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Technology remains a dominant sector in the job market. As stated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, tech jobs will continue to rise over the decade. Data science, in particular, will experience a growth rate of 19%, about three times more than the average for all other jobs.

According to its job satisfaction rates, average salary, and employment opportunity it offers, data science is one of the top three careers in the United States. Do you want to work in one of the most sought-after professions? Then continue reading as we provide you the ultimate guide on how to become a data scientist.

What Is a Data Scientist?

A data scientist is a professional in the data science field responsible for collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data. They are invaluable assets to any organization looking to grow and improve itself. Data scientists develop custom data models and algorithms and then apply them to data sets. This way, they extract information from data that companies can use for problem-solving, decision-making, forecasting, and finding trends.

When working as a data scientist, you have to utilize a set of technical and non-technical skills. You will need to be skilled in statistics, programming, mathematics, machine learning algorithms, communication, creativity, and problem-solving, among others. To obtain these abilities and prepare for the profession, follow the below-mentioned guide focusing on the general data scientist education path.

How to Become a Data Scientist?

Like with almost everything in life, there are different paths you can follow to have a career in data science. However, generally, data scientists are educated and have attained some data-related degree. The important part is gaining the right skills and experience so you can be eligible for such a position.

Obtain an undergraduate degree in a data-related program

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To launch a career in this challenging but rewarding profession, you can kick-start your journey by pursuing an undergraduate data science degree. Other possible degree choices include computer science, statistics, and information technology.

If you are already enrolled in another undergraduate program, try switching to a data-related program. If you can’t do that, a good option would be minoring in one of the previously mentioned fields.

Remember that data science degree requirements vary depending on the institution you enroll in. So, they might require a specific minimum number of credit hours or a set of elective courses you have to take to complete the program.

Get experience in the field

After obtaining your undergraduate degree, you are eligible for some entry-level data science jobs. So, start working in an entry-level position, then as a Junior Data Analyst or Junior Data Scientist, and seize the opportunity to gain experience in the data science field.

There are also ways for you to gain work experience without having a job in data science. One great way is by volunteering as a data scientist. You can join an organized project and collaborate with others or submit one of your own. You can also take part in data competitions and test your skills in comparison to other beginners.

Enroll in a master degree program in data science

The Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that data scientists need a master’s degree in computer science or some data-related field. Plus, according to a study, stats for 2020 showed that around 50% of data scientists hold a master’s. So, to further your career and compete with other data scientists for better job opportunities, we advise you to pursue a postgraduate degree.

Master a programming language

As one of the essential skills for becoming a data scientist, you have to master a programming language. Two popular choices for data scientists are R and Python. But, there are also hundreds of other programming languages to choose from depending on your exact role and responsibilities.

Learn SQL

To obtain information from data, you must first extract it from the database. That is where the Structured Query Language (SQL) comes into service. SQL is necessary for creating queries, updating the database, and reorganizing data. It is a great tool that allows data scientists to experiment with data by creating various test environments.

Get familiar with statistics

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When you work as a data scientist, your duties include noticing patterns, identifying trends, and forecasting, among many others. So, it is no surprise that statistics is crucial for fulfilling those duties. Although statistics is a broad field, you should at least be knowledgeable in descriptive statistics and probability theory.

Can You Become a Data Scientist Without a Degree?

Are you interested in pursuing a career in data science, although you don’t have a degree in a data-related field? No worries! You still have a chance to make it in this field.

Start with the basics of data science, and then work your way up. Seek to develop your skills by enrolling in statistics, mathematics, and programming courses. After mastering the fundamentals, choose an area of data science that you want to focus on and specialize in it. Then, practice practice practice!

When you feel ready, try to showcase your skills in competitions, volunteer projects, or some other way. Market yourself and gain experience until you land an entry-level job and continue to climb the ladder.

Data Scientist Career Path

As long as you are interested in data science and are willing to work for success, you can find your place in the data science career path. Develop your skills by pursuing a degree in data science or learn through specific courses. Once you land an entry job, you can work your way up to the position of a senior data scientist.

Data Scientist Salary

The average salary for data scientists in the United States is $117,288 per year. The highest recorded salary is $166,908, whereas the lowest is $82,420 per year. The exact salary depends on the company you work for and your role.

Data science has a bright job outlook, good salaries, and most importantly, it offers various career path options. Your interest, dedication, and the right help to develop your skills are the only things you need.

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