How to Become a Data Scientist

By CSU Global - January 3rd, 2022

Woman Studying Data Analytics

Recently, we explained what you can do with a Master’s Degree in Data Analytics, and today, we’ll discuss how to get one of the best jobs in the field, the role of data scientist.

This is an excellent career for anyone interested in analytics, technology, and research, as the role is primarily concerned with finding meaningful insights that can be used to optimize business practices and results. 

In this post, we’ll explain how you can set yourself up for a successful, lifelong career in data science, including why you might want to work in the industry, what you’d be responsible for doing each day, and which skills you should focus on developing to ensure you’re prepared to succeed in this challenging, but exciting role.

After you’ve learned everything you need to know about launching a career as a data scientist, fill out our information request form to receive additional details about our 100% online Master’s Degree in Data Analytics, which is an excellent program for anyone looking to break into data science.

If you’re ready to get started, submit your application today.

Is Data Science a Good Career Option?

Yes, this is an excellent career opportunity for anyone who wants to do interesting, important work in a high-technology field.

There are three compelling reasons to consider becoming a data scientist:

  1. The industry is growing rapidly, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting that there will be 11.5 million new jobs in the field by 2026, which is a 28% lift in the employment of data scientists.
  2. Data scientists get to play a critical role in advising organizations on the ideal business strategies, as they’re responsible for collecting, storing, and interpreting the data that modern businesses use to maximize earnings and profits. 
  3. This is a well-paid role, with the BLS reporting that the average annual wage of data scientists was $103,930 in May 2020.

Data science is the perfect discipline for anyone looking to get into a growing field doing important, challenging, but interesting work, and it’s also an excellent opportunity to establish a career with great earning potential.

What Do Data Scientists Actually Do?

Data scientists serve as analysts, reviewing data to look for actionable insights. 

This may sound like a simple job, but it’s an incredibly interesting, important, and complex role, and it’s the perfect industry for anyone interested in patterns, puzzles, and complex mathematical calculations.

As a professional data scientist, your job duties and responsibilities are likely to include:

  • Choosing which data-analytics problems, data points, and data sets should be collected and stored to create business opportunities.
  • Processing, cleaning, and validating data sets to ensure that the information is accurate, complete, and uniform.
  • Applying data science techniques, like machine learning, artificial intelligence, and statistical modeling to uncover patterns, trends, and insights in the data.
  • Interpreting data insights and trends to generate recommendations for business solutions and opportunities.
  • Presenting key insights to stakeholders who can make strategic business decisions based on your findings.

As you can imagine, this is a complex job that requires a great deal of expertise, including a sophisticated understanding of mathematics, statistics, and data analytics.

What Skills & Abilities are Needed to Become a Successful Data Scientist?

Should you choose to pursue a career in this competitive industry, you’ll need to develop the following skills and abilities:

  1. Statistics Skills – Perhaps the most important skill for future data scientists is the ability to understand how to perform complex statistical analyses, including processes like regression, properties of distributions, statistical tests, and proper usage so that you can design important patterns and trends in large sets of data.
  2. Computer Programming/Language Skills – To become an effective data scientist, you should be comfortable writing computer programs to analyze large datasets that provide answers to complex questions. Experience with computer languages like Python, SQL, R, Java, etc., will help you accomplish these tasks.
  3. Computer Science Skills – You’ll need to be able to apply best practices and principles of computer science across several distinct disciplines, including human and computer interactions, numerical analysis, software engineering, artificial intelligence, and database systems.
  4. Machine Learning Skills – Data scientists regularly utilize the principles and best practices of machine learning, which allow them to uncover faster, more accurate trends and insights from large data sets. It’s important to be comfortable with machine learning models like clustering, decision tree learning, artificial neuronal networks, etc.
  5. Excellent Written and Verbal Communications Skills – As a data scientist, the value of your work will rely on your ability to convince others that you’ve found interesting, important, and useful data patterns that can be used to guide business practices, so your communications and presentation skills will be critical to achieving success. 

While you may not possess these skills, you can develop expertise in all of these areas by completing CSU Global’s accredited Master’s Degree in Data Analytics, or our accredited Master’s Degree in AI and Machine Learning

Do I Really Need a Degree to Become a Data Scientist? 

Yes, you will almost certainly need a degree to become a data scientist, as this is an advanced role that requires a great deal of sophisticated knowledge and experience working with complex data sets, performing statistical analyses, and utilizing advanced analytics platforms.

While you might not need a master’s degree as we suggested above, you’re likely to find it difficult to get a job in the industry without at least completing a bachelor’s degree program in a related field.

If you’re not interested in getting your master’s degree yet, then the good news is that CSU Global offers several bachelor’s-level programs that could help prepare you for a career that could eventually lead to a job as a data scientist, including:

These bachelor’s-level degrees may not allow you to immediately become a data scientist, but they will prepare you for jobs in related fields where you’re able to develop industry experience that could eventually help you transition into the role.

How Will a Data Analytics or Machine Learning Degree Help Prepare Me for a Career as a Data Scientist?

CSU Global’s online Master’s Degree in Data Analytics was designed to provide you with the foundational knowledge, skills, and abilities you need to launch a successful career in data science.

Studying data analytics provides a clear path to becoming a data scientist, as the skills and abilities you’ll develop in this program are directly applicable to professional data scientists.

Completing this program will teach you to handle common data science responsibilities, like:

  • Data warehousing, mining, and visualization.
  • Business analytics and predictive analytics.
  • Enterprise performance management.

