Data Science Career Guide
Last Reviewed/Updated: October 27, 2020
Considering your future is a huge component when entering into a degree program. There are new and innovative data science degree programs available that can help you land a position that is in-need and can provide well for you and your family.
Data science is a growing and popular field that can teach you the fundamentals of data interpretation and use within society, possibly helping you find careers in some of the biggest organizations in the future. The skills required for this field may include in-depth computer information system knowledge, problem solving skills, business analysis skills, and finance. You may also be required to have abilities in planning, implementing, and maintaining complex data systems.
Data Science Careers
Data science is an excellent place to get involved with the field of information technology and still have room to pursue other endeavors as a result of your degree. This field touches on many different fields, such as business, healthcare, technology, finance, and even mathematics.
Why Consider a Data Science Career?
If you are the type of person that enjoys perplexing or complex puzzles, this could definitely be a great-fitting field for you to consider. Data science degree programs can prepare you to pursue careers in computer science, business, healthcare, research, or even engineering.
Our team of educational experts has over a decade of experience in researching educational programs and their respective career paths. Read along in this guide to learn more about what you can do after completing a degree in data science. If you don't have a degree yet, start with researching a Bachelor of Data Science, or Online Masters in Data Science Degree. Check out our guide to funding your data science degree for scholarship and financial aid options and more.
Featured Online Data Science Programs
Johns Hopkins AAP
|MS in Data Science and Policy||Website|
|Master of Science in Applied Data Science||Website|
George Mason University
|Master of Science in Data Analytics Engineering||Website|
Northern Illinois University
|Master of Science in Data Analytics||Website|
University of Denver
|Master of Science in Data Science||Website|
What is Data Science?
If you read about data science online, the actual presence and usability of the field may still remain unclear. Most sites note that data science involves analyzing large amounts of data in order to retrieve helpful information that can better the human experience. While this is explanatory of the overall goal of this field, it does little in explaining what you would actually be doing while working in the field. It is our goal to help you understand what your actual workday would look like as a professional in this line of work.
What do you do in data science?
In data science, professionals are often tasked with creating something from nothing, essentially. For example, a professional working for a popular search engine may receive multiple sets of data to review to determine if there are patterns within user searches. The data that they receive may actually contain the searches of thousands or more people within a given area. By organizing and analyzing the data, the professional could potentially create a user-friendly system that can predict user searches based on popular searches within the same area.
How can employers use a data scientists skillset and education?
While the example above only proves useful in information technology, there are multiple uses for this type of skill in today's society. Healthcare professionals can use biostatistical information to help implement prevention programs throughout the country. Through the review of patient data, analysts in this field may be able to make connections concerning disease contraction, geographical area, or societal needs. Data science professionals can assist through analyzing patient data or survey results to help provide helpful percentages and statistics to public health officials interested in making a change.
Working in business and the private sector
The same goes for business. Good businesses often consider the need for new and innovative means of creating a profit. By organizing consumer statistics, sales information, and employee data, businesses can create effective plans and marketing programs that can help them meet their goals. Data science professionals can be a leading source of support during these planning stages, which make them increasingly important to the field of business and sales.
Why is Data Science an Emerging Career?
The influx of technology in today's society has made consumer information more reachable than ever before. Data science professionals can use the internet to gather data regarding sales, preferences, or even geographical information to help create a business atmosphere that is consumer-focused. Trends and searches can also have an effect on how programs are created and used in society.
Do we need more data scientists?
The need for data science professionals may be higher now than ever before. Since more people are becoming accustomed to using the internet for social needs, purchases, and business, this domain is the most efficient in gathering data for multiple purposes. Students that are concerned with having a career that withstands the test of time may be interested in taking part in this highly sought-after field.
Average Data Science Salaries
The demand for information technology professionals all across the country may continue to grow as technology increasingly influences how society operates. Data science professionals can be implemented into a wide array of different organizations, depending on the needs and values of the organization. Our team of educational experts has researched some of the common career options for professionals in this field. The information found within their search is listed for your review beneath this section.
