Data science jobs have multiplied rapidly in the U.S. over recent years. Businesses rely increasingly on their ability to collate, analyze and act on the vast swathes of data at their fingertips. Their success depends on pros who can transform data into actionable insights for marketers, commercial strategists and other decision-makers. Here are six data science jobs that typically attract high earnings.
1. Data Scientist
Perhaps unsurprisingly, data scientists command some of the highest salaries in the field. Nearly half of data scientists work in the tech sector. They are expected to offer a broader skillset than many other data science professionals. As well as advanced statistical skills, data scientists must offer strong communications skills and business know-how. This enables them to not only manipulate data but present their findings effectively to diverse stakeholders.
A data science degree or master’s degree provides a strong foundation for this role, as do qualifications in statistics, mathematics, economics and engineering. The Burtch Works Study: Salaries of Data Scientists 2016 found that 92 percent of data scientists have an advanced degree. According to Glassdoor, they take home an average salary of $113,436.
2. Data Engineer
These specialists support data scientists by preparing data for analysis, which means they’re great at integrating databases and refining unwieldy, unstructured data sets. By designing and maintaining big data infrastructures, they ensure data scientists have clean numbers to work with and can focus on extracting meaning which will inform business strategies. Data engineers often have bachelor’s and/or master’s degrees in computer science or computer engineering. They earn $100,500 on average.
3. Business Intelligence (BI) Analyst
BI experts analyze data to maximize its effective use in decision-making. They also devise BI solutions to address specific business needs. They often work closely with data scientists and data engineers, as well as with developers. Strong SQL and spreadsheet skills are usually essential. A degree in a field such as mathematics, economics or computer science is typically required, and a master’s is often preferred. If you are motivated to enter this specialty, consider an advanced degree in business intelligence and analytics. BI analysts net average earnings of $71,715.
4. Software Engineer
With salaries averaging around $95,000, this is another solid option for data science professionals. There are plenty of openings, too. In spring 2017, there were about 180,000 software engineering jobs listed on Glassdoor.com.
Software engineers design and develop software for operating systems, network distribution, and more. Their role isn’t confined to writing code – they also create algorithms and use their skills to evaluate and solve programming problems. Software engineers who focus on applications analyze user needs before designing, building and testing effective solutions. Most software engineers have a degree in computer science, software engineering or a related field.
Statisticians are in many ways the forefathers of data scientists. They use specialized software to collect and analyze data to help address challenges in business, government, healthcare and other sectors. This includes devising methods of data collection, such as surveys and opinion polls.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, around a third statisticians work for the federal government or for scientific research and development companies. The Bureau also reports that employment of statisticians is projected to grow 34 percent between 2014 and 2024. A master’s in statistics or a similar discipline is generally the minimum requirement. The average salary is currently $76,061.
An actuary also analyzes data, but with a specific objective of evaluating and managing risk. Their calculations help organizations – often insurance companies – assess the probability of future events and to make financial decisions that mitigate risk. They excel at problem-solving and strategic thought, as well as math.
A bachelor’s degree is required, but it need not be in actuarial science – economics, finance, data science and related fields are also widely accepted. Licensing exams are obligatory. These can be taken with the Society of Actuaries (SOA) or the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS). Annual salaries above $100,000 are not uncommon.
Data-related roles often outshine other careers in job surveys. In CareerCast’s 2017 Jobs Rated report, statistician tops the list, while data scientist appears at number five and software engineer at number eight. As CareerCast points out, this is partly due to high demand – data scientists will be among the toughest jobs to fill in 2017, with openings set to rise 16 percent over the coming decade. Combined with high remuneration and job satisfaction scores, this makes data science a promising avenue for those with strong math and analytic skills.
If you’re ready to move forward in your career or to make a switch, check out some strong pathways to data science advanced education and take a look at some of our favorite online master’s degree programs.
All salary data collected in May 2017.