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14 Data Science Careers to Consider [Skills, Salary, Role]
Data Science

Data Science Careers to Consider [Skills, Salary, Role]

10 minute read | March 19, 2024
Maria Muntean

Written by:
Maria Muntean

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Companies are no longer just collecting data. They’re seeking to use it to outpace competitors, especially with the rise of AI and advanced analytics. Between organizations and these techniques are data scientists – the experts who crunch numbers and translate them into actionable strategies. The future belongs to those who can decipher the story hidden within the data, making the role of data scientists more important than ever.

In this article, we’ll look at the top ten careers in data science, analyzing the roles and responsibilities and how to land the job that fits your goals and skills.

Whether you’re more drawn out to the creative side or interested in the strategy planning part of data architecture, there’s a niche for you. 

Is Data Science A Good Career?

Yes. In addition to being a field that comes with competitive salaries, the demand for data scientists continues to increase as they have an enormous impact on their organizations. It’s an interdisciplinary field that keeps the work varied and interesting.

Data Science Careers Worth Considering

Whether you want to change careers or land your first job in the field, here are 10 of the most impactful (and lucrative) data science careers to consider.

Data Scientist

Data scientists are the backbone of any analytics department, tasked with the critical role of analyzing and interpreting complex datasets from various sources. Whether it’s usage statistics from a tech company, sales data in a retail chain, or market research in a consultancy, their work is pivotal across industries.

Unlike roles that focus solely on statistical analysis or data reporting, data scientists employ a blend of skills from computer science, statistics, and mathematics to not just process and model data, but also to extract meaningful insights that inform strategic decision-making.

General Requirements:

  • A strong foundation in mathematics and statistics is essential for roles ranging from A/B testing analysis to marketing campaign optimization.
  • Proficiency in programming languages, especially Python and R, alongside robust data manipulation capabilities.
  • While a formal university degree in fields like computer science, engineering, or mathematics is common, it’s not strictly necessary. Relevant experience and a portfolio of data science courses or certifications can also demonstrate the requisite expertise and dedication to continuous learning.

Average Salary:

Data scientists in the United States can expect an average salary of $156,363 annually.

Data Analyst

Data analysts delve into the details of datasets to discover patterns, trends, and insights that often remain hidden. Their role involves gathering, processing, and conducting statistical analyses of large volumes of data to derive information that supports business decisions.

In their daily tasks, data analysts frequently utilize tools such as Excel and SQL, alongside more sophisticated reporting tools like Power BI or Tableau, to generate dashboards, reports, or visualize data for business stakeholders. Their unique skill set positions them as vital connectors between the technical and business facets of an organization.

General Requirements:

  • Fundamental programming skills and proficiency with various data analysis tools are essential.
  • Many data analysts enhance their skill set through specialized courses or data analytics bootcamps.
  • While a bachelor’s degree in computer science, statistics, or economics is typical, the field also welcomes individuals from diverse academic backgrounds, including business, finance, or social sciences, demonstrating the versatility and broad applicability of data analysis skills.

Average Salary:

In the United States, data analysts can expect an average base salary of $76,892.

Business Analyst

Business analysts play a crucial role within organizations, spearheading change and fostering improvements. They are tasked with dissecting business challenges and needs, interpreting them into actionable solutions through meticulous data analysis, optimizing processes, or reallocating resources.

A day in the life of a business analyst may encompass conducting thorough market analyses, evaluating business procedures, or devising strategies to tackle areas needing enhancement. They employ a diverse array of tools and methodologies, such as SWOT analysis, to scrutinize business models and their symbiosis with technological advancements.

General Requirements:

  • A foundational education in fields such as Business Administration, Computer Science, or Information Technology is often required. Certain positions may prefer or necessitate a master’s degree, particularly in sectors that are complex or within high-stakes corporate contexts.
  • Proficiency in project management methodologies, including Agile or Scrum, is highly regarded, alongside a knack for critical thinking and making decisions grounded in solid analysis.

Average Salary:

The average salary for a business analyst in the United States stands at $84,435 annually.

Database Administrator

Database administrators (DBAs) hold a critical position within organizations, overseeing the management of database servers and application tools. They ensure the integrity, security, availability, and performance of databases, tasks that include managing data storage, performing backups, and securing data against unauthorized access. Additionally, DBAs set up user accounts, regulate database access, and work diligently to optimize database performance and capacity by staying abreast of the latest trends in database management.

A typical day for a DBA involves close collaboration with IT staff and database programmers to enhance database functionalities and address any issues that may arise, ensuring that the database meets the evolving needs of the organization.

