Data science is a unique, interdisciplinary field that relies heavily on specific scientific methods of data extraction, analyzation, and application to gain insights into various aspects of business function. Individuals who perform these tasks of gathering, analyzing, and applying this information are known as data scientists.
Data science is one of the fastest growing fields of interest, providing numerous job opportunities for people across the country. While the term data science has been in use for over three decades, the specific use of the term as it relates to a growing field is being more widely recognized today. It’s estimated that the demand for data science professionals will increase by close to 30% in the next few years, continuing to show that this specific skill set is incredibly useful for many.
What do you need to know about earning a degree in data science? The following information will provide vital details regarding a data science degree, as well as how this degree can impact your future career.
Data Science and Related Degree Programs
Data science refers to the art of extracting important and useful information from data collected from various sources and on various topics. The ability to be able to gather this data, analyze it, and make everyday applications out of it is the unique specialty referred to by the term data science. Many colleges and universities throughout America offer degrees in data science. These studies incorporate the use of advanced mathematics, statistics, marketing skills, programming, and much more.
When determining the value of a data science degree, it’s important to remember the wide variety of skills that are used in this field. A proper education offers much more value than simply an increased salary. It also affords a more rounded out learning experience, incorporating many different skill sets that can take the student far in life no matter what they end up doing career-wise.
Who should consider a data science degree? If you are an analytical person who is interested in statistics, the advanced use of mathematics, computer programming, and managerial tasks such as consulting directly with clients and business teams, the exciting field of data science may be right up your alley. If you also appreciate being able to study multiple facets and subjects under the same umbrella of one degree, you are not likely to get bored with the various areas of expertise that data science employs.
It’s important to consider that there are both undergraduate and graduate degree programs for data science. While many of the same skills are covered in both undergraduate and graduate degrees, there are some minor differences. Graduate degrees place a great deal more focus on the deep research methods involved in the data science field. Additionally, some jobs will always require an advanced degree even to be considered for the position, and the corresponding salary increases with the higher degree as well. That said, both undergraduate and graduate level data science professionals require the use of advanced skills in statistical analysis, mathematics, scientific research methodology, managerial skills, and much more.
How To Find the Top Data Science Degree Programs
Once you have decided to dive into the exciting world of data science as your chosen degree, how can you be sure to find the appropriate school to attend? One important aspect of finding the right school is to look for an accredited college, university, or online school. Accreditation is a process of validation that colleges or universities can go through to be properly evaluated on the strength and merit of their coursework and how steady the coursework remains across the particular field of study. In order to become an accredited school, a college or university must display outstanding coursework offerings with the highest reputation of both the coursework and staff. This ensures that each student gets the quality education he is seeking, no matter what field of interest he pursues.
Many students today rely on online degrees. This is not simply because they can be more affordable, but also because they offer a greater degree of flexibility in terms of fitting classes into an existing schedule with work and family responsibilities. Many college students today are non-traditional students, some returning to school after taking time to start a family. Balancing work, family responsibilities, and the course load required to obtain a college degree can be difficult. Online degrees can offer the much-needed flexibility of scheduling required in these situations.
Last but not least, don’t let the potential cost involved in gaining a specialized degree in data science stop you from moving forward. Of course, there will be some degree of variety in the cost of a data science degree, with smaller colleges and universities generally being more affordable. Larger universities in bigger cities could offer data science degrees for as much as $60,000 or more, while online schools may offer a similar degree at a lower tuition cost. In many cases, grants or student loan programs exist that can provide much-needed financial support to those who qualify for these services. Student loans, while they must be paid back entirely, are generally offered at reasonable interest rates with long-term repayment plans that allow you time to graduate and find a well-paying job before payments are initiated. Additionally, many students may qualify for various government grants to cover part of their tuition, and these do not have to be paid back.
Careers and Salaries for Data Science Degree Graduates
Once you have obtained a data science degree, you can become eligible for an exciting internship in a wide variety of businesses. All technology-based companies, from Facebook to Google and many others, offer exciting internship programs to those who have recently obtained a data science degree. Additionally, the majority of large corporations employ at least a few data scientists. Many of these corporations also offer data science internships. If you begin asking around, you will likely find a large number of these positions available all over the country.
The field of data science has experienced rapid and continual growth over the last decade. This upward trajectory continues, and it is now estimated that data science positions will exceed 700,000 throughout the US by the year 2020. This indicates a strong pattern of growth and demand for professionals in this field. What’s more, there is no shortage of job possibilities for individuals with a data science degree, since these skills are relied on so heavily by all different types of businesses and corporations alike. Nearly 60% of the currently offered positions for data scientists are focused in the areas of finance, insurance, internet technology, and various professional services. This offers a very wide variety of job possibilities to those who earn a data science degree.
What other factors affect the salaries associated with different data science degree positions? Your geographical location, your individual experience in the field, and your specific level of education will all play a part in your estimated salary as a data scientist. As a general rule, larger cities tend to provide positions that pay a higher rate of salary. Also, a graduate degree in data science will generally earn you a higher salary than an undergraduate degree. The more your experience in the field of data science increases, the more your rate of pay will also go up. Aside from these factors, different professional positions within the field of data science will pay different amounts. The following list is a good place to start to get an idea of various positions and salaries offered for each.
* Database Administrator
These professionals are responsible for taking care of and maintaining large databases full of pertinent information for a variety of roles within the field of data science. A database administrator is capable of earning a salary between $50,00 to $120,000 annually, depending in part on personal experience and the size of the database they are in charge of.
* Data Analyst
Data analysts can have either an undergraduate or a graduate degree, so the salary earned will vary in part by the type of degree the individual has obtained. Data analysts can earn anywhere from $50,000 to around $110,000 annually.
* Data Scientist
Data scientists are generally experienced, expert-level professionals in the field of data science. While some variations come into play depending on the application of the degree, data scientists can earn anywhere from $85,000 to $170,000 annually and are among the highest paid professionals in this field.
* Data Engineer
Data engineers are the ones who design the systems that store important data. They tend to have a great deal of computer programming knowledge and can earn anywhere from $70,000 to $165,000.
The type of business you work for will also influence your salary, with government and education sector jobs typically providing the lowest salaries and start-ups providing the highest salaries.
Additional Resources for Data Science Degrees and Related Careers
The following websites can provide a wealth of information as you educate yourself on the rewards and benefits of seeking a degree in data science. Be sure to carefully read these over if you would like more information and insight into the benefits a data science degree can offer you.
Data Science Central talks about the various fields within data science, the expected salaries with each, and what types of employment are possible.
This College Express article discusses the differences between undergraduate and graduate degrees within the data science field.
This Forbes article covers current trends in data science for 2017.
This article by the New York Times covers modern day uses of a data science degree, as well as the types of people that may be most interested in this field of study.
This article in Forbes covers a brief history of the implications of data science in the real world, as well as how it is used to advance business and technology today.
Read about how big data is changing the scene of the world as we know it today in Harvard Magazine.
The interdisciplinary field of data science continues to grow and offer an expanding number of exciting job opportunities to those who specialize in this ever-expanding field. It doesn’t appear that this upward spiral tends to be shifting anytime soon, as the number of job opportunities for data science professionals continues to climb.
“Data is a precious thing and will last longer than the systems themselves.” — Tim Berners-Lee