There are multiple paths to take after completing a degree in data science. Depending on what type of degree you received and the amount of experience you have working in the field, you may have the opportunity to pursue specialized career paths involved with interpreting and analyzing data.
Computer information technology and business are 2 of the most popular fields for data science professionals. Our team has reviewed some of the most chosen career titles below in order to provide you with more information about the average salaries for each. The area that you live in and the company that you work for can skew your actual salary from the averages listed below.
- Statisticians: $84,760 on average per year
- Computer and Information Research Scientists: $114,520 on average per year
- Computer Network Architects: $101,210 on average per year
- Database Administrators: $87,020 on average per year
Education Requirements for a Career in Data Science
Data science careers can be found at nearly educational level. In order to get started in the field, most entry-level positions may require that graduates have a minimum of a bachelors degree to be considered for their openings. Some example bachelors-level careers can include data entry operator, entry-level data scientist, risk analyst, entry-level business intelligence analyst, and specimen accessioner.
For Masters Degrees in Data Science
At the masters level, graduates may find that the career options can become more widespread. Since most masters programs include a supervised work experience requirement, learners at this level are often more experienced in the field – opening up opportunities in more free environments. Some careers that can be obtained at this level may include statistician, big data engineer, data analyst, and business/project manager. As you can see, there may be more advanced opportunities available at higher degree levels.
For Doctoral Degrees
Ph.D. programs in Data Science can bring in more exclusive opportunities to graduates within this field. At this level, students should have a more research-oriented presence within their portfolio, which could lead to positions involved in the analysis and development of data-driven systems throughout the country. Professionals with a Ph.D. may also have the option to pursue careers in education, research, or IT program development throughout their careers.
Online Degree Options
One of the many benefits associated with the data science field is that it is potentially welcoming to a wide variety of learners. New high school graduates or adults entering into the collegiate realm can take advantage of online degree programs in data science along the way. Online certificate programs and bachelors programs are currently being offered by a wide range of universities, providing these new students with a convenient option for getting their initial introduction into the field.
Students that have already completed their undergraduate degree program may also have the opportunity to become a part of this field through the use of online certificate or masters programs. The most popular level of degree for professionals in this field is the online masters, since it can be a great complementary degree to either data science-focused bachelors programs or bachelors programs that are focused in computer science or information technology. The online version of the Masters in Data Science can be a flexible way for you to learn more about what type of skills are required in this field while maintaining a current job or tending to your everyday responsibilities.
The opportunities do not end at the masters level for students interested in this field. At some universities, students that have an educational history in the field of computer science can enroll in online Doctoral programs in Data Science. Combined with the practical skills learned in previous educational programs, the PhD in Data Science can provide you with research-oriented and improvement-focused techniques for changing the field over time.
What Does a Data Scientist Do?
Depending on where you look, you might find that data scientists can have a broad range of job responsibilities and roles during their daily run. The key role of the data scientist is translate large sums of data into meaningful information that includes trends, predictions, and analyses. To simply say that a data scientist analyzes data for the purpose of translating it is not enough, however, since there is an abundance of skills in between that come into play to complete these tasks.
Database system analysis
In one organization, a data scientist may be employed to analyze database systems in order to diagnose and provide solutions for particular issues being experienced by their employer. This can include the need for dense knowledge about data storing systems, as well as methods of troubleshooting for a wide variety of potential programming errors. This same organization might also ask that data scientists assist with finding meaningful ways to translate this data into meaningful information pertaining to purchases, income, or customer preference.
Predictive analysis of data
Other organizations may seek out data scientists to create machine learning software that is based off of the predictive analysis of sums of data. This can include mining enormous amounts of data in an effort to identify trends and algorithms for later use. These positions may require you as a data scientist to use various computer programs and software to derive useful information from your data, as well as when displaying this information in a readable format for stakeholders within your organization.
