The Highest-Paying
Data Science Careers: 2021 List

Data science is a broad field with lots of potential career paths. You can also use your data science skills to become a database administrator, data analyst, data architect, or machine learning engineer. The best data science careers come with a lucrative salary and a promise of job security.

This guide will highlight the top 10 highest-paying data science careers and what to expect if you pursue a job in the field of data science. We’ll also look at the common entry-level jobs to give you the technical skills and experience to launch your career.

What Is Data Science?

Data science is the practice of analyzing and interpreting vast volumes of data to solve problems, guide business decisions, and create predictive models. The field combines data analysis, mathematics, and scientific principles. Data science also involves presenting data in a way that is easy to interpret with data visualization.

Data Science Job
Outlook and Salary Potential

The job outlook and potential salaries for data science professionals are extremely promising. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), computer and information technology research jobs are projected to grow by 15 percent from 2019 to 2029. The same report shows that these professionals earn an average salary of $126,830.

At a Glance: Highest-Paying
Data Science Careers

We’ve rounded up the top 10 best data science careers in the table below. Average salaries have all been sourced from PayScale. Projected job growth rates have been sourced from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and refer to the percentage of new jobs between 2019 and 2029.

Job Title Projected Job Growth Median Pay
Senior Data Scientist 15%* $126,821
Data Warehouse Manager 10%** $123,855
Data Architect 10%** $121,242
Machine Learning Engineer 15%* $113,200
Data Scientist 15%* $96,497
Big Data Engineer 15%* $89,838
Quantitative Analyst 15%* $85,042
Data Modeler 15%* $84,264
Database Developer 10%** $75,636
Analytics Analyst 15%* $72,602

*Job growth data has been sourced from BLS data on computer and information technology research scientists.
**Job growth data has been sourced from BLS data on database administrators.

The Best Data Science Careers: 2021 List

The Best Data Science Careers: 2021 List

There are many rewarding jobs in data science. You could be a big data engineer, a business intelligence analyst, or a data modeler. Read on to find out about the best data science careers in more detail, including job responsibilities and the minimum education requirements.

Min. Education Required: Master’s Degree in Data Science or Computer Science

A senior data scientist is one of the highest-paid roles in data science, with an impressive average salary of over $126,000. This industry expert leads the data science strategy for an organization or team. They use their data science expertise to help solve problems and guide the business strategy.

As a senior role, these professionals are also responsible for managing data scientists. This job requires leadership and communication skills along with advanced data science knowledge. As well as excellent training and several years of experience, you’ll need to demonstrate you have led projects and teams in previous roles.

Min. Education Required: Master’s Degree in Data Science or Computer Science

A data warehouse manager oversees the data storage needs of a company. They’ll monitor how data is used and protected. They make sure that data systems work optimally to give each stakeholder access to data as required. They also must identify and mitigate potential risks that relate to data transfer and storage.

This is a senior management role that involves overseeing budgets and other staff members such as database administrators. As well as having excellent data science skills, database warehouse managers need the skills to work with a diverse range of stakeholders and other professionals.

Min. Education Required: Master’s Degree in Data Science or Computer Science

Data architects translate business needs into technology requirements. They are responsible for designing and creating the data management systems of the organization. Their role is to align the business needs with its data resources.

As a highly technical role, data architects need advanced skills in SQL and relational databases. They work closely with database administrators and may suggest when to upgrade, manage, or decommission data models. You can enter the profession with a bachelor’s degree, although a master’s degree is preferred.

Min. Education Required: Master’s Degree in Data Science or Computer Science

A machine learning engineer is a highly technical professional that is responsible for creating and upgrading artificial intelligence and machine learning systems. The main purpose of the role is to programming computer systems so they can sustain themselves and learn independently.

To become a machine learning engineer, you will need to gain specific training in machine learning tools and techniques, including natural language processing (NLP) and deep learning. You’ll typically need a master’s degree as a minimum because this job requires advanced technical skills.

Min. Education Required: Bachelor’s Degree in Data Science or Computer Science

The role of a data scientist combines statistics, computer science, and mathematics. They use these skills to gather and analyze large data sets of data to gain meaningful insights or answers to specific problems. This is one of the most common roles in data science, and it covers a broad spectrum of skills.

To extract and interpret useful data, data scientists rely on a range of data science techniques. These include data mining, modeling, algorithmic, AI, and machine learning techniques. Many different industries need data scientists in 2021.

Min. Education Required: Bachelor’s Degree in Data Science or Computer Science

Big data engineers are responsible for creating the hardware and software architecture for data processing. They also maintain the systems and processes needed to work with big data. An increasing number of companies use big data daily, so the future for big data engineers is bright.

