If you are asking, “How can I become a data scientist?” you have come to the right place. Data science is one of the hottest careers today, and many IT professionals have been taking the plunge through online upskilling.
In this article, we will examine what data scientists do, how to become a data scientist, the potential for careers and pay, and a surefire way to become a data scientist.
What Is a Data Scientist?
A data scientist is a professional who uses various analytical and statistical methods to uncover insights from large and complex data sets.
Data scientists typically have programming, statistics, machine learning, and data visualization expertise. Data scientists work in various industries, such as health care, finance, technology, and ecommerce. They are essential for companies looking to derive insights from data and make informed decisions based on those insights.
Companies employ data scientists for several reasons, such as:
- Helping better understand customer behavior
- Forecasting future demand based on trends
- Supporting business development
- Minimizing loss and mitigating risk
One of the most important things data scientists do is enable organizations to make data-driven decisions. Data insights inform decisions in the most successful companies. In fact, a study by S&P Global Market Intelligence reported that 90 percent of business leaders surveyed believe data-driven decision-making will be even more critical in the future. Yet, more than a quarter of companies report lacking the expertise or staffing to support their data science.
This represents a massive opportunity for those wanting to enter the field, especially since 90 percent of enterprise companies also say data analytics are key to their digital transformation.
Read more: What is Data Science? A Comprehensive Guide
What Do Data Scientists Do?
A data scientist analyzes data to produce insights to help organizations meet their strategic objectives better. Specific tasks that may be part of a data scientist’s job role include:
- Determining which data analytics problems present the best opportunities for the organization
- Identifying the appropriate data sets and variables to address those problems
- Gathering extensive collections of structured and unstructured data from various sources
- Verifying and cleaning the data to guarantee its accuracy, comprehensiveness, and consistency
- Creating and implementing models and algorithms to extract insights from large data sets
- Examining the data to identify trends and patterns
- Analyzing the data to discover solutions and opportunities
- Utilizing visualization and other techniques to convey findings to stakeholders
Data scientists need to identify the relevant questions, collect and verify data, run analyses, and translate data into insights so that companies have the information they need to make better decisions.
How to Become a Data Scientist: Qualifications and Eligibility
If you are searching for how to get into data science or how to start a career in data science, you likely want to know the qualifications and type of education required.
There are multiple pathways to becoming a data scientist. Here are some of the more important skills you will need to learn.
Gain Data Scientist Skills
Since data scientists work with large data sets, they must have a strong foundation and appreciation for math and computer science, including statistical methods and algorithms. They also need to have experience manipulating and analyzing data.
Data scientists are counted on to be interpreters. They need to interpret data and translate it in a way that can communicate insights effectively. This requires visualization and strong communication skills to explain results to non-technical people.
The best data scientists are lifelong learners, as the field of data science is constantly evolving.
Have the Educational Requirements
Most data scientist jobs require at least a bachelor’s degree in data science, computer science, or a related field, even entry-level positions. More senior jobs may require a master’s degree or higher.
The more experience and the more education you have, the more career opportunities and higher pay you can expect.
Job seekers commonly earn a bachelor’s degree and then attend a data science bootcamp to get more hands-on training to be career-ready. Technology is changing quickly, so staying current and broadening your skill set is crucial.
For example, data scientists spend time using multiple tools, such as:
- Data visualization programs, including Power BI, Tableau, Datawrapper, QlikView, and Excel
- Various deep learning and machine learning algorithms
- Data frameworks to process big data, such as Hadoop and Apache Spark
Data scientists must be adept at using these tools at an expert level to work efficiently and produce actionable insights. You will also need to develop hands-on experience beyond the classroom or lab. Most data scientists do internships to get real-world experience or sign up for data science bootcamps to keep their skills sharp.
Read more: Top Data Scientist Skills You Must Have
How to Become a Data Scientist: A Step-by-Step Guide
It takes time to learn and master the skills to become a data scientist. Here are the six steps most take on their career journey:
- Earn a bachelor’s degree
- Learn relevant programming languages
- Learn related skills through hands-on experience
- Earn certifications to aid career prospects
- Gain more experience through internships
- Look for entry-level data scientist jobs
As you work your way through these steps, developing a portfolio of projects that demonstrate competence and results of real-world projects can go a long way in assuring employers that you have the necessary skills.
Once you get your first data scientist job, you can gain professional work experience to progress through your career.
Careers in Data Science
In short, data science careers are hot right now. A quick search using Indeed’s job site shows over 12,550 current openings. Competition for top talent is fierce, which means there are lots of available jobs that can lead to a fulfilling and lucrative career.
Is Data Science a Growing Field?
According to research from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), data science is one of the fastest-growing fields compared to other occupations. Over the next decade, BLS forecasts a need for more than 13,500 new data scientists annually, with an average growth rate of 36 percent between now and 2031.
Several positions require data science skills, and all of them are experiencing significant growth rates, including:
- Data scientist
- Data engineer
- Data analyst
- Data Architect
- Machine learning specialist
- Business intelligence engineer
What Is the Salary of a Data Scientist?
BLS reports that the median data scientist salary is $100,910 per year. Remember that this figure is from 2021, the most recent salary report BLS has issued.
Indeed puts the average base salary in 2023 for data scientists at $124,012, with entry-level positions paying $104,876 and those with three to five years’ experience seeing average salaries of $142,902. Salary.com provides a salary range between $124,770 and $154,336.
Read more: All About Data Scientist Salaries
Are You Thinking About a Career as a Data Scientist?
Still thinking about how to become a data scientist? With the right combination of education and experience, you can launch a successful career as one.
Consider this online data science course to boost your career. This program includes six months of applied learning, with more than 25 hands-on projects, integrated labs, and capstone projects in three domains to validate your skills.
Learn more about this unique data science bootcamp to start your data science career today.