Increase efficiences in business
All in all, data science professionals can be helpful when developing better methods for data storage, creating meaning out of large amounts of company data, and when developing new programs and software related to the analysis of data. Each of these elements can contribute to a more effective and relevant company that seeks innovative ways for conducting their daily business.
Where Could You Work with a Data Related Degree?
Now that you know what type of work you can do with this type of degree, you might want to know which companies might be looking for people like you to fill their open careers. There are many big-name organizations that are looking for data science professionals with the skills needed to make a difference in their companies. Data has grown to be one of the most important aspects in the improvement of business practices in the United States. Organizations use data to improve business practices from within their company as well as to project further into society for their customers. Take a look at some of the companies that are currently hiring data science professionals below.
- National Geospatial Intelligence Agency – Data Scientist
- Amazon – Data Scientist
- U.S. Federal Government – Data Scientist
- Google – Data Scientist
- The Department of Agriculture – Data Scientist
- Central Intelligence Agency – Data Scientist
As you can see in the list above, some of the most prestigious businesses in the U.S. are currently looking for qualified data science professionals to work for their organizations. While each of these positions may interpret data for different causes, the methods they use to do so may be very similar. Since most of these organizations use different computer programs for their purposes, it is likely that you would need to be well-versed in the different computer information programs available on the market.
Skills for Success in a Data Science Job
Before you ever decide to pursue a career in data science, you should be knowledgeable of what is required of professionals in this field and the daily duties that they may be responsible for. In this guide, our team of experts introduces you to some of the most sought after skills in the field of data science, as well as some of the most popular organizations for data scientists to work.
Skills that you have obtained through educational programs and experience in the field can contribute to the types of careers that you qualify for at the onset of your career search. These skills include those that are learned through general study and testing, as well as those that are gained through direct practice. Take a look at some of the most desired skills for data science professionals below to see which areas to spotlight during your search.
- Math: Skills in mathematics can help prepare you for working with some of the complex algorithms within the field of data science. Beginning with the very basics in algebra, students should work through these introductory concepts all the way up until advanced classes in calculus and topics in function and probability.
- Statistics: Statistics can also be a huge part of what makes great data scientists. As you work your way through educational programs, you can expect to gain skills relevant to probability, descriptive statistics, regression, and likelihood. Each of these ideas can provide you with the knowledge required to make accurate predictions when provided with large sums of data.
- Data Mining: Data mining is a component of data science that involves seeking patterns and predictive behavior in groups of data. Skills in this area should be related to programs and software that are designed to interpret data, such as SQL and SAS, as well as the ability to analyze the results of such software in order to create more efficient programs based on what is discovered.
- Data Visualization: In order to comprehend the meaning of patterns and predictive behavior of sets of data, scientists within this field must also have the ability to visualize the data provided to them. Data visualization involves projecting information and trends found within data into a form that is recognizable to people without skills in data mining and data science. This can be done through the creation of graphs or other visual depictions of data analyses.
- Database Administration: Data scientists should have skills relevant to management of data systems. This can involve overseeing the input and retrieval of data, management of data science professionals managing databases, or even modifying or updating current data systems in accordance to an organization’s needs.
- Cloud: If you have skills related to cloud computing, you could find yourself being a desired candidate for data science positions. Cloud computing involves the use of remote databases for data storage and management, rather than on personal computers or storage devices. This larger platform may require diverse skills that can capture the complexity of larger data upkeep, management, and safeguarding.
- Programming Languages: Any career that you pursue in the IT field may require that you have great fluency in computer programming languages. Java, Python, and C++ are just a few of the many different types of programming languages commonly used today and should be part of your portfolio as you search for careers in the field of Data Science.
- Business Skills: Since data science includes a component that seeks to explain why patterns in data exist, skills in communication and business can be integral to your success. Degree programs that include both topics surrounding data as well as common business skills in management, organization, and ethics could be great options for you if you are planning to enter the field of data science.
