Data Science vs Full Stack Developer

Data Science vs Full Stack Developer [I’ve Done Both]

If you’re outside tech, I could see how these two may seem similar – but trust me, they’re not.

While being two of the top tech jobs, data science and full-stack development are two very different realms within the business ecosystem.

Data science is a relatively new name for the field that combines statistics, computer science, mathematics, and other computationally intensive disciplines to gain insight from data – both small and large.

Before being called data science, it was actually called operations research.

On the other hand, full-stack development is creating web applications (or any software) that involve all aspects of software engineering, including front-end design, back-end development, database management, and DevOps.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the differences between these two fields regarding job duties and the skillsets required for each.

We’ll also explore the ideas of salary, which is easier to get into, do these two ever “collide,” and much more.

Finally, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of each profession so you can decide which is best for you.

This isn’t one I’d skip.

a bunch of questions

What is Data Science?

Data science is a fascinating field that combines aspects of computer science, statistics, and mathematics to interpret any type of data.

Using analytical, business, and critical thinking skills, data scientists employ machine learning and other SOTA techniques to identify patterns in large datasets by analyzing data to make predictions about real-world events – usually to improve business KPIs.

For example, with a large enough dataset of consumer spending data, a data scientist could analyze and predict what products will be popular this season or whether interest rates on consumer loans should be dropped.

Data science can also be used for more broad and abstract tasks, such as understanding social trends, stock market fluctuations, and upcoming marketing strategies.

Ultimately, the goal of any data scientist is to take information from any part of the business realm, analyze it and then turn it into invaluable insights that can help shape positive business decisions.

What is a Full Stack Developer?

A full-stack developer is a highly skilled coder with both front-end and back-end development expertise.

If you don’t know the difference, front end development is code that a client/customer sees (think like a homepage), and backend development is the gears of the app, code that a client/customer does not see.

A full-stack developer typically works on the entire development process from start to finish, including planning, design, coding, testing, deployment, and maintenance.

Since they work on both the front-end and back-end of an application, they can work with various programming languages.

coding on a macbook

Usual Front-end stack:

  • HTML5
  • CSS3
  • JavaScript

Usual Back-end stack:

  • PHP
  • SQL
  • MongoDB
  • Python (My Favorite!)

That’s not all they need to know – full stack developers know a ton of different frameworks, such as:

  • Angular
  • Vue.js
  • React
  • HTMX (Personal Favorite)
  • JQuery

And finally, in rare-ish scenarios, some full-stack developers will make use of DevOps tools such as

  • Docker
  • Git (Everyone knows this)
  • GitHub (Everyone knows this)
  • Jenkins
  • Kubernetes (Experts only!!)
  • Chef

As a result, full-stack developers are in high demand due to their ability to handle all aspects of web application development.

Note: Many full-stack developers go by software engineers or software development engineers in some tech firms. They’re essentially the same thing, and the general scope of these jobs is the same. (Though software engineer sounds better, and probably pays better)

If I Didn’t Want To Do Full Stack, Could I Do Front-End or Back-End Web Dev?

Let’s say you didn’t want to pursue full-stack web development, but you fell in love with either frontend dev or backend dev.

You can definitely consider just specializing in one of the two.

I want to warn you that while this is a viable option (and many work in one or the other), I do not suggest this.

Let’s get the simple reasons out of the way:

1.) Full-stack web developers tend to be paid more than those who specialize in either one of the two areas of development alone, as there’s more role responsibility in full-stack.

2.) There are more full-stack roles available than there are for front-end and back-end developers separately.

confused shrug

Now for the complicated reasoning:

Essentially, and you’ll see this once you start working in these roles, full-stack roles are 90% back-end and 10% front-end development.

So, for more pay and job availability, instead of becoming a back-end engineer, you can pick up 10% front-end work (to make the app/software usable) and have more job options and a much more lucrative career.

The only time I’d say this option isn’t viable is if you really dislike backend development.

In that case, pick front-end development,

Here’s a simple chart.

I only like back-end dev -> choose full-stack

I like full-stack dev -> choose full-stack

I only like front-end dev -> choose front-end

Does Full Stack Include Data Science?

Full stack does not include data science; However, developers sometimes incorporate data science models into their applications. This mostly has to do with the scope and goals of the application that’s being built.

When this happens, this is usually set up as a microservice.

