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Data Scientist: Salary & Job Description

A data scientist is an informational technology professional who is responsible for analyzing raw data and transforming it into findings through statistical data analysis. You can learn all about the necessary education and skills, along with the salary and expected growth for this career.

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Career Definition of a Data Scientist

Data scientists are experts at interpreting large amounts of raw data. Sometimes this information may initially be very unorganized, seem unrelated, or be generally hard to interpret. It is the job of a data scientist to analyze and synthesize it into findings and results that are more easily understood. In order to do this, data scientists must be knowledgeable in machine-learning, converting data into various forms, and using and creating algorithms to solve problems. These professionals often need to be proficient in various computer programming languages and also need to be capable of performing advanced statistical analysis. They may be in charge of using data sets to try and solve real-world problems faced by businesses and organizations, like how to make the production of a product more cost-effective, or how to implement new company healthcare policies.

In addition to the data and technology side of their job, data scientists are often members of teams and may be in charge of relaying their data-based findings to non-technology professionals. In presenting data, these scientists may make use of graphs and charts for visually representations. Having the ability to clearly communicate their findings in non-technical terms is very important, as data scientists may work closely with other company executives and managers.

Educational Requirements Doctoral degree
Job Skills Mathematical skills, statistical knowledge, computer and technology skills, data analysis, communication skills
Median Salary (2017)* $91,022 (data scientist, IT)
Job Outlook (2014-2024)** 11% (for computer and information research scientists)

Sources: *Payscale.com, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Required Education

Because of the high level of computer and research knowledge required in this field, data scientists should generally have a doctoral degree in data science or a related field. For example, students may study statistics, computer science, computer engineering, or informational technology.

Required Skills

Data scientists need a high level of skills in mathematics, data analysis, and statistics. The roles and duties of a data scientist may vary depending on the industry they work within, but they generally must be able to work with large data samples, organize and interpret them, and arrive at useful findings. They may need to possess the ability to program and have knowledge of different programming languages. Data scientists often work on teams with other technology professionals, which makes communication skills another key ingredient for success.

Career Outlook and Salary

In 2017, Payscale.com reported that IT data scientists earned a median salary of $91,022. According to the BLS, these professionals fall under the larger category of computer and information research scientists. In 2016, the salaries listed by the BLS for professionals working in computer and information research science varied according to industry, as those who worked in information or research and development earned significantly more than those who work within the government or education. The BLS reported that computer and information research scientists will experience job growth of 11% between 2014 and 2024.

Related Careers

There are several career options that individuals interested in the field of data scientist may want to considering pursuing. A few are mentioned below:

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