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Becoming A Data Scientist: Everything You Need to Know

Data scientists play a key role in an organization they are serving. They are big data wranglers as they gather large sets of structured and unstructured data, process, and model them. Then, they interpret the results and create an action plan for the organization. As a result, businesses today are more interested in hiring data scientists to create business value from the data being churned out every day.

There will be more than 5,400 job openings and the growth is expected to increase by 19 percent by 2026. At this juncture, choosing a career in data science would be the best option for young professionals and graduates. Let’s understand how to become a data scientist, the required qualifications, skills, and compensation trends.

Becoming a data scientist

Generally, data scientists are post-graduates in Computer Science, Statistics, or Mathematics. However, a degree will suffice for entry-level data scientist roles. To move up at different levels as a data scientist, it is best recommended to earn a Ph.D. in relevant subjects like Computer Science or Mathematics.

Also, business leaders prefer proven experience in programming languages like Python, R, or Java. Many businesses want professionals who are good at working with Apache Spark, Algorithm development, Machine learning, big data analytics, data mining, data analysis, data modeling, SQL, and database skills. Moreover, professionals must know data visualization, data storytelling, predictive modeling, and use tools like Hadoop, Tableau, and others. Database schema design, systems building, and ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) skills are highly valued in the industry and command higher compensation.

As data scientists play a key role in making business decisions, they need soft skills in areas like business intuition, analytical thinking, critical thinking, inquisitiveness, and interpersonal skills.

Career path:                       

The career path you need to tread to become a data scientist is as shown below.

Further, the career trajectory of a data scientist could be at various levels as junior, mid-level, senior, principal data scientist, and Director.

Roles and responsibilities of a data scientist

As mentioned, data scientists work closely with business leaders, understand business goals, and determine how data can get used to achieving the said goals. Accordingly, they design the data modeling process, create algorithms, and predictive models to extract the right data. The key responsibilities include –

  • Discover the problem by asking the right questions
  • Acquire data through relevant channels like IoT, social media, CRM, and more
  • Process, clean, integrate, and store data
  • Investigate data and initiate exploratory data analysis
  • Apply appropriate data science methods and techniques
  • Measure and improve results
  • Present final results to leaders and stakeholders

Major companies hiring data scientists

A few of the companies that hire data scientists include-

  • Boot, Allen, and Hamilton
  • Microsoft Corp
  • Inc
  • Facebook Inc.
  • Ford Motor Company
  • Apple Computer, Inc.
  • Northrop Grumman Corporation
  • IBM Corp

Compensation and other benefits

  • The average salary for a data scientist is USD 1,13,309 in the United States, Glassdoor reports.
  • As per the average salary for a data scientist is USD 122438 per annum in the United States
  • According to, the average data scientist I salary is USD 67131. The typical range falls between USD 60,905 and USD 71,403.
  • PayScale reports say that the average data scientist salary is USD 96,009 with USD 8843 as a bonus, USD 6100 as commission, and USD 5164 as profit sharing. Likewise,
    • An entry-level data scientist with less than 1-year experience earns USD 85,768
    • An early career data scientist with 1-4 years of experience earns USD 94, 434
    • A mid-career data scientist with 5-9 years of experience earns USD 108,650
    • An experienced data scientist with 10-19 years of experience earns USD 120,501
    • In their late-career with above 20 years of experience earns USD 135,749

Career outlook for data scientists

From startups to Fortune 1000 companies, government, and private sectors, every organization is seeing the value and have started capitalizing on big data. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics states that employment will rise to 19 percent by 2026. Glassdoor has ranked data scientists as one of the best 10 jobs in the United States of America.

To summarize…

Data scientists are needed for every industrial sector. Still, we find scarcity in the skilled workforce for data-related positions. It’s an opportunity to upskill oneself by earning data science certification and enter the emerging field to gain better career prospects.

Data science is an emerging career as every business has realized the benefits of data for its business value. Know how to become a data scientist here.

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