How To Become a Data Scientist

By Jordan Fabel •  Updated: June 22, 2021  •  8 min read  •  Tech
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Are you considering a career as a data scientist? Do you want to know how to become a data scientist? There are many reasons to enter this career path. If you love numbers, this type of career might be perfect for you.

Solving mathematical problems, reviewing data, and working with spreadsheets, are a few of the things you will do as a data scientist. You will solve all types of problems with this career path, and it’s a good choice for those with an analytical mind.

With the right education and training, you can enter a career as a data scientist. Let’s look at becoming one and some of the questions you might have about this career path.

How To Become a Data Scientist

How to Become a Data Scientist: The Process & Training

Step #1 – Preparing for Your Career

It all starts with the right preparations. When you know you want to become a data scientist, you can do certain things before going to college. Since this type of position will include many different programming languages, becoming proficient in Java, Python, and R can be very helpful.

You will also want to gain knowledge of statistics, applied math, and other mathematical classes. In high school, you can take specific advanced courses to help get you into the right college or university. It can also help you figure out if a career as a data scientist is right for you.

Step #2 – Finish Your Undergraduate Degree

If you want to go into data science, you’ll want to get a bachelor’s degree in statistics, information technologies, mathematics, computer science, or data science. It can also be helpful to minor in one of these areas as well or go for a double major.

As you work on your undergraduate studies, you should also learn programming languages. Taking courses in database architecture and SQL/MySQL can be helpful. You will also want to work on building connections through college communities.

Completing your degree is vital, but you should also consider an internship. Asking your professors and other advisors for help can lead you down the right path.

Step #3 – Start Working in Data Science

One of the biggest steps to become a data scientist is your first entry-level job. You will gain some experience, which can help move you up the career ladder. Entry-level positions in data science usually start with the word “Junior” at the beginning. You will likely become a Junior Data Analyst or a Junior Data Scientist.

Getting the necessary certifications in relational database management systems, business intelligence applications, or data visualization software can help. With these types of certifications, you’ll be better qualified for the top entry-level data science jobs.

Step #4 – Get an Advanced Degree (Optional)

You can work as a data scientist without an advanced degree. However, if you want to advance your career path as a data scientist to the top of your field, it starts with an advanced degree. You will need to go to graduate school and earn your master’s or Ph.D.

You can get a graduate degree in information technology, statistics, math, data science, or computer science. Many employers will accept candidates with any STEM degree. You can also get an advanced degree in physics, biotechnology, or engineering.

You will also want to gain a better understanding of using enterprise-grade data management programs.

Step #5 – Gain Promotions

If you want to reach the top of the data scientist career ladder, you’ll want to continue to gain education and training. Adding new successes to your resume can help you gain promotions. With plenty of experience, you’ll gain higher compensation and more opportunities for advancement. They want to know you have strong technical skills and leadership experience.

The Job Description of a Data Scientist

It may depend on the type of position you take, but the job description you will likely run into will include:

You will likely find this type of language within the job descriptions you search. Whether it’s an entry-level position or a higher-level position, these duties will likely be a part of your daily job.

The Duties of a Data Scientist

It’s important to note; many companies will call a data scientist a data analyst, data architect, or data engineer. While these job titles may have a few differences, they all fall under the label of a data scientist. Regardless of the job title, you’ll be part computer scientist and part mathematician.

The main duties of a data scientist include using math and algorithmic techniques to solve complex business issues. You will leverage raw data to find insights for companies. In addition, you will need to visually and verbally communicate findings to stakeholders.

Some of the common tasks you will do as a data scientist include:

You will spend quite a bit of your time in evaluation mode. You may need to start over multiple times when evaluating data. This is just a part of the job and part of solving the problems.

Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Data Scientist

How much can you make as a data scientist?

As a data scientist, you can make an average yearly salary of about $120K, according to However, your actual salary depends on the position you choose.

According to, you can make around $87K per year as a junior data scientist. If you become a lead data scientist, the salary goes up to nearly $130K. Advancing to a senior data scientist can bring your salary to $143K. At the top of this profession, as a Director of data science, you can make more than $156K per year.

The amount you make as a data scientist depends on your experience, too. Entry-level positions pay an average salary of about $80K per year. As you advance and gain five to ten years of experience, you can earn a salary of around $125K. When you reach the level of 10 to 20 years of experience, you can earn an average salary of around $150K per year. As you enter the later stages of your career with more than 20 years of experience, the salary can be around $200K per year.

What’s the job outlook for data scientists?

The field of data science has become a more in-demand field than ever before. There are not enough qualified candidates to fill the positions for this growing industry.

The data scientist career has also caused many new education programs to start. There are programs in data analysis, big data, and data science now to help fill the many positions. The trajectory of this career path looks good, and most experts don’t expect the growth to stop anytime soon.

Which skills are most important for a career in data science?

Some of the skills you need to enter into the field of data science are pretty easy to figure out. However, there are some skills you might not think you need. Programming skills and strong math skills are important, but these aren’t the only necessary skills.

Some of the skills you will likely need to become a data scientist include:

Strong communication skills and presentation skills make a big difference as well. You will have to present findings in front of groups in terms they can understand. It’s also important to interpret data and understand the goals of the business you work for.

Knowledge of R programming, Python, Hadoop, machine learning, AI algorithms, and SQL can also be very helpful in this field.

Is it possible to become a data scientist without getting a degree?

Yes, but it will be much harder to enter into this career. You can learn the skills you need to work as a data scientist without a bachelor’s degree. Many data scientists come from different educational backgrounds within this career.

However, with the demand growth in data science, it’s becoming more and more necessary to get a degree. You can earn some certifications from online coding boot camps and other types of courses. It’s necessary to have the right skills and training to enter this field.

Jordan Fabel

Jordan Fabel

Covering different 'paths' that people's lives can take. Creative, foster parent, ticket dismissal, you get the idea. Exploring the requirements, certifications, exams, and obviously, approved courses along each path.