The Best Data Science Careers of 2021

Data science is a fairly recent field, but it has seen tremendous success since the beginning. Becoming a data scientist means gaining knowledge on computer science essentials like coding languages, mathematical skills, and analytical thinking. Data scientists enjoy high salaries and good benefits.

Data science is a broad field with tons of job opportunities. Navigating these potential opportunities can be overwhelming, so we’ve put together this guide that covers the best data science careers of 2021. We’ve included potential salaries, education pathways, and more key details below.

Why Data Science?

You should pursue data science because it is one of the best tech fields in the 21st century. It is not restricted to one discipline, which means there are numerous employment opportunities for data scientists. Data scientists can find a place in business intelligence, software engineering, computer science, and information technology.

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There is increasing demand for people with data science skills, and companies are willing to compensate these professionals well. Read on to find out more about data science jobs, the job outlook for the next ten years, and your earning potential.

Where Do Data Science Professionals Work?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the majority of data scientists work in computer systems design. However, the scope of work for data scientists is far greater than that. They are responsible for various forms of analysis and intelligence work.

For that reason, it is not unusual to see data scientists operating in management and executive positions of major companies and enterprises, regardless of the industry. Major business decisions are made with data. Data scientists also offer management, scientific, and technical consulting services to companies across the board.

If a business-related data science career doesn’t interest you, many data scientists are involved in scientific research and development research. Data scientists also find opportunities for employment with insurance carriers. Data scientists can also be employed in security, computer equipment manufacturing, and financial services.

The Highest-Paying Data Science Careers: 2021 List

The Highest-Paying Data Science Careers: 2021 List

The highest-paying jobs in data science are for those who work in managerial and executive positions at major corporations. There are also jobs in financial analysis. Take a look at the best careers below. Note that all job growth statistics have been sourced from the BLS.

Chief Data Scientist

Median Salary:  $181,273

Projected Job Growth: 15%*

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

To be appointed as a chief data scientist, you are expected to learn machine learning, team leadership, big data analytics, data modeling, and statistical analysis skills. Those skills are used to manage data and create data strategy for the company that you are working at.

When issues arise, you’ll be expected to draft and implement remedial action and ensure that the quality of the data being processed is improved. In essence, you are a data analyst or business intelligence operative functioning at an executive level within the organization.

Data Science Director

Median Salary: $155,204

Projected Job Growth: 33%**

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

Employers looking to hire a data science director want someone with skills including machine learning, people management, big data analytics, and data modeling. Knowledge of the Python programming language can help set you apart from other candidates for the position.

Data science director is an executive position that requires that you formulate, draft, and implement a company’s data science policies and goals. The data science director is the official driver of the company’s data strategy.

Director of Analytics

Median Salary: $129,406

Projected Job Growth: 33%**

Min. Education Required: Master’s Degree in Mathematics and Applied Sciences

The director of analytics is expected to manage a team of business analysts within the company. That management includes the assignment of tasks, schedules, and projects that are all geared towards data analysis and business intelligence.

The analytics director is also the person in the company most likely to create data analytics standards. The director will determine the metrics used to interpret and measure data, which sets the bar on performance and the quality of the project outcomes. The director of analytics collaborates with other departments to achieve improved outcomes.

Computer and Information Research Scientist

Entry-Level Salary: $126,830

Projected Job Growth: 15%*

Min. Education Required: Master’s Degree in Information Technology

Typically, your average data scientist consumes data, analyzes that data, interprets the findings, and then creates a visual representation of that data. However, a computer and information research scientist goes one step beyond that.

These professionals look for problems within the organization structure, find those problems, and then draft and implement solutions to those problems. Computer and information research scientists are vital to the field of data science.

Senior Data Scientist

Median Salary: $126,822

Projected Job Growth: 33%**

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

A strong candidate for a senior data science position should be skilled in digital signal processing, R, Java, client interaction, deep learning, data mining, natural language processing, computer vision, and project management.

Most senior data scientists come into the job with about three years of experience with writing reusable code and building data pipelines. Employers get a lot of value out of a person working this position as opposed to somebody like a lead data scientist or a data science manager.


Median Salary: $108,350

Projected Job Growth: 14%

Min. Education Required: Bachelor’s Degree in Economics

An economist collects data on goods and services. After sifting through that data and retaining meaningful information, an economist will then conduct analysis and establish important economic trends. Most economists work with teams at major firms. The information gathered from this analysis is then either sold or shared with the public.

Big firms make important business decisions based on the findings in that data, while the average civilian will be able to make critical life decisions based on similar data. That could range from the purchase of a house to deciding whether you should emigrate to a new country.

Financial Analyst

Median Salary: $83,660

Projected Job Growth: 5%

Min. Education Required: Bachelor’s Degree in Finance

A financial analyst gathers all the data they can find on stocks, bonds, financial yields, assets, and any other investments made by major firms and brokerages. The financial analyst gathers and analyzes this data so they can provide meaningful advice.

Financial analysts can advise businesses and individuals on how to spend money and get a substantial return on investments. They present useful data and help businesses understand their financial situations.

Budget Analyst

Median Salary: $78,970

Projected Job Growth: 3%

Min. Education Required: Bachelor’s Degree in Finance or Accounting

Where a financial analyst or economist looks at the markets, a budget analyst examines the operations in a specific firm or organization. That firm or organization could be operating in either the public or private sector, but they will ultimately outsource this kind of work to a budget analyst.

