities between both careers. Web dev has a very low entry barrier and that is why starting jobs are holding the average pay much lower than data science jobs (but with years of experience, web dev jobs catch up very close to data science salaries). On the other hand, it will be tougher to find the first job in data science without a finished degree.

A quick comparison table between a web developer and data scientist is shown in the following table:

AreaWeb DeveloperData Scientist
Main Duties and ResponsibilitiesBuilding, designing, and maintaining websites and appsDeveloping algorithms, analyzing large datasets, and communicating findings
Average Income in the US$67,488 / year$101,995 / year
Employee SatisfactionSalary: 3.2
Work Environment: 3.7
Salary: 3.6
Work Environment: 3.7
Degree RequirementAssociate’s degree or a bachelor’s in Web Development, bachelor’s in Computer Science or a related fieldBSc/BA in Computer Science, Engineering or relevant field; degree in Data Science or other quantitative field is preferred
Career ProgressionCan advance to positions such as senior developer, lead developer, or technical director. Project managers, data administrators, system administrators, etc., are all viable professional paths.A promotion to senior data scientist, lead data scientist, or even director of analytics is possible.
Job Outlook13% increase in demand from 2020 to 203022% increase in demand from 2020 to 2030
Related CareersWeb designer, content developer, webmasterData analyst and data engineer
Table: Web Dev vs Data Scientist compared

Now, let’s take a closer look at these differences:

Web Developers Code While Data Scientists Collect and Analyze Data

There is a large gap between the tasks, responsibilities, and skills required of a web developer and those required of a data scientist.

Web Developers

Web developers are the people who design and build websites. They are responsible for all of the content on your page—the layout, the images, and even the text. They also determine how fast your site loads and how easy it is to use.

Aside from creating stunningly beautiful sites, web developers must be able to communicate with clients and other team members effectively. They should be able to work in an environment that requires collaboration with others on various projects.

Other typical duties of web developers include:

  • Developing new websites or improving existing ones by adding new features or fixing bugs
  • Creating prototypes of websites, web applications, or mobile apps to demonstrate functionality.
  • Testing their code to ensure it is error-free before releasing it into production
  • Analyzing clients’ requirements and developing technical solutions to business problems
  • Creating high-quality code using various programming languages such as HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript, PHP, SQL, Python, etc.

There are also three types of web development roles:

  • Front-end developers work on the website’s user interface. They use web languages like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. 
  • Back-end developers create, maintain, test, and fix the website’s back end. They deal with issues like data storage and security.
  • Full-stack developers create and manage all aspects of the website.

Data Scientist

A data scientist, on the other hand, helps companies make better decisions. It is a complex, multi-faceted role that involves developing algorithms, analyzing large datasets, and communicating findings in a meaningful way to non-technical members of the company. So they must have excellent communication skills and be able to explain complex concepts in layman’s terms.

Data scientists must also have strong analytical skills and proficiency in statistics, machine learning, and software engineering. They must be able to use these analytical tools efficiently and effectively to provide valuable insight into how companies can make more informed decisions based on the data they collect.

Other typical duties of data scientists include:

  • Finding essential data sources and automating data collecting methods
  • Performing structured and unstructured data preprocessing
  • Analyzing vast amounts of data to uncover trends and patterns

Web Developer vs. Data Scientist: Salary Comparison

The average pay for a web developer in the United States is $67,488, while the average yearly income for a data scientist is $101,995. This is based on the salaries that web developer and data scientist employees, users, and Indeed job ads have reported anonymously over the last 36 months. There are 2,315 web developer salary reports and 4,031 data scientist salary reports.

In the U.S., web developers make the most money ($78,223 per year) in New York, New York. On the other hand, data scientists make the most in San Francisco, California ($124,596 per year).

Skills in Backbone.js, React, Angular, and Node.js are highly valued by employers and pay well for Web Developers. On the other hand, Cloud Architecture, DevOps, and CI/CD are some of the most essential skills for data scientists and command high salaries.

Web development pays less because the entry barrier is far lower than in data science. You could become a Junior Web dev in as little as 2-4 months of practicing. I know because I have done it myself. With no prior knowledge, I got an internship with less than 4 months of coding experience. Salaries don’t stay so much lower than data science for long though. Once you specialize in a certain framework, your salary will get higher faster. It is not a hard task to make more than $100k as a Web developer, just follow easy to replicate steps I talk about in an article on this link.

Both Web Developers and Data Scientists Are Happy With Their Jobs

CareerExplorer surveyed a large sample size to gauge the general level of satisfaction with one’s professional life. Here are the results for web developers and data scientists:

Data scientists have higher average satisfaction with their pay (3.6 stars) than web developers (3.2 stars). When asked to rate their workplace satisfaction, web developers and data scientists both rated it at 3.7 out of 5.

The survey found that web development and data science jobs ranked in the top 43% of all occupations regarding job satisfaction.

PayScale also surveyed web developers and data scientists to determine their satisfaction levels.

Data scientists have an average job satisfaction rating of four out of five stars or 80%. This number is the result of 1,183 responses. At the same time, nearly four out of five web developers, or 79%, were satisfied with their employment, according to responses from 1,170 web developers.