General Requirements:

  • A strong educational background in data science or related fields is essential, often starting with a Bachelor’s degree. However, practical skills are equally important.
  • Proficiency in database languages, particularly SQL, is critical. Experience with widely used database systems such as Oracle and Microsoft SQL Server is also highly valued.
  • Real-world experience, gained through internships, projects, or previous job roles, can significantly complement formal education, providing aspiring DBAs with the hands-on skills they need to succeed.

Average Salary:

In the United States, database administrators can expect to earn an average salary of $77,391 per year.

Data Engineer

Data engineers are pivotal in crafting and upholding the architectures that enable smooth data flow within organizations. They possess a profound understanding of data ecosystems and are responsible for constructing and monitoring pipelines that aggregate data from diverse sources. This infrastructure facilitates data accessibility for analysis by professionals such as data analysts, ensuring that critical business insights can be derived efficiently and effectively.

General Requirements:

  • Technical proficiency in essential tools and languages such as SQL, Python, and Hadoop is a fundamental requirement. These skills enable data engineers to manage and manipulate large datasets, build scalable data pipelines, and ensure the reliability and efficiency of data infrastructure.
  • A blend of creativity and problem-solving skills is crucial for navigating the complexities of data management and optimizing data processes.
  • Formal education, including university degrees in computer science, engineering, or related fields, often lays the foundational knowledge. Additional qualifications, such as specialized data science courses and bootcamps, can further enhance a data engineer’s capabilities and preparedness for the challenges of the role.

Average Salary:

In the United States, data engineers command an impressive average salary of $125,180 per year

Database Architect

Database architects are responsible for the foundational design of data management systems, drawing the blueprints that enable organizations to store, manage, integrate, and utilize their data efficiently and effectively. Their role mirrors that of a traditional architect, but instead of buildings, they design scalable and robust data infrastructures.

A database architect’s daily activities involve both high-level strategic planning and meticulous attention to detail. They determine the best practices for data storage, consumption, integration, and management across various business systems, ensuring that the data architecture supports the organization’s goals and technology stack seamlessly.

General Requirements:

  • Technical proficiency is key, with a strong foundation in database systems such as MySQL or Oracle, as well as data modeling tools like ERwin.
  • Knowledge of programming languages including SQL, Python, or Java is essential for creating and managing complex data architectures.
  • While a formal degree may not be a prerequisite, acquiring technical skills through self-study, specialized courses, or certifications—such as the Certified Data Management Professional (CDMP) or participating in a Data Science Bootcamp like Springboard—can significantly boost your qualifications and job prospects.

Average Salary:

The role of a database architect is highly valued within the tech industry, reflected in an impressive average salary of $165,383 per year in the United States

Machine Learning Engineer

Machine Learning Engineers are at the forefront of implementing and optimizing machine learning models and algorithms tailored for specific applications such as image recognition, natural language processing, and predictive analytics. These professionals play a critical role in bridging the gap between theoretical data science and practical application, working closely with data scientists and analysts to translate complex data insights into actionable, algorithm-driven solutions.

General Requirements:

  • Mastery of programming languages, notably Python or Java, is essential for developing and implementing machine learning algorithms.
  • Familiarity with machine learning frameworks like TensorFlow or PyTorch is crucial for building and fine-tuning models.
  • While a formal degree in computer science, mathematics, or a related field can provide a strong foundation, many machine learning engineers also benefit from self-study, specialized courses, or bootcamps to sharpen their skills and stay updated with the latest advancements in AI and machine learning.

Average Salary:

Machine learning engineering is among the most lucrative careers within the AI sector, with salaries ranging from $125,000 to $187,000 per year,

Quantitative Analyst

Quantitative analysts, often central to the operations of financial institutions, leverage mathematical and statistical techniques to dissect financial markets and evaluate risks. These professionals develop sophisticated models capable of forecasting market trends, optimizing investment strategies, and supporting data-driven financial decisions. Their expertise is crucial in areas like derivatives pricing, algorithmic trading, and risk management, where a profound understanding of both financial principles and mathematical methodologies is required.

General Requirements:

  • Exceptional analytical capabilities, along with a solid foundation in mathematics and statistics, are indispensable for success in this role.
  • A deep comprehension of financial theory enhances a quantitative analyst’s ability to navigate the complexities of the financial markets effectively.
  • While a background in finance, economics, or a related field is highly beneficial, the essence of a quantitative analyst’s skill set lies in the ability to apply quantitative techniques to solve complex financial problems.