The budget analyst’s primary goal is to determine whether a company is using its resources in the right way. They help businesses create short-term and long-term plans for budgeting.

Cost Estimator

Median Salary: $66,610

Projected Job Growth: -1%

Min. Education Required: Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting or Finance

The most important function of a cost estimator is to help streamline the inner workings of a business. There is no person in an organization better equipped to study the supply chain and ensure that project outcomes are achieved in time and under budget.

Among the factors taken into account when doing this work are the time, money, materials, and human resources used in a production cycle. All of this detail has a bearing on whether a company turns a profit or not.

Market Research Analyst

Median Salary: $65,810

Projected Job Growth: 18%

Min. Education Required: Bachelor’s Degree in Finance or Accounting

A market research analyst gathers data on the sales of goods and services. The primary goal of the market research analyst is to use this data to better understand consumer behavior. They will be able to tell a company or organization what consumers do and do not want.

That way, company decision-makers will always be in a position to make products that will be bought. The data analysis provides suitable clarity on the demand and supply forces in the market.

*Job growth statistics have been sourced from BLS data on computer and information research scientists.
**Job growth statistics have been sourced from BLS data on mathematicians and statisticians.

What Education Is Required to Pursue a Career in Data Science?

What Education Is Required to Pursue a Career in Data Science?

The minimum requirement for most entry-level data science jobs is a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science, Technology, Engineering, or Applied Sciences. Some companies may hire associate degree or bootcamp graduates if they can demonstrate they have the necessary skills.

Most of the senior positions on our list require a Master’s Degree in Computer Science or a related field. There are always options for improving your knowledge and skill level after you complete an undergraduate degree. You can also consider getting certifications that confirm your level of expertise.

If you are interested in receiving certification, the Data Science Council of America (DSCA) has three categories for certification: engineering, analytics, and science. These certifications require a bachelor’s degree.

Can I Study Data Science Online?

Yes. There are multiple programs available online that can help steer you towards a data science career. Many universities and colleges offer associate, bachelor’s, and even master’s degrees online. A compelling feature of studying online is that you can pace yourself and study on your own schedule.

Beyond studying towards a Bachelor’s Degree in Computing, Mathematics, or a related scientific field, you can also enhance your skills set by signing up for courses at the SAS Academy for Data Science. The training at this academy is in-depth and more than enough to bolster your data science skills, with the emphasis being on big data.

Common Entry-Level Jobs in Data Science

The most common entry-level data science jobs pay less than the jobs that we have listed above. However, the average salary for entry-level work in the data science industry remains more competitive than many other industries.

The job outlook for entry-level data science jobs is also generally better than any of the growth numbers recorded in other industries. The scope of the work you can do with data science is also greater.

Data Scientist

Entry-Level Salary: $85,420

Projected Job Growth: 15%*

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

While this is among the most junior jobs at a company, the entry-level data scientist is the one who is expected to have a broader skills base in terms of the actual data analysis work that is being done.

Good data scientists are competent with matters relating to cyber security, image processing, Apache Kafka, data warehouse, elastic search, A/B testing, and Amazon Redshift. Beyond that, you should have a working knowledge of the C++ programming language, artificial intelligence, statistical analysis, and some machine learning.


Entry-Level Salary: $67,899

Projected Job Growth: 33%

Min. Education Required: Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics or Applied Statistics

Mathematicians and statisticians are skilled at solving problems. They can read and extract insights during data processing. In the field of data science, they can determine what data is useful in the context of their work or the running of an organization. Mathematicians solve problems through mathematical theory or statistical models and equations.

Computer Systems Analyst

Entry-Level Salary: $56,121

Projected Job Growth: 7%

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

The primary goal of a computer systems analyst is to examine the existing computer network at any organization, pick up on any flaws that might exist within that system, and find ways to make the system more efficient. The data gathered and interpreted in this line of work is geared towards information technology in general.

Management Analyst

Entry-Level Salary: $55,092

Projected Job Growth: 11%

Min. Education Required: Bachelor’s Degree in Economics, Finance, or Management

While this is a broad title, it is still a job found in the data science field. These professionals are problem-solvers. Among the key goals in this job will be to help a company become more efficient at what it does. You also want to help the company you are working for be more profitable.

That eye on profitability is perhaps what sets this job apart from others that fall within the data science bracket. It is more about organizational and business skills than it is about technical ability.

Operations Research Analyst

Entry-Level Salary: $51,116

Projected Job Growth: 25%

Min. Education Required: Bachelor’s Degree in Business, Finance, or Economics

This data science career is a form of business intelligence, where the job of the operations research analyst is to search for problems in the business supply chain. When that problem is identified, the task will then be to produce meaningful solutions to that problem, having done the analysis and separated the poor quality data from the useful information.

*Job growth statistics have been sourced from BLS data on computer and information research scientists.

Is a Data Science Career for Me?

Yes, a data science career can be for you. If you’re good with numbers, algorithms, following logical patterns, and processing large quantities of information, you’ll excel as a data scientist. You’ll be able to enjoy job stability and high salaries in the tech industry. You should become a data scientist in 2021.

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