Several Top Data Science Career Choices
As a data analyst, you may be tasked with transforming large quantities of data into an understandable format. In organizations that use data (basically all of them), you might sift through information to provide reports and formal analyses for business improvement processes. The result of these reviews of data could be changing marketing strategies, making decisions about pricing, or guiding others through a strategic plan to solve complex business issues. Some data analysts may also work to provide helpful computer programming to help ease the strain on some business personnel.
Data scientist have some similarities to data analysts in that they can also organize and transcribe data into real-world language and reports. However, professionals in this field may also be tasked with cleaning large sums of data to make it understandable for others on their team. Scientists within this field may also work to identify certain trends or patterns that may be present in data, such as investigating client search items or purchase demographics.
Now that you are aware of the nation’s dependence on data systems, you might be interested to know that there is a whole class of professionals that are responsible for creating and maintaining these systems. Without data engineers, there might not be any data information systems available for businesses and organizations to use. This field may require an advanced knowledge of computer information systems and programs, which can enable professionals to help increase the capabilities of these current systems.
If you desire a slight tangent from the norm with your career, you might consider being a quantitative analyst. In this career, you might be responsible for applying statistical and mathematical concepts to businesses and organizations that are interested in financial gain. The goal of professionals in this field is to maximize profit and lower risks for those that employ them. If you pursue a career in this field, you might be responsible for having computer skills and business knowledge within your portfolio.
The business analyst can be a jack of all trades for organizations that employ them. If you choose a position in this field, you might spend your days analyzing purchases, employees, or business plans in order to determine methods for increasing profit and production. Professionals in this field may also play a role in the implementation of more helpful computer information systems that can increase productivity within their organizations.
Risk Mitigation Analyst
Risk mitigation analysts are often employed by insurance companies that provide coverage to individuals or businesses. It is the job of the analyst to determine the possibility of risk for the person or entity being insured – which can play a role in the pricing and issuance of insurance claims. If you take a job in this field, you might spend time researching accidents and applying that data to those that are asking for coverage.
Data architects can be found at the heart of data-based operation systems. These professionals usually work to plan, direct, implement, and maintain complex data systems for companies that require them. As a professional within this field, you might be responsible for using computer information systems to create helpful databases that can store large quantities of data for different purposes. You might also take part in the testing and troubleshooting of these programs throughout their use.
In the business realm of data science, marketing analysts work hard to analyze their company’s progress against the progress of other companies of interest. This can be through the analysis of sales, consumer interest, or different markets. It is up to the market analyst to determine if there are weaknesses within the organization’s current plan or areas that may need addressed. Marketing analysts may also be able to implement marketing strategies that can pull in a large customer base, based on analytics from other organizations.
Which Companies Hire Data Scientists?
If you have spent any time conducting internet searches or spent any significant time online, you have likely come into contact with software that was created by professionals with skills in data science. The internet is full of predictive software that was created in an effort to be more personalized for the people that utilize it. When you are considering a move into the field of data science, you should take a look at the different types of organizations that might be in need of professionals just like you.
Some of the most popular organizations hiring data science professionals are those with interests in computer information technology. Software development companies, gaming organizations, and webpage design and creation companies are just a few of the many types of IT-related entities that you could consider applying to after your graduation. As technology continues to evolve and change, the reach of data science could expand beyond the position it currently resides.
Online and Media Businesses
Successful online businesses and social platforms can also benefit from employing data scientists on their teams. Businesses that run social media platforms or shopping applications may employ data science professionals in order to provide a more personalized search or shopping experience for their users. Data science professionals can also work to improve current systems based off of data from current searches and trends.
Sales and communications are some of the top organizations for data science professionals in the U.S., but they do not stand alone as leading employers of experts in this field. Healthcare systems, the field of education, and even basic research facilities can utilize the analysis of data as a means for developing more efficient ways of managing operational information, safeguarding their organization’s private data, and creating innovative ways of client interaction and service overall.
