How is it that a job that most people had never even heard of five years ago has become such a hot commodity in the job listings? Simply put, data is money. Companies make decisions every day that impact the bottom line and the more informed they are, the more impactful these decisions can be. Companies are generating copious amounts of information on a daily basis, but this information is useless if they don’t have skilled scientists who can interpret the data.
According to Indeed.com, the average data scientist earns $123,000. But what is a data scientist? Is it a specialized type of computer programmer? A statistician? One often heard description that provides a good summary is that data scientists are better statisticians than most programmers and better programmers than most statisticians. In other words, it’s a mix and you need to be reasonably talented on both sides.
Imagine if you will that a company is coming out with a brand new product, but they only have a limited budget to promote it. Which of their existing customers are most likely to purchase the new product? What type of advertising have they responded to best in the past? What is the best price point for the product? Will a special promotion help? How long should the promotion last?
Large companies have reams of data to help answer these questions based on every email they’ve sent their customers and every click on their website. But vast quantities of data do not answer the question. They need data scientists to understand that data as well who can guide the important decisions.
Would a company be willing to spend over $100k to someone who can do that for them? Absolutely. If a company’s marketing budget is in the millions, that will be money very well spent. According to Indeed, there are 2168 jobs listed for Data Analysts in the Seattle area alone.
What salary can you expect as an entry-level data scientist? While $123k is the median for all data scientists, a brand new data scientist won’t start at that level. Payscale.com reports in May 2018 that the entry-level median is closer to $86k. Differences also will obviously exist depending upon previous experience and job location. There are also geographic differences in job availability with over a third of all data scientist jobs on the West coast – a sign that tech-heavy regions are more quickly adopting this reliance on data scientists.
If you think you’d be interested in pursuing a career in data science, you’ll need the proper education as well. While a four-year college is one possibility, you may also benefit from a less traditional route in 2018. Coding academies, like Skillspire are now offering data science courses in a compressed and focused format that can teach you all the math and coding you need to know in a few months. If you are interested in the intersection between statistics and programming, this may be a lucrative career option worth investigating. Check out the upcoming Data Analytics Course.