Careers in Data Science 

By merging computer science and statistics, two related but distinct disciplines, data science is used to transform troves of data into useful insights and predictions. It permeates our everyday lives well beyond the tech world. Those with data science jobs are making strides in different industries, equipping businesses with the information they need to meet goals and develop solutions — even in times of crisis. Take the COVID-19 pandemic for example. Since March 2020, data scientists at Johnson & Johnson have been focusing their efforts on using data to track outbreaks and inform decisions about returning to the office. 

From medical services to retail, there are a number of domains and careers in data science that aspiring professionals can consider, provided they meet the specific qualifications. A 2018 Harvard Business Review article details the ways in which data science is even disrupting the trucking industry. 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), some industries with the highest level of employment of data and mathematical scientists include management of companies and enterprises, consulting, scientific research, and higher education. 

Data Science Career Paths

Why data science? The career pathways within this discipline are wide-ranging and diverse. In addition to traditional titles such as data engineer, data analyst, and data scientist, those pursuing a career in data science may leverage their skills and expertise in the areas of marketing, finance, accounting, operations, or supply chain in specialized departmental analytics. 

According to The Quant Crunch [PDF, 3.9MB], a 2017 report compiled by IBM and Burning Glass Technologies, other job titles data science professionals might hold are functional analyst, data systems developer, and analytical manager. 

When ranking priority for data science jobs by industry, the World Economic Forum reported in its 2019 insights report on data science in the new economy [PDF, 1.7 MB] the following industries: 

  1. Automotive, aerospace, supply chain, and transport
  2. Aviation, travel, and tourism
  3. Chemistry, advanced materials, and biotechnology
  4. Consumer
  5. Energy utilities and technologies
  6. Financial services and investors
  7. Global health and healthcare
  8. Information and communication technologies
  9. Infrastructure
  10. Mining and metals
  11. Oil and gas
  12. Professional services. 

Depending on factors like employer, budget, demand, and more, professionals may find that there are opportunities to grow and expand within the field. As one Harvard Business Review article puts it, pursuing the data science career path may open doors to management roles, where professionals can design “diverse, resilient, high-performing teams” from the ground up. 

Data science is also a multidisciplinary field that stresses the importance of statistics and mathematics, alongside project management and communication. Data science is more than just numbers; it’s telling a story. While each role calls for its own set of skills and on-the-job requirements, data scientists can build their knowledge base through advanced degree programs like a master’s in data science, as well as short courses.

Why Data Science?

Still wondering, why data science? There are a number of reasons why people commit to this field; impact and data scientist career outlook being just two of them. 

When considering a career in data science, exploring the definition of the role can be helpful. Analytical powerhouse SAS describes those in the data science profession as “a new breed of analytical data expert who have the technical skills to solve complex problems — and the curiosity to explore what problems need to be solved.” Working at the helm of mathematics, computer science, and market trends, they spend their time extracting, refining, and analyzing data to help advance causes, increase efficiency and even improve quality of life. Oftentimes, their work goes beyond an organization; it can have far-reaching impact in multiple industry verticals, from healthcare to politics. 

With climate change, for example, data science professionals capture data via satellite imagery and artificial intelligence in order to monitor forests and provide solutions that promote conservation, as explained in a World Economic Forum article on data science’s global impact on climate change. A 2018 Microsoft article further reveals the benefits of data science — in eyecare. The company is using an AI-driven healthcare network that can help predict refractive errors in children and young adults. 

Data scientist demand varies by industry, location and a host of other factors. According to the BLS, employment of data and mathematical science occupations are projected to grow 31% from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average for all jobs.  

Overall, there are a multitude of ways that data science is changing the world for the better, and preparing for a career in this fast-growing field doesn’t necessarily begin or end with undergraduate studies. For some aspiring professionals, pursuing postgraduate education may be one of a few steps in the journey to become a data scientist. The UC Berkeley School of Information offers an online Master of Information and Data Science degree program that delves into the core principles of research design, data cleansing, machine learning and more. The program design is rooted in the school’s commitment to growing the world’s next generation of leaders who will use data for good, identifying opportunities to problem-solve, transform communities and make meaningful contributions in the long term.

Develop the Skills Needed to Become a Data Science Leader at Top Organizations

Earn a Master of Information and Data Science online from UC Berkeley.