Most full-stack developers will not be present in the modeling and data exploration and will only be presented with final outputs (like a PyTorch Model)

Data science is an area of high expertise in its own right that requires a deep understanding of the subject matter and is a realm that software engineers don’t usually dip their toes into.

Although full-stack developers may be familiar with some aspects of data science, they are unlikely to have the same expertise or knowledge base as dedicated data scientists.

So no, full stack doesn’t require data science, but it may require you to work with some data scientists.

Is There Such Thing As A Full Stack Data Scientist?

Yes, there is such a thing as a full-stack data scientist. This role requires the ability to go from a dataset to a production-grade model and build a customer-ready web app around the production-grade model.

Taking on this role is not easy and usually requires tons of skill and expertise.

And therefore (as you probably guessed), it can be highly lucrative for those who are experienced in these areas.

You’ll often see this role listed as a “machine learning engineer,” though it can also be listed as other titles.

resume from a person

A full-stack data scientist will have expertise across many fields like coding, machine learning, analytics, system design, DevOps, and engineering, to name a few.

I’ve had a role like this in the past, and while fun; there was just too much to do. While this role taught me most of everything I know, it may have also cost me a couple of years of my life (Just kidding).

Do You Need To Know How To Code For Data Science or Full Stack Web Dev?

Knowing how to code is essential when it comes to data science or full-stack web development. There’s no way around this.

You’ll need to understand the fundamentals of coding, such as variables and functions, as well as more advanced concepts like object-oriented programming and databases.

It’s also important to be familiar with specific programming languages like Python or JavaScript, currently dominating these fields.

Sorry – coding is a must.

Which Is Faster To Learn, Data Science or Full Stack Development?

When it comes to your career, if you had to choose to learn only one of these two – you can’t choose wrong.

Both are incredible paths that will lead to rewarding and fulfilling job opportunities and a long-lasting career; however, there are some things you should consider before you pick and choose which to learn.

It’s usually a bit harder to get a data science job even if you “know it.”

Since employers want to ensure you understand complicated mathematics, gaining this trust is difficult and usually requires a master’s degree in a STEM-related field.


This isn’t the same for full-stack web development.

Many software developer jobs are available even while being self-taught or with a Bootcamp certification.

So I think both could be learned in about the same time frame, but learning full stack web development will pay off much sooner.

Who Writes More Code, Full Stack Developer or Data Scientist?

When it comes to writing code, a full stack software developer is the clear winner. A full stack developer’s job is basically entirely coding, and they will write way more code than a data scientist.

While a data scientist may have some coding involved in their work, it’s probably only around 30-50% of the time – spending the rest waiting for models to run (just kidding).

Remember, data scientists will use surveys, research, or anything else they can get their hands on to perform data analysis.

This leads to a much more “active” role than their counterparts.

With these two, it’s really not close – a data scientist will never write as much code as a software engineer, as data scientists need other tools for work, not just code.

Data Science vs. Full Stack Developer Salaries

As we know from above, many employers have too much data that needs exploring.

And from this – the demand for skilled data scientists is exploding.


But do these data scientists really make more money than full stack developers?

The answer is yes, by a lot.

According to glassdoor, a data scientist can expect to bring home around $125,000 a year, whereas full-stack developers earn an average of $86,000 annually.

With an incredible pay rate and growing job opportunities, data science is becoming an increasingly attractive career path for people who want high-paying work and fun-to-solve problems. 

At first glance, it might appear that there’s no contest here: clearly, the higher salaries offered by data science make them a more lucrative option for aspiring techies than full-stack developers…

But there are still merits to both careers; 

While both require strong coding aptitude and technical skillsets, each involves different approaches to problem-solving, and your career should be about more than just $$.


Which is a better career, Data Science or Full Stack Web Dev?

Deciding which career would be best for you is an extremely difficult and personal decision.

When considering Data Science and Full Stack Web Development, it is important to remember that the best career is the one you will enjoy most.

While money and job security are both important considerations, it is better to be happy in the long run than paid well but disappointed.

It all comes down to what works best for you.

Consider your skill set and interests and what kind of atmosphere you would like to work in.

Research job descriptions and talk to people already working in those fields to get an idea of what career would be best for you.

This is a decision only you can make.

And we hope we’ve helped.


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Stewart Kaplan

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