Video: Should You Become a Web Developer

Becoming a Web Developer or Data Scientist

Most companies looking for data scientists want candidates with at least a bachelor’s degree in data science, computer science, or a similar field. They also prefer a master’s degree related to computer programming languages, probability, and statistics.

Many companies will hire data scientists right after they graduate from college, but you may first need to get experience as a network architect, data analyst, or information security analyst.

The most common skills that will help you find a job as a data scientist are:

  • Cloud Architecture
  • DevOps
  • AI
  • AWS
  • Analytics
  • Apache Hive
  • Azure
  • C++
  • Data analysis
  • Data mining
  • Data science
  • Data visualization

Meanwhile, a formal education past high school is advantageous for those seeking a career as a web developer. Some of the most successful web developers have a bachelor’s degree in web development, but the majority have an associate degree in a similar discipline. 

Many positions for web developers focus on the looks of websites; thus, learning graphic design could make you more marketable.

For web developers, here are the most in-demand skills:

  • Backbone.js
  • Node.js
  • .NET
  • AJAX
  • APIs
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Agile
  • Angular
  • Application development
  • Bootstrap
  • C#
  • CSS

Both Jobs Come With Their Own Problems

Data scientists face many challenges.

Data scientists often need to work with large amounts of data stored in various formats—which can be hard to keep track of. It can be challenging to access all the different kinds of information, and sometimes there aren’t any good tools available yet for working with certain types of data sets!

Data scientists also need to be able to communicate effectively with other people who don’t know much about what they do—that means being able to explain complex concepts in simple terms without losing any vital information along the way.

Web developers also have a lot on their plate.

First of all, there are the technical challenges: making sure your app or website is fast, reliable, and secure. But that’s only part of the challenge—the other part is how you actually manage to get people to use what you’ve built in the first place.

You need to be able to speak both languages: the language of code and the language of users. And you need to be good at both!

Video: Data Science Career: (Is Becoming A Data Scientist ACTUALLY Worth It?)

Web Developer vs. Data Scientist: Career Progression and Growth Potential

In the data science field, a promotion to senior data scientist, lead data scientist, or even director of analytics is possible with the right combination of experience and expertise.

Meanwhile, those who work hard at becoming proficient web developers can advance to positions such as senior developer, lead developer, or technical director. Project managers, data administrators, system administrators, etc., are all viable professional paths for them to pursue.

From 2020 to 2030, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 13% increase in demand for web developers and a 22% increase for data scientists. 

Over the next decade, we anticipate an annual average of 17,900 new web developer and digital designer positions and a yearly average of 3,200 new data scientist openings.

Other Careers in Web Development

Web developers can work with or as any of the following:

Web Designer

A website’s appearance and feel are the work of a web designer, also known as a digital designer. To build a functional, attractive website, which is also effective at attracting users, they should master design, art, and coding skills. Web designers use a variety of graphic design software applications to build websites. Even though coding isn’t their responsibility, having a background helps them explain their objectives to the web developer.

Content Developer

A web content developer produces the content that appears on the website. These could be news articles, product descriptions, images and videos, and blog posts. In addition to writing content, they may also be skilled programmers who understand HTML and search engine optimization (SEO). SEO is used to ensure that websites appear high in search results.


A webmaster is in charge of all facets of a company’s website, including coding, security, design, and architecture (how information is organized on the site). The webmaster works with the programmers, designers, and marketing teams to ensure the website effectively attracts and retains users and is thriving as part of an organization’s business strategy. A webmaster must be knowledgeable in sales, marketing, coding, and design.

Other Careers in Data Science

Most data scientists start out in their careers as data analysts or data engineers:

Data Analyst

Data analysts work directly with raw data gathered by systems. They collaborate with marketing, sales, customer service, and finance teams to process information. They clean the data, research it, and create reports with data visualization tools like Tableau and Excel to assist teams in developing strategies.

Data Engineer

Data engineers are adept at accessing and analyzing enormous quantities of real-time data. Interpreting unstructured and unpredictable data is crucial for technology-driven businesses and departments. 

The daily tasks of data engineers consist of maintaining large amounts of data and developing pipelines to make data accessible for further analysis by data teams. They set up the infrastructure using programming languages (Python), advanced SQL, and NoSQL.

Remote Work for Web Developers and Data Scientists

The pandemic has led many companies to start letting their employees work from home. So, it is technically possible for web developers and data scientists to work from home right now. After the pandemic, companies may decide to keep their work-from-home policies so that their employees can enjoy more flexibility and freedom.

Final Thoughts

Web developers and data scientists are crucial to any company’s success, and the differences between the two roles are pretty straightforward. Both paths have their own unique challenges and rewards. Data scientists tend to earn more, but they also need more education than web developers.

The key is to consider what kind of work environment you want, the type of hours, and how much experience you want under your belt before choosing one path over another. This article has hopefully given you some insight into what each career entails and whether or not it’s right for you.

Video: Tiff In Tech did a great YouTube video between the differences and similarities of both careers.

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