How to Become a Data Scientist

Written by Coursera • Updated on

Data scientists are among the top jobs in the US. To become a data scientist, you'll need a combination of technical skills and workplace skills and education.Learn more on how to become a data scientist from this guide.

[Featured Image] A person with curly hair and a pale blue shirt takes a course on how to become a data scientist.

Careers as data scientists consistently rank among the top jobs in America. Glassdoor ranks data scientists as the third best job in America in their 2022 50 Best Jobs in America report. [1]The job ranks high on best jobs lists because data scientists tend to command high salaries while experiencing high levels of job satisfaction.

If you are thinking about becoming a data scientist, you could be setting yourself up for a satisfying career. This article will break down exactly how to become a data scientist to help you decide this career path is for you.

Skills to sharpen 

If you want to become a data scientist, you will need to sharpen both your technical and workplace skills, as both are essential for success in this field.

Technical skills

Technical skills that you will need to know to become a data scientist include:

  • Big data technologies such as Hadoop, Hive, Pig, Cassandra, and MapReduce

  • Data-driven predictive model development

  • Ruby, R. Python, Matlab, C++, Java, SQL, SPSS, SAS, PHP

  • Multivariate statistics, such as regression principal components analysis and clustering

  • Large dataset management using Teradata, Oracle, or SQL

  • Business intelligence tools such as MicroStrategy, Business Objects, and Tableau

Workplace skills

Being a data scientist involves working with many different software programs, computing languages, people, and data types. Data scientists constantly have to be able to figure out the best way to process data, analyze it, and articulate the findings to various people. As a result, to succeed as a data scientist, all the following workplace skills can be helpful:


  • Open-mindedness

  • Communication skills

  • Teamwork

  • Curiosity

  • Persistence

  • Agreeableness

  • Leadership

  • Articulation

Educational requirements

In most cases, you will need at least a bachelor’s degree in a related field to get an entry-level job as a data scientist. However, for many non-entry level jobs in the data science field, you will need a master’s degree. Roughly four out of every five data scientists have a master’s degree.


The following are degrees that data scientists commonly earn:


Many certifications can help a data scientist in their career. Some of the top certifications for data scientists include:

Boot camps

Some data scientist boot camps can be helpful for you to become employed as a data scientist. Many of these boot camps take only 12 weeks and offer pay-after-you-are-hired structures. These can be very helpful for learning critical skills for data scientists. However, because 80 percent of data scientists have master’s degrees, you might be better off pursuing a master’s degree if you want to maximize your earning potential. It is possible to get an entry-level data scientist job with a boot camp certificate, and you can also take coding boot camps to improve your coding skills.

Salary range

According to ZipRecruiter, the national average salary for data scientists in America is $119,413. [2] However, data scientist salaries range from $36,500 to $190,500. If you have more experience and are in the latter stages of your career, you may earn significantly more. The high salaries that data scientists command make this profession very attractive for math and science-oriented professionals.

Job outlook

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of data scientist positions in the United States is expected to increase by 22 percent from 2020 to 2030.[3] The potential increase means that job growth for data scientists is about three times higher than the national average for all careers.

Careers as data scientists are still a relatively new concept. However, since the advent of big data, it is becoming more and more critical for large and mid-size companies to have a data scientist on their staff who can help them make the most of all of their data. Frequently, the insights that data scientists provide can have enormous benefits for companies.

Possible career pathway for a data scientist 

The first step for anyone who wants to become a data scientist is to learn the technical skills mentioned above, which are required for this field.

You can do this through a boot camp, a bachelor’s degree, or studying independently. Having these skills is an essential requirement for becoming a data scientist. Once you have these skills, you will have a good chance of landing an entry-level position as a data scientist.

However, if you want to increase your chances of landing a data scientist position, you should complete a master’s degree in either data science or computer science. You should also try to earn as many of the certifications mentioned above. The more credentials you have, the better your chances of getting a good data science position. 

Welcome to the Google Data Analytics Certificate.

After becoming an entry-level data scientist, you can move ahead to a mid-level data scientist and then a senior data scientist. You can typically expect a significant pay raise as you move up the ranks. The more years of experience you gain building and sharing projects, the better it is for your career. Senior data scientists earn an average of $20,000 more per year compared to non-senior data scientists, according to calculations performed by DataQuest on Indeed salary estimates.

Some people cross over from other industries, such as machine learning. If you know both machine learning and data science, it can increase your salary. However, if you plan to cross over from machine learning, you should make sure that you boost your skills and knowledge before making the switch.

Next steps

Following these steps can help you learn more about data science and pursue a career in this field: 

1. Develop your abilities.

The first step to success as a data scientist is to develop your current abilities in any form of data science sector you desire.

2. Pursue education and certification.

Pursue a degree in data science and obtain all required forms of certifications. Refer to the list of the top types of certifications earlier stated in the article to check out what certificates you need.

3. Learn a language.

Learn your favorite coding language to the point that you can use it fluently in any situation to give yourself a head start in the data science industry.

4. Learn from other industry experts.

It's helpful to learn from others as a beginner data scientist. Follow reputable data scientists on social media or other outlets to learn from their experiences and improve your present ones.

5. Create a portfolio.

To assist you in landing a data science job as a freelancer, or working for a company on-site, create a portfolio.

6. Develop technical abilities.

Develop technical skills and abilities to increase your success rate in data science. These technical skills include:

  • Database design

  • Data cleaning and munging

  • Data visualization and reporting technique

  • Working knowledge of Hadoop & MapReduce

  • Machine learning technique

  • Statistics method and packaging (SPSS)

  • SAS language

  • Data warehousing and business intelligence platforms

  • SQL database and data querying platforms

  • Programming (XML, JavaScript, or ETL frameworks)

7. Develop your business and analytical abilities.

If you are interested in creating your own data science business, you would need to develop your business and analytical abilities, such as:

  • Creative thinking

  • Industry knowledge

  • Analytic problem-solving skills

  • Effective communication

Start your data science journey with Coursera

If you are considering becoming a data scientist and what the next steps are, you first need to focus on your education. For many data scientists, the investment in their education is one of the best investments they ever make. You can apply to a college, university, or boot camp to further your education as a data scientist.

Degrees in computer science, data science, IT, math, or business can all help. Consider the degrees and courses offered by top universities and organizations on Coursera that can help you develop the skills you will need as a data scientist, like Google's Data Analytics Professional Certificate.


professional certificate

Google Data Analytics

This is your path to a career in data analytics. In this program, you’ll learn in-demand skills that will have you job-ready in less than 6 months. No degree or experience required.


(99,142 ratings)

1,373,552 already enrolled


Average time: 6 month(s)

Learn at your own pace

Skills you'll build:

Spreadsheet, Data Cleansing, Data Analysis, Data Visualization (DataViz), SQL, Questioning, Decision-Making, Problem Solving, Metadata, Data Collection, Data Ethics, Sample Size Determination, Data Integrity, Data Calculations, Data Aggregation, Tableau Software, Presentation, R Programming, R Markdown, Rstudio, Job portfolio, case study

Article sources


Glassdoor. “50 Best Jobs in America for 2022,,20.htm” Accessed April 19, 2022.

Written by Coursera • Updated on

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

Big savings for your big goals! Save $200 on Coursera Plus.

  • For a limited time, save like never before on a new Coursera Plus annual subscription (original price: $399 | after discount: $199 for one year).
  • Get unlimited access to 7,000+ courses from world-class universities and companies—for less than $20/month!
  • Gain the skills you need to succeed, anytime you need them—whether you’re starting your first job, switching to a new career, or advancing in your current role.