data scientist training
Explore the data scientist career path, including in-demand skills and certifications, education requirements, training options, outlook, jobs & salaries.

Data scientists analyze organizational data for actionable intelligence.

Data scientists mine and analyze data from various sources, including customer transactions, click streams, sensors, social media, log files, and GPS plots. Their mission is to unlock valuable and predictive insights that will influence business decisions and spur a competitive advantage.

The data explosion – fueled by increased bandwidth and processing power, innovative data analysis tools, and the proliferation of inexpensive cloud-based storage solutions – has placed data scientists among the most sought-after and lucrative IT careers. Data scientists’ salaries and demand are well-deserved, as their findings have the potential to make or break the business. To illustrate this point, a study from the McKinsey Global Institute indicates retailers that maximize data analysis capabilities could increase profits by a whopping 60%, while the healthcare industry can reduce operational expenses by 8% - that’s $200 billion per year.

The most successful data scientists possess that rare combination of analytical skills, technical prowess, and business acumen needed to effectively analyze massive data sets while thinking critically and shifting assumptions on the go, ultimately transforming raw intelligence into concise, actionable insights.

What about BIG DATA? The main difference between “big data analysis” and “data analysis” is that big data sets are beyond the threshold of typical database management systems. Due to its massive size and heterogeneous structure, big data is often rendered visually, as a heat map or tree map for example, allowing big data scientists to identify, analyze, and present complex patterns that would otherwise remain hidden.

a.k.a. Data Architect | Big Data Scientist | BI Analyst | Data Engineer | Information Scientist

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Data Scientist Skills & Responsibilities

Typical day-to-day activities and in-demand skill sets for data scientists include:

  • Perform data mining, modeling, and hypothesis generation in support of high-level business goals.
  • Stay current with emerging tools and techniques in machine learning, statistical modeling & analytics.
  • Successful data scientists often have strong aptitudes for business, technology, mathematics & statistics.
  • Need strong oral & written communication skills to present data as a concise story for diverse audiences.
  • Big data scientists develop customized algorithms to solve analytical problems with incomplete data sets.
  • Big data scientists often use data visualizations, e.g., heat maps, to analyze and present complex trends.
  • Many data scientists use Hadoop - an open-source Apache framework - to analyze & mine big data sets.
  • Some data scientists have computer programming skills – such as SQL, Python, Unix, PHP, R, and Java – which they use to modify or develop custom analytical solutions.
  • Data scientists often work in a team setting, with managers, IT administrators, programmers, statisticians, graphic designers, and experts in the company’s products or services.

Data Scientist Salary

According to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for data scientists is $104,000.

Here are the average salaries for data scientists and related positions:

Data Science Career Average Salary
Junior Data Scientist $80,000
SAS Data Analyst $90,000
IBM Data Analyst $91,000
Business Intelligence Analyst $100,000
Data Mining Engineer $121,000
Data Scientist $122,000
Business Intelligence Architect $128,000
Senior Business Intelligence Analyst $129,000
Data Warehouse Architect $130,000
Data Architect $149,000
Senior Data Scientist $177,000

These are the top-paying cities and metropolitan areas for data scientists:

City or Metro Area Data Scientist Salary
San Jose / Sunnyvale / Santa Clara, CA $233,000
San Francisco / Oakland / Hayward, CA $152,000
Seattle / Tacoma / Bellevue, WA $143,000
New York City Tri-State Area, NY-NJ-PA $136,000
Charlotte / Concord / Gastonia, NC-SC $129,000

The business intelligence and data analytics field has practically unlimited earning potential. Talented data scientists with a solid education and relevant experience can earn over $250,000 per year with a base salary plus incentives.

The hourly wage for data scientist contract positions is $48 to $100+, dependent on skills, experience, and project requirements.

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics | Analysis of Online Job Boards

Data Scientist Education Requirements

The education requirements for data scientists are among the steepest of all IT occupations. Approximately 40% of data scientist positions require an advanced degree, such as a Master's, MBA, or PhD. Other companies will accept data scientists with undergraduate diplomas in an analytical concentration, such as computer science, statistics, management information systems, economics, engineering, and hard sciences.

Schools also offer career-focused courses, degrees, and certificates in analytical disciplines like database management, predictive analytics, business intelligence, and data mining, all of which provide a solid base for a data scientist career. Targeted training programs like these also present a great way for current business and IT professionals to learn the skills required to break into this red-hot field.

Research and compare data analytics associate degrees and business intelligence degrees online.

Related: What Jobs Can You Get With a Data Science Degree?

Data Scientist Training Programs

Research and compare accredited college degrees, professional certificates, and self-paced online courses matching data scientists' education requirements.

Admissions advisors can provide more info about data scientist programs & curriculum, admissions and start dates, tuition costs, and financial aid options.
Got targeted learning goals? Many schools offer individual courses from accredited degree programs.
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Data Scientist Certifications

Database management and BI certifications for the leading database systems, e.g., Oracle & SQL Server, are consistently in demand at companies and public sector organizations that use these systems for data management and analysis.

When it comes to "big data," most certifications come directly from the leading analytics software providers, i.e., EMC, SAS, and IBM. While well-designed, the obvious limitation of vendor-sponsored credentials is their tendency to be specific to the certifying company's product line. One stand-out in this area is EMC's Data Science Proven Professional certification, as it covers a range of vendor-neutral big data tools, techniques, and best practices.

Here are some the top data scientist certifications:

New data scientist certifications will be added here as they launch.

Data Scientist Jobs

Your specialized data scientist education and experience may qualify you for a variety of job roles, including:

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Data Scientist Job Outlook

Data scientists will enjoy one of the brightest job outlooks over the next decade. The data science job market is expected to grow by 35% from 2022 to 2032, more than 10X than the 3% average for all occupations. As data continues to become the most valuable asset in the global economy, more data scientists will be needed to mine this massive cache of information for actionable insights.

Data is the new oil. Unfortunately, the technology has evolved faster than the workforce skills to make sense of it, and organizations across sectors must adapt to this new reality or perish.

-Andreas Weigend, Head of Stanford’s Social Data Lab and former Chief Scientist at Amazon

Healthcare is a notable hot area for data scientist hiring; with its rapid migration to electronic medical records, the medical industry is building data sets to rival the largest corporations. Other industries aggressively hiring big data scientists include government agencies, social networking hubs, retailers, and the U.S. military.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook

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About the Author

IT Subject Matter ExpertDaniel Greenspan is the founder and Editor-in-chief of ITCareerFinder. Working closely with IT professionals, world-class trainers, and hiring managers since 2005 has given him unique insight into the information technology job market and the skills and credentials IT pros need to succeed.