How to embark on a data science career

This article will explore how you can embark on a career in data science, and the key factors to consider.

None of us can deny the fact that data science is one of the fastest-growing fields in tech, and that means it’s one of the fastest growing fields in terms of job opportunities too.

Data scientists analyse raw data and synthesise it into results that can be easily understood. This is a relatively new career path that merges programming, statistics and business logic. Data scientists use their skills in programming, statistics and machine learning to analyse data and use it to form conclusions. They may work in social media companies and use the user data to understand habits and suggest content that the users will enjoy.

According to the Indeed salary calculator, the average data scientist in the UK makes over £50,000 annually, so it makes sense that it’s a popular field to get into. Interested? Maybe you’re starting off your career, or maybe you’re looking for a change, but no matter what, we’re here to help you embark on a data science career.

Getting a position as a data scientist involves certain requirements depending on the level of jobs for which you’re applying, including some key factors:


Data scientists need a solid foundation in mathematics and statistics. The most common fields of study in data science are mathematics, statistics, computer science, and engineering. Typically, data scientists are educated to a high level, ideally obtaining a Master’s Degree or PhD. Unlike many other fields in tech, data science does not have a set of industry-standard certifications. Rather, data scientists often rely on practical projects and portfolio work to signal their value to employers.

In recent years, universities have noted the explosive growth in data science and related disciplines and have rapidly expanded their faculties in order to offer a range of certifications. See below for more information on UK Data Science Degrees and Diplomas.


According to a recent article by Indeed, data scientists spend a lot of time in their chosen industry doing training before they begin their positions in full. These training periods help a data scientist “acclimate to new professional environments” and bring their academic skill set into one of the multiple industries.


Along with a high level of education and extensive training, data scientists need a number of key skills in order to be successful in their job. The three most important are:

  1. Programming: No matter what type of company or role you’re interviewing for, you will be expected to know how to use the tools of the trade. This means a statistical programming language, like R or Python (most popular), and a database querying language like SQL.
  2. Machine learning: If you’re at a large company with huge amounts of data, or working at a company where the product itself is particularly data-driven, it may be the case that you’ll want to be familiar with machine learning methods. In fact, the most successful data scientists are familiar with machine learning techniques such as supervised vs. unsupervised machine learning, decision trees, and logistic regression.
  3. Statistics: A good understanding of statistics is vital for a data science career. You should be familiar with statistical tests, distributions, maximum likelihood estimators, etc. This will also be the case for machine learning, but one of the more important aspects of your statistics knowledge will be understanding when different techniques are (or aren’t) a valid approach.

Other common related skills companies will look for are:

  • Data Visualisation techniques
  • Big Data Analytics
  • Data Mining
  • Data Warehousing
  • Risk Analysis
  • Cloud Tools

If you reckon you tick the boxes for a career in this fast-growing field, then head on over to our job board and check out the data science opportunities now.

Data Science Degrees and Diplomas

We have identified just over a hundred different university degrees (BSc and MSc) with Data Science in the title – and there are probably the same amount of courses again if you pull in various flavours of data analytics and information management. There are also a more limited amount of Post-graduate diploma (PGDip) and Certificate (PGCert) courses available (some of these online study only). Most of the certifications are designed to equip students with a solid basis of theoretical understanding mixed with experience of applying methods drawn from big data modelling and analysis. There are also some courses focused on practical application with work experience, such as BSc degree apprenticeships.

Many of the courses have been created quite recently, a testament to the growing importance of the discipline.

Click here to see a list of Bachelors and Masters degrees, plus Postgraduate Diplomas, currently being offered by UK universities.

What Is the Career Path for Data Scientists?

See also – Data scientists: What they do and why businesses need them – Good data scientists do not come cheap. Recent research by Hired found that the average salary is £56,000 in the UK and $129,000 in the United States, with salaries significantly higher for more experienced experts