You’ll also develop specific skills across a series of critical data science tasks, including:

  • Practicing ethical standards when collecting, storing, and utilizing data for analytical purposes.
  • Applying policies and procedures to protect the privacy and security of personal data.
  • Analyzing large sets of data.
  • Employing data analytics solutions for business intelligence and forecasting purposes.
  • Evaluating principles of predictive analytics to address complex business challenges.
  • Clearly articulating complex analytical conclusions so you can provide compelling written, verbal, and visual suggestions for business strategies.

Getting your M.S. in Data Analytics is an excellent way to prepare for a career in data science, but studying data analytics isn’t the only way to prepare for a job in the field.

You could also choose to pursue an M.S. in AI and Machine Learning, which provides you with excellent skills and abilities useful to data scientists.

This may seem like a less direct path to becoming a data scientist, but machine learning principles, best practices, techniques, and applications are regularly used in modern data science, so studying them is an excellent way to develop niche skills that you could leverage to get a job in this industry.

Critically, machine learning algorithms and statistical models are commonly used to help computers learn from data so that they can find more complex patterns and trends, allowing them to make better predictions and suggestions for optimizing business strategies.

Accordingly, getting your M.S. in AI and Machine Learning from CSU Global will prepare you to serve as a successful data scientist by providing you with training and experience on complex machine learning tasks, like:

  • Analyzing systems to monitor and control development projects, including databases, analytics systems, and other high-technology projects.
  • Utilizing AI and machine learning principles, logic, probability analysis, and other similar statistics-based methods to create complex problem-solving initiatives.
  • Solving complex business problems with innovative technical solutions.  
  • Applying machine learning principles to solve complex problems and analyze specific business scenarios. 
  • Implementing data-driven solutions that combine modern AI and machine learning principles and best practices.
  • Evaluating the performance of applications in AI and machine learning domains.

As a machine learning expert, you’ll be ready to utilize the skills and abilities you’ve developed to take charge of complex data science projects like deploying machine learning algorithms to analyze huge sets of data.

What Else Can I Do to Increase My Odds of Success?

Completing a Master’s Degree in one of the fields mentioned above is the ideal way to prepare for a great job in data science, but there are also several other things you can do to enhance your skills and improve your resume.

Perhaps the most important thing to consider doing is completing a relevant credential program, which will further your skills and abilities, while also helping to improve your marketability.

Indeed.com provides a long list of certification programs that you may want to think about completing, with some stand-outs including:

  • The Certified Analytics Professional (CAP) Certification
  • DASCA’s (Data Science Council of America) Senior Data Scientist (SDS) Certification 
  • DASCA’s Principle Data Scientist (PDS) Certification
  • The Open Group’s Open Certified Data Scientist (Open CDS) Certification
  • SAS’s Certified Big Data Professional
  • SAS’s Certified Advanced Analytics Professional
  • SAS’s  Certified Data Scientist
  • Google’s Professional Machine Learning Engineer Certification
  • Cloudera’s Certified Associate Data Analyst Certification
  • Cloudera’s Certified Professional: CCP Data Engineer Certification
  • IBM’s Data Science Professional Certificate
  • Microsoft’s Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE): Data Management Analytics
  • Microsoft’s Certified Azure Data Scientist Associate
  • Oracle’s Business Intelligence Certification
  • The Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS) Certified Analytics Professional (CAP)

To be clear, you don’t necessarily need to complete any of these professional certifications to become a data scientist.

However, if you’re looking to maximize your chances of landing one of the industry’s top jobs, then you might want to look at them as potential options for enhancing your skills and resume.

Should I Get My Degree Online? 

Regardless of which degree or credential programs you choose to pursue, we suggest completing them online instead of in person.

The biggest benefit to studying online is that it’s a more efficient way to get your degree, especially since online programs will nearly always provide more flexibility and freedom than on-campus programs.

Getting to study at any time, and from any location, is a huge benefit that you should take into consideration, but CSU Global’s online programs provide several other significant benefits, including:

  • No requirements to show up at set times or in physical locations.
  • Monthly class starts.
  • Accelerated courses.

Our students report that these benefits make it easier to complete their education requirements without interrupting their existing responsibilities.

If you’ve already got work duties or family responsibilities that you’ll need to continue attending to while pursuing your degree, then you should seriously consider studying online with us.

Why Should You Choose CSU Global?

Our Master’s programs in Data Analytics and Machine Learning are both regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and designed to provide you with the knowledge and skills you need to launch a successful, lifelong career as a data scientist.

Our Master’s Degree in Data Analytics is sure to help get your foot in the door of the industry, as it was recently ranked the #3 Best Online Master’s Degree in Data Analytics by Best Masters Programs.

And if you’re more interested in machine learning, then our Master’s Degree in Machine Learning is the perfect option, as it was recently ranked the #1 Best Online Artificial Intelligence Degree by Successful Student.

Whichever program you choose to pursue, you can rest assured that you’ll be getting a valuable degree, as CSU Global recently won several excellent rankings, including:

  • A Top 20 ranking for Best Online University Programs Based on Their ROI from Forbes.
  • A #1 ranking for Best Online Colleges & Schools in Colorado from Best Accredited Colleges.
  • A #1 ranking for Best Online Colleges in Colorado from Best Colleges.

Finally, we offer affordable tuition rates and a Tuition Guarantee to ensure that your low tuition rate will not increase as long as you remain enrolled with us.

To get additional details about our fully-accredited online degrees, please give us a call at (800) 462-7845, or fill out our Information Request Form.

Ready to get started today? Apply now!

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