Data Scientists

Career, Salary and Education Information

What They Do: Data scientists use analytical tools and techniques to extract meaningful insights from data.

Work Environment: Data scientists spend much of their time in an office setting. Most work full time.

How to Become One: Data scientists typically need at least a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, statistics, computer science, or a related field to enter the occupation. Some employers require or prefer that applicants have a master’s or doctoral degree.

Salary: The median annual wage for data scientists is $100,910.

Job Outlook: Employment of data scientists is projected to grow 36 percent over the next ten years, much faster than the average for all occupations.

Related Careers: Explore occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Following is everything you need to know about a career as a Data Scientist with lots of details. As a first step, take a look at some of the following jobs, which are real jobs with real employers. You will be able to see the very real job career requirements for employers who are actively hiring. The link will open in a new tab so that you can come back to this page to continue reading about the career:

Top 3 Data Scientist Jobs

  • Data Scientist (Contract/Contract to Hire) - Averity - Seattle, WA

    As a Data Scientist you will own the full lifecycle of model development from ideation and data exploration, algorithm design and testing, algorithm development and deployment, to algorithm ...

  • Data Scientist Dev Manager - Blueprint Technologies - Bellevue, WA

    Data Scientist Dev Manager Who is Blueprint? We are a technology solutions firm headquartered in Bellevue, Washington, with a strong presence across the United States. Unified by a shared passion for ...

  • Data Scientist (Experimentation) - Neal Analytics - Cupertino, CA

    Data Scientist (Experimentation) Neal Analytics + Fractal Analytics is a strategic AI partner to Fortune 500 companies with a vision to power every human decision in the enterprise. We are building a ...

See all Data Scientist jobs

What Data Scientists Do[About this section] [To Top]

Data scientists use analytical tools and techniques to extract meaningful insights from data.

Duties of Data Scientists

Data scientists typically do the following:

  • Determine which data are available and useful for the project
  • Collect, categorize, and analyze data
  • Create, validate, test, and update algorithms and models
  • Use data visualization software to present findings
  • Make business recommendations to stakeholders based on data analysis

Data scientists often begin a project by gathering or identifying relevant data sources, such as surveys. They may use a variety of methods to obtain data, including through access to other organizations' databases or by using web-scraping tools (software that extracts specific information from websites). They may start with large, unstructured datasets, commonly referred to as raw data. To properly analyze the data, these scientists must "clean" the raw data, a process by which they structure the data to make them readable by software programs.

Data scientists develop algorithms (sets of instructions that tell computers what to do) and models to support programs for machine learning. They use machine learning to classify or categorize data or to make predictions related to the models. Scientists also must test the algorithms and models for accuracy, including for updates with newly collected data.

Data scientists often use data visualization software to present their findings as charts, maps, and other graphics. Visualization techniques allow data scientists to clearly communicate their analyses to technical and nontechnical audiences, including colleagues, managers, and clients. Ensuring that audiences understand the information helps data scientists make recommendations for business decisions or process changes based on the results of their analysis.

Some data scientists choose to focus on a particular area of work. For example, data scientists who have a strong coding or engineering background may develop or recommend systems, build machine learning algorithms, and devise ways to enhance web-browsing functions. Others conduct research for reports or academic journals. Still others focus on improving business strategy for activities such as marketing, sales, and user engagement.

Work Environment for Data Scientists[About this section] [To Top]

Data scientists hold about 113,300 jobs. The largest employers of data scientists is as follows:

Computer systems design and related services 15%
Management of companies and enterprises 10%
Insurance carriers and related activities 9%
Management, scientific, and technical consulting services 7%
Scientific research and development services 5%

Data scientists spend much of their time in an office setting.

Data Scientist Work Schedules

Most data scientists work full time.

How to Become a Data Scientist[About this section] [To Top]

Get the education you need: Find schools for Data Scientists near you!

Data scientists typically need at least a bachelor's degree in mathematics, statistics, computer science, or a related field to enter the occupation. However, some employers require or prefer that candidates have a master's or doctoral degree.

Education for Data Scientists

Data scientists typically need at least a bachelor's degree, but some jobs require a master's or doctoral degree. Common fields of degree include mathematics, statistics, computer science, business, and engineering.

Because data science involves the use of algorithms and statistical techniques, students need extensive study in mathematics and statistics. High school students interested in becoming data scientists should take classes in subjects such as linear algebra, calculus, and probability and statistics.

At the college level, courses in computer science are important in addition to math and statistics. Students must learn data-oriented programming languages as well as statistical, database, and other software for presenting analyses.

Other Experience for Data Scientists

Some employers require industry-related experience or education. For example, data scientists seeking work in an asset management company may need to have experience in the finance industry or to have completed coursework that demonstrates an understanding of investments, banking, or related subjects.

Important Qualities for Data Scientists

Analytical skills. Data scientists must be adept at researching and at examining and interpreting findings.

Computer skills. Data scientists must be able to write code, analyze data, develop or improve algorithms, and use data visualization tools.

Communication skills. Data scientists must be able to convey the results of their analysis to technical and nontechnical audiences to make business recommendations.

Logical-thinking skills. Data scientists must understand and be able to design and develop statistical models and to analyze data.

Math skills. Data scientists use statistical methods to collect and organize data.

Problem-solving skills. Data scientists must devise solutions to the problems they encounter in data collection and cleaning and in developing statistical models and algorithms.

Data Scientist Salaries[About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]

The median annual wage for data scientists is $100,910. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $59,430, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $167,040.

The median annual wages for data scientists in the top industries in which they work are as follows:

Scientific research and development services $102,750
Computer systems design and related services $102,600
Management of companies and enterprises $101,000
Management, scientific, and technical consulting services $101,000
Insurance carriers and related activities $100,360

Most data scientists work full time.

Job Outlook for Data Scientists[About this section] [To Top]

Employment of data scientists is projected to grow 36 percent from 2021 to 2031, much faster than the average for all occupations.

About 13,500 openings for data scientists are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment of Data Scientists

Employment growth for data scientists is expected to stem from an increased demand for data-driven decisions. The volume of data available and the potential uses for that data will increase over the projections decade. As a result, organizations will likely need more data scientists to mine and analyze the large amounts of information and data collected. Data scientists' analysis will help organizations to make informed decisions and improve their business processes, to design and develop new products, and to better market their products.

Employment projections data for Data Scientists, 2021-31
Occupational Title Employment, 2021 Projected Employment, 2031 Change, 2021-31
Percent Numeric
Data scientists 113,300 153,900 36 40,500


A portion of the information on this page is used by permission of the U.S. Department of Labor.


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