Average Salary:

Quantitative analysts command an impressive average salary of $173,307 per year.

Data Mining Specialist

Data mining specialists are pivotal in uncovering hidden patterns and insights within vast datasets, utilizing their expertise in statistics and machine learning. Through the application of algorithms and data mining techniques, they sift through extensive amounts of information to identify correlations, anomalies, and trends. Their work is instrumental for organizations aiming to predict future behaviors and trends, making data mining specialists key players in strategic decision-making processes.

General Requirements:

  • A robust educational background in computer science, statistics, or a closely related field is essential for those aspiring to become data mining specialists.
  • Beyond formal education, a deep understanding of and proficiency with data analysis techniques, statistical methodologies, and machine learning algorithms are crucial for effectively revealing insights from data.
  • Practical experience, whether through projects, internships, or previous job roles, can significantly enhance a specialist’s capability to apply theoretical knowledge to real-world data challenges.

Average Salary:

In the United States, data mining specialists are compensated with an average salary of $109,023 per year.

Data Visualization Engineer

Data visualization engineers are the storytellers of the data science world, adept at translating complex data sets into clear, compelling visual narratives. Their expertise lies in crafting visuals that make data accessible and engaging for both technical and non-technical audiences. A significant part of their role involves collaborating with data analysts and business teams to grasp the full context of the data, ensuring that visualizations accurately reflect underlying trends and insights.

General Requirements:

  • A strong background in data analysis is fundamental for those looking to become data visualization engineers. This foundation enables them to understand and interpret the data before it’s transformed into visual form.
  • Proficiency in programming languages commonly used for data visualization, such as JavaScript, Python, or R, is crucial. These skills allow for the creation of dynamic and interactive data visualizations that can adapt to different data sets and user interactions.
  • Knowledge of design principles is also valuable, enhancing the engineer’s ability to create aesthetically pleasing and effective visual representations of data. This blend of technical and artistic skills is what sets apart expert data visualization engineers.

Average Salary:

In the United States, data visualization engineers earn an average annual salary of $103,031.

Resources To Find Data Science Jobs

The key to finding a good data science job is knowing where to look without procrastinating. To make sure you leverage the right platforms, read on.

  • Job Boards – When hunting for data science jobs, both niche job boards and general ones can be treasure troves of opportunity. Niche boards are created specifically for data science and related fields, offering listings that cut through the noise of broader job markets. Meanwhile, general job boards can have hidden gems and opportunities.
  • Online Communities – Spend time on platforms like Slack, Discord, GitHub, or IndieHackers, as they are a space to share knowledge, collaborate on projects, and find job openings posted by community members.
  • Network And LinkedIn – Don’t forget about socials like LinkedIn or Twitter. The LinkedIn Jobs section, in particular, is a useful resource, offering a wide range of opportunities and the ability to directly reach out to hiring managers or apply for positions. Just make sure not to apply through the “Easy Apply” options, as you’ll be competing with thousands of applicants who bring nothing unique to the table.

FAQs about Data Science Careers

We answer your most frequently asked questions.

Do I Need A Degree For Data Science?

A degree is not a set-in-stone requirement to become a data scientist. It’s true many data scientists hold a BA’s or MA’s degree, but these just provide foundational knowledge. It’s up to you to pursue further education through courses or bootcamps or work on projects that enhance your expertise. What matters most is your ability to demonstrate proficiency in data science concepts and tools.

Does Data Science Need Coding?

Yes. Coding is essential for data manipulation and analysis, especially knowledge of programming languages like Python and R.

Is Data Science A Lot Of Math?

It depends on the career you want to pursue. Data science involves quite a lot of math, particularly in areas like statistics, probability, and linear algebra.

What Skills Do You Need To Land an Entry-Level Data Science Position?

To land an entry-level job in data science, you should be proficient in several areas. As mentioned above, knowledge of programming languages is essential, and you should also have a good understanding of statistical analysis and machine learning. Soft skills are equally valuable, so make sure you’re acing problem-solving, critical thinking, and effective communication.

Since you’re here…
Curious about a career in data science? Experiment with our free data science learning path, or join our Data Science Bootcamp, where you’ll get your tuition back if you don’t land a job after graduating. We’re confident because our courses work – check out our student success stories to get inspired.

About Maria Muntean

Maria-Cristina is a content marketer with 7 years of experience in SEO and content strategy for SaaS and technology brands. She holds an MA thesis on the effects of emotions in written and video content. She loves to spend time near the ocean and watch horror movies.