Big data engineers help data scientists convert large datasets into insights that can be used to make smart business decisions. While data scientists work on abstract ideas, big data engineers focus on the practical technical requirements to retrieve and analyze big data.

Min. Education Required: Bachelor’s Degree in Statistics, Data Science, or Computer Science

Quantitative analysts usually work in the finance sector. They use data science skills to collect and analyze data on markets, and the role focuses heavily on statistical and quantitative models to identify trends and risks. They use these findings to influence decisions related to the financial markets.

To become a quantitative analyst, you’ll typically need at least a bachelor’s degree in a field like statistics or data science. If you’re interested in a lucrative career in the world of finance, it’s a worthwhile investment. Quantitative analysts earn an average salary of $85,042, which can grow with experience.

Min. Education Required: Bachelor’s Degree in Data Science or Computer Science

Data modelers analyze big data sets to create detailed, long-term data models that help a company monitor specific trends or behaviors. They create computer systems that give detailed, actionable reports on specific areas in real time. This is one of the best database management careers.

Data modelers tend to work for large organizations. The role requires advanced skills in both computer science and statistics. Employers look for candidates with a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field as a minimum. It also helps if you can demonstrate some previous experience in statistics or data modeling.

Min. Education Required: Bachelor’s Degree in Data Science or Computer Science

Database developers are sometimes called database programmers. They are largely responsible for building and maintaining a company’s databases. They find the best database management systems for clients and are responsible for making sure they meet their data needs.

A big part of the role is managing performance testing processes. They regularly review and streamline the database code and troubleshoot issues to make sure the database is functioning properly and to improve performance.

Min. Education Required: Associate Degree in Data Science or Computer Science

An analytics analyst’s role is to create efficient systems on how to analyze data and performance. It is their responsibility to determine which measurables are important to a business’s goals and the best way for an organization to regularly review its performance.

This role requires a minimum of an associate degree, along with good knowledge of data collection and analysis techniques. This is a good job if you’re just starting out in the field and already have some experience.

What Education Do I Need to Pursue a Career in Data Science?

You typically need to have a bachelor’s degree to pursue a career in data science. This degree can be in computer science, data science, statistics, or a related field. Some senior data science careers also require you to have a master’s degree.

It is still possible to enter the industry without a bachelor’s degree if you can demonstrate you have the training and experience to succeed in the role. Data science bootcamps can be a great way to develop job-specific skills and gain practical experience.

Common Entry-Level
Data Science Jobs

Data science jobs typically come with a decent starting salary. You’ll often earn above-average pay, even in an entry-level role. Below we’ve listed some of the common entry-level data science jobs.

Junior Data Scientist

Entry-Level Pay: $85,312

Many companies take on junior data scientists without previous work experience. This can be as an internship or as a permanent role. You’ll typically start out helping the team with collecting, identifying, and measuring trends in big data sets. You’ll need a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field and knowledge of coding, SQL databases, and statistics.

Junior Database Developer

Entry-Level Pay: $61,183

As a junior database developer, you will help the database developer review and optimize the database code. You may also help with performance testing. This role requires you to be extremely familiar with relational databases and relevant coding languages like SQL.

Business Intelligence Analyst

Entry-Level Pay: $59,900

The role of a business intelligence analyst is to translate a company’s data into useful business insights. These professionals need to be able to use analytics, data modeling technologies, and data visualization techniques. This role requires a strong understanding of how a business works and excellent people skills.

Data Analyst

Entry-Level Pay: $56,362

Data analysts help organizations understand their data. The role typically involves developing processes to store, validate, and clean data for analysis. It may include creating and carrying out surveys to gain new data. In large organizations, the work they do serves as the foundation for further analysis by data scientists and business intelligence analysts.

Database Administrator

Entry-Level Pay: $56,022

A database administrator (DBA) is responsible for managing the database and making sure the data is accessible. They also work to maintain the security of a database system, create user-profile permissions, and make sure data is backed up. As an entry-level DBA, you will usually work on a team.

Can I Study Data Science Online?

Yes, it is easy to study data science online. Many universities now offer online data science programs from associate to PhD levels. Some schools also offer hybrid programs where you can attend both on campus and remotely. You can also find many online data science bootcamps and online data science courses.

Data science lends itself well to online learning. The main benefit of studying online is that you can attend the school of your choice without having to relocate. It tends to be easier to fit around your other commitments such as work or family. Online learning is also cheaper in most cases because it saves you money on expenses such as commuting.

Should I Pursue a Data Science Job?

Yes, if you have a flair for statistics, mathematics, and tech, you should consider a career in data science. The field has a lot of potential for growth as an increasing number of companies turn to data to make decisions. With lucrative salaries even for entry-level jobs, it’s a great career choice whether you are just starting out or switching careers.

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