Careers for Master in Data Science Degree Holders
Organizations across all sectors of the economy, as well as industries within those sectors, increasingly rely on the field of data science and its associated uses and processes.
In December 2017, Forbes reported that career roles in data science had grown more than 650 percent since 2012. However, at that time, only 35,000 people in the U.S. had the requisite data science skills to satisfy this urgent need, leaving hundreds of companies without the talent to perform important tasks in data science. Furthermore, the growth moving toward 2026 is expected to greatly outstrip the growth of the 2010s.
Students preparing for college, or those in college deciding on a course of study, may consider pursuing a Master in Data Science to fill this ever-growing need for qualified candidates.
What Is Data Science?
The massive growth of the field of data science perfectly aligns with the lightning pace of technology growth over the past several decades. The foundation of data science is, of course, data. With ever-faster systems and the ability to store terabytes and petabytes of data. Many businesses are likely looking forward to storing exabytes, zettabytes, and yottabytes of valuable data in the not-so-distant future.
Essentially, data science helps organizational leaders understand their data better and provides them with a variety of creative ways to use that data to improve their businesses. Data science is a multidisciplinary combination of technology, data interference, and development of algorithms that allow data experts to solve analytically complex problems.
Who Are Data Scientists?
Skilled and educated data scientists mine troves of raw data that flow through their storage system, whether in-house, in a data warehouse, or in the cloud.
The best and most sought-after data scientists possess a blend of the following three skills:
- Mathematics expertise
- Technology skills
- Business strategy acumen
Data scientists are moving past the traditional skills (simply analyzing and mining large sets of data) to focus on learning and nurturing skills that unearth important intelligence for their companies. They do this by identifying relevant questions and collecting data from a variety of sources, then taking that data and translating it into meaningful stories that can lead to practical solutions.
Data science experts must understand the full data science lifecycle, while also possessing a level of understanding and flexibility that allows them to maximize returns at each phase of the process.
What Is the Outlook for Data Science Jobs?
As data science continues to rapidly grow and evolve, it is no surprise that it has become one of the most promising and high-demand career paths for skilled data professionals.
In January 2019, Information Week confirmed that data science is a hot field with no signs of cooling anytime soon. Even better, salary increases for data science analysts are set to rise over the next year and well beyond, breaking from the stagnating trends of previous years.
What Types of Jobs Are Available for Professionals Holding a Master’s in Data Science?
Since businesses in nearly all industries are awakening to the power and value of their collected and stored data, they need talented data scientists in a variety of capacities and roles. Businesses of all types and sizes have come to understand that they need a skilled data scientist to help extract as much value as possible from their data in order to improve both profits and the overall health of their organizations.
Anyone planning to study mathematics, computer science, or business—or some combination of the three—should consider the broad spectrum of professional possibilities associated with a master in data science.
Here are three of the top careers that are well worth exploring for those holding a master in data science.
Average Salary: $90,478
Data scientists assess and determine which questions require answers and what can be done to find the corresponding data. In this field, data professionals draw on their business acumen and analytical skills to mine, clean, and present data.
Organizations of all kinds rely on data scientists to source, manage, and analyze large volumes of unstructured data. The data scientist’s findings are then synthesized and communicated to executives, board members, and other key stakeholders to provide important information that drives strategic decision-making in the business.
Skills needed to thrive in this lucrative field include:
- Technical, analytical, and presentation skills
- Statistics and applied mathematics knowledge
- The ability to design experiments and test hypotheses
- Programming skills in languages like SAS, R, Hadoop, SPSS, Tableau, and Python
- Communications capabilities to share findings through stories and data visualizations
The education needed to become a data scientist is a four-year bachelor’s degree, at the least. It is important to note that a vast majority (more than 70%) of data scientists hold a master’s degree in data science or another related discipline. Common undergraduate degrees that provide students ample support in pursuing a master include computer science, statistics, social science, and mathematics.
2. Data Analyst
Average salary: $58,951
A data analyst and a data scientist are two distinct positions for which the individual performs different tasks and possesses different goals. Data analysts collect, process, and perform statistical analyses of data. The skills required are not as extensive as those of a data scientist, whose job may involve creating new algorithms, for example. Ultimately, however, each role focuses on discovering how data can be used to answer and solve important questions involving data. The top data analysts possess the following skills:
- Learning and scripting of statistical language
- Understanding of Google Analytics
- Reporting of results via data visualization software
- Advanced experience with Microsoft Excel
- Advanced knowledge of Structured Query Language (SQL)
Prospective data analysts should obtain a bachelor’s degree in areas such as computer science, information technology, or applied statistics before going forward with a master’s in data science. While a master’s degree is not always required, it generally allows for better opportunities for data analysts who want to focus on predictive data, data mining, and programming.
3. Data Engineer
Average salary: $91,309
Data engineers are the movers and shakers of data scientists, regularly developing, constructing, testing, and maintaining large-scale architectures, such as databases and grand-scale data processing systems. Often referred to as huge data pools or data reservoirs, these areas contain filtered information from which data scientists can pull relevant data for a current analysis project.
The primary tasks and skills required for successful data engineers include:
- Engineering or building scalable, malleable, and robust data repositories
- Managing the Extract, Transform & Load (ETL) process
- Ensuring that data architecture aligns with an organization’s business goals
- Exploring novel ways to acquire new data, as well as finding new uses for existing data
- Understanding big data frameworks and Hadoop-based technologies
Data engineers can enter the field with a bachelor’s degree in areas such as software design, computer programming, data structures, database management, or mathematics. While a master’s in data science is not always required, it may help professionals gain an advantage in what looks to become a competitive field over the next decade.
Additional Up-and-Coming Careers in Data Science
A few additional careers that are taking root in the data world include machine learning engineer, biostatistician, data science generalist, health analyst, operations researcher, and neurodiagnostic technician. Again, as business leaders in every sector discover the importance of their data, new opportunities will continue to develop.
The Top Schools to Consider for a Master in Data Science
A few of the top schools in the U.S. that offer master programs in data science include Syracuse University in New York, the University of Denver in Colorado, the University of California Berkeley in California, and Southern Methodist University in Texas.
Are You Ready to Invest in One of the Most Growth-Intensive Careers on the Horizon?
If you have earned your bachelor’s in a data science-related discipline, it may be time to take the next step toward greater career success with a master’s degree in data science.