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The field of data science offers above-average salaries and varied career options. Whether you want to pursue a traditional degree in data science or are seeking a career change through an online bootcamp or certificate program, a data science job could be the right fit for you.
Types of Data Science Degrees
A variety of degree types can help you begin a career in data science. Many universities offer degrees specifically in data science, but degrees in computer science, computer engineering, software engineering, information technology and even mathematics and statistics can also be an entry point into the data science field.
Associate Degree in Data Science
Finding a community college that offers an associate degree in data science or data analytics can be your first step to a career in data science. Prerequisites to an associates program are usually general education courses like math and English. In an associate degree program, you can expect to take introductory courses in programming, analytics, databases and probability and statistics.
Bachelor’s Degree in Data Science
A bachelor’s degree in data science equips you with job-ready skills. Many programs offer courses in data wrangling, predictive modeling, core programming languages and data visualization. A bachelor’s degree in data science or with a specialization in data science can help you enter the industry as many roles in the field require or recommend a bachelor’s degree.
Master’s Degree in Data Science
A master’s degree in data science offers advanced coursework and often ends with a capstone project. Though not required for many positions, a master’s degree in data science can help you stand out as you apply for jobs in the field. Many programs offer both full-time and part-time options, and many master’s programs are available online.
Doctorate in Data Science
Like a master’s degree, a doctorate in data science can help make you a standout job candidate. Doctoral programs often require a master’s degree and take five to seven years to complete. Doctoral candidates are typically expected to complete a dissertation.
Data Science Bootcamp
Many bootcamp providers offer data science courses. Some such providers include Udacity, Springboard and Galvanize. Online certificate programs are also available through providers like Harvard and MIT. Employers still prefer college degrees, but traditional degrees are no longer the only option. Bootcamps and certificates can still equip you with knowledge, skills and hands-on experience to help round out your resume.
Careers Paths in Data Science
The data science field encompasses many roles and titles. Careers in data science exist in nearly every industry, including healthcare and technology. Each role performs a different function, so you should take your personal interests and skills into account as you consider your career path.
Below are some common positions in the field of data science.
Salary: Data scientists can make over $97,000 a year.
Education Needed: Bachelor’s degree in data science, computer science, information technology, statistics, mathematics or a related subject recommended
Career Overview: Data scientists use their mathematical and statistical skills to analyze data sets and uncover actionable results an organization can use. They also develop algorithms and predictive models to forecast outcomes based on real and sample data. Ultimately, data scientists formulate stories using data to communicate recommendations to teams or senior staff.
Salary: Data engineers can make over $93,000 a year.
Education Needed: Master’s degree in software engineering, computer science, statistics, mathematics or a related field
Career Overview: Data engineers build and maintain analytics infrastructure that allow for data to be used. These include databases, servers and processing systems. Data engineers also design data pipelines that transform raw and unstructured data into usable formats. Data engineers should have in-depth knowledge of Structured Query Language (SQL) and other database solutions.
Salary: Data architects can make over $123,000 a year.
Education Needed: Bachelor’s degree in computer and information technology, computer engineering or a related field
Career Overview: Data architects, or database administrators (DBAs), create systems to store and secure organizational data. DBAs design, build and maintain new databases. The database should operate efficiently and be usable by data analysts and other authorized users. Since databases often contain sensitive and proprietary data, DBAs or architects may also be responsible for securing the data as well.
Computer and Information Research Scientist
Salary: Median annual salary for computer and information research scientists is $131,490
Education Needed: Master’s degree in computer science, computer engineering or a related field
Career Overview: Computer and information research scientists work with computer software and hardware to solve complex computing problems. As experts in computer science or computer engineering, computer and information research scientists develop and test theories to solve computing problems. They may even come up with new computing languages or software systems to make computer systems more efficient.
Salary: Data analysts can make over $62,000 a year.
Education Needed: Bachelor’s degree in computer science, statistics, mathematics, behavioral economics or a related field
Career Overview: A data analyst’s job is to gather, organize, analyze and transform raw data into meaningful information. Data analysts often turn data into comprehensible reports or presentations for organizations. The role of a data analyst is similar to that of a data scientist, but analysts typically hold more junior roles.
Machine Learning Engineer
Salary: Machine learning engineers can make over $112,000 a year.
Education Needed: Bachelor’s or master’s degree in computer science, software engineering, data science, machine learning, mathematics or statistics
Career Overview: These roles vary based on experience level and employer needs. Generally speaking, machine learning engineers develop and train machine learning and deep learning models. These professionals deploy the models and continually improve their efficiency. Senior engineers often take leadership roles, communicating project needs to junior team members.
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Frequently Asked Questions
How much can you earn with a data science degree?
Depending on your job title and experience level, you can earn between $60,000 and $130,000 with a data science degree. Entry-level professionals like data analysts make salaries on the lower end of the range. Higher-level positions like data architects and machine learning engineers may earn over $110,000 annually.
Is data science in high demand?
Yes, BLS projects a 22% growth rate from 2020 to 2030 as the amount of digital data stored by businesses increases. This growth is much faster than the national average projection for all occupations, which is just 8%.
What is the highest salary with a degree in data science?
Computer information and research scientists earn the highest average salaries of typical roles for data science degree-holders. According to BLS, the mean salary for these professionals is $142,650.