The Ideal Resume for Data Science Companies
If you are intrigued by the field of data science and are looking for ways to present yourself to get the job of your dreams, there are ways that you can prepare for the career that you desire.
1. Undergraduate Data Science Degree
Careers in data science are first going to require that you have the right type of educational degree for the job that you will be involved with. Online degrees in data science should be your first choice, as well as a combination of IT-related and data science degrees and certifications.
2. Masters of Data Science
A large majority of current professionals in the field of data science hold at least a masters degree. This can help you showcase your higher learning in this field, as well as your exemplary skills in database management and analysis. Students that have interned in data science with certain agencies should also prepare to provide documentation of this experience for consideration.
3. Additional Certifications
Some companies that are currently hiring data science specialists may also request that applicants have specific certifications in order to best fit into their organizations. Certifications or fluency in a variety of programming languages can be beneficial to you during the interview process, as well as experience with SQL or Python tools. In addition to these areas, a large number of organizations may also want to see examples of how you have previously presented data and analyses through the use of graphs or other presentation tools.
4. Interview Prowess & Communication of Complex Ideas
Lastly, companies often look further than just your degree and technical qualifications when considering you for their open positions. Interview questions for data science positions may include situational questions that test your critical thinking skills, your response to various issues that might arise during your daily tasks, and your skills in teamwork and communication. Although the core skills in this field are directly related to your ability to analyze data and database systems, becoming a data scientist also includes some interactive and business components that could be considered during the hiring process.
Example Companies that Hire Data Scientists
As you browse through different data science degree programs to choose from, you should be aware of the capabilities of graduates within this field. Some of the leading and most popular organizations in today’s world are driven by the work of data science and IT professionals. In order to provide you with more insight into how these organizations implement the work of data scientists, our team of researchers has provided a snippet of information pertaining to some of these agencies in the list below.
- Amazon: Amazon is one of the leading online sales platforms current in operation. Data science professionals working for this company work to ensure that online systems operate efficiently and that customers receive a customized experience when browsing for goods. Amazon also shows remarkable growth in machine learning software, due to a diverse team of data science professionals.
- Google: Online search engines like Google can benefit from the employment of data scientists. This organization is focused on providing a totally personalized experience for each user on its platform. As an employee of this organization, you could play a role in the development of machine learning software, predictive searches, or even market research based upon common internet searches.
- Facebook: Social media giants manage unthinkable amounts of data on a regular basis. Professionals employed by this company can have a wide range of tasks related to mass data management including evaluating metrics, establishing data research projects, and building data sets for an integrative operational analysis.
- Microsoft: Becoming a data scientist for Microsoft can include a wide variety of daily duties focused on innovation and improvement. Scientists employed with this company can analyze usage data and feedback pertaining to Microsoft’s broad range of current software, online systems, and operating systems. This organization focuses on data analyses to improve their virtual personal assistant, as well as improvements to current machine learning software.
- Equifax: Business giants such as Equifax may be currently hiring data scientists in an effort to improve their current statistical software presented to customers. Alternative roles within this organization include those in fraud detection and prevention, as well as project management for improved data usage in financial, healthcare, and government sectors.
Professional Organizations for Data Scientists
Your introduction to the field of data science should be one of excitement and opportunity. If you are like a majority of future graduates in this field, you might be looking for ways to cushion your entry into data science, in order to maintain your confidence during your transition.
Some of the best methods for finding support and comfort in a new field are found through professional organizations within your field. Membership in organizations can put you in touch with other experienced professionals in your field, current trends and publications, and the opportunity for advocacy during your career.
Data science is a highly multidisciplinary field as a whole. Scientists working in data analysis and management can join organizations such as the American Statistical Association, the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences – Data Mining group, or even the International Machine Learning Society in an effort to become more integrated within their field.
Membership in each of these agencies can provide you with opportunities to attend conferences related to your daily duties, continuing educational courses, and have access to job openings provided only to members. One of the most valuable and useful resources that you can obtain through membership in these agencies is the opportunity to network with other professionals with interests in your field.