How to Become a Data Scientist

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Data scientists are among the top jobs in the UK. 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 the United Kingdom. Glassdoor ranks data scientists as the fifth best job in the UK in their 2022 25 Best Jobs in the UK 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 if 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 datasets 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, analyse it, and articulate the findings to various people. As a result, to succeed as a data scientist all of 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 or to complete a specialisation degree. By attaining a higher-level degree, you will learn specialised skills that make you eligible for more advanced positions that make a higher salary. Over 80 per cent of data scientists in the UK have a master's degree or higher [2].


All of the following are degrees that data scientists commonly earn:

  • Bachelor’s degree in Information Technology (IT), mathematics, computer science, physics

  • Master’s degree in data, computer science, engineering, business administration, or a related field

Certifications and certificates

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

  • Certified Analytics Professional (CAP)

  • SAS Certified Data Scientist

  • Open Certified Data Scientist (Open CDS)

  • IBM Data Scientist Professional Certificate

  • Cloudera Certified Associate (CCA) Data Analyst

  • Dell EMC Data Scientist Track (EMCDS)

  • Google Professional Data Analytics Certification

  • Tensorflow Data Scientist Certificate


Some data scientist bootcamps can be helpful for you to become employed as a data scientist. Many of these bootcamps 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 per cent of data scientists have master’s degrees or higher [2], you might be better off pursuing a degree if you want to maximise your earning potential. It is possible to get an entry-level data scientist job with a bootcamp certificate, and you can also take coding bootcamps to improve your coding skills.

Possible career pathway for a data scientist 

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 Indeed salary estimates [3].

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 favourite coding language to the point that you can communicate with it fluently on any media 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 visualisation 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

Start building a foundation in data with the Google Data Analytics Professional Certificate. Learn 100 per cent online from experts at Google as you prepare for an entry-level role.

Article sources


1. Glassdoor. “25 Best Jobs in the UK for 2022,,15.htm.” Accessed August 17, 2023.

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